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JUMP

My husband has this uncanny ability to face fear right in the face and march right through it.
I have an uncanny ability to cry during This is Us.

When he decided to open his own business a year and a half ago, I decided it would be my job to help him. I worked tirelessly, day and night, for weeks getting his licenses and insurance policies and payroll set up. The problem was that I hadn’t ever done anything like this before, so not only was I incredibly stressed out, I was terrified.

Terr. I. Fied.
Three words.

If what Bear was doing, starting this business, didn’t work…there was no safety net. There was no back-up plan. There was absolutely nothing guaranteeing that I was doing any of this right or that it would work.
My stress levels got so high that I literally lost my hair. A third of my hair.

And every time I looked at him, sitting over on the couch with a movie playing and his laptop in his lap, I felt incredibly resentful. He didn’t look scared. He didn’t look stressed. He didn’t even look tired. And I couldn’t understand why I was the ONLY ONE freaking out…

Let’s be honest. It doesn’t even look like he’s going to make it…

Now, as I embark on my OWN major risk-taking experiences for the first time in my entire life, I can look back and see what he was doing. He was doing what every great guru and business coach says to do: he created a vision, made a plan, and executed without acknowledging the possibility of failure. Because he simply didn’t need to deal with failure until he’d failed. And nothing, yet, was failing. He grew faster than people suggested he should, not to prove them wrong (though that his a great motivator), but because he knew exactly what he was doing. He envisioned all of it long before it happened, so while we were all feeling surprised and rushed, he’d had it all planned out well in advance.
Granted, my husband’s brain is very, very, very different from mine. I think about steps. Linear steps. I think about the map, the order of operations, and all the possible outcomes. He thinks about all of that and more, all at the same time, with attachment to none of it. So I am most definitely not comparing the two of us. But what I am starting to realize is that making moves, any moves, leads to massive chain reactions. Making no moves leads to a very safe, predictable life. And that can be nice. But if my 10-years-in-the-future self looked at me right now and told me either to move or stay put, what do you think she would say? And how disappointed do you think she would be if I chose to stay in the same place and put the pressure on her to make the moves?

I don’t like change. I don’t like instability. I don’t like not knowing whether or not something is going to work. But as Mike Dooley says, when you put a new address into a GPS and you start driving, you literally don’t know if it worked until you arrive at your final destination, and not a moment sooner.

I have a few opportunities in 2018. One of them is to publish my first book with Hay House publishing (which will happen). There are others, too. And so I’m trying to be like my husband: see the vision, make the plan, and execute without paying much attention to the end results until I get there. I get waves of deep-stomach anxiety a few times a day. I feel angry that I’m even being given these opportunities because it means I have to grow out of my comfort zone (and I like it in here). But guess what? This all fell in my lap. It landed and I can literally choose to move it over and walk away if I want to. And I want to. But the truest part of me want to see what happens. So I’ll keep moving and it if all goes to shit, I’ll start a GoFundMe for my mortgage.

Rude

I had 37 minutes to get to the post office, through Winn Dixie, and to carpool this afternoon. By the time I got out of the post office I realized there was a pretty good chance I was going to be late for carpool, but I still wanted to make it through the grocery store. So I went for it. (This is my version of “risky behavior.”)
I grabbed the four items (two of which were on sale, thank you!) I needed and rushed up to the front of the store. Three lines were open. One had two people. The next had two people with FULL carts. And the third had one woman, medium amount of stuff. Third line it is.
She had about 15 cans of cat food and 12 cans of tuna fish. The cashier made it 3/4 of the way through the cans when the woman, tall and blonde and kind of annoyed, suddenly said, “Oh! I forgot dry cat food!”
Now how are you going to remember 15 cans of cat food and 12 cans of tuna fish and forget the dry cat food? Whatever. It’s fine. I’ll probably still make it to carpool in time.
She ran back to the counter. “Remind me where the cat food is again?”
The cashier stared at her, probably thinking the same thing that you’re thinking.
“Nevermind! I think I know.” She ran off again.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Finally she runs back up with her dry cat food bag and hands it to the cashier.
The cashier finishes ringing her up and the total pops up on the screen.
The tall blonde woman scowled at the cashier. “That’s not correct. Those are 2 for $5. I just bought them yesterday.”

