Archive of ‘Am I the only One?’ 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.

Go Where You Are Wanted

Recently, I was listening to an audio class taught by my sweet Kundalini yoga teacher and she said to her students, “Go where you are wanted.” It stopped me in my tracks. Folding my husband’s boxers on the bed in our room I stopped, set the boxers down, pressed pause on my phone, and repeated that phrase to myself.

“Go where you are wanted.”

It’s been 5 years since I’ve been separated and divorced from my first husband. We have done a stellar job rebuilding a new relationship, a co-parenting relationship, that I believe could win awards. (And I do believe there should be awards for co-parenting.)
What I lost in my divorce was my best friend, Karen. She was my blonde twin, my sister from another mister, the truest and most authentic friend I’d had in my life to date. Karen felt very torn between my ex-husband and me during our divorce, and in the end it seemed that she chose him.

This was more devastating than my divorce.

I spent a long time wishing and praying for Karen to come back into my life. So nearly 2 years after our divorce, I reached out to her. It was just a text message but it took courage summoned from my toes to send it. I didn’t know if she hated me or if she missed me or if she even really thought about me anymore. To my utter relief, she replied.
Our exchange was brief and kind. She even used one of our old “just us” jokes and I felt so close to her.

I waited 6 months to hear from her again…

When she did get back in touch, it was to tell me that she was sorry my dog had run away. I guess someone told her what happened. My dog was back by this point so I told her thank you and filled her in. That was it. There was no more after that.

I missed her so much. I missed my friend. I thought about her almost everyday.

A year later, my gynecologist found a lump in my left breast. I was completely terrified. Several friends took me out to dinner to hold me and feed me beer while I panicked and cried. I texted her after a few of those beers, somehow hoping my fear of having breast cancer would inspire her to be my friend again…

By this point I had a new husband. Kind, handsome, and supportive Ryan was there for me throughout the process of mammograms, ultrasounds, and an ultimate “all clear” diagnosis. He held my hand and wiped my tears. I was covered, surrounded, and loved.

But I still missed my friend.

It was almost another year later when she reached out to me. Karen reached out to me. I was overjoyed. I couldn’t wait to catch up with her. We had an hour-long conversation and it was just like old times. She told me she loved me and I told her I loved her back. We were getting this friendship back on track and it was all that I wished for.

The next day I texted her pictures of my wedding. She sent me pictures of her new dog. We were making jokes and giggling and everything felt amazing. “My friend is back,” I told my husband.

That was 2 years ago, and it was the last time I heard from her. I feel a stinging pang of sadness every time I think of the last text message I sent her that received no reply.

Until I heard the words, “Go where you are wanted.” It stung me for years until this moment. Until the day I was folding my husband’s boxers on the bed and I heard the antidote to the sting. “Go where you are wanted.”

How often, I suddenly realized, I have spent time knocking on the doors of those who don’t want me, trying to convince them I’m worth it. Years I’ve spent worried, wondering what I might be able to do to make myself valuable enough for their attention.
Family members.
Friends from high school.
People at work.
Holy cow, I’ve never been a person lacking friends and love. And yet those people who love me have gently stood in the wings waiting for me to finish standing onstage before those who don’t love me, tapping dancing my ass off in hopes that one of them might clap.

It is perfectly ok for people to not like you, to not want to be friends with you. There’s no need to be angry at them for not liking you. It’s just their opinion. But for some reason, our human-selves find it important to prove that everyone can and will like us instead of something far easier – letting those who already love us LOVE us!

It is not selfish to go where you are wanted, either. It is self-love and self-care to allow the people who love you to love you hard, and to gently release those who don’t without sewing their feelings about you to your Girl Scout Sash on the way out.

I have not reached out to my friend again and, at this point, I never will. She is not a friend anymore, anyway. My friends are here. My husband is here. I can see where I am wanted with more and more clarity everyday. And I have less and less interest in those who do not want me.

Go where you are wanted, my friend. Take a look around and starting noticing who is really rooting for you and go there. It is the juice of life. It is the sweetness of life. And it is where you were meant to be: square in the middle of love.

(Thank you, Sat Siri, for being the inspiration behind this.)

