Tag Archives: gratitude

Cautionary Tale

13 Feb

on October 26, 2014, my life changed in a way I truly never thought it would, I knew it COULD but like so many other carefree 44-year olds, I thought I was immortal.  I knew that I had health risks that made me more susceptible to having a stroke than most  other people and I also knew that I didn’t take care of myself the way I should have but this is all said in hindsight while I type with one hand because my left hand has not fully regained movement, especially fine motor skills. I had an Ischemic stroke which occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. It accounts for 87 percent of all stroke cases.It affected the right side of my brain therefore the left side of my body, that’s the way it works, the side of your brain affected is opposite the side of your body affected. I never lost the ability to speak, and was walking within days in the ICU. my arm mobility was good as far as being able to move it up and down but my hand didn’t come back until December or so. The cause of my stroke was largely due to just not taking care of myself, I have to take medicine called Warfarin also known as Coumadin because I have a titanium heart valve and atrial fibrillation. because of this medication, I need to have regular blood tests to monitor the INR level in my blood. Coumadin is a very finicky drug and its affects can be lessened or heightened by the amount of Vitamin K ingested. Blood tests are required to determine if the correct INR level is being reached or if your diet and/or dosage of Coumadin should be adjusted. I stopped monitoring my Coumadin because it was nearly impossible to work full time, be a divorced mom and get blood tests regularly. 

Prothrombin time is measured in seconds. Most of the time, results are given as what is called INR (or international normalized ratio). If you are taking warfarin to prevent blood clots, your doctor will most likely choose to keep your INR between 2.0 and 3.0.

The night of my stroke was the Sunday before my very favorite holiday, Halloween. I felt totally normal, maybe a little spacey, maybe I was drooling a little bit, but I was able to walk around and sort of talk, my 13-year old was worried and called 911. luckily. He recognized the signs of stroke from a commercial.

STROKE

Suddenly 5 EMTs were in my house to take me to the ER, I was covered in glitter because I had been working on my sweet sweet mermaid costume for Halloween. I would have loved to see video of myself drooling, black t-shirt tied around wet hair. like a turban because I had just gotten out of the shower and I read that a shirt was better for your hair than a towel to dry it. I must have looked and seemed literally crazy because the EMTs asked me if I had anti-psych meds and asked my kids if I was always like this – um, nope only when  having a stroke. I got to the ER and went through all the tests there to confirm that I was having a stroke and they determined what kind  and gave me a drug they told me would break up the clot. so I spent a week in the hospital and then went on to spend 2 weeks in an inpatient rehab where I had extensive therapies, physical, occupational and speech.

I’ve been told I’m an inspiration, I have a joke in my set that starts, “being a divorced 40- something single mom  living in a college town, I have often thought of writing my memoirs titled “Cautionary Tale”, if I’m an inspiration at all be inspired to take care of yourself so you don’t end up having to be inspirational and you can just live your damn life as healthily and as  long as possible, I feel like a fraud because often the past several months all I’ve wanted to do is lie in bed and eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream but it wasn’t an option, my mom, sister and 200 other people including my two kids would never have let that go down.Be inspired by selfless people who do for others.

I have made enough mistakes to last a lifetime but I won’t beat myself up over this most recent one, anymore. I have learned from it and I am 22 lbs lighter since leaving rehab where I inexplicably managed to gain 4 lbs, while barely eating and exercising regularly.

My life will definitely be different from now on but different doesn’t automatically = terrible. I’m pretty excited about the changes, even though stroke is the number 1 cause of acquired disability in the country, I am not fully disabled, I am left with the deficits in my left hand and some cognitive issues, though when I told a close male friend that I am now extremely forgetful, cannot multi-task, and don’t have an attention to detail he told me he’s been like that his whole life, so yet another way I am stereo-typically male. I cannot return to work full-time but will be returning to work with children, on a part-time basis,  which is truly what made me the happiest in my professional life. I am taking the state mandated training online so when I am ready to find a job I shouldn’t have any problem. Its hard for me to buckle my belt which has become necessary because of the weight loss, so between my pants not staying up and the brain damage, I could have a new career in politics. I am seriously looking into designing an app for me and the other 3 million people on Coumadin, that tracks and logs vitamin K intake. My life is far from over so be inspired by that not my recovery because that was mostly luck and stubborness.

