Archive of ‘Erin’ category

On Saying No…(Yes.)

“‘No’ is a complete sentence.” – Oprah Winfrey

I tell people to say no. I remind them. “It’s ok to say no!” And isn’t it just the most tangly web when we tell other people what we ought to be doing?
The problem is I don’t even realize when I start yessing myself to death. Most of us don’t. We say yes to helping, to trying, to fixing, to going, to staying, to reading… We’re exhausted and out of time and proudly wearing the “I Do Everything” badge and we cannot for the LIFE of us figure out when we’ll be nominated for the Nobel ISayYes Prize while we’re finishing up that favor for that one woman we met at church one Sunday and simultaneously texting our girlfriend to let her know we’ll watch her kids on Christmas Eve.

Ok so maybe it’s not that bad.

But it’s bad.

So why don’t we say no?
1. We don’t want people to be mad.
If you’re like me, you feel very, very uncomfortable when anyone is anything but pleased with you. You don’t want to say, “No” to someone in case it might upset them and you don’t want to deal with someone being upset because it makes you feel like poop.

2. We want people to like us.
This is different from not wanting them to be mad. We want them to think we’re great and fun and likeable. We want them to think we’re good.

3. We feel valued when we’re busy.
Every time someone asks us to do something, it’s like a high. It’s another thing to do and having things to do makes us feel valuable. Besides. We’re not worthy when we’re napping…

I was listening to author Cheryl Strayed discuss this idea with Oprah and O said she turned into a bank when she became a celebrity. Her family no longer talked to her like a person; they talked to her like a transaction. And it was really difficult for her to explain why she wouldn’t be funding their every wish and solving their every financial problem. It hurt her to say no! And so, she didn’t have relationships with her family members for over TEN YEARS!!!

Eventually, she decided to tell each of them what she WANTED to give them, she gave them each the amount she wanted to give, and that was it. They could ask for money all they wanted but they knew from that point forward she would say no.
That made some of them mad.
Some of them didn’t like her anymore.
Oprah felt less valuable.

I get you, Oprah.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the importance of saying YES! I mean if figuring out when to say no isn’t enough…
But O went on to say, “I know what a real yes feels like now. It feels awesome. It feels exciting. It feels like a hell yes!”

Do you remember the last time you gave a hell yes? When the yes felt so right, so GOOD, that you couldn’t wait to say it??
Did you know that you’re allowed to feel that way every time you say yes?! And that if you don’t feel hell yes, you don’t actually owe anyone an explanation for your no???
Not your friends.
Not your family. (UGH)
Not your pastor.
Not your neighbor.
Not a perfect stranger.

When to say yes:
When it’s a HELL YES.
When the yes feels good.
When the person you’re saying yes to is worth the yes.

When to say no:
When it’s inconvenient.
When it doesn’t feel right or good.
When your first reaction is a no but you talk yourself into a yes.

How do you know when it’s a yes and when it’s a no for you? Have you noticed lately?
Yes?
No?

 

Stormy

My husband bought a boat.

It came as only somewhat of a surprise to me the day it went down. You see, when he met me, he turned his every thought, every focus to ME. Everything he did was for or with me. And when he “got” me, his focus began to even out.
What I’m saying is…it’s not like I didn’t go into our marriage knowing about his ability to obsess.
He’d been flipping through boat brochures non-stop for a month. He talked about boats incessantly. He asked me a hundred questions about what I wanted in a boat. He tried to purchase one in particular but the financing fell through (apparently it’s difficult to finance a boat when you own your own business?!) and, yet, the obsession was not quelled. Not even a little.
Then one day at a oyster roast downtown we came upon…you guessed it…a boat show. We walked around for a while, had some oysters, listened to music, and on our way out he bought a boat.
I’m not kidding. Just like that. That’s how it happened.

It took almost 2 weeks to actually get said boat and when he did, it was delivered in the middle of a rain storm. The next night, our first boat date, it poured again. The third day, our boys were both home. The sun was shining. The water was flat. And we scooted on down the river to a great seafood joint on the water. Finally, perfect boating weather and his dream come true: taking our family on the boat to dinner.
The boys immediately took off to play the ring toss and find other little adventures on the dock while we ordered drinks on the deck of the restaurant. Boat-type drinks.
We all sat at the table a little while later waiting for our food when my husband started to cry.
I’m not kidding. Just like that. That’s how it happened.
No warning. No trigger. The boat was fine. I was fine. The boys were focused on other things. I said his name, completely confused, and finally he whispered across the table, “Stormy is being moved to hospice.”
Oh. 
He continued to cry for a while, right there at the dinner table; even while our food was being delivered. He cried a little bit after dinner, too. I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t even sitting next to him so I couldn’t put my arm around him. Abe said that he hoped Bear felt better in between drawing an elephant and the new boat, and Cub leaned his head on him. It started to rain. Really hard.
We took a long, wet, cold boat ride back home. And that night Bear told me he wanted to go visit her.

Have I mentioned yet that I don’t know Stormy? At all?

