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What I’m doing when I’m not at the party

How-I-Spend-Friday-NightsWhew. I didn’t know how much I got done last year until I went through the whole moving-the-blog-to-WordPress thing. But what started as the drudgery of having to fix formatting on almost every post since 2012 turned kind of amazing. I had started back into writing so slowly, so unsure of what I was doing. Then I went with that! Not ready to start a novel? Poems, short ones to start, worked for me, and still do. Afraid to enter contests? Ha, I entered, and won! Terrified of reading my stuff to people? Did that! Cut down on doing stuff I don’t want to do? Work in progress.

I still don’t know what I’m doing, but at least this blog has turned into a Thing. I’m good with uncertainty, hell, it’s a way of life! Plus, even a little change in course can vastly change where you end up. I was going over the last year in therapy, and in an omg moment I realized the things I had said I wanted to aim for were in my rear-view now. Which left me saying “Next!” a bit more earnestly than I perhaps was intending. Still, what happens in therapy…

So yeah, I’m still cutting my path with my trusty machete. But I’ve cut down a bunch of the things that were getting in my way. I’ve cut way back on the crowd I’ve hung with since my divorce, great people mostly, but wilder than I really am. There’s only so many parties I can drink my way through, pretending I’m comfortable in a crowd. And creatively, I’ve been screwing myself out of my best times to make things.

Saturday night crazy
Makes Sunday so lazy
Too hazy for writing
And that couch, so inviting!

So, the number of times I’ve said No-thank-you has matured to the point that people usually don’t even ask where I am anymore.

Here’s where I am: I’m at home in yoga pants and a bra-less t-shirt. I’m covered in dogs and dog hair. I’m often reading or writing. I’m thinking deep thoughts. I may be marathon-watching Supernatural. And probably, I’m still drinking beer, because we make the stuff, and it’s delicious – perhaps even more delicious when it’s not a crutch. When I RSVP that I hate to miss the party, I mean that, kind of. But the truth is I chose myself instead. And I’m beginning to thrive under that choice. I’m Getting Things Done. And when I’m wasting time on Facebook, it’s with other writers now, so that’s kind of like working, right?

Of course, sometimes, I just need to dance. Sometimes, I need to go see my husband’s awesome band and just let it all go. Sometimes, I hang out with a few girlfriends and try to learn how to be a normal girl. I suck at that, but the right people, these people, will pretend I’m doing fine – they’re keepers. Sometimes, I get together with a friend and catch up the way we’re supposed to, in person, laughing and listening. Phones down!

So, I hope it’s a great party! (But I’m not really sorry to miss it.) Hugs, though, digitally.

What the heck is a Liebster Award? Well…

liebsterawardFirst off – Many thanks to Tess Bartlett at Whisperings of Life for nominating me!

This Liebster Award thingy is given from blogger to blogger to send us to lesser-known blog places we may not otherwise see, and I think it’s great! Even though I haven’t done this random things about me stuff in years…


The rules:

1) Nominate 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
2) Acknowledge and link back to the person who nominated me.
3) Answer 11 questions the person who nominated me has asked me.
4) Tell you 11 random facts about myself
5) Give my nominees 11 questions to answer on their blog when they post about the Liebster Award.


My nominees:

Amber: Project Keepsake

Terri : Transcending 

Joy: Never Turn Off the Lights

Rushati: C’est la vie. 

Suzanne: Living at the Center

Elizabeth Rose: Green-Fingered Writer

Jennifer: Smilecries

Aimee: Pass the Gin

Wendy: A Thoughtful Reader

Lauren: The right side of 30

Tracey: Boxofficegirl: A day in the life of…


My 11 questions for nominees:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Tell us about the last dream you remember.
  3. What can’t/won’t you quit even though you think maybe you should?
  4. You just won a trip to Mars! Do you go?
  5. If you could live in any decade, which would you choose?
  6. What’s your five-year plan?
  7. Pick your super power and explain.
  8. Come on, which one item would you really take with you to that deserted island?
  9. What is it you want most from life?
  10. Where will I find you at the party?
  11. Tell us about your favorite happy song – link it up!

