Archive of ‘Bleah’ category

How to Heal a Cold if You’re a Perfectionist

…in 10 easy steps.

  1. Begin by complaining you don’t feel well so other people around you know that you are definitely sick.
  2. Go home early and post pictures of yourself on Facebook being sick so people know that you are definitely sick.
  3. Start to feel guilty about the fact that you went home early (even though you are definitely sick).
  4. Begin thinking about all of the things you could do if you just got up for a few minutes.
  5. Get up for a few minutes.
  6. Realize you’re definitely still feel sick and go back to bed.
  7. Begin thinking about all of the things you have left to do and wonder if any of them could be done from a laptop in bed.
  8. Get up and get your laptop and bring it back to bed.
  9. Try working from bed but remember you’re definitely sick.
  10. Take cold medication and try to go to sleep, but lay in bed feeling guilty about how much work you didn’t get done.

My Dog Licked My Toast

It started first thing this morning.
I woke up, showered, and made myself a piece of toast. It was Ezekial bread, to be exact. You know, that ridiculously expensive bread that is supposed to be better for me so I pay the 6 bucks a loaf even though it’s probably the same as just buying Pepperidge Farms? That toast.
I set my toast on my nightstand when I leaned over to pull my wet hair out of my towel, only to discover my dog Walter was licking my toast. Now, Walter doesn’t have very many teeth so brushing them is an impossibility. For that reason, his breath is unusually horrendous. This single piece of toast was probably work about $0.50 and my dog was ruining it with his dead-fish breath.

I made it to work on time, though I was starving. I started a new workout routine last night and so I knew I needed to eat. Instead of going and getting myself something nice to eat, there was leftover caramel-covered popcorn in the office and I decided to eat a handful of that.

It’s pretty similar to a slice of Ezekial bread, right?

As the day wore on I spilled coffee on my white shorts (who wears white shorts?!), I overbooked myself and forgot to eat lunch, picked up lunch for a few of us in the office and then ate it so fast that I gave myself heartburn, and by about 2pm my body had the shakes and the chills.

“You look tired,” one co-worker said. I wasn’t tired. I slept great last night. And I really wanted to make it to my gym class since I JUST FREAKING STARTED THIS NEW ROUTINE.

I took an ibuprofen and a sudafed, drank a bunch of water, and charged ahead full-speed.

Until an hour later.

My husband called me to let me know he was on his way home from out of town. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I don’t feel good.”
“Oh. Are you a

t home?”
“No, I’m at the office,” I said.
“Go home, then. Right?”

I spent a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to feel well enough to get to the gym because I said that I would. I fought through my work because I made promises I needed to keep. I still had to get to the post office to mail a book and get a check to the pest control company. Oh and Open House at school is tonight…

Go home, Erin.

It’s my biggest flaw. I make plans and then hold myself to them with such fervor that it rarely occurs to me…I don’t have to.
I don’t have to go to the gym.
I don’t have to finish my work or go to the post office or (gasp) go to Open House.
I don’t have to do anything.
I can just go home, drink Emergen-C, have soup, and then go to sleep if that’s what my body needs. The worl

d will still turn, the post office will re-open, and my child will still get into college.

I’m writing this because I want to make sure no one else misses the opportunity to go home. As much as it feels like you cannot simply go home, you can. Everyone else, everything else can wait until you’ve taken care of yourself. I know, I know. I didn’t think it could all wait, either. I’m telling you. It totally can! It turns out that most of the population does, in fact, continue thriving without you being present!

Now, will my son’s new teacher think I’m a slacker for not coming to Open House?
Maybe!
Will it be even harder getting back into my gym routine now?
Possibly!
Will the person waiting on me to send them the book be really, really, really mad I didn’t send it today?
TOTALLY COULD HAPPEN!

Also, though, despite all those maybes, I’m a human being who gets to decide when and who she takes care of first. It would be fantastic if someone was standing next to me all the time saying things like, “Erin! Time to eat. Erin! Let’s have a rest. Erin! Sleep in today!” Alas, as it turns out, that someone has to be me.

You’re totally allowed to show up for yourself first. You’re allowed to say no. You’re allowed to let other people down. You’re even allowed to make them mad. But you must take care of yourself first. Starting now. Promise?

I’m now going to take a bunch of cold medicine with a giant jug of water, snuggle into bed with my dogs, and wake up to see how I feel in the morning. (Heck. Maybe I’ll sleep in.)