I haqve been writing and performing stand-up comedy for about a year, I have written material from this experience that I hope is funny,(some of which is in this post) I have no affect in my voice (meaning I sound pretty robotic) and my timing is terrible but my number one goal is  to get back up on stage.

Tomorrow is valentines day and I am valentine-less again this year but I have 3 gorgeous rented dresses hanging in my closet and tomorrow I will choose one and put it on and go to a fancy event called the Heart Ball where I am volunteering for the American Stroke Association and the past several months have shown me that I am absolutely surrounded by love every day of the year.

valentines day

Fight Like Hell, Baby Girl

13 Aug
Robin Williams

Robin Williams

 

I haven’t written anything on here in ages, and I apologize to my awesome readers for that. I have been writing, just comedy. I have been bitten in the ass by the comedy bug (yeah, sorry about that awful metaphor). When I’m not with my children, I’m either writing comedy, reading books about comedy, or performing comedy. I fell hard, and comedy, she is a cruel mistress (I’m sorry, it appears this post is going to be riddled with awful metaphors).

I have been fortunate in that I have surrounded myself with some amazing comedy mentors. I call the people (sometimes I refer to them as “kids” but not in a derogatory way, more in a I COULD BE THEIR MOM way, but we’ll stick with people) that I have gotten to know through workshops, open mics, actual gigs,  and Facebook posts, my comedy family, and they really are.  I have seen very little of the fabled cattiness that comedians can sometimes exhibit. I have found people who encourage me, nurture me, and have not ONCE made me feel like the oldest person in the room…and I am almost ALWAYS the oldest person in the room.

When Robin Williams took his own life, there was a collective gasp of disbelief across the internet. I, like many other people I imagine, first heard of his death on Facebook. I was actually practicing a set and was using my phone to record it. When I finished listening to myself, I clicked over to Facebook and was absolutely shocked at post after post proclaiming Robin Williams had died, apparent suicide. Immediately I got it.  I understood. I have always had a firm grasp on what drives my need to make others laugh. Classic case of chubby girl making the obvious joke before anybody else did. I have since embraced my body, but the need to make people laugh before they discover that I’m actually really boring, or stupid, or any number of other things that creep into my psyche on my darkest nights, lives on.

I’ve known days that were so dark it was almost impossible to see any light whatsoever. I felt like nothing would change. That this apathy was now my life. I would never feel any kind of joy, or even pain, nothing, ever again. Luckily, those days have numbered in the tens and I have an incredible support system in family and friends. I also sought therapy and was taking medication.

I don’t know if my depression was a case of nature or nurture, but I assume it was a mixture of both. I know my father, one of the funniest human beings ever to exist, fought his demons with all his might, and he battled them often.  I know if I could have chosen to NOT feel the way I was feeling, I would have chosen that. I also know if I had continued feeling the way I was for any length of time,  I would have felt like taking my own life was the lesser of two evils. I would have felt like my children deserved so much better and that I was like an anchor wrapped around them, dragging them down with me.

Now, two days after Robin Williams’ death, mental health professional (not really) and apparent mind reader (nope) and all-around asshole (absolutely) Rush Limbaugh, has said this about Williams’ state of mind when he ended his life –

“What is the left’s world view in general? If you had to attach, not a philosophy, but an attitude to a leftist world view. It’s one of pessimism, and darkness, sadness. They’re never happy, are they?

”Robin Williams felt guilty that he was still alive while his three friends had died young, and much earlier than he had. He could never get over the guilt that they died and he didn’t.”

Fox news Sheperd Smith, another person with apparent inside information,  said this –

“It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? You could love three little things so much, (referencing Williams’ children)  watch them grow, and they’re in their mid-20s and they’re inspiring you and exciting you and they fill you up with a kind of joy you can never have known. Yet something inside you is so horrible, or you’re such a coward, or whatever the reason that you decide have you to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.”