 

 

 

 

 

When I Move, You Move

Something new has clicked.

It all started when I decided to gently walk away from my job.
Well, no, it all actually started when I tried to buy a gym.
No, really it all started at the Writers’ Conference I attended in October.
Well, no it all started over the summer when I found out about the Writers’ Conference.
Eh. It actually all started when I decided to start blogging more regularly last year.
Actually, maybe it all started when I figured I would chase after my own dreams when the 2017 ball dropped…

(Spoiler alert – It started then and even before all that.)

What’s clicked for me over the past year is while setting every last domino up for a spectacular display of gravity and momentum is necessary, it is not the final step. The final step is moving.
Pushing the first domino.
But the real clicky moment for me was when I realized that I need both – The set up and the push.

I spent so much time last year journaling, listening to podcasts, watching The Secret over and over again, praying, focusing on gratitude, and sometimes full-on tantrumming about what I want. And what I want is not so hard: tons of money, a fulfilling career, plenty of freedom, and an adventurous, healthy, loving family. (Easy peasy, right?!) But with all that intentional focus, I didn’t see a single thing moving me in the direction of what I wanted. I saw that I was still working for other people making just enough money to cover our bills while my husband built his business with no way out to get to what I wanted.
I did try to take action. I applied for jobs, of which I was awarded none. I tried to start my own copywriting business, which fizzled before it started. I tried to start about 3 other businesses, none of which it appeared I could commit to. What I figured out (in hindsight, not at the time) was that all my action was based in fear and in force. I began by moving from a place of fear that I would never have the things I want, and continued the momentum of moving by forcing things into place in order to get what I want.

It turns out, that didn’t work.

What did work was all that intentional focus. That work I did at the beginning of the year was my set up, my perfectly squared dominos. My desires, my wants, my wishes were all stacking up in a perfect line in front of me; I just couldn’t see the results yet. Like Mike Dooley explains, when you enter a final destination into your GPS, you follow the instructions it gives you. Sometimes you get re-routed. Sometimes there’s a slow asshole in front of you in the fast lane that really pisses you off. Sometimes you have to stop to pee or your mom calls or you need some beef jerky. And if you continue following the directions, you LITERALLY won’t know if they worked until you arrive at your final destination. You’ll have ZERO PROOF that you’re going to get to where you want to go until you arrive. But before you do any driving, you must first set up (enter your final destination) and then you must turn your car on and put it in drive.
What’s important is you move. That’s when you push the first domino.

So all that thought and prayer and journaling led to some blogging because it felt good, and 2017 was the year of feeling good. Soon after I committed to more blogging, an email from Hay House Publishing inviting me to a Writers Workshop. At the time, it looked more like an obstacle than like the perfect next step. It cost big bucks, the hotel was expensive, and I didn’t know if I’d even learn anything new. But I moved because it felt more right than wrong.
Being at the actual Writers Workshop felt SO right and stirred up SO much excitement that I was unstoppable!!! Until I realized that my day-to-day work and life would probably keep me from ever finishing my book. That’s when I was offered the chance to buy a gym.
I got SO excited at the idea of owning my own gym that I threw caution to the wind and went in full throttle. I hired a really expensive business lawyer and educated myself and gathered information and was SO ready to start this new part of my life!!! In fact, I quit my job because I was positive this was going to be THE THING!!!
Turns out, it was not the thing. Ha! And I was left without the income I relied upon and without the dream gym and without a book and without a reason to go on living, etc etc etc, and other dramatic phrasing as well.

Then. One day shortly after losing the gym and leaving my job, it clicked.
I moved, and it worked.
I took risks that felt REALLY right, and despite the outcome not APPEARING to be what I thought it should be, I suddenly realized it was everything I prayed for.
Being an author allows me the chance to make tons of money, be fulfilled in my career, feel free, and have an adventurous, loving, healthy family. I moved and it resulted in a string of events that has led me here: it’s January, my husband’s business is doing so well that he can cover our bills and then some, and I now have the time and freedom to finish my book, publish it, and start the next one. I’m on the journey RIGHT NOW and it’s leading me toward the perfect life (as far as I define a “perfect life”). I’m in the middle of the route and it’s WORKING! I feel perfectly led to exactly where I’m supposed to be with absolutely no idea what “where I’m supposed to be” is or how it will all turn out.
What a delightful, horrifying concept.