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.

The Affair

On our way home from Thanksgiving with family, I got a text from one of my closest friends asking me to come over. It’s unlike her, as she’s not really the touchy-feely type who likes visitors. She’s more the, “If there’s a problem, let’s solve it. I’ve got notepaper and shovels,” type of friend. I told her I could come over after we got back into town and that’s when she dropped the bomb…
She’d just learned her husband had been having an affair.
I gasped so loudly that Bear repeated, “WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?” in the truck as he drove, and I couldn’t seem to get words out fast enough. The rest of our three hour drive was filled with silence and a bunch of “Oh my God” and “What the fuck?!”
This wasn’t the couple from whom you’d expect this news. This wasn’t the day on which you’d expect this news. (Is there a proper day?) This was completely blindsiding. And if I felt blindsided, I couldn’t imagine how my friend felt.

I immediately started feeling my divorce PTSD kick in. I was never cheated on, myself, but I know all too well the massive implosion that happens when you get those divorce papers in the mail or, that very specific moment when you realize that you’re definitely getting divorced. Me? I was sitting in our kitchen in the house we bought together at about noon on a Wednesday, and a weird little voice spoke in my head and said, “There is no coming back from this. You’re going to get divorced and move out.” It could have been my dad speaking, who died almost 30 years ago now. It could have been God, but it didn’t sound like the one I usually talk to. Whoever it was sent a MASSIVE rush of fear, anxiety, anger, and acceptance all at once through my body. It was the turning point: the moment that I stopped praying I could fix the things we’d both done to screw it all up and, instead, started walking through the war zone that was my life to get to my new life.

Getting the phone call that someone I knew well and trusted implicitly had cheated on my friend made me wonder, “Do you not realize that it’s not just your spouse you affect with your behavior?” I started feeling angry that he hadn’t once thought about how it would all affect his friends and family, not just his wife.
Of course, being the ever-inquisitive one looking for the other side of the coin, I started googling. I wanted to find out why people do this.
As we all kinda already know, I found a million articles to suggest there is no one reason why something like this happens. There are opinions, well-researched books and articles, and a handful of podcasts (all of which I listened to) on the subject. The through-line amidst it all is that the reason never really matters. The way both people handle it afterwards is what matters. And there’s no right way to handle it, either! So by the end of my 5-day crusade to understand why this was happening to two people I cared for so much, I came to the rock-bottom conclusion that there is nothing to understand. There is only picking up and choosing how to move forward through the war zone to get to the next life. As Esthere Perrel, a famed infidelity researcher, said, “This marriage is over. Now you get to decide if you’re going to start a second one together or not.”

I quietly mourned all week, for my friend and for my first marriage. It seems whenever my divorce PTSD gets triggered, I have to mourn it all all over again. I am in such a better place, such a stronger marriage than I was 5 years ago, and yet I still struggle to love and accept that I didn’t end up with the picture-perfect life I’d so hoped for.
The more I let go of the “picture-perfect” though, the more I figure out that there isn’t really ever such thing. Sure, you can experience it for a while, but life has a way of happening. Stability and stasis aren’t the norm. Change and growth and constant updating are the norm. And the sooner you can get used to that, the easier it is to be happy even when things aren’t picture-perfect.

Were you ever shocked by someone you knew who was having an affair? How’d you handle it? Did you say something? Did you try and save the friendship?

Big hugs to my friend if she’s reading. Keep pushing forward. I’ve got a notebook and two shovels.

Portion Control

Something happened when I turned 35.
The 5 pounds that could come and go as they pleased…came. And stayed.
The tricks I used like lowering my calories for a few days and drinking tons of water made no difference. Suddenly, I was stuck with the extra 5 pounds. And beyond diet pills (which I am NOT willing to try), I had no idea what to do toget rid of the poundage.

I joined a HIIT gym last year and started working out 4 or 5 days a week. I did begin to lose some weight and change my body shape, which was AWESOME, but there were parts of me that wouldn’t budge. (PARTS THAT ALWAYS BUDGED BEFORE.) So after I turned 36, my girlfriend suggested I pay closer attention to my diet.
I’d almost prefer be fat or take diet pills than pay closer attention to my diet.
I hate turning down cake or a martini, or a cake martini. I hate saying no to potato chips; it feels rude. I hate walking past the halloween candy over and over and over again like it’s NOT EVEN THERE. But I agreed that instead of my typical, “I’ll cut out carbs,” or “I’ll cut out fat,” or, “I’ll cut out eating,” diet plans, I would begin to spread my meals out over the course of the day and be more focused on portion control.