 

How dare these two windbags.  The level of hatred I had for Rush Limbaugh was already off the chart before these comments.  I consider him a sub-human at this point.  I would rather listen to this over and over again then to ever read or hear anything Rush has said.  He should not be a celeburty (little nod to the awful song linked above). He is pond scum.  Sheperd is a fox news personality. I feel like that says enough. He AT LEAST has issued an apology/explanation (which I’m sure was HEAVILY encouraged by his superiors), though at least it SOUNDS sincere and fuck it, I’ll take that.

Besides these two dumb-asses, I have been hearing that people are debating the validity of depression as an actual clinical issue. I wish I was more eloquent, but I’m going to go with what I know. This is bullshit.  It is counter-productive to what we should be doing, talking about the exact opposite. Depression and mental health issues ARE real clinical issues that should be brought from the shadows into the light and discussed. The stigma attached to depression and/or mental health issues is a real thing, just as real as depression and mental health issues themselves.

NOBODY knows how hard Robin Williams fought, nor what he was thinking when he chose to end his life. Not one of us, and it is irresponsible to pretend that we did. I would imagine that he felt there was absolutely no other option, and I GET IT. It’s a real thing, and I SINCERELY HOPE anybody who sees it as something that can just be fixed by waking up on the right side of the bed, or by just humming a merry tune, do not ever find themselves, or their loved ones, suffering from depression.  They are in for a world of hurt if they think it can just be shrugged off or prayed away or that it will just pass.

The title of this post came from something my mom told me when I was a child about an article she read about how girls who don’t fight during an attempted rape end up not being hurt, and those who fight are usually hurt. As she was reading the article she said, “you fight, baby girl. You fight like hell. You’re going to be hurt either way. Go down fighting.”  In the case of depression, sometimes finding the strength to fight is a Herculean task, and I want to believe that fighting makes a difference. I know many people who have found themselves on the cusp of the blackest chasm of depression, and they have, through whatever means necessary, beat it.  I am so grateful they did, but I also do not fault anybody who has not. I get it.

My mom was right then, as she has been so many other times. It’s going to hurt either way, go down fighting.

If you feel like you just need someone to talk to, there are several ways to reach someone.  Hell, you can talk to me if you want.

 Hotline and Helpline Information

 This is a Cracked article that I have shared many times that very powerfully and eloquently puts into words why funny people kill themselves.

 

suicide

Good as NEW

20 Feb

good as new

It is well-documented that I have had my share of broken hearts.  This blog became way too “Dear Diary” for a while, but when I need to process something, I write, and I needed to process my feelings about tumbling headfirst into something (someone) that ended up hurting me and I wrote about it at length and made everybody uncomfortable in the meantime but if Taylor Swift can turn her heartbreak into songs that make her a lot of money then why can’t my blog do the same? Yeah, it can’t. I cannot guarantee that I won’t devote a large portion of this blog to future broken hearts, but I can almost guarantee that there WILL be future broken hearts, because YOLO. I think I am reaching the age where I will not be able to use YOLO and not sound silly. What? I reached that age 20 years ago? That term wasn’t even around then.  I think I see the point.

While I am absolutely over the particular situation that plunged my blog into having the same emotional maturity as a Sweet Valley High book, and in fact, me and the guy I tumbled for (no, not Boy George) are friends, when I was going through my little melodrama, I kept hearing the same things over and over. Those things were said with the best of intentions (hopefully, or some of you really hate me and are passive aggressive jerks) but they were just not helpful.

In the interest of being helpful and friendly (though who am I kidding, I just told someone I’m not getting any friendlier and I have nothing and nobody to blame. I was born this way. Like Lady Gaga) I thought I would compile an easy to use list of things that are acceptable to say to your friend who is nursing a broken heart.  To make things easier on me, I will be using the pronoun HE.