HOW MANY CATS DOES THIS WOMAN HAVE?!?

“Ok, I’ll need to get a manager,” the cashier said. I began scanning the other two lines again. They were both full. I was hedging my bets by staying, but remaining aware in case a better opportunity opened up.
Then…she started…
The woman standing in front of me, waiting for the manager to determine just how much her cat food cost, started the blame game:
“You know, you’re holding up all these people because you don’t know how much your products cost. All these people are having to wait.”
The cashier looked at me. “I’m sorry you’re waiting.”
“Don’t apologize for a thing,” I said.
“You’re understaffed. I don’t see how you can only have three lines open making all these people wait. The management of this place is awful.” She was really on a roll. “It’s just ridiculous. We all have places to be. I don’t have time for this. None of us do.”
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. And my mouth started talking. “Actually, I’ve got all the time in the world.”
No, I didn’t really. But in all honesty, I had enough time to be kind to the people who were serving me. And I didn’t want to participate in her blame game.
“Oh, you do?” She put her hand on her hip. “Well, I don’t. I don’t have time.”
Probably shouldn’t say what you’re thinking, probably shouldn’t say what you’re thinking, probably shouldn’t say what you’re thinking…
“You might have more time if you spent less of it complaining…”
Probably shouldn’t have said that. Probably shouldn’t have said that.
Probably shouldn’t have said that…
Yeah. That popped out of my mouth. It wasn’t my finest moment as I picked up my four items and walked to another line that happened to open up at that exact moment because God is good and knew He needed to move me immediately.

It seriously made me realize that yes, my time is important, but not as important as being kind to the people I come into contact with. I probably didn’t improve the life of the woman I snapped at, so there is obviously some room for growth on my end. But I couldn’t imagine blaming and complaining and bitching at people who are all doing their jobs and attempting to help. That was the only way I could think of to not participate in this woman’s attempt at blaming someone else for an experience that wasn’t REALLY that big of a deal.
I once heard Oprah say, “You’re either helping people or you’re hurting them.” Ever since I heard her say that nearly 10 years ago, I decided I always wanted to be helping. I’m not 100% successful, but I’d say about 85% of the time I am helping people more than I am hurting them. I let people in in traffic because I always imagine someone is in a rush to the hospital or to a job interview. I try to enjoy conversations the strangers in Walmart start with me. I like to look cashiers in the eye and make a special point to say thank you to the people who bag my groceries. I ENJOY being that kind of a person. (I know that my kindness and willingness to help annoys some people, but I guess that just proves you can’t make everybody happy.)
Who would you have been in the grocery store situation today? Would you have complained? Snapped a little at the complainer? Stood silent? Texted someone?
And who would you have wanted to be?

BTW I pulled out of the parking lot before that lady even left the store and I made it to carpool on time. <snap snap>

“Hey, mom? What was I gonna ask you?”

“Hey, mom? What was I gonna ask you?”

This was a question my 7-year-old son walked into the kitchen and asked me today. He wanted me to tell him what his question was so that I could answer it.
Guys.
You guys.
WHY WOULD I KNOW WHAT HIS QUESTION WAS GONNA BE.

Or maybe a better question is: why would he think I would know?
I thought about this, literally gave conscious thought to why he would think I know what he was going to ask me. I zoomed out and a whole movie played in my mind:
“Mom, where are my shoes?”
“Mom, is it going to rain today?”
“Mom, where is the remote?”
“Mom, how many bites have I taken?
“Mom, where is my water bottle?”
“Mom, who is that person in the parking lot over there at that store?”
Our children come out knowing nothing. NO. THING. They don’t even know how to sleep right. They don’t know how to eat enough to not die. They look to us for everything. And where it gets tricky is when the get old enough to know a fair amount of stuff and, yet, they still ask the parents. Especially…the moms.
And it’s pretty much out of habit.
Why? Because we know where the shoes are. We know if it’s going to rain, where the remote (probably) is, and approximately how many bites are left before dessert. So why wouldn’t our children think we know who that stranger in the parking lot is or what question they were trying to ask us just now?