God I wince just TYPING “portion control.” It’s like the saddest two words in the universe when you put them together.

I started yesterday morning with an eating schedule and a list of foods that fit into the portions I planned to eat – a protein, a vegetable, a carb, and a fat. Breakfast was at 8:30 with oatmeal, almond milk, a small side of spinach, and a scoop of protein powder. (BTW, did you know that you can order protein powder in a 5lb container? You can. It is the size of my coffee pot. I will be Hee Man by the end of the week. And if you don’t get that joke, then you don’t yet understand what I’m talking about when I say I turned 35 and things changed because you think I should just do a “cleanse.”)
Being an effective woman, I decided to put the protein powder into my oatmeal. It’s flavorless protein powder. What could possibly go wrong?
Glue. Glue is what could go wrong. My oatmeal turned to glue and was completely inedible. I tried covering it in Abe’s applesauce just so I could get it down, but no. It was awful. I went to the gym after breakfast with only about half my required calories for breakfast.

After the gym came my Shakeology shake, which I drink religiously and with fervor. It was the only part of my day that went right.

Lunch. I had to eat another meal, similar to breakfast. I opted for leftover steak, broccoli, and a little bit of macaroni. It’s cute to say you love broccoli and all that. Look, broc is great with butter and salt or cheese or hollandaise sauce. But straight broccoli is not your first choice and you know it. So I went ahead and added some salt.
Except that I added ALL of the salt.

All the salt.

My girlfriend told me portion control is not always like this.

I was starving by the time dinner rolled around, so I dove into an episode of Lazy Recipes Live and then scarfed down my food, Halloween candy just staring me in the face. Dinner? More leftover steak, butternut squash, rice, and salad.

Today is day 2 of portion control. This morning was much better with eggs and oatmeal instead of glue. But then when I got home from the gym in time to make my protein smoothie, I suddenly remembered why it was so imperative I go to the grocery store YESTERDAY – I’m out of spinach. Not such a big deal? Except that it meant I had to add raw broccoli slaw to my smoothie for the vegetable serving which, as you might guess, is not as easy to hide in a smoothie as spinach is.
Don’t do it. It’s awful.

If this portion control thing doesn’t work, I’m writing a very long blog about how this portion control thing doesn’t work.

 

The Worst Book Report Ever

I started writing a book 5 years ago. My dear friend was my editor (she’s an actual editor, not like, “I dunno but I did real good in English class.”). I was planning to self-publish it.
As we finished the first draft, I got separated, divorced, and my life blew up.

It seems that now, 4 years later, life has put me back on the writing path. And I’m ready to finish the damn book.

As some top authors said in my writer’s workshop over the weekend, “Writing a book is fun, publishing it is not.” I had such a wonderful time writing this book, and going back through the pages and pages of what felt like old friends this week has been soooo very wonderful. And while I do need to focus on finishing the book…
…I actually have to focus on getting it published first.

You see, in order for a book to be published by a traditional publishing house, you don’t actually need to write the book.
You need to write the book proposal.
That book proposal either goes to a whole bunch of literary agents, one of whom you pray agrees to represent you and submit it on your behalf. OR. You send your book proposal straight to the publishing house if they accept unsolicited titles (most don’t). Once the proposal is accepted, the publishing house can assist in the actual writing of the book. It’s part of the “book deal.”
HOWEVER.
After attending the writer’s workshop this past weekend, I’m eligible to enter a contest. The winner of the contest wins a traditional publishing contract. That means I can send my book proposal WITHOUT a literary agent straight to a publisher who guarantees they’ll read it.

This is a once in a lifetime.

So. What is a book proposal?
It is essentially the single most boring book report you’ve ever written in your entire life. It contains information like your target market, comparable books, and a summary of the topic. It averages about 50 pages of OH MY GOD THIS IS SO BORING. I asked the CEO of the publishing house there at the writer’s workshop, “Are all book proposals this dry and boring?” Without saying yes, he essentially explained that they already have an idea of what kinds of books would fill the gaps within their library, and they’re looking for those books. If they were forced to READ every book that came across their desks, they’d never have time to publish one. When he asked me who my target market was, I answered, “Women who forget to put on a bra before carpool.”
He said, “So, in other words, women with children aged 5-15.”
Oh. Well, yeah. I guess that’s one way to say it. The most boringest way possible. 