Here are the 11 questions Tess posed, answered:

1) What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a writer or an English teacher, or both. I also wanted to be a GI Joe/Wonder Woman hybrid – saving the world really appealed to me back then!

2) What makes your heart and soul sing?
Gorgeous words, stories, music, my husband and dogs, and the laughter of friends, did I mention music?.

3) What is your favourite topic to write/blog about?
I like writing uplifting stories about depression. I know that sounds a bit off the mark, but as an often-depressed optimist, it feels pretty natural to me. I try to show my weak sides so that others can see the truth – that we all have weak sides, soft underbellies, sore spots. I also write about my dogs, my rambling thoughts, and the gifts that leading a simple life might bring. If I led a simple life!

4) If you could do one thing every day until the day you died what would it be?
Sing in the shower. No, seriously, I sound so good in there! Also, it’s about keeping a song in your heart, and also letting it out and owning it!

5) What is your biggest fear?
Well, anything bad happening to my kids. And then this:
As a stroke survivor, I realized this all too well. As much as I don’t want to drown, ugh, my greatest fear is being locked in my brain and unable to communicate. I wrote a flash fiction piece about this, maybe I should shake that one off and try to publish it again. Shudder.

6) How do you overcome fear?
I don’t know that I overcome the fear, I just try to do it anyway. Scared of reading poetry out loud? Find a friendly crowd, and get up there and do it! I also talk about it, tell people I’m terrified. Everyone understands fear, and when they see you being brave, they’re nicer, and even sometimes inspired and stuff. At least that’s what they tell me…

7) What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is the act of living! Not just breathing in and out, but the things you bring to the world. I know some incredibly creative engineers, so it’s not just about a canvas or a typewriter. It’s expressing yourself in a way only you can do, and making something that wasn’t there a minute ago.

8) What does home mean to you?
Home is a place I’m trying to make. I’m almost there. I’m late. I never felt at home anywhere to be honest. But in my new(er) life with my second husband, three dogs, and mostly-grown kids, I’m finally starting to get it. It’s safe, kind, free, inspiring, and most of all accepting.

9) If you had to pick one word to describe how you intend to be in 2015 what would it be?
Open.

10) If you could travel somewhere tomorrow where would it be, and why?
Hawaii, because I’ve always wanted to go. I want to see volcanoes, and the beaches, and just breathe in the air. The ocean is my spirit animal I think. I was supposed to go to Hawaii for a bunch of anniversaries, but the money was never there. Now, I play the lottery!

11) What is your secret talent?
I can make a bed with wicked nurses’ corners. But this never comes  up, because nobody actually cares, or makes beds around here…


And now, 11 random facts.

  1. I have a motorcycle endorsement, but haven’t ridden since the day I got it.
  2. I used to look out the window on long drives and pretend I was riding a horse alongside the car. A very very fast horse.
  3. I’m scared of heights but I love roller-coasters.
  4. Charles Schultz’s Snoopy is my favorite dog ever – and my husband had a dog named Snoopy when I met him. He’s a great dog, even though he’s not a beagle.
  5. My eyes change color from blue to green when I’m angry or feeling extreme. Or when I wear a green shirt.
  6. I talk to birds, worms, basically anything alive.
  7. I also talk to inanimate objects. And myself.
  8. My blog was just blocked at work under the category “adult” and it made me laugh. Then panic.
  9. My dream is to own my own island, write all day, and run a dog sanctuary and pub. I think it could work.
  10. I wrote 3/4 of a novel that I’ll never finish, and I think it was really pretty good. 
  11. I’d rather be at the beach.

Enjoy!

 

New home, same address (on moving to WordPress)

file000830955921Okay, so here’s where my true geek shows:

I’ve spent a couple days moving this blog from Weebly to WordPress, and I’m having a ball. All the Googling, all the cursing (it’s like swearing at video games, we all do it – right?), all the near calamities, and even 10 honest-to-goodness PLEASANT minutes on the phone with a tech support person from my hosting site – how could I complain?