If you know me, you know I’m a little bit lazy. I don’t typically shower until around noon. I don’t make the bed. I don’t dust unless people are coming over. I wear a lot of yoga pants. I spray good smells onto bad smells. You know what I’m saying?
I’m also a little bit of a lazy parent. I will send my children back to their rooms three and four times before I will even consider standing up to help them find their shoes.
I thought for a long time that this style of parenting would create independent children; the kind of children who look for their shoes in REASONABLE places for a REASONABLE amount of time before they come asking where they are. For example: I would think that by now, my children would consider the fact that they went outside earlier in the day and that would result in a good place to start looking for their shoes. You know…outside.
I would think that forcing them to unload the dishwasher for me would mean that by the second or third time, they would recognize that cups ALL go in the cup cabinet and there’s never a reason to put ONE cup in the bowl cabinet.
But nay. Even doing the least amount possible as a parent, my kids still wander into the room I’m in to ask me what they came in to ask me.

So for all of those parents out there who receive the barrage of questioning on a daily basis from children who appear to have no brains, I want to tell you that whether you answer their questions or don’t answer their questions, they will still ask you where we keep the ice, how to open the peanut butter, and whether or not the dogs can eat jalepenos. I’ve done the research. It makes no difference. Parenting literally makes no difference.
My son is brilliant and does his own laundry and got a perfect score on his spelling test and he literally shouted, “SQUIRREL” and ran outside to chase a squirrel in the middle of a conversation today.
So have the glass of wine. Help them or don’t help them. Gluten or gluten-free.* All that matters is you love them and do the best you can to keep them from jumping off of cars in the driveway.

*Yes, I know. If your child is a celiac, gluten-free matters. If they’re physically disabled, they may need help. If you’re an alcoholic, don’t drink the wine. Because, duh.

 

Noel – 7

I know it’s been 7 years since Noel died because my son is 7 years old. I will never forget the morning I was nursing my newborn son when I saw on Facebook that he was gone. He’d been in hospice after battling a brain tumor. For a short time it appeared that he won the battle, but it wasn’t long before it became clear he would succumb. And my heart ached for his pregnant wife, for his HUNDREDS of best friends, and his unborn daughter who would never know how incredibly fun her father was; at least not in an up close and personal kind of way.

I write about him every year, not because he was MY best friend. I write about him because his life and death had a very profound impact on me. We attended undergrad together and mostly lost touch after that, except for maybe a like here and there on Facebook. And every year, his life and death teach me something new.
This past year has been one of the hardest and most rewarding of my life. You would think being married, having a child, getting divorced, getting into a major accident and breaking my femur, and getting married again…you’d think somewhere in THERE would be the hardest and best year.
Alas, last year my husband and I started a business. (If you’ve ever done this, you just laughed.) And it has, without question, caused my most honest of total breakdowns. Not knowing if we’d make the bills some months caused me to lose 30/40% of my hair, my husband’s perseverance making me feel so strong that I decide to open my own small business, paying off debts, incurring new ones, hiring people, firing people…it has had more ups and downs that any other era of my life so far.
Ups and downs that I took VERY seriously.
This year, though, I can look back over the past 7 years and say – hey. Wow. Some of these years were awful. Some were great. Some were funny. Some were really weird. But all of them I spent here, on Earth, with the people I love. This is by no means a guilt-blog; I’m not feeling badly about being alive when Noel isn’t. I know for a fact that Noel is feeling incredible, loving his experience in his new realm. No, this blog is more about me deciding that whether I lose it all or gain it all, the most important part of my day should be the zoom out and the zoom in.
Zoom out – is what’s happening with the property taxes or the sod or the water stains in the garage ceiling going to matter a year from now? Two years from now? Five? I can guarantee you that 95% of my day today won’t even matter in 6 months.
Zoom in – I have love. I have a loving husband, a loving mother, loving dogs… And I have love for my children, love for my close friends, love for my dogs. (Dogs are important.) If I can zoom in and find love? Everything else is going to be ok.
Of my 36 years, only about a total of 20 days contained major experiences that still matter now. And zero of them contained a day without love.
It doesn’t minimize my struggles. It doesn’t mean I don’t have issues that knock me down. It means that those things only matter as much as I let them. I can complain and freak out and bitch about the property taxes. Or. I can say, “Well, damnit.” And stroke the check. And move on. Because when and if I die, I won’t care about the property taxes.
Noel didn’t care about student loans and car payments when he was facing the end of his life. He cared that the people who loved him most were there, and that he had the chance to love them back.
I can’t live every day like my last. It’s not reasonable to ask myself to do that. I can just remind myself to zoom out, zoom in, take a breath, and keep laughing.
Laughing like he did.
All my love to his beautiful wife and incredible daughter. <3