When Bear was young, late teens, he met a girl. He liked this girl. Lots. And she liked him back. They were friends for a while until dating officially commenced. Then he met her family.
I didn’t know about his relationship with her family. (I really didn’t know much about his relationship with her because it was 20 years ago.) I’d heard him talk about her and them, how he needs to visit her family more often, but I didn’t realize how much love was there. How could I? I’ve only been in the picture for three and a half years.

I also didn’t know was how close Bear was to his the girl’s sister, Stormy, and how he played a huge role in her kids’ lives. He described himself as their “big brother” and told me stories before of how they were always climbing him and asking him to play soccer outside (and he did). I had not a clue about why this change in Stormy’s health was such a gut-punch for him or why he kept murmuring, “Those babies. My poor babies,” on the dinner deck.

Being the amazing wife that I am, I suggested we go up together to see Stormy in hospice.

I also immediately regretted this suggestion after I made it.

Bear eventually got engaged to his girlfriend and lived with her family for almost 7 years. That meant I would be walking into a room with a family of people I don’t know and an ex-fiance whose HEART he broke who undoubtedly had since healed but I mean geez and also a woman whose health is in tremendous peril who I’d never met but was visiting in hospice and then I’d just be sitting there for hours trying to remember who was who and praying to God that there was no drama for my being his wife and this being his ex-fiance’s sister…my brain became a run-on sentence.
But I know my husband’s ability to obsess. I know what it would have done to his focus if he went the rest of his life having never said goodbye to Stormy (if this was, in fact, goodbye) and how he would feel if I never met her. I hopped in the truck for the 6-hour drive up to Atlanta and said little of my concerns because, as much as it’s hard to believe, not everything is about me and OH MY GOD THIS IS SO WEIRD AND UNCOMFORTABLE FOR ME.

Here’s the thing, though: When we arrived at the hospice center, we walked into a little blue and tan room where two red-headed women (the cousins) greeted me like I was their long-lost family member. One almost-regal woman, Stormy’s mom, hugged me extra-long. Another young woman with dishwater blonde hair hugged me like it was a PLEASURE for her that I’d arrived. And Stormy. Stormy sat up in bed and called my name. She seemed to barely open her mouth and her voice was raspy, but my name was clear. “Yes!” I rushed to her bedside, feeling like I was in a small tornado of southern women, and she hugged me. I mean really, really hugged me. The tornado stopped. When she finally pulled away she grabbed my hands in hers and said, “Your writing. I love your writing. And your videos. And I just love your blog. You’re so wonderful and inspirational and I’m so glad you’re here!”

Keep in mind – this woman is in hospice hooked up to machines and fighting for her life, has never met me, and she’s telling me she loves my blog.

It was everything I had to keep it together and we’d just walked in the door.

Bear held her hands and chuckled with her when she was able to, and fed her ice chips when she asked for them, and stroked her hair. Occasionally she’d ask him a question, or she’d just stare at him and smile and he ask, “Need anything, darlin’?” And she wouldn’t answer. Just smile or go back to sleep.

I sat next to her daughter, the dishwater blonde, and listened to the other women in the room. They joked and quipped with each other in such a traditional southern style you’d have thought we were INSIDE Steel Magnolias.
“Has her skin always been that perfect?” I asked.
“ALWAYS,” her mama said. “She always had that beautiful skin. I think she wants ice chips, Bear…”
But it was the stories the women told about “Bear did this with Stormy’s kids” and “Remember when Bear took Stormy’s kids to the…” and “Remember the condo in Panama City Beach” and “Oh, that one trip we took to Disney World…” I listened for hours to these stories. It painted a whole new side of the picture of a man I thought I knew. I had no idea that little dishwater blonde depended so heavily on Bear as a male figure. I had no idea he had this whole other family who loved him so tremendously. I…I just had no idea.
Bear fed her ice chips while her mama watched. After a few moments she whispered, “Can you believe this is our Stormy?” Bear shook his head.

We sat in the room, trading chairs and stories in between long, silent moments when we all seemed to remember why we were there simultaneously.

“Erin,” Stormy whispered. I jumped to attention and grabbed her hands. This didn’t feel like a woman I’d never met. “You’re an angel. An angel from heaven. A diamond. Take care of him the way he helped me take care of my kids. I don’t know what I would have done without him. Promise me.”
I stared into her glassy eyes before I answered because I didn’t want my voice to crack.
“I promise you.”
I think she went on to say something about having no place to park her airplane. But she also told me I could wear any of the dresses in her closet. The medications she was on began to take effect and she dozed off.
When we left that night, we stopped in the parking lot to cry. Both of us. He for this woman who meant so much to him, and me for this woman who now meant so much to me.