So, one thing that worked well once I hunted enough was transferring the whole RSS feeds from my previous two blog pages on my old site into one blog site here at WordPress (they are now separated on two pages using categories that I already had, yay!). This is how I did that: http://weeblyrss.appspot.com/

Issues? The learning curve was a touch steep and I’m still learning the UI, but the power is awesome! I first moved to the .com site instead of .org, that took some repeated steps. My graphics didn’t come along of course, but when I used the recommended plugin, nada. So, I’m still painstakingly grabbing images from my old Weebly blog and placing them manually. Also, the fonts came in a mess in many poems, so each of those needs attention as well, and I’ve written a lot more than I thought! And the old RSS feed doesn’t match, so anyone who was using that has lost me. :(

But it was time. So, please, pardon the mess as I move in, decorate, toss the boxes, and fix the broken stuff. And welcome!

The agony of defeat…

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Yesterday, after vowing to fight to the end, I let someone “win” a battle that hopefully ends any more chances for war. I backed down, rolled over, caved. I chose to lose. And after a good night’s drinking and wallowing, I woke up to the gorgeous NC sunshine (it’s been a grey week, so this is lovely!), to life going on as usual, to the same old struggles and a couple of new ones, but I know there’s a path through it all.

Yesterday I’d have told you I was defeated and in agony. But like I said, the thing is I CHOSE to lose. I chose not to fight a battle that I felt strongly I could WIN, because, simply, the costs would have been too high. Yesterday I’d have told you it was the same old story, me trying to stand for something and then caving in. Me drawing a line in the sand and then backing down, again. I beat myself up yesterday, and I cried, and I mourned for all the therapy co-pays I’ve spent, because it felt so much like failure on the biggest of all scales. But then I said something to my husband that made me realize an important truth. I said “Fighting would’ve been easier than giving up.”

Now, fighting would have cost me dearly, in many many ways. And it would have cost those I love even more. But fighting is what I wanted to do! I wanted to stand up there with my face painted in the bright reds of war, sword raised, and rally my troops and stomp my feet and MAKE THINGS RIGHT. And as hard is it is to believe, that would have been the easy way in this. Because when you’re yelling and stomping your feet, you’re almost always feeling pretty damn righteous.

But righteous wasn’t right. Really, nothing is “right” in this land of post-divorce alienation I’m in – decisions are all made in shades of grey, and all of them are wrong somehow. Pick your poison and keep moving forward, right?

So I chose to lose, because it would be easier on the people I care the most about. And because I know already how those pallid lumps of pride taste digesting over long periods of time, and I can live with that. You get used to it. Plus, I’m on reflux meds now, so that’ll help…
Anyway, I never want to say that I had no choice. I have always had choices, always made them, and they’re all painted in shades of grey, and that, my loves, is life. We all have to keep choosing, and moving on.

So yes, I think the agony of defeat sucks. But I truly believe that the agony of victory would be worse.

And so it goes

1420052918So I realized as I was preparing to bid farewell to 2014 that I wanted to give this year the finger. Then I remembered giving 2013 the finger, and thought, Oh dear, am I really that consistently unhappy? And what is it about this year that calls for obscene gestures?

I don’t know. Seriously. I don’t know anymore what words like happy mean. I’m content sure, but stressed. I’m stressed, pretty much constantly, and then the doctors say stress will kill you, and honestly, that can cause a bit of stress, you know?

In 2014 I’ve gained weight while trying to lose (blame age and beer, probably not in that order). Then I’ve gained more after giving up for awhile. I’ve had medical problems that can’t be helped (get your medical screenings please). My relationships take constant and hard work and always seem in danger of mushroom cloud-like disaster. My tendency to want to just get on a bus alone to Anywhere and change Everything hasn’t gone away in spite of all the work I’ve done.