While I could probably finish my book in about 3 weeks, and have another full round of editing done by the end of the year, I feel like it’s going to take 6 months to slog through a book proposal. It’s SOOOO not my kind of writing. I had the bright idea that perhaps I could call a professional book editor to see if they would write my book proposal for me! I did some research (googling) and ended up on the phone with an adorable woman named Aloha (name changed to protect the innocent) who is about my age and edits the hell out of everything like a total boss. I explained my project and that I’d really like to hand my book proposal over to a professional.
Guess what?
I CAN!!
For a mere $4,000.
<le sigh>

While I could take the leap and hire her today with a credit card, I’d like to give the Universe a second to organize itself into a path that might offer a better opportunity than credit card debt. I’m trusting that the money will make itself available to me so that I have the BEST possible chance of continuing to pursue this dream and GET PUBLISHED!!!

Either way, though? I’m going to do this. I’m going to submit and if this publishing house doesn’t choose me, I’ll continue submitting elsewhere. I’m 36 years old and I will NOT look back in 10 years and wish I would have started 10 years ago. It will not be for nothing. I might not become a published author, but it will lead me somewhere. I can’t wait to find out where.

Also, if you know a professional editor who loves writing book proposals for fun and for free, hook a girl up.

Friend-Stuff

When ya get divorced, you lose stuff.
It ain’t all stuff-stuff, either. A lot of it is people-stuff. Job stuff. Memory-stuff. Feeling-stuff.

But the very worst of it is friend-stuff.

I lost a LOT of friends throughout my divorce. Some of them were my decision. Some theirs. And a few just sort of drifted off into nothingness with no one really taking the oars to row in a certain direction.
This past weekend at my writers’ conference, I made a few commitments to myself.

  1. I will take this process seriously and invest in it.
  2. I will give myself a timeline that’s realistic but also pushes me.
  3. I will call an old friend who helped me tremendously in the writing of my first book and ask her if she will be my friend again because I realized I miss her.

Yesterday, Monday, I made a consultation appointment with a professional editor who costs big bucks. I started writing out a calendar timeline for myself, too.
Oh, and I sent my old friend an email and asked her if she would be my friend again. Just that way. I sent her a message that said, “I’d like to know if we could be friends again.”

She hasn’t answered yet.

Now, it doesn’t mean she won’t answer. She might. She might not. It was a risk. Love, even friendship love, is a risk. But I’m not dwelling the way I would have a few years ago…

I recognize who’s here now, and I’m grateful for them. I have really good friends. Friends who do life with me, not just take selfies. And I have a husband who literally forced me to attend a writers’ workshop and forced me to stand in the lines to speak directly to the authors and forced me to take full advantage of every minute because he loves me that much.

Friends who love you and force you to do the things that scare you are the best kind of friends.

 

 

After every speaker, at every bathroom break, lunch break, and headline lesson of the day,
the doors opened to the breezeway outside the convention center conference room, and there was my husband. It didn’t matter if it was a quick kiss. He was there, making the weekend all about me. So many people said to me, “Wow, it’s so amazing to have a partner who supports you that much.”

It is.

At the end of the day if she doesn’t want to be my friend, it’s not that I won’t be sad. I will. I’ll think about her and the cool friendship we could have had just like I think about all the other important friendships that have come and gone. I’ll be missing her and hoping someday she changes her mind. It just so happens I might also feel grateful that I have more friend-stuff now. I’m really lucky for that.

 

 

I Don’t Need Glasses

Last night, Bear held up his phone to my face to show me a funny text.
I slowly pushed his hand away from my face until my eyes could focus on the words.
“Can you not see that?” he asked.
“Yes, I can see it.”
“Why’d you push it back?”
“Because I can’t see it up close like that.”
“You need to get your eyes checked, babe.”
“I DO NOT.”
“I’m just saying, you’ve said you’ve been squinting and straining lately. Probably time.”
“I DON’T NEED GLASSES.”

I got home from carpool this morning and scheduled an appointment at a local eye clinic for an exam. Bear called me a few minutes later.
“Whatcha doing?”
“I just made an eye exam appointment.”
“You want me to come with you?”
“NO. I’m not SCARED because I DON’T NEED GLASSES.”
“Ok. What time’s your appointment?”
“11am.”
“You want me to pick you up or meet you there?”
“Pick me up if you can…”

We arrived at the eye clinic and the receptionist asked me about my eye health history.
“Astigmatism?”
“No.”
“Glaucoma?”
“No.”
“Glasses or contacts?”
“Neither. I don’t wear glasses.”
“Oh! Ok…”
“I just need an eye exam.”
“Ok, not a problem! Just fill out this paperwork and I’ll meet you in that little room.”