We drove back to the hospice center the next morning to spend a better part of the day before driving home. Stormy was sleeping, her daughter perched in the seat next to her, the women in their chairs where they were the night before. Stormy opened one eye whenever she heard Ryan’s voice.
People I didn’t know filed in and out to see Stormy. I could tell the people who were there to offer their energy and love to her and those who were just visiting to say they did – simply by the way Stormy reacted. Obviously, her reactions weren’t grandiose in any occasion, but she seemed warm and tried to smile when she noticed people visiting because they were lifting her spirits with love. The ones who weren’t didn’t seem quite worth waking up for, let alone conjuring up a memory to share before the visitor walked away 15 minutes later (and they all left after 15 minutes).

Stormy’s dad came in that day, too. He was short, grey, wrinkly, and full of spunk, I could tell. He played a major male role in Bear’s life, too. He got him a job, fished with him, did projects around the house with him…he smiled a very genuine smile when he saw Bear and gave him a long, hard hug. He gave me a hearty squeeze as well. I was really getting a sense, at this point, of where Bear learned so much of what he knows by seeing all these puzzle pieces come together.

Her doctor paid a visit just before lunch. She couldn’t have been more than 40 years old, but looked 20 on account of her porcelain skin and long, light brown hair. Her huge, southern blue eyes dropped when she saw Stormy. She walked to her bedside and told Stormy she had to get better so she could come back to the office and have some more “appointment parties.” Stormy smiled and held her hands. When the doctor stood up and thanked the family for letting her visit, Stormy attempted to give the doctor a hug. She leaned back down to oblige…and she couldn’t hold it together anymore. She wept the kind of tears the look like they hurt coming out. She got down into Stormy’s face. “Stormy. You’re going to be ok, honey, ok? You’re going to keep fighting. I love you Stormy. You can do this.” I think we all cried watching this doctor give what felt like a pep talk.

It was after lunch when Bear suggested it was probably time to head back. I began hugging the people in the room, one by one, and when I got to Stormy, Bear stood next to her bed with his head on her pillow. She wasn’t awake and I told him to wake her, that he’d regret not waking her.
“Stormy, honey. It’s me. I’m leavin’ now.”
She opened her eyes and sat up immediately. She hugged him so tightly and told him how much she loved him. When she noticed me on the other side of the bed, she hugged me. I hugged her as long as she’d let me, and I didn’t let go first. I tried not to cry because it felt wrong to cry when it wasn’t me in the bed. I gently laid her back down when she pulled away, and I kissed her cheeks again and again. She held my hands to her chest and wouldn’t let go, not even when she began to fall asleep. Bear stood arm in arm with Stormy’s daddy, tears streaming down his face.
“It just don’t make no sense, do it?” Stormy’s dad asked.
“No. No it doesn’t,” Bear sniffled.
We hugged everyone else a few more times before we made the 6-hour drive back home. We hadn’t even been in Atlanta a full 24 hours and we were leaving. We drove home and both went back to work.

I’m not kidding.
Just like that.
That’s how it happened.

 

Epilogue
Stormy is still in hospice. I’m reluctant to share more than that as I wouldn’t want to share details her family prefers remain private, but it’s been a harrowing six months for Stormy. I’m just praying everyday that she keeps fighting to be here with us. I haven’t gotten enough time with her yet. She is fun and smart and bossy and amazing. I really, really love her.
If you’re the praying-type or the good thoughts-type, please send all of those to her and her family. They deserve nothing less than a miracle and I’m fervently devoted to that miracle. I believe it can happen. Like Stormy’s mom said, “I don’t need to know how. I don’t need the doctors to know how. I just need her to get up and come home.”

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Take this Car and Shove It

Steven’s been calling and texting me for days. He wants to know when I’m coming back to trade in my car and buy a new car from him. Trouble is, I don’t yet have a car to trade it. Remember? It’s broken…
I spent Monday and part of Tuesday scrambling to get my car fixed. My mechanic (Sam) sent it to the dealership because the part Sam needed to replace was warrantied and he didn’t want to charge me for it. While my car was at the dealership, the dealership manager was unceremoniously fired. This meant there was no one in charge at the dealership anymore. Hence, I became the manager for two days. And it took me one of those two days to get someone to answer the damn telephone.
When I got someone on the phone I immediately announced, “PLEASE DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD AND PLEASE DO NOT HANG UP. I NEED TO KNOW WHERE MY CAR IS AND WHEN IT WILL BE FINISHED. PLEASE DO NOT HANG UP.”
The gentleman explained that my car needed a new fuel pump (covered under warranty) and a new fuel pump hose (not covered). “Why does it need a hose?” I asked.
“Because the last people to replace it broke it and it could cause a fire.”
“You were the last people to replace it.”
“Oh. Oh, well…no. No the other guy, uhh…Sam…probably removed it when he was trying to diagnose the problem last week. He used the wrong tool. So it’s broken. Fire hazard.”
“Then why wouldn’t Sam replace it? Why would I pay you to replace it?”
“I don’t even know if you can drive it back to Sam’s like this after I replace the fuel pump. Could catch on fire.”
“Yeah, no, I’ll take my chances. Replace the warrantied part and call me when it’s done.”
I called Sam. By this point it was late Monday afternoon and I had until Tuesday to buy my car, as Tuesday was the last day of the month and I was guarenteed the best deal.
“They said the fuel pump hose was busted?!” Sam asked me.
“Yeah. That you broke it.”
“Ok. I’ll go pick it up in the morning and take a look, but I’m guessing the dealership needed to make a little money off your warranty work.”
Sure enough, Sam picked up my car Tuesday morning and brought it into his shop Tuesday at lunch to ensure the hose was safe.
“Safe,” he called me and said.
“No fires?”
“No fires,” he assured me.
So I called the babysitter, picked up Abe, and came home in my fixed up car to make dinner and clean my kitchen because I would NOT let Abe’s babysitter see the way we actually live…
On our way to the dealership, Bear and I talked about our approach. We want a white car. But they only have a gray car. We’ll settle for a gray car but only under the terms we set. And we won’t be swayed into something else. We are firmly planted in our decision.
We walked into the dealership like we owned the place, expecting Steven to be THRILLED to see us. After all, I’d texted him a few hours before to let him know when we’d be in. He texted back he was “excited to have us back.” But when we saw Steven, he seemed surprised. And not excited. Nervous. Shorter than he was before.
“Oh, hey guys,” he said. His eyes were darting around.
“Hey man,” Bear said and shook his hand.
“Hey, um, Alan is going to take care of you today, ok?”