But as Brene Brown says, “The opposite of faith is certainty.” I have complete faith that this path will continue to lead me to all the places I want to go, despite the fact that I have no proof it will work until I arrive. And in the everlasting words of the theologian Ludacris, “When I move, you move.”

Just like that.

Your New Year’s Resolution

Dear Friend,

Hiya.

You might call me God. Or maybe the Universe. I might be your Higher Power or The Mother. Maybe, to you, I’m a Goddess or The Creator or The Source.
If you don’t call me by any of those names, then you likely know me as “a coincidence.”
Either way, there’s no judgement here. I just wanted to say hi.

I wanted to mention that you’re here to enjoy yourself. You’ve got the chance to seriously love life, if you want to take that chance. (And it is a chance.) It all feels very risky; I know. It feels like it’s all or nothing, or maybe like it could possibly go wrong. It feels like you might be labelled a “sell-out” or a dreamer or a loser. For the short time you’re here, those things are a big deal. That’s why it’s really, really, really hard to believe that taking that risk that feels so right (but, if it isn’t, could potentially ruin your entire life) is worth it. Easier to just stay still. Fewer projectiles at risk of hitting you when you stay still.
Good news, though. This isn’t a “jump and everything will work out” message. You can jump, but everything might not work out. Not at first. You could jump and everything could fall apart and take a year to put back together. (That’s a skin-your-knee lesson.) Still, though. Jump.
You could also spend some time preparing yourself for the jump. Get a nice parachute, a delightful instructor with years of experience, and plenty of back-up plans. Did you know that preparing to jump is totally ok, too? (It doesn’t actually man that you didn’t “really want” it. It means you decided to limit your chances of failure first. Kinda smart.)

But the point of all of it is to love your life. And you can. You can literally love everything about it. Whether you prepare your brain and spirit for all of that loving first, or you just jump and deal with the fact that you’ll probably hit a few rocks on the way down, you can love it.

So lets get detailed:
Hate your job? That’s ok. Find a job you know you’d hate even more and you might like this one a little better. And while you’re in the business of learning to like your job a little bit better, you should look for another job and ask some friends about where they work and watch movies about people who do things differently from you and decide which parts of those movies you like. You won’t hate your job forever if you don’t keep it forever.
Hate your relationship? That’s ok. Watch a little Maury Povich and then find some things you can plainly see work well in your relationship (like maybe your partner doesn’t have any illegitimate children with other people?). Open a door for him/her. Pull out a chair. Cook a meal or pack a lunch. You might find out you don’t actually hate your relationship…you just hate the way it’s been lately. Or, maybe you do hate it. In that case, feel free to leave it. Or go on Maury.
Hate your dwelling? Definitely move. Don’t listen to them when they tell you it’s a “bad market” or “not good timing.” They don’t get to decide when it is good for you. If you can’t find another place, keep looking. You’ll know it when you see it.

It doesn’t matter what you aren’t loving about life right now. It can all change. Just decide to change it and then don’t panic when it doesn’t change tomorrow. (It probably won’t.)

One last thing – 2018 isn’t “your year.” It’s not the turning point or the new beginning or the perfect time. You get to pick all that stuff whenever you want. But picking it now would be the best time ever.

Resolve to believe you can and should be your version of happy all the time. Best resolution I can think of.

Love you,
God/Universe/Higher Power/The Mother/Goddess/The Creator/The Source/A Coincidental Blog

Showing Up

I spent 5 days in Las Vegas last week, breaking my own “no more than three days in Vegas” rule. I made that rule in my 20s, and now in my 30s, it’s a lot harder to get into trouble, so five days was totally doable.
When Bear and I grabbed a taxi from the airport to the hotel, my first question to our very cool cab driver was, “How’s Vegas? Where were you when it happened?”
He told me the story of being only a block away from Mandalay Bay that night, wondering what kind of sound he was hearing. He said it was too much, too fast to be gun shots. And when he realized it was, in fact, gun shots, he didn’t know what to do but get in his cab and drive around.
Eventually, he drove close enough to the chaos that he was able to use his cab to shuttle people away from the scene of the crime as Las Vegas went on lockdown. Instead of driving away from it all, he drove right into the mess and tried to help clean it up. He said the city was quiet, eerie, strange for a few days after that. But once the smoke cleared, he remarked on how resilient the city is. “We don’t back down. Vegas is our life and we weren’t going to sit down and wait for it to be safe again. We went back to work.”