Bear and I went to the little room and I began filling out the paperwork. “Can you read that?” Bear asked me.
“Shut up, yes. I can read it.”
Bear held up two fingers. “How many fingers?”
“Shut up.”
“Ms. Salem? Hi there. I’m going to get you started.” A lovely, young eye technician with shiny green eyes and deep brown skin took her seat across from me. I liked her. She seemed nice.

Bear documented.

Photorapdadon.

We started with the regular eye chart. I could read all the letters, no problem. She then used a little machine to puff air into my eyeballs. I don’t know why. All of this seemed really silly. I don’t need glasses, so it was all sort of a waste of time.
She informed me I was to wait for the eye doctor to meet me in the room with the giant machine called a phoropter. I prefer to call it a photorapdadon. Because it looks like a metal dinosaur with lots of eyes.
I was going to miss her.
The doctor, a petite Asian man in a petite-sized suit, walked in and introduced briefly. Then he placed an eye chart in front of me and pulled the photorapdadon in front of my face. I looked through the photorapdadon’s different eye holes and read off the letters on the eye chart. Easily.
See? I don’t need glasses.
Then, the doctor started flipping these little lenses back and forth inside the photorapdadon eyes asking which looked clearer. He’d say, “Lens 1. Lens 2. Which is clearer?”
The trouble was that they were all really similar for me. 1 and 2 were such a close call that I couldn’t tell which one was clearer. And he kept prodding, “1 or 2. 1 or 2,” flipping the lenses back and forth.
“I…I don’t know…”
“1? 2. 1. 2.” <flip flip>
“I’m not sure.”
“1 or 2.” <flip flip>
“1, I guess?”
“1 or 2.” <flip flip>
“1. 1. I’ll go with 1…”
He flipped the photorapdadon around again and flipped more lenses, asking which looked blurry or clear, all while telling me not to squint or strain or try to hard to see…which was like, impossible. How are you supposed to take an eye test without trying to see? I felt so much pressure.
Then he told me to lean my head back for eye drops. “These will burn,” he said, which didn’t really feel like enough of a warning. They burned a lot. “That’ll take about 10 minutes. Go pick out a pair of frames, pay, and I’ll take one last look and we’ll be done.”
“Wait. Pick frames?”
“Yes. From the far wall.”
“For who?” The little doctor left. “Frames for WHO?”

This was the quite unceremonious way I found out I need glasses today.

What the doctor didn’t explain was that he’d just dilated my pupils. Having never had my pupils dilated before, I didn’t realize that “that’ll take 10 minutes” meant I would basically be blind within 10 minutes. Which makes it seem like a very silly time to be choosing eyeglass frames…

I literally couldn’t see Bear while he took this picture of me.

Bear helped me choose two pair we both liked and then led me back to a chair because I COULDN’T SEE ANYTHING. Another employee wrote up my order and billed me for the exam. I tried to pay but I literally couldn’t see the credit card machine. “I can’t see ANYTHING.”
“That’ll go away in an hour or so,” the employee said.
“Is this how people who can’t see feel? I mean, this must be terrible. I can’t see anything.”
“Yeah. It’ll get better in a while.”
“I can’t see ANYTHING on my phone.”
“Yeah.”
“I’m a little dramatic.”
“I hadn’t noticed…”

Finally, the little doctor called me back in for my final round of torture. If you thought the pressure of the photorapdadon was bad, wait until you sit in a chair with your pupils the size of your whole eyeball while a tiny doctor shines light DIRECTLY INTO THEM.
“OW!” I said.
“Yes, I know.”
Like…that doesn’t help me. The fact that you know actually makes it worse. You should have said something if you KNEW this was going to be an OW.
He used a sideways microscope-looking machine along with his flashlight from hell to examine the INSIDE of my eyeball for THREE HOURS. (Yes, it was about 4 minutes, Bear, I know.) Then, he whisked all the eyeball equipment away and I tried to focus on him while he read me the results:
“You have a very slight need for prescription. You probably wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t use computers all day. This prescription will get worse in the coming years and by the time you’re about 42 or 43, you’ll need bifocals. For now, just wear glasses while you’re in front of the computer or reading. Here is your prescription. Have a great day.”