  • Instead of saying – You dodged a bullet, which did nothing but make me feel like a HUGE masochist because at that time all I wanted was to be shot with that particular bullet over and over again, try saying I PROMISE, you will feel better. I am here to listen. Time will help. Let me buy you a drink/ice cream/clothes to soften the blow. 
  • He  is acting like this because he got scared of the powerful feelings he was having for you. While I do particularly enjoy this one, because it lets me live within the delusion that someone was so damn enamored with me that they would rather thrust themselves onto the sword of douchebaggery to try and drive me away rather than just face up to their feelings, their oh so strong and real feelings for me, I have sadly seen the movie He’s Just Not That Into You enough to know that is probably not the case.  Saying this makes you sort of an enabler and it is not helpful in the long run.  Try saying I PROMISE, you will feel better. I am here to listen.  Time will help. Let me buy you a drink/ice cream/clothes to soften the blow. 
  • Telling someone you were way too good for him anyway is kind of like the first bullet (HA…bullet about a bullet). At the time it is usually said, it’s difficult to wrap your head around the fact that someone deemed not good enough for you, was at that very moment rejecting you. It’s like Inception or something and I still have not seen that movie but I will continue to reference it when I feel it is appropriate.  So this means I am actually not even good enough for the people who are not good enough for me? This leaves me with no options whatsoever as far as dating. Those who are not good enough for me don’t want me, those who are too good for me presumably don’t either. This is the definition of Forever Alone.  Try saying I PROMISE, you will feel better. I am here to listen. Time will help. Let me buy you a drink/ice cream/clothes to soften the blow. 

Perhaps you are noticing a trend. In all seriousness,  my friends did an excellent job coaching me through my broken heart(s) and holding my hand and letting me angrily text them that YEAH, that guy IS acting like a jerk, and I DO deserve better, and I DID dodge a bullet, but I had to come to those conclusions on my own.

Being the one with the broken heart sucks, but being in the position of helping a friend try to recover from one is not very fun either. You all were right, I feel better, and in part it’s because you all were there to listen to my incessant rambling.  Also, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a disturbing lack of drinks/ice cream/clothing bought for me in my time of need. It’s okay, you can catch me on the flip.

thank_you_for_being_a_friend

PS  – I so greatly appreciate every single person who tried to make me feel better and cheer me up at that time. Every comment those blogs received, every text message, every Facebook message, every Tweet.  Thank you and much love to you all.

Happy Galentine’s Day AND Happy Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and today is, from what I understand, Galentine’s Day.  What, prey tell is Galentine’s Day? Galentine’s Day is from an episode of “Parks and Recreation”, a show starring the very talented and hilarious Amy Poehler as well as an equally talented and hilarious supporting cast including Nick Offerman (and his EPIC mustache), Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari,  Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, and Rob Lowe. See? Why aren’t more people watching this show? Including me actually since I don’t watch it on the regular either. I know, I suck, but in my defense I just now figured out how to program my DVR.

Anyway, Galentine’s Day is a day invented by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope,  to celebrate the women in your life. It doesn’t matter if your gal-pals are married or otherwise attached, Galentine’s day is a day to let the gals in your life know that you love and appreciate them. Here is what Leslie Knope herself has to say about the day –

What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lillith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.

Sounds like fun! I am extremely fortunate to have an excellent support system of women near and far that I call friends. Some are family members, some have been my friend for over 30 years, some for not that long, some I haven’t even met in person but thanks to social media we have become friends. I share in their lives and they share in mine. They are my biggest cheerleaders and I know when I need anything, they are there. We have cried together, we have laughed together, we have gotten outraged together over my seemingly endless bad luck regarding relationships, and we have nervously laughed at my sometimes terrible decisions, because if WE can’t laugh about not being able to stop texting someone who clearly doesn’t want to be contacted simply because I think I thought of the PERFECT way to explain why I sent so many texts to him BEFORE, then who can?