If there’s one thing that my divorce and second marriage (creating a blended family) has taught me, it’s that you can’t run away if you want to grow. This past week, I ironically encountered a lot of people running away from discomfort. People saying their feelings were hurt, that they didn’t feel safe, they were offended…they ran in the other direction instead of running towards the discomfort like our taxi cab driver in Vegas did. And I realized that the brave ones are the ones who actually show up to sit in all the muck and messy life that is friendship and relationships and parenthood. They sit down and stay there until some of it gets cleaned up, and at least some of the rest of it gets acknowledged. It’s never a perfect story and it rarely ends in a crisp, clean happy ending. But showing up to the mess is probably the only way I’ve ever found to avoid running into that same mess again somewhere else. Cleaning it up feels like death, until it’s over and you realized you survived. Then it feels like victory.

Showing up sometimes looks like knowing when to say when. Sometimes it’s a white flag. Sometimes it’s a physical fight. Sometimes it’s a loud voice and curse words. Sometimes it’s . taxi cab driving towards gunshots in Vegas. There’s no formula, no single one way to show up in the face of discomfort. Not everyone is a hero and not everyone knows how to apologize, which is why we all get the opportunity over and over and over again to show up and learn all the different ways to run towards the chaos. Because the chaos gets a little less chaotic each time you do it. Sitting in the mess feels less…messy after a while.

I thought about it for hours after our cab ride: Would I drive my cab TOWARDS the gun shots? The answer, still, is a resounding no. Maybe in a year or two I’d be brave enough to consider it (if he even considered it before he did it). I tip my hat to Vegas (I don’t wear hats but you know what I mean) for being a city that ran towards the chaos and then went back to work. The metaphor in all that tragedy wasn’t lost on me.

 

A Deep Tuesday Blog

My husband told me the other day that we become completely different people every 5 years; meaning that if you look back at who you were 5 years ago, it’s almost not even recognizable as your life.
He’s totally right.
I got to thinking about who I was 5 years ago…

Blissfully ignorant.
People pleasing.
Kind of self-righteous.
Feeling a rumble of dissatisfaction and ignoring it.
Scrappy.
Confused.
Yearning.
Restless.

…to name a few.

We pride ourselves on being reliable and loyal without really being honest about what has to CHANGE in order to remain reliable and loyal. I desperately sought people who would remain loyal to me five years ago, assuming that once I’d “nabbed” them, they’d stay.
Hardly anyone stayed.
We love to be able to say, “This is who I am, take it or leave it.” Except that who we are inevitably gets different. We don’t mean to be different. I used to be proud to be me until I started realizing how often “me” changed, and then I got very nervous being me.
I even held “me” in place to try and maintain the illusion of sameness.
We love to stand for things and have opinions. I don’t know about you, but in the last 5 years my opinions about a LOT of things have changed. I mean, I COMPLETELY understand why don’t want to just let your child stay up late “just this once” now. The more I see, the more I understand the sheer number of facets that make up any one human being (and that I don’t have to like all of them to be their friend).
My opinions are more wishy-washy than every before. And I’m a lot more forgiving.
Like 1000% more.

I’m stronger, physically.
I’m stronger, emotionally.
I listen (a little bit) more.
I have a harder time relaxing.
I’m a way better mom.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I like everything about my 5-years-ago self because “she brought me to who I am today” and blah blah blah. There’s a lot about that woman that I am glad is gone. I never want to rely that heavily on other people for my own happiness again. I don’t allow people to use me or to tell me what’s right and wrong for me anymore, either. And I won’t give up so easily anymore, either. She ran and hid when things got hard and I’m not going to do that anymore.
I do miss some stuff about her. That blissful ignorance stuff was nice. And her skin was so much tighter around the jawline…

I like most of my differences. I’m not a fan of getting older and I don’t love how some of what I now know leaves me jaded. But I’m definitely growing in a better direction and with more clearly defined goals.