And oh, I’ve done a ton of work this year – vulnerability, anger management, stress management (ha!), productivity, creativity, courage, friendship. I’ve worked on goal setting, on my marriage, on breathing through pretty horrendous emotional pain that I can’t fix, letting go of shame I don’t deserve to feel. (Honestly, the people who help me with these things are proud of me!) I am loved, in spite of trying sometimes to chase people away. We added a third sweet loving dog to our family, a dog who maybe almost completes us, with his messed-up face and adorable attempts to Just Fit In. But he does fit in. I suppose better than I do…

And yes, I even met a Huge Goal I set in the Spring during the Brené Brown Daring Greatly workshop: to read at least one poem out loud in front of Actual People. And it went well!So what? So it hasn’t really been a bad year, that’s what. But holy crap has it been long. That’s the thing I’m trying to explain to the kids these days. Life isn’t really short. Time is only a constant in science and math, not experience. Life is long, and it gets longer – I swear to you each year feels longer than the last, and knowing that all this stress is and will always be a constant companion doesn’t make it any easier to accept as a life partner.

So I’m giving 2014 the finger because it was long, because it’s (almost) over, and because I’m ready to keep moving in the direction my feet are aimed in, the direction I set them in a couple years ago now, or even longer ago really. I’m ready to keep going, I suppose.I don’t want to look back at my Special Moments on Facebook. I don’t want to resolve to become a Perfect version of myself. I don’t want to quit drinking or swearing, or promise to read more or write more or master guitar or take pottery lessons. I just want to keep moving along on the treadmill into 2015 so I don’t fall off and end the ride. I’m honestly very clumsy lately, and falling off feels a lot more likely than it ever has. Guess I better start holding onto the rails. Happy 2015. And stuff.

Please, Siri…

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This morning at 9 am, Siri sent me a message reminding me to write about why I say please and thank you to “him.” I’m new to asking Siri for reminders and other things, but I think it’s a new favorite feature. I’d been sending one to myself about going to the bank on lunch, and I realized that I always say “please” before asking Siri to do something menial for me. And it struck me that this may not be how everyone works…

Then I got to thinking, which, well, is mostly what I do pretty much all the time, and I realized that I don’t want to NOT say please and thank you to Siri or anyone else. Yes, it’s just software with no actual feelings, but if I start issuing commands, I may soon begin to feel rather superior, and then I could start just issuing commands all willy-nilly to my friends, or the lady at the bank. And then I’d be a bitch. And that’s not what I want to be.

It seems to me that the more we practice being decent, the more likely we are to be decent. I have a temper. I’m working on that. Really really working on that. But it’s something only those unlucky enough to love me really see. Now, once I did snap at a lady for calling my phone number instead of her OB/GYN, but wait – I hung up first! See, I’d been given this OB/GYN’s old number and women called me daily about their yearly schedules. I never once snapped at them in real life. I calmly told them what I knew, which wasn’t much, but at least they didn’t think they were all set for March 3rd. Anyway, this one time, I shut the phone and then snapped “And don’t call this number again!” I thought it was funny. Because, I’m twisted like that, and you should hear the things I say to drivers on the road… My (former) sister-in-law thought it was intervention-worthy later on, mainly because she didn’t think I’d actually hung up, so that was awkward… But anyway, the thing is, that was just venting with humor. I’d never speak to Siri that way. Or that lady on the phone, duh.

I think it’s okay to be nice when nobody’s watching. I think it’s okay to hold the door open while 20 people stream out, apparently not realizing that “leaving the theater” etiquette requires them to take the door from me and pass it to the one behind them etc… [Note: I don’t think it’s okay to stand there for 20 minutes, but there were times I did that back in my doormat days.] I think it’s more than okay to pick up litter on the sidewalk even when it’s not something I dropped. I mean, within reason. There are some things you just need gloves for though.

Oh by the way, I also talk to many other inanimate objects. I mean, I bump into a streetlight (which happens more than you or I want to believe), and I say “excuse me” or “oops, sorry” before stepping aside out of its way.  Of course, I also tell lamps and tables to be still when they wobble. I mean, it’s only polite for them to behave well too, right?