Angry People

A friend of mine texted me yesterday and asked me if I write my blog at a specific time every day. “No,” I responded. “I write when I’m inspired to write.”
I want to share my experience at the Propel Women’s conference, but I’m inspired to share something else today..

Often times, my job consists of dealing with angry people (something I’m very good at). I enjoy this part of my job because most of the time, I can help change the vibration of a situation and offer the angry person a surprise or a smile or a gentle shove towards the exit door because my goal is always to seek my own peace and happiness. Yesterday, in response to an entirely free offer, someone sent this to one of my clients:
I find it interesting that you make two really big assumptions right from the start..Your fundamental flaw…….Why your way doesn’t work. I find it a turnoff that the language you are using assumes all this to necessarily be true. Perhaps a more positive use of language such as how to improve the success of your work, or some other way of saying that would be way more inspiring.

Not the most well-written email, but you can see the point was to suggest my client use more positive language in her attempt to solve a problem and meet a need for her clients.

If you knew this client, you’d know she is possibly the most positive, attentive, life-giving, well-intended woman on the planet.

So, she forwarded the email to me because she was so flabbergasted that anyone could find her to be negative, she couldn’t even respond. I wrote back:
Thank you so much or that feedback, Name. Each time we re-write or improve a section of our work, we take this kind of input into consideration. Without it, we can’t grow! We will try to use more positive language in future versions. 
Joy!
Erin

Now, I could have responded like this:
The language you are using to point out this perceived negative language is, in fact, rather negative; which leads me to believe the common denominator in all of this negativity is you. Those coming to this site and choosing to participate in this FREE offering are doing so because something isn’t working for them, so to speak to them as though something isn’t working is only to validate their feeling that they are in the right place and that we want to serve them and hopefully improve their situation. Your feedback highlights to me that you didn’t resonate with (or perhaps didn’t even read) any of the material because you are far more interested in finding problems than in solving them. When and if that point of attraction changes, we would love to work with you.
Joy!
Erin

That second email…that felt fun to write. It felt righteous and well-stated and hilariously ironic in its tone. The person reading it would have probably felt belittled at best, revengeful at worst. The email string would have gone on and on, trading bitchy (yet proper) issues raised with the other until someone finally ended an email with “Good Day” and we all went off and talked to our friends about how right we were.

Here’s one I fielded on behalf of another client not long ago:
I fucking hate this newsletter and I hope you die or kill yourself.

My response:
There is an unsubscribe button at the bottom of every newsletter. I do hope you can find that button and click it, soon!

A little more cheeky of a response, but warranted, no? Of course, I wanted to say:
I cannot imagine what your life must be like that you have the time and the energy to produce so much hate for a digital file sent directly to the computer in your home, free of charge, using technology that wasn’t even available 10 years ago in the way that it is now. I would like to suggest that you not only unsubscribe from this newsletter but that you also seek counseling; it doesn’t even have to be professional. Just talk to ANYONE about what’s really bothering you and try to get to the root of it.
It terrifies me to think what you say to the mailman the day the local circular comes out. 

I spent years using my wit and intelligence to destroy people with words. I was good at it, too. It was pretty rare someone could top me. There was a superiority that came along with it and, for a good long while, it made me feel better.
Until it didn’t.
I don’t know if I grew up or matured or just got tired of five dollar words, but I would so much rather mind my own business now than I would getting all spun up in someone else’s baggage. If you cannot speak to me kindly, I can speak to you kindly but I can also walk away. If you cannot be constructive, I can be and I can move towards people who have a greater tendency to BE constructive. If you aren’t respectful, I can just smile and move along. I waste FAR less energy worrying about whether I’m right or wrong, and spend far more of my time focused on how I feel. If it doesn’t feel good, I don’t do it. And reading someone their proverbial rights only felt good in the moment…then I realized I’d just put time and effort into something that yielded me nothing.