Think about you 5 years ago, the week before Thanksgiving. What were you doing? Were you happy? Happier than you are now? Were you living in pain or in fear?
What’s different? And are you happy about the differences?

That’s a deep Tuesday blog for ya…

Dance Like Someone is Definitely Watching

I am not one thing.
I shop at Whole Foods for some of my groceries. But I also drink pints of beer and eat hamburgers.
I love a good party with lots of food and alcohol. I also want to be left alone on the weekends in sweat pants on the couch.
I can’t stand going to the movies. I love live plays.
I sit down and talk to my kids about how they’re feeling and why they’re acting the way they’re acting. And I also bite their heads off when they leave their shoes in the kitchen.
I remember to take out the garbage every Wednesday night. And I also forget to drag the cans from the curb back to the house until early Saturday.
Some days I make to-do lists. Some days it’s all in my head.
I’m a careful, slow driver. But if my fave new jam comes on the radio, suddenly I’m speed racer.

“Dance like no one is watching?” You’ve heard that old cliche, right?

In the last 5 years, everyone is watching.
Everything.
If they’re not watching live, they’re watching a recording, a hidden camera, a camera phone. You can’t do anything without someone knowing about it…and judging it.
Hell, they’ll judge it before they even ask any questions about it.
Employers now Google potential employee’s names before they take an interview. I was warned at my writers’ conference to Google my own name before I attempt to get published, just in case! Which got me thinking…
I’ve done some crappy shit in my life. Stuff that would surprise you. Stuff that you would say, “No! Not sweet sweet Erin!” (Ok maybe not that last one.) But that’s because I’m not any one thing. And I’ll tell ya, I’d hate to be judged solely by some of those crappy choices.

Think about the worst thing you’ve done. The thing you wouldn’t ever tell ANYBODY except for MAYBE your best friend. And then think about it being documented and available for everyone who Googled to read…

As much as I want to tell my kids to dance like no one is watching, I feel like I should actually tell them to dance like EVERYONE is watching: their parents, grand parents, teachers, future children… Because you will very quickly be posted to SnapChat/Facebook/Instagram/Etc. Even though you shop at Whole Foods and take your kids to weekly music classes for their cognitive development, you’ll be judged on that one clip by a majority of people as being “who you are.”
And you’re not one thing, either.
Nobody is.

We’re all these multidimensional people who get held to one single aspect, one dimension, and we’re expected to stay there! When we change or grow or show a different side, what do people say? “Oh, she’s changed.” Damn right, she changed! Good thing, too. Staying one thing all the time sucks.

So while you read a headline or watch a clip and make a judgement, think about a headline of the worst thing YOU’VE ever done, or even the second worst. Think about what strangers might think of you. And then consider whether or not you want to go on with your opinionated rants.
Yes. Some people are just shitty people. Consistently shitty. But most people have good parts and bad parts, including me, and I’d like to know that the people who matter are focused on my good parts and helping with my bad parts. And if they don’t matter, then the opinions don’t matter.

 

The Field Trip or Bugs in Squares

I get my son about 50% of the time. That means one week I have him, the next week he’s with his father. So when there is a volunteering opportunity at school, I’m the first to sign up because it means more time with him.

A few weeks ago his first grade teacher emailed me and asked if I wanted to volunteer for the local University’s Nature Trail field trip. I immediately moved my schedule around and said YES!

YES YES YES! NATURE!

Would I prefer a field trip to Target so I can show them where they hide the pictures frames that are on sale? Yes. Yes, I would. But here we are.

This morning I helped Abe’s teacher wrangle 36 kids onto a big yellow school bus at 9am. Luckily the ride was only about 10 minutes and despite the fact that children inexplicably feel the need to scream words at each other on a bus, it was smooth sailing.