So there ya have it folks. I walked into the eye clinic able to see without a need for glasses and walked out completely blind holding my new glasses prescription. It feels a liiiiiitle like a conspiracy to me.
I guess….yay new accessories?
(I still don’t think I need glasses.”

Hurricane Irma – Part 1

Saturday –
Hurricane Parties are real things, people. Gather up the snacks, the alcohol, all the perishables, and gorge. With so many of the refrigerators and freezers almost undoubtedly a total loss, it’s better to eat and drink everything all at once then watch it go to waste.
We got up Saturday morning and began cleaning, food-prepping, and my husband even went to Lowe’s and bought wood to build more shelves in the living room. Shelves that might blow away in 36 hours. I’ve been asking him to build those shelves for months and it took a hurricane…
Our friends came over with their kids and we ate and drank and played games and ordered pizza. My husband concocted a signature cocktail for the event: The Irma.
I drank a lot of them. Enough that by about 11:30 I thought it would be smart to single-arm dumbbell snatch 25 pounds in the foyer. And you know what? I’m fine with that.
Sunday –
I woke up with an impending sense of doom.
It’s hurricane day.
Today is probably the last day we’ll have power. The last day we can order food. The last day we’re guaranteed the roof on this house.
It’s a really weird feeling to know that it’s possible your whole life is about to change and there’s nothing you can do, while at the same time also knowing that tomorrow might be the same as today.

We mostly ate and cleaned up from the party and checked and rechecked our hurricane supplies. Unfortunately, on top of a hurricane, there was also a Noreaster storm coming in from the west. It rained all day, which meant that the ground would already be saturated by the time Irma arrived. Any roots that were loose were far more likely to let go of the ground and allow whatever they were growing to fall down with gravity.
This is not a problem for Bear and me. We cut down every tree in our yard when we bought this house. Why? Because we weren’t about to lose any part of it to a tree. Most of our neighbors take very good care of their trees so there wasn’t too much concern about trees falling.
Except for one.

Those Neighbors
We live next door to questionable people. I think about 6 of them live inside this house. A beautiful street of gorgeous, well-kept homes and right next to ours are the people who keep their plastic Tupperware shelves on the front lawn. You know. Just in case they’re NOT mowing their lawn again and suddenly realize they need a shelf to put something on. They also store their old cars, new cars, bicycles, garbage cans, and extra pieces of wood on and near their front yard. Their dogs run around the neighborhood, unkempt, barking and biting at cars and humans.
Oh, and they have a big-ass oak tree in their front yard about 10 years past it’s prime, waiting to fall over in a hurricane directly onto the power lines that power our entire neighborhood.

On Sunday, they decided they would pull one of their 7 vehicles, a truck, onto their front yard. It was then that some of them opted to load a desk onto the bed of the truck as opposed to loading up all the debris and potential hurricane-missiles already on the ground. After about an hour, the desk was safely removed from the home in its entirety and escorted off the property via the one working truck.
I stood at the window live-streaming the event because I couldn’t understand why anyone would stack garbage and old chairs on the curb the day before a hurricane and yet remove a desk from INSIDE the property…

At about 6pm Sunday, we settled in with comedy shows on Netflix and tons more snacks. Somehow, during a hurricane, we feel the need to eat. A lot.
Around 7pm, the winds shifted. You could feel the rain coming from the other direction. “It’s starting,” I thought.
Around 9:30pm, we lost power. First it flickered. Then it turned off. And we forgot how dark it was outside because it was really dark inside now. We grabbed flashlights. My mom retreated to the guest room and Bear and me went to our room. We sat in the dark with our phones, watching weather models of the storm, watching destruction it already left in Miami. We sat in the dark listening to wind gust past the house and rattle our windows. Little gusts. Beginning gusts.

I’ve sat through a lot of hurricanes. None of them started at night. None of them started like this.