So let me appeal to your greed. The next time you want to show someone why you know more on Facebook, or why your way of doing things is right, or why so-and-so is wrong…ask yourself if it actually makes you feel good. Investigate what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you want to feel good or do you want to be right? Do you want the other person to feel bad before you can move on to feeling good? Do you need to make a point or do you need to surround yourself with people who don’t need the point in order to be happy?
Like everything else, this has been a process…an evolution for me. I still occasionally decide I’m going to show someone how smart I am and how dumb they are for challenging me to a word-duel. But for the most part, I get way more satisfaction snuffing out the bitching-fires and focusing on snacks and naps and funny TV shows.

Adopted

I wrote my first blog in a while last week, and it was a doozie. I wasn’t nervous, per se, to reveal what I felt like was a pretty personal experience. I was….sad. Embarrassed. And then I was afraid people would think I was writing that blog from a place of, “Hey, look at me!! Look how hard it’s been!” It actually took me a few days to realize I was writing it because sharing my own garbage quiets it down, and also gives other people the chance to look at their own garbage and say, “See?! You’re not so loud, stupid garbage.”
Then, as the Universe would have it, I was almost immediately met with a vibration equal to the one I was practicing when I shared that blog. The very next morning at 7:45am, I got a phone call.
“Hey. Ms. Salem? You’ve been matched.”
No, I have not reapplied to be on “The List.”
But I did forget that three weeks ago, Bear and I applied to be on “A List.” We offically became foster Boxer parents. So that phone call, less than 12 hours after I published a blog revealing my sadness over the little boy that was to be mine, I was gifted another little boy.

His name is Frazier.

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The timing was astounding, as timing always is when you let it be. A two-year-old Boxer baby was being surrendered by his owner because he couldn’t keep up with this guy’s energy. I was absolutely thrilled, and so were the boys. A new, albeit temporary, member of our family.

Like every new experience or relationship, it started out roses. We were almost long distance, Frazier and me, exchanging pictures and texts before we first met. Of course, like any intelligent woman in this day in age, I did a background check. No diseases, no aggressive behavior, no past owners dead of “unknown causes.” He was a perfect fit.

Then. He got here. And let’s just say while Frazier and I hit it off quite well, the other two dogs will a little bit pissed.
Charlie, our older Boxer, just stared at me. “Why in the hell would you do this to me?”
Bella, our younger (but still older) Boxer immediately staked her claim and showed Frazier where she kept her teeth.
There was a good bit of running and leaping through the back yard, and a fair amount of Bear pulling Frazier off of one of the other dogs. In total, it was about an hour’s worth of, “What the hell have we done?”

Today, though, he’s been an angel. A wild, bucking, adorable, completely-unaware-he’s-more-than-just-a-head angel. And nothing (major) has been broken. I even got a call today from a prospective family who is looking to adopt him. And who wouldn’t?! Look at that face.

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I love that the Universe shows me what life would be like with more moving parts; the moving parts I think I want or think I need to be happy. He shows me and then he creates a way for me to release those moving parts safely and with love in order to dig in deeper to all the gratitude floating around my brain for what’s already here. I am loving having Frazier in this family, but two dogs is probably enough. I know I would have loved the little guy who might have joined my life 3 years ago, but I didn’t know yet that I already had two boys, and two boys is definitely enough and totally awesome. (Besides. I don’t want to have an actual drinking problem…) So here’s to the Universe giving me exactly what I need exactly when I need it, as if to say, “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. And wait ’till you see what I’ve got up my sleeve next!”

Notice my dogs wont even look at him.

Notice my dogs wont even look at him.

Orlando

I was in yearbook club after school when I was in sixth grade. The woman who led yearbook club was a math teacher, but she wasn’t my math teacher. I think that’s why I loved yearbook club so much: I got to be with a cool teacher I really liked, one who was young and hip, but not one who taught me geometry.