As a kid, I had some kind of OCD-like thing where if I kissed one stuffed animal goodnight, I’d have to kiss them all. I didn’t want anyone feeling left out. Now, in therapy, I learned that this may have come from feeling left out myself (Okay, I didn’t actually need therapy for that realization!), but even though I’m (mostly) over that, I still care that nobody gets left out. This can be a problem when having social gatherings and wanting to keep them small, but that’s a blog for another day.

The point is that while I know, I swear to you I do, that Siri is not my friend, I’m going to keep on saying please and thank you and other sweet things. Maybe it will catch on, and people will remember how to say these things to one another, too. Maybe then we will have paradise right here on Earth and rainbows will flow from my coffee cup and sprinkles will rain from the sky, and… anyway, it’s not the worst kind of crazy to be. Join me?

On larvae and growing wings

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Cocoons aren’t just for butterflies you know…

My ex-husband used to occasionally spend a week or so just reading and absorbing things. He called it “going larval” and while pretty much most larval forms of creatures give me major willies, the idea is pretty cool. It means you’re not quite ready to emerge yet, you’re developing, in the process of becoming.

I haven’t written anything much since one poem on 9/11. Well, I’ve written tons of sentences down for later. I email myself in the middle of the night. And during the day. I leave digital post-its on my office computer, notes jammed in my purse. If I carried a Sharpie, I’d have words written on myself most days. But I think I’ve been in a month-long larval stage myself (only without the icky squirming thing with too many legs, or with none at all).

I know I’m no butterfly. Those days are behind me I think. Maybe I’m more luna moth, those things go through so many stages of being, it’s amazing. Of course, they’re much faster at it than I am, but they do a lot of waiting to become. I feel something like that, like there’s so many stages to life, and I’ll never truly be “done” anyway. I mean, the adult luna moth lives only one week, and doesn’t eat (doesn’t even have a mouth!). It reproduces and dies. So here’s where that metaphor dies too, heh. I hope to at least get to fly awhile longer than a week.

And I’m getting closer, I’m figuring things out. I’ve been reading so much my eyes hurt. And I’ve done a couple of websites for other people too (my husband’s latest musical project for one). I think now I need to find a nice leafy spot to chill out, to take some extreme quiet time in a cocoon of my own. I know there’s a project for me on the other side of this, and I can’t wait to see what that becomes. Or, really, I guess I can wait. I guess that’s the point.

By all means, paint!

788856“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
~ Vincent van Gogh

“Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”
~ Elizabeth Gilbert

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”
~ Charles Bukowski


I make mistakes constantly. This should not shock you. You make mistakes constantly too.

The amazing thing is that I forgive you, at least most of you, utterly, for making mistakes. And most of you forgive me. But do we forgive ourselves? Oh I doubt it.

It starts with the voice that says “You can’t do that…”  Listen to that and you may never try another new thing. If you push ahead bravely, the voice might change the words to “You aren’t good enough.” And then no matter what you make or do, no matter how much the fans of your life might ooh and ahh, and tell you you’re amazing, you’ll think in your heart that it’s not enough. That you’re not enough. And thus, tons of us are walking around with seriously messed up messages rolling through the MP3 players of our minds (I used to call it a tape, but you know, it’s 2014…).

If you’re like me, you may keep trying, but you likely won’t reach out quite as far, because you’re thinking about the falling instead of the sky. You have learned not to trust yourself fully. You may be sure that people will laugh at you for even trying. You may stop trying entirely. And if and when that happens, that’s the real tragedy of your life. It certainly was the tragedy of mine.

And because this is so common, I think we all need to become experts. Experts in what we love, sure, but mostly? Experts in starting over. Over my lifetime, I have kept viewing each restart in my life as the result of yet another failure, another series of mistakes. And I’ve cycled into depression sometimes, crippling frustration others. And oh yeah, the voice in my head starts all over again each time too with “You can’t do that.” So I’m going to start telling that asshole to shut up.