We arrived at the Nature Trail and immediately headed into a big, wooden yurt where some college students and a ranger gave the kids warnings like, “Don’t touch anything,” and “Don’t yell,” and, “Try not to be 7.”
All the children agreed to these rules and then immediately ran screaming into the woods to climb trees.

Our first stop was the picnic tables where we would explore different “nature stations.” With 8 tables and 36 kids, we could fit about 4-5 kids at each table and then rotate. The teacher assigned me a group of 4 students, and let me tell you…I lucked out. My students were quiet and studious and lovely. I think the teacher knew I would call kids out if they started acting like idiots, and she didn’t want to have to hold me back.
Our first station revealed 7 bugs frozen in some kind of resin square. Bugs in squares is what we were looking at. There were actual live bugs crawling on our table, but we were looking at bugs in squares. It took me the entirety of our time at the first station to realize there was a little script on the table I was supposed to be reading out loud to teach the kids about the bugs. So my group just looked at bugs in squares with no explanation for 10 minutes and then we moved on. Star performance.

Our second station required we write down the answer to some questions about the food chain. Eight pictures on the table showed us things like a bird, a bug, a fish, some grass, and the sun. The students quickly put the pictures in order and then began answering the questions on the mini-quizzes provided at the table. Until the last question… “What bug eats animals?”
Ummmmm.
“Ms. Salem? Can you help us with this? Which bug eats animals?”
“Oh, um…What?”
They all stared at me. I pulled out my phone and started to Google.
Google gave me results like “animals that eat bugs” and “how to cook bugs”, but nothing telling me which bug eats animals.
“Do you guys wanna know how to make marinara sauce? I can teach you that…”
Eventually a ranger came over and explained that the Giant Water Bug eats fish.
Because who doesn’t know that.
Our third station consisted of fake bugs that we had to measure with rulers. It was dumb. The fake ant was bigger than the fake scorpion, which left all the kids asking me if ants really grew bigger than scorpions. (I Googled that, too, just to be sure they didn’t…)
Station four had Giant Water Bugs in a bucket of water. Learning about the Giant Water Bugs at station four before going to station two would have been awesome for my personal level of self-esteem.Station five had leaves. We looked at leaves. We counted holes in them. We smelled them. We talked a lot more than I ever have about leaves.
I don’t even remember stations six through eight. It was a lot of looking at things I usually step on.

THEN we got to go on the NATURE TRAIL!!! YES NATURE! The Ranger handed out small clip boards with a piece of paper full of questions to each child. He told them they were to read the questions as we go because he was going to answer them during our walk. I considered raising my hand and telling him that was going to result in 10-15 children walking directly into trees and possibly the lake, but I decided it was a good chance for a show so I stayed quiet and let it happen. (And it did happen.)The Ranger guided us along the path and showed us wild blueberry plants and as the path neared the lake’s edge, he pointed at the turtles and the lilly pads. It was very pretty.
Then, the Ranger stopped. “Guys! Quiet! Look!”
And there he was. A long, black snake hanging out at the base of a tree. You guys, it was really exciting. He stuck his tongue out at us and nodded like, “Yep. Hey guyth. Yep I’m a sthnake. Jutht thitting under this tree here.” I liked him. He had pizzaz. He had style. He was waaaaay more interesting than bugs in squares.
The children, of course, all heeded the Ranger’s warning and ran screaming past the snake.

When the nature walk ended, we landed back at the picnic tables for bagged lunches. I sat next to Abe and his friends, which was cool because he talks to his friends now. It’s not like before when they just burped and laughed and showed each other the food in their mouths. They say stuff like, “My gummie fruit is similar to yours,” and, “One time my dad ate liver.”

The best, most amazing part of the entire field trip, though, came in the last 5 minutes. We boarded the bus, and Abe sat in our seat closest to the window. Slowly, he began to lean on me. Then, he slinked down a little. A little further. A little more. And then…boom.
My baby 7-year-old fell asleep in my lap.
The entire trip was totally worth those moments. Giant Water Bugs and food chains be damned.
My kid still wants to sleep in my lap after the field trip.

How to Make a Good First Impression

Four years ago, my life exploded. The fall weather gives me anxiety because it FEELS the way it did when my life exploded. The air was crisp and the grass was brown and the heat came on at night in the house.