Okaaaaaay.

Alan is also a car salesman. Alan is 18 feet tall and has been smoking since he was born. (Or he just shouted really loudly throughout the entirety of his 20s and 30s.) He started asking us questions; questions we’ve already answered a lot of times. Finally, I said, “Did you get a white car in?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Alan said.
“Then we want to see the gray one.”
Alan started telling me how these cars sell so fast and they’re the most popular trim package and this and that and I was like whatever Alan. I don’t even know you. I know Steven. And Steven wanted to make me a deal and you want to tell me how I’m trying to buy the most popular car hence I can’t be choosy or pay what I want to pay. You’re an asshole, Alan. I can tell.
Alan walked us all the way upstairs to the roof where we’d first been introduced to the car I intended to buy. And guess what?
It was gone. Sold.
“Well I told you this is the most popular trim package on these cars…”
See, Alan? You’re an asshole.
He walked us back downstairs where I explained to him that I never would have gotten a babysitter if I’d known the car we wanted wasn’t even here. First Alan said that Steven doesn’t really know the inventory that well because he “doesn’t go upstairs a lot” so that’s probably why he didn’t mention it when he told me he was “excited to have us back.” Then he said Steven needs to learn to “listen better.” Then he told us he had several of the exact car I want “in freight”, which means someday they’ll have more of them. What day? Oh. Some day. Maybe a few days or a week or late March.
We both nodded and left and got margaritas.

Steven called Bear today and told him that it wasn’t his fault because no one told him the gray one sold. He also said we never told him we wanted to buy the gray one. He also said it wasn’t his fault again.

So I have the same car. I have no idea when I’ll be replacing it. But I do know that I’m probably not going to invite Steven and Alan to my birthday party.

 

 

Faith or Whatever

A few weeks ago I sat down to paint my fingers and toes. This is one of my favorite “me-time” activities. Not only do I save myself $50/month, but I frankly like the way I do my own nails better than any salon ever does them.
Unfortunately, by the time I got ready to do my toe nails, I was all but falling asleep. I’ll do them in the morning I lied to myself. The next morning came and went, along with like four more mornings. Until Friday night when it was time to go to see a play and I realized I couldn’t wear any of my heels because they all had open toes and I had…empty toes. Ugly old empty toes. Frankly, I got angry. Angry that I’d thrown away my one pair of closed-toed heels because they were falling apart at the seams and now I needed them. Angry that I didn’t have the money in my bank account to go shoe shopping. Angry that even if I did have the money in my account, I wouldn’t spend it on myself anyway. Angry that other people have NICE, NAME BRAND shoes that make them feel fancy. AND WHY CAN’T I HAVE EYELASH EXTENSIONS?! I used to get them but I can’t afford them anymore and they were my favorite thing and now I have NO heels to wear and short eyelashes.
I picked through the shelves of my closet looking for what, I don’t know, until I came upon a box. “Oh. I forgot about these.” My friend lent me a pair of shoes to wear to my wedding and I didn’t end up needing them. I set them on a shelf in their box because I didn’t feel comfortable wearing her shoes unless it was to my wedding, but when I calculated that that was 9 months ago, I thought it was possible she wouldn’t care. I looked back at the box. What kind of shoes are theseI wondered.
Vince. Camuto.
I hadn’t heard of Vince Camuto until late last summer when I was at Disney with a group of Beachbody coaches. We went into a Vince store because everyone loved that store (and I pretended to love it, too, even though I didn’t know the guy) and one of the dudes bought some of his cologne. It smelled great and seemed fancy so I bought Bear a little bottle. Some of the other girls bought shoes while they were there, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
But here I was, standing in my closet with a pair of Vince Camuto heels. Sparkly ones, too. With closed toes. The very thing I was complaining about not having 15 seconds before I was holding in my hand. Every aspect of what I asked for was right here: nice, name brand, fancy, closed toe.