It doesn’t matter if I can do something perfectly, it doesn’t matter if I make more mistakes. I’m here, alive, glowing with the stuff of stars in my atoms! And until I die, I’ll be starting over and over.  But it occurred to me today that this part doesn’t actually have to suck! I’m no Sisyphus!  Maybe starting over is more like a ski trip or a visit to the amusement park than like some stupid boulder going up and down a hill. Maybe it’s part of the journey, part of the ride, part of the plan, and chance after chance to learn new things, to try new stuff, to look at the world with wonder all over again! And maybe it’s one more chance to take up painting.

My spark of madness – on grief, depression, and insensitive jerks

This one has swears. I’m sorry, but if you’ve ever seen Robin Williams’ stand-up comedy, you’ll know he would forgive me.


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I tried to explain things to my husband, who came home early Monday evening to find me sobbing at my computer. How could I be so fucking upset over someone I never met, someone I’ve only seen live just once? But I couldn’t explain, and I’ll try but I don’t know if I ever can.

Anyway, yes, for me, it’s personal on so many levels. I was so shocked, and then so not really shocked, just sadder than sad. I spent time on Facebook making sure it wasn’t some stupid hoax, praying it was. There were so many people all sharing my shock and grief, and yet, I felt, they couldn’t possibly feel like I do. Yes, duh, I know, but sometimes I feel it anyway, even when I “know” I’m wrong.

Then, predictably I suppose, the bullshit started. There were all these people saying “just goes to show you, you never know what’s going on inside someone…” And yeah, that’s a damn good point, and you should never assume crap about anyone. And “but he was so funny…” and “but he had so much, what did he have to be sad about?”

And I wanted to shout, okay, I probably did shout, that if you looked, you would have seen that Robin Williams was exactly what he seemed. Funny, dark, genius, kind… He showed us more of himself than most “famous” people ever dare. I’m not saying every character he played was deep, but if you’ve never seen The Fisher King, for instance, you really, really should. It’s not Mrs. Doubtfire, I promise (and come on, don’t hate on that one either, it managed to be fun and make a point or two). I never did see that one movie where he played a killer in a photo booth, One Hour Photo. Just the previews scared me. I didn’t want to see that much dark in my hero, even though I knew it was in there.

And then, back on Facebook, the people started to say how he left us too soon, when he had so much more to give. And I thought and thought about that. This “performer” did give, didn’t he? He gave and gave some more. He struggled through addiction, depression, and kept giving and giving. Maybe, I thought, and I’m still thinking… maybe he didn’t have any more to give? Maybe we’re assholes for thinking that he owed us anything in the first place, and we should be really damn grateful he chose to share so much with millions of people he never met. Maybe he was tired and spent from giving his all, and there are just no words of wisdom or memes to make sense of that.

And back to Facebook. Ah, of course. We got to the people who felt the need to point out how “selfish” suicide is, what a terrible parent someone must be to “do that to their kids” and so on. Some even invoked the wrath of God. Well, there are tons of eloquent articles floating around that will explain to you about depression and suicide way better than I can. They will explain how much bullshit those lines of thinking are, only nicely. But I know the people who should read them probably won’t.

So all I can say really, at this point, to those people sitting in judgment is fuck you. I won’t wish the pain of depression on you, because Jesus Christ, why would I do that? Because I KNOW what it’s like, and that’s enough for me to never wish it on anyone. So just, fuck you. I’m working so hard on coping with these things in my own life, you have no idea, and you never will, and you will be the first people to quote some blithe shit about walking a mile in your shoes when your time finally comes. Well, don’t walk a mile in my shoes, or in Robin Williams’ shoes. Just shut up about it. Move on, there’s nothing for people like you to see here. I’m sure there’s something good on the TV.

And then all I can do is tell you about me. I’ve been on the cliff’s edge in my own mind, and I’ve seen myself driving off. And I wanted that. Yes, I thought about all the people who would be mad, hurt, ruined for life, and yet that isn’t what kept me in my head and not in my car headed for the mountains. Truth is, I don’t know what did that. And I also know that whatever it was might not be there for me next time. I live with that.