On one particular day in club, a day we’d been studying the presidents, someone brought up a conversation about presidents being killed. We were talking, at 11 and 12 years old, about what it would be like if our president was shot. Suddenly our yearbook club teacher looked up from her desk and asked, “Who was shot?” Only half-paying attention, I wondered if she thought perhaps our current president or someone else we knew was recently murdered and we were casually discussing it.
“President John F. Kennedy,” one of my girlfriends responded.
“Oh,” she said. “Good.”

I wanted to believe she meant, “Oh good, we’re not talking about something current…” But that’s not what she meant. She meant, “Oh good, I didn’t like his politics anyway. One less political representative I don’t agree with out of the way.”

“Good?” I asked.
“You wouldn’t understand…” she said to me, moving on to hand us a layout or something.

I vividly remember feeling shocked. How could someone say they’re GLAD someone else was shot?! Maybe…no, certainly…I was naive. But maybe I still am. I cannot believe that anyone would be glad that anyone else has died.
That was the first experience I ever had truly hearing hate. Not, “I hate cleaning my room” hate. True, passionate, I’m-glad-he’s-dead hate. In that case, it was a matter of Democrats and Republicans. This weekend, it was a matter of gay and straight. But truly, the sentiment was the same: us and them.

Last night, as almost a “Fuck you, we’re still going to sing”, I attended a Tony Awards viewing party with all my friends. (As many of you know, I was a theatre actress for many years.) I watched with a full heart a room full of new, old, young, seasoned, black, white, Japanese, Jewish, gay, straight, scantily clad and WHAT ARE YOU WEARING actors honoring each other. This is the community I grew up in. This is probably what made me so naive. I never saw another way to be except to accept those around me, just as they were.
Perhaps theatre is different. Many of us turned to theatre because we had a burning passion we couldn’t survive without stoking. We didn’t care if we were Drama Club Nerds or mocked by our peers. Truly, we didn’t. And never once did we look at each other and feel disdain for anything anyone else was. We learned early on that it didn’t matter if we got the lead, a part in the chorus, or if we were working backstage. Because the picture was bigger. We were working together to create something new; each person integral to the movement of the whole.

Sunday morning hit me the same way that yearbook club teacher did: how could you think that? I will never, ever, never understand that there truly are people in the world that don’t see the bigger thing we’re creating. They miss the fact that each of us is integral, that we were each chosen to be here to play our part. And that it literally does not matter if you’ve just won your second Tony award or if you’ve just written your 900th blog post that only your friends and family will read. There is no score, there is no separation. There is no hate.

I have no idea what happened to the yearbook club teacher. I stopped going to club and moved on to seventh grade without saying goodbye to her. I wasn’t mad at her. I was scared of her, scared of how easily she celebrated hate. I don’t care if you support gun control, Trump or Clinton, I don’t care who you choose to sleep with and whether or not you agree with anybody else. I don’t hate you, and I won’t ever hate you. I won’t wish you dead and I won’t celebrate the bad things that happen to you. I just won’t. I may not love you, or even like you very much. But I refuse to spend even a second of my life emulating the man that shot 50 people for being different from him.

I hope you don’t either, in any sense, any capacity, ever find yourself hating people for being different from you.

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Get to the Point

6a0133f49a611c970b01676676aae1970bAuthor Mary Karr gave an interview recently about raising her son after having a hellacious, salacious, fuck-all-acious childhood and young adulthood of her own. Her poignant and straight-forward parenting methods included remaining honest about her early years, before she got sober and started writing, and it plucked about 5 of my strings at once. She said to her son when he turned 13, “You’re gonna want to drink and have sex and do drugs. I want you NOT to drink and have sex and do drugs. You’re gonna continue to want to do those things and I’m gonna continue to try to prevent your doing them. That’s just what we’re engaged in. Let’s not make it personal. Let’s not make it, like, that I’m a bad person or you’re a bad person. Let’s just make it that’s what I’m doing and that’s what you’re doing.”

Stop. Right. There.