Lent

When I was about 2 years old, maybe 3, my dad was pulling the basket out of our swimming pool filter. It was dusk and we were leaving for dinner in a few minutes. I was wearing a cute little jumper and my dad had on a nice collared shirt (which never stopped him from tinkering with high-risk shirt-ruining activities). He leaned down and, as he did, I leaned over to watch him grab for the basket. I remember leaning just far enough to hear him say the beginning of the word, “Oh!” Then I heard a big swish. My eyes were open and I remember a feeling of spinning. Before I could really figure out that I was under water, my dad’s huge arm plunged into the water behind me. His hand wrapped almost twice around my little arm and yanked me to the surface. He stood me up and my mom was screaming.
Keep in mind, I’d been swimming since I was about 6 months old. I regularly swam all summer long in Ohio, so there was no real chance of me drowning.
My mom immediately wrapped me in a towel she apparently always had within arm’s reach and my dad kept semi-shaking me asking, “You ok? Y’alright?” I think I nodded I was fine, but either way they knew I was ok.
Most importantly, I knew I was ok. I knew from the second I fell from the edge into the pool, while I spun down into the water, when I opened my eyes and saw the white wall…I knew that within seconds my Dad’s hand would wrap itself twice around my little arm and I would be back at the surface. I didn’t worry or panic, not even for a second.

Growing up, I usually gave up a food for Lent – one that I liked. Sometimes I gave up something I didn’t like because I didn’t feel like giving up anything I actually liked, but most of the time it was frozen Snickers bars or cookie dough. As an adult I didn’t observe Lent. In fact, I haven’t observed it for about 15 years. So this year, while standing in church on the first day of 40, I prayed hard. This is going to have to be a good one, I thought to myself. I prayed and I listened and I didn’t get the answer until the car ride home.
What do I give up for Lent in exchange for bigger faith in God?
Worry. You give up worrying.
How in the hell am I supposed to give up WORRYING?!
There weren’t any answers after that…
Having a dad for 7 years who was my protector, was my savior, was my personal God (yes, we went to church but he was still sort of God-like to me), it never even occurred to me to worry. About anything! I didn’t worry when it thundered, I didn’t worry in the dark, I didn’t worry when he was late coming home, and I didn’t worry if a bully on the school bus picked on me because I knew my dad would size the 9-year-old up in an ice cream shop and tell him, “Never go near my daughter again.”
My dad’s favorite song was, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” He used to call my mom on the house phone when it came on the radio in his office and put the phone up to the speaker, shouting, “This is that song! This is it!”
The night he died was the very first night that I ever experienced worry.
I have probably experienced worry every single day since.
The idea of not worrying for 40 days was completely impossible, but I felt really driven to at least figure a way to try. I decided that when I began to worry about something, I would actively pray for God to take it from me. Take my money, my self-esteem, my career… I’m turning it over to You. Take it from me.
In other words, “You figure it out.” 
I probably prayed that prayer 1,000 times in the first two days. I tried to rationalize away fear, I tried to write about it, I tried to sit with it and let it take over my body (I would not reccomend this if you don’t know what you’re doing…I don’t know what I’m doing). The ONLY way I could stop worrying was to turn around and walk away from it. If I was balancing our budget and I started feeling panicked, I would set it down and walk away. I’d come back to it later and if I felt the same way, I’d walk away again. I just kept doing that until the fear subsided enough that I could get something done. Sometimes it took hours, sometimes it took days. But eventually I walked away praying my prayer enough times that I could come back and face whatever was worrying me.
I was successful at this about 70% of the time.
There were still days I completely lost my mind. There were still days I crawled into bed and stayed there. But a 70% improvement is damn good coming from where I was coming from.

I think if you grew up for any period of time, be it 18 or 7 years, with parents who made you feel safe and protected, worry isn’t as ingrown in your DNA as it is in mine. You have natural worries. But you don’t worry constantly that no one will pull you to the surface if you slip into the water; you assume eventually you’ll float to the surface and breathe again. I don’t have the innate ability to trust I’ll breathe again. In fact, most days I just assume it will be the last day I could truly breath.

So what happened after 40 days?

I now have longer stretches of breathing. I still panic or remind myself that I haven’t worried in over 27 minutes sometimes. I get myself back into the routine of waking up and beginning a list of things I have to worry about before I set the list down and try to wake up again with a different list, or just a prayer. I am still turning and physically walking in another direction when the all-too-familiar gut punch threatens to reverberate for an entire day. I’m practicing replacing worries with best-case-scenarios, and writing my ideal day out in my notebook at least 4 times a week to focus my energy on something I do want instead of something I don’t. I’ve even caught myself letting loose as if there’s NOTHING to worry three or four times!

But the best part is, in 40 days, I never once drowned. Even when I fell in, I just bobbed up to the surface like an invisible hand was lifting me back to safety. I’m still here, and still breathing.

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