Monday, January 23, 2017

You made a difference

Friday morning I woke up and sensed a palpable negative energy in the world, like a cold skin had been placed on us all. The sky was slate grey and blackbirds corralled in my yard picking at the ground. Thank God for children and their divine ability to distract us all from the troubles of life. When they came home from school going on and on about tests and what their plans for the weekend were, I felt myself lighten up a bit.

Friday was the inauguration, and no, I didn't watch. It may be history, but so are sinking ships.

On Saturday things weren't that much better, really. I went about the house completing my errands, conducting a mental dialogue about the groceries I needed to pick up for the week ahead: sack lunches for the kids, dinners, hand-held items for bus-bound pre-teens. By noon the clouds thinned just enough to see a spark of sunlight; it lightened my emotions as I took Henry for a walk. Still though, my heart felt depleted like that of a twenty-year-old after being broke up with. No hope for reconciliation, just a dull pain and going-through-the-motions to get through it all.

Later on I watched the news and saw all the women who had gathered together, not only in America but across the world, and it was if the real sun finally come out. Everything changed. These weren't bitter women, these weren't violent protests or refusals of truths, these were people of all gender, age, status coming together to say: we count and we won't put up with bully tactics from anyone. Not now, not ever.

I can't stop thinking about how amazing it is. Thank you to all who went out and marched. I feel like a jerk for not being there too, but I am glad that the ones who were supposed to go, did. Thank you. It made a difference. You made a difference.

I loved reading Arleen's blog post today about her epic journey to one of the marches on Saturday. Truly inspiring. We should all be like her in action and in spirit. You rock, Arleen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Smoke got in my eyes

photo credit: Bildergrund Grace via photopin (license)

I was once a smoker. Not heavy, but it was enough of a habit to qualify as an addiction, though I know many will get up in arms over what an addiction truly is. For me, to wake up in the morning and want to have a smoke in the car on the way to school or work, maybe two, then one or two after, then one in the evening and before bed, would equate to at least a habit. And not only that, it was the emotional need that made it real.

It started in high school. My friend *Kacy pulled me into her father's camper in their front drive where we proceeded to pull cigarette butts out of an ashtray on a little card table. She told me she'd smoked many times before (her father was a heavy smoker) and that he'd never found out so it was okay. So we lit up. And it was nasty. But I was exciting. Later on I'm about seventeen, and on Saturday nights my friends and I like to go park outside the old elementary school in our small town. We start lighting up more and more because Kacy has access to these cigarettes, or maybe she buys them because she always got by with stuff like that, but it wasn't just about the smoking, it was about being together and talking and just being chill when the rest of the world was so not chill. I didn't actually inhale, for me it was casual and no commitment. Then one day I inhaled.

Kacy lent me a cigarette to take home, and one afternoon I locked myself up in the back bathroom with the exhaust fan on full cycle. My first intake ripped my chest apart, like sharks biting the tender flesh. I felt sick, and the fan did nothing. My mother, who came home later and detected the telltale odor straight off, was none too pleased. Amazingly, my sister took the heat for me, saying she'd been the one to light up inside the house. I guess to her it didn't matter--she and mother had been arguing for years about practically everything, so what was one little cigarette? Indebted and grateful, despite our years of fighting each other over stains on designer sweatshirts and leg space in our double bed, I thanked my her profusely, swearing I'd never get mad at her or smoke in the house again!

I smoked in cars. In bleachers at football games. At parks, lakes, and walks through town.

By eighteen, smoking had become not only a habit, but a comfort. Life was hard. Society was mean. The future was uncertain, but as long as I had a cigarette I could make it through. My friends and I would laugh about our coughing fits, we'd wave our hair out to get rid of the smell and spray on perfume to mask the funk. I took to wearing all black, to being an intellectual, an artist, a rebel, and smoking went along with all of that.

But then one day I noticed I wasn't breathing very well, and that the effect of having a stuffy nose and clogged lungs left me with panic attacks. Instead of being a comfort, I was left jittery and ill at ease. And sick. Sore throats, headaches, dry mouth, yuck. I was 23 and starting to think about what it would be like to feel healthy again, to breathe again. Those emotions, that mental and physical need, that loneliness, pulled at me, and yet another side pulled back: to be free and clean.

Inside a battle raged over whether I was succumbing to society's need to control us weirdos, us outsiders. If I quit, wouldn't I just turn into Basic Becky with a twinset and no edge? No drive?  What's life anyway if you don't live it a little dangerously? Despite all that, I decided to quit, if only to find out if the grass was truly greener.