“Let go and let God.” This is what they tell me. That if I have the faith the size of a mustard seed, I can move mountains.
Or whatever.
I’ll tell you, I’m a big believer in God, but He and I have been in a big ol’ fight for a while now. I’ve been believing in him for some serious stuff, praying a lot, listening for answers, and boy if he isn’t preoccupied making amazing things happen in other people’s lives lately. I’m focused everyday on avoiding the potential disasters surrounding me and He’s off galavanting with celebrities, I can only assume. There are so many days I ask Him, “Where ARE you?!?!” But I’m coming to think that maybe it’s the “let go” part I’m not doing. The “let God” part I’m all good with. Let God. You do it, God. It’s all You. Go for it. Fix the problems.

It’s the letting go and believing that He’s constantly working on my behalf if I’ll get out of the way that is my biggest challenge. It’s doing what I can do as a human, but then stepping back and leaving a little room for a high power to do the work I cannot do on my own (but really like to think that I can).
That little room between what I can do and what God can do, I think that’s what they call faith.
It’s that moment that I looked around my closet aimlessly with no real mission or expectation that God gifted me the exact shoes I said I wanted.

Except, they weren’t mine. So I texted my friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You read that? “You can keep em!” So now, they’re mine. A perfectly perfect, flashy, simple, closed toed, name brand, fancy pair of heels…delivered 9 months ago, 15 seconds after I asked for them. I dunno if that’s faith or luck or coincidence or whatever, but I think it’s how God works. We ask, we move where we can, and then we get OUT OF THE WAY. Because He thinks of stuff we don’t think about so we can have what we want in WAY easier ways than driving to Nordstroms and putting it on a credit card.

P.S. My coach at the gym walked in with some brand new flashy eyelash extensions this week. She told me about the woman she found who does them out of her home and charges a third the price I used to pay. So. I’m getting those, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Worst Burn

My girlfriend got into a minor car accident this morning. She was fine and actually felt encouraged that it was better to just stay home, which is what she woke up thinking she wanted to do anyway. But the feeling of loyalty and concern I felt for her before finding out it was pretty minor gave me a PTSD response…

Almost 10 years ago I was in a head-on car accident with my Before Husband. He was relatively unscathed, as was I, except for a decent burn on my forearm from the airbag. I was taken to the hospital from the scene so they could check me out because I was complaining of neck pain, too. I had to be in a little room all by myself while my Before Husband dealt with insurance and the police. I wondered if anyone knew what room I was in. I wondered if any of these nurses had checked to see if my Before Husband was finished in case he might want to come be with me. I wondered if our friends were there.
One nurse came in and gently cleaned my burn. “What’s the red?” I asked.
“Those are capillaries.”
“I don’t think they are, though. That doesn’t look like it’s part of my body.”
“Oh, you know what? You’re right,” the nurse said. “As I look closer I think those are threads from the airbag. I’ll need to scrub those out.”
I was sorry I asked.
If you’ve ever had a burn. You know it hurts. If you’ve ever had anybody SCRUB a burn, you know that’s just not necessary and ridiculously cruel without numbing medication or hard opiates.

It hurts. So much.

Luckily it was a small burn and she only scrubbed for about 45 seconds. She gently wrapped it and after getting a clear neck and spine, I was free to go. I stood up and began walking down a long hallway. When I turned the corner of another long hallway, she was standing there. She stood firmly, feet planted, arms crossed, angry that she couldn’t cross the invisible line the hospital had drawn in front of her. My best friend. She was waiting for me.
Her concern was overwhelming, her loyalty palpable. In that moment, I felt so covered. My person is here. Yes, I had a husband then who was also my person, but she was my sister. And she was here. She had me.

It’s been almost three and a half years since we’ve been friends. Divorce does funny things.

I’ve reached out to her a few times, and the most recent time seemed like it did the trick. It seemed like we were going to be friends again. We were talking like we used to, making old jokes, listening to each other. We agreed we would start over and take it slow and talk through our grievances because it was worth the time to do that. I left the ball in her court to call be next since she was far less flexible with her time than I am. “Just call me next week sometime when you’re ready. I’m always around!” I texted her a few times after that phone call. It felt so good to know we were back on track.

That was the last time I heard from her.

A few weeks ago I learned that she’s due to have a baby in a few months. I found out from a third party – my Before Husband’s new wife. I wasn’t really hurt by it at the time because I’d already written the friendship off (again). But today, when my friend was in the car accident and I felt compelled to go stand at that invisible line in the hospital waiting for her…I realized that I might never truly stop grieving that old friendship. We always talked about having our babies together. And when I had Abe, she told me how much she’d need me when she had her first. She was my person. She stood on the line for me.

And ultimately, the loss of our friendship burned me worse than that car accident did.
It hurt. So much.