When I found out that Hay House Publishing Company (the publishing company of my DREAMS) was hosting a writer’s workshop near my home, I was OVERYJOYED and dead-set on going.
When I found out it was in October, I immediately felt sick in my stomach.

Four years ago I lost my first marriage and my friends and my job (with a publishing company, for added irony) all in the course of 3 months. Perhaps worst of all, I lost my motivation to write. And every time I tried to pick it back up, I felt that sick feeling in my stomach like it was October all over again.
So, of course, the Universe offered me the opportunity of a lifetime during the hardest time of year for me.

I didn’t prepare the way I should have, I didn’t practice my elevator pitch or bring writing samples. I did nothing but panic that I would be at a writers’ workshop in October until the day came for me to actually go.
Obviously I felt super prepared.

I got up way too early on morning 1. I showered and put on a cute dress and brushed my hair and put on MAKE UP. Ok?! MAKE UP. My husband literally gave me a pep talk before I walked to the convention center meeting room.
The line was already 10-deep and I arrived an hour early. Within a minute, though, I realized there were two lines: 1 for people WITH their tickets, and 1 for people who still needed their tickets PRINTED.
I didn’t know I could print my ticket because I didn’t check for that option. I checked to make sure I had my laptop and a fresh notebook and a cute dress and comfortable but fancy shoes. Oh and a snack and gum and lip gloss.
I didn’t check about the whole ticket thing…
As soon as I realized the line for people who needed their tickets printed was twice as long as the people with tickets, I started sweating. I whipped out my phone and scrolled through my emails to find the one with my purchase information. I couldn’t scroll and hold my water bottle (Chugs) and my backpack and my coffee, so I set Chugs on the ground in front of me and gently nudge him with my foot as the line slowly inched forward. The email wasn’t there but I remembered my login for their website, so I switched to my browser screen to search there. Inching forward. Pushing Chugs.
Finally, I exhaled when I found my ticket on their website a snagged a screen shot of it just in time to check in. I was awarded my name badge for all my effort, leaned down to pick up Chugs, and proceeded to pour the contents of my coffee onto my left boob.
Sweating began again.
My back was glistening and my cheeks were flushed. I set everything down and ran towards the table near the water dispensers, hoping there would be napkins there.

And then I physically ran into the CEO of Hay House Publishing, Reid Tracey.

Side note: Reid Tracey is 400 feet tall.

I looked up and said, “Excuse me,” refocused, and then realized who it was.
“OH HI,” I shouted with no natural tone at all, in a volume that far exceeded what the situation required.
Winning.
“Hello,” he smiled.
“I just spilled coffee onto my boob…” Stop talking, stop talking, stop talking.
“Are you writing a book?” he asked me.
“What? Oh yes! Yes! I am here for the book. For writing a book!” What are you even saying.
“Great! What’s your book about?”
“Oh it’s, well, there’s one that’s about the, um, so one is my story about pregnancy or, well, not pregnancy but about trying to get pregnant. Well, not TRYING to get pregnant like the actual trying, but then the other one is about being great.” What are you even saying.
“Ok sounds great.”

He walked away. As he should have.

I smashed some napkins I found on the water table into my boob and then realized how ridiculous that looked but I kept doing it. Then, I shit you not, a woman asked me, “Oh, are you lactating?”
“No, no. Just spilled coffee on my boob.”

She walked away, too.

I was off to the BEST start.

I walked back over to my backpack and Chugs and took a deep breath. Ok. So you spilled coffee on your boob and walked into Reid Tracey as if he were a telephone poll and you were blind and you’re for sure not lactating and everything is going to be fine. You’re going to put on your big girl panties and you’re going to make an impression. You’re going to go after what you want. You can do this. Go in there.
I picked up my stuff and walked into the convention center room. I walked straight to the second row and staked my claim. And then, I turned right around and marched back over to Reid Tracey.
“Can I please have a picture with you?” I asked.
“Sure!” he said.

And I did it. I started my weekend off at the Hay House Writers’ Workshop in Orlando by snagging a picture with Hay House CEO Reid Tracey with a coffee stain on my boob.

Luckily it only got better from there…

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.”

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