And it was. The rift left by the absence of cigarettes created a desire to build up my health, which included buying new sneakers and exercise clothing. I went out to a track every day and walked for at least an hour. Something I didn't mention was that a boyfriend and I had broken up the night I discovered he was a manipulative cheater asshole. The truth was, I'd been addicted to him as well. Every night I craved his smell, his touch, his conversation. Alone in my car I imagined what it would be like to talk to him again, to kiss him, to know once again that there was someone in my life who loved me--even if it false love. But his cheating was unforgivable. During our last phone call I perceived a haughty boredom on his side, most likely caused by my utter and complete admittance that I needed him more than he needed me. After hanging up, I decided no man was ever going to make me feel that way again. I never did go back.

So, it's clear I was in a transformation. A cleansing. It was literally do or die, and I decided to do. To live. Once I made that decision: that I didn't need any him, or things, or opinions to rule me, I was free. And it was beautiful.

Freedom is beautiful.

I truly believe that each of us are put on this earth, not to succumb and conform and lose ourselves, but to find, to be, to search, and to live. Dammit, we're here to live. If a person wants to smoke, then smoke. It's calming. We need vices, and each of us should be able to do want we need in the time we need without judgement. And then if you want to quit smoking, then quit. Do it for yourself. I didn't use any patches or pills, I just decided to be healthy FOR ME.

What big decisions have you made in your life that took courage and created big change?

Thanks for stopping by!

*not her real name

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hello 2017

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Chillin' with Henry the Dachshund

A brand new year, a brand new me . . . isn't that how it's supposed to go? Except, I'm not exactly sure that I'm feeling so brand new! Okay, yes, I am happy to see the old year pass away into the dirty fog it created, but isn't this *stuff* getting rather old, all this 'I have to be a better version of myself' starting right now, stuff? How about I'm happy with who I am and nothing needs to change, thank you very much? I worked hard on myself last year, and all the years past, and nothing needs to change. I just need to accept myself exactly as I am, right here, right now. Anyone else feeling this?

I keep hearing everyone say that 2016 was such a terrible year, but I don't feel the same way. 2016 was a great year of lessons and revelations. Of learning to trust my intuition, of learning to be comfortable in my own skin (even when I'm not that comfortable), of acceptance, of facing reality, of knowing what I can and cannot change, of what my true value and potential is. It taught me to let go and trust in the Universe, that something bigger and greater has my back totally and completely, and even if the world were to crash down in flames, somehow I'd be okay. Because I'm part of something eternal. We all are. And I'm not talking Bible stuff here, don't get worried.

One of the biggest things I've learned this year is that: a lot of people do bad shit and they don't care. A lot of people like to: lie, sabotage, cheat, check out, have addictions, manipulate, hurt, will stab you in the back, XY&Z. But it ain't you. It doesn't reflect you. Who ARE you? Water can only sink a ship if you let it inside. Water: emotions. If you know who you are, then stand strong. So, how do you value yourself? Do you love yourself? I learned that, yes, I do. I love and value myself, and anyone who's ever hurt me in the past was only allowed to do so because I had no self-value. No self-love. When you truly care about and love yourself, no one can do any real damage. And they'll try, believe me. I think a lot of bad stuff that happens in this world happens because none of us were ever taught true self-love, and that's sad. We hurt, we get revenge, we lie, we destroy because we are completely broken. Babies. Infants. No real knowledge of self. That doesn't excuse it, but it does explain it at least.

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

Love, love, love.

Here's what else I learned. The most powerful lesson of all. That person who hurt(s) you has no power. They are weak. Strong people do not hurt others, take advantage of others, they support and/or build you up, because they themselves have a good value system and, most of all, ethics. If you think that your bully, your boss, your spouse, your parent, your child, your president . . . has power over you, then think again. True power comes from inside FIRST. First and foremost.

I yam what I yam (opens can of spinach).

Thus ends my rant.  It wasn't really a rant, I was emoting. Something that's quite hard for me to do because I am in my head SO MUCH.

Here's to a fabulous 2017, come what may.  I'll try to post more often. I've thought about doing the watt pad thing and just free writing for kicks. We'll see.

How is your New Year coming along? As always, thank you for stopping by! Much love to you.

My shameless 'I Love Kurt Vile' post, and my favorites for 2018

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