This is how I communicate. This is how I believe all people should communicate (because I’m a human with an ego and so everyone should be like me): with facts. Not with emotions and not with assumptions, but with facts.
Fact: You will want to drink.
Fact: I won’t want you to, so I will try to prevent you from drinking.
She outlined the battle that she and her son might or might not engage in throughout his teenage years and didn’t attach anything personal to it. It somehow takes the power out of it, the mystery out of it. Here’s what is going to happen!
She also decided that she would not take other people’s actions personally, specifically her own flesh and blood. She would not assume he would begin drinking because he didn’t like or respect her. She didn’t guess which nights he may or may not drink, nor did she tell him how much it “hurt” her when he did get busted with beers. There was no attachment to personal feelings of self-worth in her mother-son relationship. There was great love, there was ardent protection, and there was passionate grace. But no personalization. (She stayed in her own lane.)
Then she said something even better…
“He told me, ‘You don’t understand. You’re crazy, you think that because you had a problem I’m gonna have a problem…’ And I told him, ‘Look, it doesn’t matter. I busted you with beers, ergo, you no longer have a car. It’s just the rule.’ I didn’t get angry about it, I was just drawing a line.”
(BTW: We should all be using “ergo” in at least once sentence a day.)
What if all communication in life could be this simple?! No drama, no over-the-top sentiments…just…facts. This leads to that.
You don’t show up for me when I need you in our friendship? You don’t get to be my friend anymore.
You smart off to your superiors? You don’t get to have a job anymore.
You spend your money on shoes and coffee? You don’t get to have lights on inside your house.
Our life doesn’t require this much discussion or this many feelings if we choose to live simply. Our life doesn’t require this much OVERTHINKING! Stop thinking and list the facts, and you might be surprised how much clearer your next steps can be.

Ergo.

This blog.

Outside of our Comfort Zone

You’ve got your reasons. Everyone does. What part of “Prince has died” gut-checked you today? Even if you weren’t a fan of his music, you understood the massive influence he had in so many other musicians’ lives. He made it ok for an album to have rock, pop, R&B, and dance all strung together between 12 songs. He convinced you doves can cry. He was a short, effeminate (let’s be honest), black man who women absolutely THREW themselves at, and who he loved right back with intensity and fervor and oh those eyes! But none of that is why my bones ached after I saw that he had passed away…

It’s commonplace for artists to set themselves apart. They must continue to do that in more and more ridiculous ways in order to maintain an “image” or to be “original”. Anymore a woman can show up to a premiere naked and disparaging her own country and it’ll be on the 6 o’clock news as being groundbreaking or empowering. What I loved so well about Prince was that he simply had absolutely, unequivocally, zero fucks to give about what people thought…
I don’t think this zero-fuckedness came with a sense of superiority or an air of resentment towards anything in his life. It wasn’t rooted in an intention of being better or bigger or more. It was a man deciding that, with this one life, he was going to do exactly what he wanted to do. If it meant assless chaps, if it meant doing a cameo in a Dave Chappelle skit, if it meant ordering spaghetti and orange juice (which he often did), he just…well…did it.
He offended people. He bothered people. He was rude sometimes, occasionally so strung out on ecstasy that he couldn’t maintain a sense of reality for stretches of time (though it was the 70s). He would challenge you to a game of pickup basketball and he would probably beat you. He had houses full of unreleased music…a lot of unfinished ideas…
He was also a human being.
There was no hiding mistakes, no glorifying successes. There was just a whole big life lived entirely outside of the comfort zone we all know and love so well. He stayed there, outside the squishy circle, and maybe even trusted that it was all going to go down as it should so he may as well have a fun time while it’s happening…

I didn’t think about what it feels like to step outside my comfort zone, like REALLY step out of it, until yesterday. Even having Abe and getting divorced weren’t really “stepping outside my comfort zone”. Those were things that happened to me (and with me); not exactly things I chose to do altogether on my own.
It occurred to me earlier this week that my constant craving or concern for financial stability is an issue I have laid at Bear’s feet. I hitched my wagon to his star and then said, “Great. Thank you. Now pay the bills.” But, in honesty, I have a degree. Two of them, actually. I have experience and skills and talents and gifts…Why don’t I go out and find a job that will help this family relax a little bit? So I decided to start sending out cover letters and resumes. But not without intense trepidation.
Why?
Because what will people think?
I spent all day yesterday pouring over a cover letter, ensuring it was just right, just enough, full of information but stripped of too much detail that no one cared about. I literally agonized over sending this letter, pacing in front of my computer, reading it over and over and over again…
I finally pressed send and then had a damn near panic attack wondering if they were going to think I was an insane cray person for even suggesting I was worthy of a job?! I haven’t worked outside my home in 5 years! I don’t own work shoes! Why would they even consider me?!?!
Oh, and then wait. Other people.
Will they think Bear can’t provide for me? Will they wonder why I want to get out of the house?! Will they think I mismanage our money or that Bear is a closet gambling addict?!
Most of the day I thought about all the things that could externally affect the direction my life will go next.