Relationships are such weird things. Have you ever felt that longing for an ex like, “I would do anything to have them back but now that they’ve shown me their true colors I don’t really want them back but I’d still take them back in a heartbeat!!” Friendships can be the same way. Maybe even worse. And just like with an ex, I kick myself when I start thinking of our old friendship again and wishing I had it back. Almost like I’m brain-cheating on the girlfriends I have now.

God has seriously blessed me with 6 or 7 women who would stand on that line for me today. Nah. They would jump the line and fight to get into the room and hold my other hand while a nurse scraped and scrubbed my burns. I literally praise God for them daily. The landscape of my life would be one big tree (or Bear, if you want to be more literal) and a few little saplings without them. But they don’t replace the friendship I lost. No one can. Not even 6 or 7 can.
I just can’t believe I’m still grieving it even after all this time. And how much it still burns.

 

Your Puzzle

Ooooh I’ve been noticing a lot of different realities lately. But more than that, I’ve seen a lot of realities pronouncing that their realities are the greatest realities. And that no one else should even CONSIDER living a reality different from the one that’s the RIGHT reality and we should go put all these bad realities over here and call them names and blame them for things.

locked-ball-puzzleDid you know that you literally create your own reality? You are living your own creations all the time. If you were raised in an abusive home, you might be living a creation of defensiveness or victimhood. If you experienced several terrible and painful break ups, you might be living a creation of unlovable or “never again!” OR. You might choose to put your pieces together in a way that slowly creates something nicer.
Your pieces give you a point of view that is ALL your own. Your very own, one-of-a-kind, life perspective that we’ll call your puzzle. And you are not required to believe, understand, or agree with anyone else’s reality! Just yours.

I think that might be where we get stuck the most. We’re allowed to create any reality we want rubix_cubeout of the pieces we’ve been given, but once we DO, we think some of those other people ought to create the same or similar realities because ours is right and it works. It must be. It HAS to be. This reality of yours, it is SOOOOOO right to you. You have figured out the answers in your own life and they APPLY to everyone else’s because look at you! You figured it out!
But we all don’t have your pieces. We all have different pieces. And we keep trying to get our pieces to fit together like yours so you’ll like us or so you’ll hire us or so you’ll hug us. Except that we can’t because our pieces won’t ever be your pieces. You spend your time trying to tell us how our puzzle should look like yours, and when we can’t do it (because we were never meant to in the first place) we feel ashamed, unworthy, like losers.

What. If.

What if my puzzle and my pieces allow me to create the most beautiful reality all my own and I get to choose to live in it no matter what you do with your pieces? What if my way is different from yours, my thoughts, opinions, ideas, what if it’s all different from yours? And what if…now take a deep breath…what if neither of our completely different puzzles is wrong? Even though you think his puzzle is intolerant and her puzzle is self-serving and their puzzles are all kinds of fucked up because “they smoke the weed!”…it might be, just maybe, that they are here to live their own puzzles. Not yours.

vintage-puzzle-pieces_23-2147498962(Even better, what if my puzzle isn’t finished? You’re yelling at me for the way it looks, but my puzzle isn’t even finished yet. If you backed off and let me finish my puzzle in peace I just might agree with you anyway!)

Look at your own puzzle. Are you building it the way that makes you happiest? I’m not saying quit your job and go after that invention you once considered in the shower. I’m saying it’s a process, like building anything is. Stop looking at everyone else’s puzzle and just look at your own. Do you want to have more friends? Different cars? A better price for cable? Are you dying to go on vacation or have a date night once a week with your partner? Look at your puzzle, what’s working and what’s not working, and then slowly move the pieces around and find ways to fit them together to make the most beautiful reality you can think of a little bit at a time. As you do, I’ll do the same with my puzzle and I won’t even look at yours; not even if we meet for lunch.

If we all did that, just focused on being happy, we might find that other peoples’ realities didn’t matter near as much and we could spend far less time comparing.

 

 

 

 

Throw a Party Instead

I had an extra 20 minutes today and decided to treat myself to a car wash. A real one where you drive up and actual people take the care to wash your car with their hands. I pulled into the parking lot and quickly realized I was seventh in line just to get out of my car and hand over the keys. Someone swiftly pulled in behind me, so there was no changing my mind. I was stuck. I had to sit in my car and wait.
For a split second I got frustrated about the amount of time this was going to waste. I started scanning my house thinking of work to be done, laundry in the washer, are the dogs lonely? As I slowly inched my car forward, though, I decided to spend the time daydreaming instead of panicking. I looked at things on Pinterest. On Amazon. I dreamed about winning the lottery. It ended up being a lovely 20 minutes waiting to get out of the car.