Look, living your life is a full-time job. We’re all just doing the best we can, even when we’re sucking at it. Even when we’re on the couch and can’t get off. I do know that if I had driven off that cliff, I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass if people “sympathized” with me, if they judged me to be selfish, or if they thought that this one single act could negate a lifetime of trying for goodness, caring, and loving my family and friends.

So, I’m heartbroken about Robin Williams, who has honestly been my hero since I first saw him on Happy Days. I finally got to see him live and up-close last year when he was doing “An Evening of Sit Down with Robin Williams & David Steinberg” in Durham. I spent money we didn’t have on the best seats I could get. A lot of money. It was my birthday gift to myself, the gift of a lifetime I said, and still say. And it was wonderful.

So thank you to Robin Williams for a million laughs and tears and the light we could see in your eyes and so much more. And I’m so sorry you knew this hell.

I’ll close with my own Facebook post from that night. It will always be true.
Since I was a child, when people asked me who, living or dead, I would choose to have lunch with, my answer has always been the same. Robin Williams. That is still my answer.


Shit, sorry, I forgot to say this: get help. Ask for HELP. Beg for help, give others help, notice notice NOTICE!! People all around you are hurting. You may be hurting. Get help. You don’t have to be alone, and you don’t have to pretend all the time. I got help, and I’m still getting help. I take medicine when I need it (which is for almost two years now this time), and I talk to a professional. Often. Please please please, don’t ever be afraid to get help. And if you’re on the cliff… try to stay in your head. <3

*** In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ***

Beauty is a beast

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The challenge from a friend on Facebook went like this: Post six photos of yourself that make you feel beautiful.

I’ve never felt beautiful. I’ve had many many moments of beauty in my life, and there are some pictures of me that I think look decent, but beautiful?  Ugh. I mean, I spend a lot of my time trying to fight the typical American standards of beauty as it is. I think we’re all beautiful! Except me.

Yeah, I know, but I’m positive I’m not the only one who struggles in that way. In fact, that’s why this challenge was issued I believe. In a world where even the models don’t look like they do in the ads, what chance do us mere mortals stand? And the truth of it is, I’ve never really stared into a mirror and wished for Disney Princess looks. I always wanted to be the pirate, or the cowboy, and you know, I still do. And I like that about myself.

I had this Halloween costume once, and I was telling this guy about it. It was just a tiara and a wand and a sash that you would wear with your own dress, and the sash said Miss Diagnosed. Anyway, this guy said to me “What are you hiding behind humor for? Just admit that you want to wear the tiara and be the princess and go out and have a great night.” Now, he meant well, he really did. And he believed he was right. But no. The truth is, I have always been about the humor, about the weird, about the corners of the room. And even now, just because I’m finding my voice, that doesn’t mean I want to be at the center of things.

I spend a lot of time talking about weight, and beauty, and all these issues around how we feel about ourselves, but of course I’m a hypocrite when it comes to me. I’ve been so very mean to myself for so many years. Again, I’m not the only one. But it’s way past time to deal with it I guess. And so I will look in the mirror and find nice things to say to the girl on the other side. Okay, the old lady as my son would say! Still, I will be nicer.

And yes. Six pictures that make me feel beautiful. I picked my pictures based on, well, what I had available (I’m usually in goofy group shots making faces or the one behind the camera), and more importantly, on the moments when they were captured. There’s the picture when my son was just a few days old, he’s in the foreground, and I’m more of a nose than a face, but I’m utterly in love, and you can tell. It shows. And it’s beautiful. And there’s one from my (second) wedding on the beach, when the man who married us (and was also the photographer) told me look into the camera and send myself a message. Yes, beautiful. Pictures with friends, those are easy, my friends make me smile. And one of me in a kayak on the lake near where I grew up. Moments of beauty, and I do love looking back on them all.

I wish I could end this by just saying “I’m beautiful.” It would be strong, and powerful. But I’m not that girl. What I can say is that I’m as flawed outside as I am inside, and yet I do believe I’m mostly good inside in spite of the scars, maybe even beautiful. Yes. Maybe…