Today, though…I understand a little piece of life in a different way. I can worry. I can wonder. I can analyze. I can OVER-analyze. I can even panic. But as we are all-too-often reminded, we don’t know when it’s going to be over and then what will the point of proofreading the cover letter 20 times have been? Today, I would rather send my music out into the world, slap on a pair of assless chaps, and know that this is all going to go down the way that it should anyway.

 

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Thank you, Prince, for the magic, the way my chest fills with what feels like glitter when I hear one of your songs, and for the hundreds of times my mom and I sang, “Little Red Corvette” together growing up. Thank you for truly sharing your gifts, your love, your talent with us all in an effort to make us better in your own special way. Thank you for following your own path so fervently. I am honored to have shared the planet with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half Full

optimismI am an incurable optimist. I’m guessing a lot of people mistake my optimism for being naive and or just plain old southern bless-her-heart stupid. I’ve been told on more than one occasion I’m being “taken for a ride” as if I don’t really see what’s going on around me. Sometimes I may be missing something, but for the most part I’m not: I’m just not reacting to it.

I’ve tried to explain to a lot of people in my life that my compassion and ability to let things go and remain optimistic is a choice.
Someone flips me off in traffic? He must be having a really hard day and I hope it gets better.
Someone doesn’t call me back when they say they’re going to? Hopefully they’re safe. They’ll get back to me when they can.
It rains on my wedding day? What a funny way to remember this occasion forever!
What does it actually hurt to remain optimistic and compassionate? Releasing all that negative doesn’t put me at risk for not noticing someone hurting me or taking advantage of me; it just gives me the chance to check everything out from the positive perspective before creating issues that may never have existed.
People around me create conspiracy theories for themselves, like the world is out to get them. A woman said to me the other day, “My ex-husband has been calling me. He’s probably trying to cut off my alimony so I’m not answering!” It floors me when people go to the worst case scenario and just stay there. They set up a whole tent based on the worst case scenario and then they build a fire and LIVE right there in the experience that hasn’t even happened yet. Truth is if she did answer and her ex-husband revealed he was no longer paying her alimony, she might also learn why and glean some compassion from the conversation. Or she might just take him straight to court. Either way, remaining pessimistic does nothing to solve the problem, and it leaves her feeling shitty.

I’ve tried explaining my perspective on remaining incurably optimistic to so many people with this oldie but goodie: “Everything will be OK in the end, and if it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.” That’s John Lennon, and so sometimes the argument is…well…John Lennon said that. Not the best example of everything turning out ok in the end eh? At least as far as we can see…

But over the weekend, I heard the greatest example of optimism and why it makes more sense than any other way of living life, and I’m positive you pessimists can’t argue with this one.

“Nobody knows enough to be pessimistic.”

AND THAT’S EXACTLY IT!! Being pessimistic is almost arrogant. It’s assuming you know the way things are going to turn out!! And even if you plan out a scenario to the bitterest of endings you can possibly conjure, you STILL don’t know if that’s how it will all turn out! Bear losing his job a week after we closed on our house looked pretty bleak. Losing the job he landed AFTER he lost his job a week after we closed on our house could have been the end; the worst case scenario. But guess what? We didn’t know enough yet to be pessimistic. And two weeks later, he had an interview for a job that is now the greatest one he has ever had!

You don’t know enough to be pessimistic. You don’t know enough to assume the worst. Instead of being pessimistic (or as many of you pessimists like to veil it, “realistic”), could you just wait and see? Could you stop guessing the worst ending and just wait to see what the ending actually is?
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be wrong.
The world doesn’t need a gabillion optimists. Don’t go full optimist for me. Just meet me in the middle where you don’t know the outcome and see where life goes.

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