I got out of the car and walked across the parking lot to the area where people were working hard to dry and detail cars already at the end of the line. I sat and watched them playing frogger across the lanes of cars, bouncing from one to the next, each with their own specialty: tire shine, drying with special cloths, detailing the windows. I saw a young man crouch down next to the car in front of me and begin cleaning them with a small brush. An older woman who also worked there walked up next to him and began complaining. I only caught part of her complaints, but her body language made it clear she was displeased with where they’d been put to work that day: on the tires. She spoke clearly, but not loudly. Her facial expressions indicated to me that she had no trouble communicating, and her tight, blonde pony tail looked barely-salvaged from too much bleach. “It’s not fair,” she said, pointing her rag at the tire he was cleaning. As she hovered over him, she continued her quiet ranting while he remained focused, not looking up.
I wondered how she got this job, or how she ended up with this job. I wondered about her past and if she was a mom trying to bring home an income or a former felon just trying to get back on her feet (or likely somewhere in between). What happened to make her so angry and so bitter? Why did she feel like such a victim?
Soon, a manager called her to a different car. My eyes followed her. She walked to the next car and began her conversation again, this time with a few woman standing near the back of an SUV with rags and spray bottles. She reached down to clean a tire and stood back up to finish a sentence. Her manager seemed to catch up and continued refocusing her until she finally began cleaning one of the cars.

My car crawled down the lane and made it to the finish line in time for someone to shout, “Black Mini Cooper?!” (That’s me.) I stood up and raised my hand, walking toward my car.

A young, black man stood like a tree compared to me in front of my car. I could tell immediately something wasn’t quite right about him. Perhaps he had a brain injury or a speech impediment. His smile suggested maybe he’d even had a stroke at one point. An older black man, shorter, stood next to him. It felt like he was the younger man’s keeper, or maybe his father. They were waiting for me to show them my receipt, which I pulled from my pocket with a smile.
“Black Mini Cooper?” the taller man asked me. His words came out slowly. I held my receipt in the air. “You?” he asked.
“Me!” I smiled.
“Black Mini Cooper!” he announced, “You’re the next contestant on ‘Your Car’s Clean!'”
I laughed and jumped up and down like I’d just won a prize. He cheered and took the receipt from my hand and waived it around while the older man next to him chuckled a wise chuckle and opened my door. This entire experience took 15 seconds, but it made up for waiting almost an hour in the middle of a busy day to get my car washed. As I got to my car door I turned around and high-fived both them men and thanked them for the fun. They both smiled and leaned down to my window once I closed the door to say goodbye.

Both the older woman with the blonde pony tail and the young man who may have experienced some kind of physical trauma in his life were working at the same car wash. One of them complained, found inequities, pointed out the problems. The other worked so quietly and fervently that I didn’t see him until he literally celebrated my arrival at my own car.
One was a victim of her circumstances.
One was throwing a party.
Both were in the exact same place on the exact same day doing the exact same thing.

eb46456cce98b0b5b28e7dc2d798ca62You have a choice to be a victim of your circumstance; and you have a choice to throw a party. You want something different (a different person, a different job, a different house, a different anything) because you think you will be happier in the having of that thing. But wherever you go and whatever changes in your life, you will still be there. You are the only common denominator.
“Yeah, but, my situation is DIFFERENT because…”
No. It’s not. You cannot change your experience overnight, but you can learn to create the positive aspects of it now. Right now.
I focus/struggle to keep an eye on the positive aspects everyday, too. It’s not a destination. I haven’t arrived at “positive aspects.” I practice it. And slowly, the parts of my life I don’t like…change. Almost like magic sometimes.

Find a way to throw a party tomorrow, people. Even at the car wash.


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Mind, Body, Peas

What-If Monsters are the worst.

They keep me from doing the things I want to do and deter me from taking big steps. I’ve wanted to start my own business. I’ve wanted to be a woman who makes a living with honesty and integrity. I’ve wanted financial stability. And I’ve wanted to enjoy a life of truth and joy and service and freedom.

^All of that and more for a long time. And no clue how to do it.^

I often take baby steps in the direction of the things that I want and then I back up because WHAT IF. What if it fails? What if I put my whole self in and the hokey pokey turns to hell? What if people think I’m an unqualified crazy idiot for thinking I could do THAT. I’ve heard other people share their fears, and then I’ve heard them share their victory stories. The people who never fought the What-If Monsters don’t yet have victory stories to share…

I want a victory story.

The other question then becomes: What if it’s awesome?
Could I turn my What-If Monster into a What-If Fairy?

What if I step out into the world and shine my light with reckless abandon and people like it? What if no one likes it and I still feel awesome? What if I find myself, my true passion, my inner fire from putting myself out there?

What if this is the greatest first-step I’ve ever taken?

I’m going to do it, starting today. I’m starting a place for EVERYONE to share life, the real true-blue life. We live in a situation-comedy (if we choose to see it that way) and yet we only see the highlight reels when we open our regular Facebook feeds and witness the “I’m-Fine” smiles in the grocery store. Let’s look for the good, but be honest about the bad. Let’s find ways to encourage each other, but be real with each other. And let’s even create a space where all you have to do is watch (and maybe thumbs up) if sharing is far too uncomfortable for you. No pretense. There are no rules because this isn’t “a thing” yet. I’m making a thing. A thing I’ve always wanted to make.