So to my gal pals I say Happy Galentine’s Day! I love each and every one of you and I thank you for being there for me.

galentines

As for Valentine’s Day, I grew up with a father who felt it was important to give his daughters Valentine’s presents and/or candy and/or flowers and because of him, the day is much LESS about having a romantic relationship than it is to shower those you love with love, and a balloon or little box of Scooby Doo bubblegum balls (spoiler alert, that’s what my children are getting from me this year).

I have my fair share of stories of Valentine’s Day plans that went terribly awry. My personal favorite is when I was dating someone and we had plans for him to come to my house for dinner, this was when I was in my 20’s so when I say “my house” I really mean a crappy studio apartment. I searched all day for a heart-shaped baking pan and I made a delicious yellow cake and topped it with whipped cream and strawberries. Rick never showed up that night or called until the next day.  I don’t remember why he couldn’t come over, but I do remember that over the course of about 6 hours while waiting for him, I ate that entire cake with a fine white wine (just guessing since I don’t remember but it was probably from a box).

I’m not involved in a romantic relationship this Valentine’s Day, BUT I can guarantee you, I will feel loved and I will show love. I will be spending the day with my two favorite Valentines, my kids, and I will tell them that I love them, just as I do every day, and I will hug them a little tighter than usual and I will tell them that no matter what, their mom will always be their Valentine, and this will creep them out immensely, but hopefully when they are older they will carry on the tradition of looking at Valentine’s day as a day to show appreciation and love to everyone just a little more than they do every day, and that being single on Valentine’s Day is not a big deal.

And I may or may not, just for old time’s sake, eat a whole cake with some wine.

heart-shaped-cake

 

 

It’s My Party

27 Jan

In just a few short days I will be turning 44 years old.  I have written before about things I thought I would have accomplished by this point, and I think I wrote that last year, so presumably, more things have landed on that list.

This past weekend I went to the discount store with a friend and I bought, among other things, a shower curtain. I am still loving renting and living in the house that belongs to my brother and sister-in-law, but the color scheme in the house is not my personal color scheme.  I don’t dislike it, I just have everything in shades of blues and greens and in this house there are very few blues and greens, rather maroons and browns. I had been using my old shower curtain that had circles in blues and greens all over it, and it totally clashed with the wallpaper that has muted shades of red and pink on it, with a border at the bottom of pink. I found a shower curtain and told my friend who was shopping with me that “I think things will finally start coming together for me, because my shower curtain will match my wallpaper”.  I was kidding, but it made me think  how when I was a kid, I really did think that things would just “make sense” by the time I reached a certain age.

I don’t know what age that is, but I can tell you, I haven’t reached it yet.

My eldest son commented that our house feels like a motivational seminar because of all the signs I have chosen to hang in our home. I am a huge believer in the power of the universe. I have written about my vision board and I really do feel that words have the power to motivate and bring about change. Whether that change is positive or negative depends on the words and images in which you have chosen to surround yourself. I’m not DELUSIONAL. I think it takes more than just hanging a few posters in your house to affect change, but I do think it helps.

forwhatitsworth

As I sit here typing this with the television show Iyanla Fix My Life, playing on my TV behind me, it strikes me that there isn’t a magical age where everything suddenly makes sense. I don’t know for sure,  but I don’t think anybody wakes up one morning and all of a sudden they’ve got it all figured out. I do think that each morning we wake up we can choose to try to live the life we want to live or we can choose to be afraid to make changes that may lead to that life.  I don’t want to ever become comfortable with just existing. I don’t want to be ruled by fear. I want so much for my boys to take to heart everything that is on this sign, and I want to show them by example.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”- Eric Roth

That damn shower curtain still doesn’t match the wallpaper but instead of getting stuck in thinking that by this age I should have it more together than I do, I will revel in the fact that I am not where I was 5 years ago, or 1 year ago, or 1 month ago, and that is because I have made forward movement.  Things have not fallen into place exactly how I would like them to, but this is my kaleidoscope, and I have the power to turn it myself to make a more pleasing pattern.

Really, how am I not writing greeting cards or something? That last sentence is a thing of freaking beauty.