And I don’t know what the thing is.

But I’m so driven to create this thing that I’m physically unable to stop it from happening. I’m holding my breath. It will inevitably contain my greatest successes and my greatest failures. That makes me sweaty. I pushed “publish” and now you’re invited. What am I doing. (I have no idea.)

Fuck you, What-If Monsters. I don’t have to know what it is to know I’m excited to shine a light and invite the What-If Fairies to dinner.

Welcome to Mind, Body, Peas.
(Click here. Like the page. Invite your friends. It’s for everyone.)
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The Real Real Real Real Real Truth

therealtruth-1I got a phone call the other night. I got a phone call I was not at all expecting. The election results were rolling in like tumbleweeds made out of steel wool and I left the TV off to pretend like I couldn’t see what was happening.

I got a phone call.

The phone call was from an ex, a man I saw briefly but fiercely in the midst of my divorce. In all my brokenness, all my confusion and pain, he was a flickering focus. Some days it seemed he’d drive miles for me. Other days I was hardly worth a text message. He came to take from my spirit what his spirit needed without much attempt at returning the favor; and I was perfectly ok with that. I never once disagreed with that logic, or really ever felt badly about it. Even today.
However.
Removing myself from his life as I began to step over the Divorce Mountain into the valley of New World below was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He’d become a safety rope for me while I climbed. I could always rely on him to not quite be there, making me stronger and stronger to climb alone.

But when I reached the top, I mourned. I felt such emptiness letting go of the rope I never even needed. That rope was my friend. My security blanket. I wanted to climb back down and get it.

My best friend gave me a chip, similar to one you’d get in an AA meeting. She told me that this was my Him Chip. She said that if I called him, texted him, or Facebooked him, I had to give her the chip back and start over.

I didn’t want to give her the chip back.

And I never did. Almost 3 years later I still had the chip up until a few weeks ago when I decided to pass it on to a girlfriend who, herself, needed a Him Chip.

The thoughts raced through my mind faster than I could click the answer button:
He wants me back and I’m happily married so HA!
He’s lonely and hopes we can be friends because he’s finally alienated everyone good in his life.
He needs money.
He is visiting Jacksonville and wants to know a good place to eat?!

I wasn’t sure if this counted as a chip-infraction to my best friend, but I answered the phone. I answered the phone out of curiosity for what he or his unwitting back pocket could possibly have to say to me. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t scared. I was present.

After a few short pleasantries, my Truth Monster came out and blankly asked what in the world he wanted. His answer was something like this:
“I spent a lot of my life engaging in self-serving activities. I used and abused a lot of people in many different ways to get what I thought would make me feel good with no regard for how it made them feel. I focused solely on what I could get out of people, and I think that you may be a person in my past who fell into that category. I wanted to see if this might have been your experience with me and, if it was, I want to apologize.”

Deep breath.

Have you ever felt the simultaneous rise of the consciousness in all people all at once, starting in your lower intestine and moving up through your chest and out of your body like rays of sunshine?
I have.
In that moment, I felt the rays of sunshine truth.

Having a quite human brain, I of course turned my thinking towards a less romantic motivation. I tried to understand why he was saying this, what he wanted. I dug and dug but couldn’t find any secret agenda other than the truest and sincerest of hearts. He spoke, he listened, he apologized. And just like that, the circle was complete.

It is intensely rare to have a moment of completion this complete. I’d stopped chasing completion years ago, and even forgave it for being open-ended. I allowed it to stay that way, all frayed and dirty at the ends, with my blessing. What I remembered during this conversation is that telling the truth, the real real real real real truth, can have dire consequences.
It can also spin a life on a dime. It can close the circle. It can heal where you didn’t even know you needed healing.
“The truth will set you free,” is the greatest cliche on the planet, sitting atop a giant pile of other discarded, over-used cliches that everyone is sick to death of hearing. We tossed it because in hearing the promise of freedom, many of us started spouting our truths. With a goal of freedom, we over-share, we share with an agenda, we share to make ourselves feel better. But sharing the real real real real real real truth isn’t something you can do in a Facebook rant or a single apology sticky note. The truth will only set you free if in so telling the truth you’re authentically ready to clean up your life and take responsibility for its direction. And that’s scary. So many of us (including myself) have tried to outsmart the truth by telling just enough of it to earn the accolades and the Truth Trophy, but not enough to actually achieve the freedom it promises.

Our conversation ended with a nebulous agreement to remain friends, and even an invitation extended towards my husband and me for dinner. When I hung up my phone I literally clung to the pillow and blanket respectively on each side of me and breathed, as if a mighty wind was blowing away beliefs I’d always held. If this broken man can change, literally anyone can change. No one is stuck being the same forever. But if you’re going to make the change, you have take responsibility, move forward, and tell the real real real real real truth. And sometimes fill up a great, big old bucket of full humility…and apologize.

No matter what is happening in your life, in our country, in your relationships, do not underestimate the human capacity for change.
It can happen.
Do your work.
Tell the truth.

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