Look to Miss Piggy for REAL Guidance

13 Dec

As I try to crawl out of Amyland and pick up the pieces of my heart and start to move the hell on, I want to recognize that I am thankful for a few things  –

1) This is not a bad thing. Having a broken heart means that I was open and vulnerable and I tried. If you had asked me years ago if I was ever going to have deep enough feelings for someone so that they could break my heart  I would have said hell no. Not going down that path again. But, I did. And I will again.

2) When trying to make a list of things that you don’t like about someone, and the only thing on the list is “wants to date other people”,  that is really all you need to remember, unless you’re okay with that then fine. If you’re me,  it’s not fine. And here we are.

3) My friends, including my ex-husband and his girlfriend, and my sister, are amazingly supportive.

One of my friends named Cara, and I’m fortunate to have two friends named Cara, one long distance and one right here in town, reminded me of someone I have looked to for advice and guidance more than once in my life.

miss-piggy

Miss Piggy

I have been a big fan of Miss Piggy and her sense of humor, her sense of self, and her sense of style for as long as I can remember.  In elementary school a girl told me that I reminded her of Miss Piggy. I was so flattered until I realized she meant it as an insult. This girl continued to tell me that the boy I had a crush on was Kermit. She was trying to say that he was skinny and little and I was big and fat. Turns out this girl was kind of a bitch.

I would be totally flattered to be told that I remind one of Miss Piggy. I used to watch her on the Muppet Show when I was a kid, and I marveled at her confidence. I played with Barbie dolls. I played with them until I was a teenager in fact. I also had a Miss Piggy doll. My dolls all played together. They all swam in my ghetto version of a Barbie pool, a giant Tupperware bowl, together.  In my mind, Miss Piggy talked to Barbie about waking up to the fact that Ken was more into the Donny Osmond doll than her, and they shared makeup tips, mainly eye shadow application techniques.

I credit Miss Piggy, because of her ever-present lavender ones, for introducing me to the world of opera length gloves, which I memorably wore to the opening event of the Dick Tracy movie at MGM Studios in Orlando. I wore black opera length gloves with a white lace shorts suit, that is shorts and a jacket, with a black bustier underneath. STOP LAUGHING, IT WAS THE 80’s.  My date was my Brett, who I made wear a tuxedo. We were both very overdressed, and he was mad at me until we got there and discovered the free booze and food.  I learned a valuable lesson that night about not mixing whiskey sours and escargot. Actually, the lesson was more learned the next day, when I went out to my car and saw where  I had thrown up on the way home and it didn’t make it further than outside the passenger side of the car, and there, swimming in a pool of vomit and whiskey, were perfectly formed snails.

Miss Piggy knows who she is. She revels in who she is.  She doesn’t let other people tell her who she should be, or how she should behave.  When having a hard time, ask yourself, WWMPD? What would Miss Piggy do…and go from there. Here are just a few pearls of wisdom from the blonde bombshell.

You have to be going to a pretty awful place if getting there is half the fun.

There is no one on the planet to compare with moi.

Express your feelings all the time unless you’re trying to hide something.

There is the satisfaction of providing your public with a vision of true beautology, true sytlisity, – how can I put it? – true glamorositude.

Only time can heal a broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs.

piggy

The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. Again.

10 Dec

Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.

Washington Irving

There are probably a few things you’ve learned about me from the last few posts

1) I write when I’m processing emotions
2) I have a lot of emotions to process right now
3) I’m an Aquarius

The first and second are the most important, though if you’re into astrology then maybe the third will give you some insight into the first two.  You may be asking yourself “why the hell doesn’t this girl invest in a diary and stop hitting publish on every damn thought that enters her head?” To that, gentle reader, I say this IS my diary. I have always written, always poured my heart out via my fingertips.

I thought about not publishing this series of miserable posts but after the first one I received so many comments from people who could relate that I thought I would continue. Also, I’m a total hippie bullshit freak and feel like if I can write about what’s in my head, it will help me to process these feelings and send them out into the universe. I know, right? Trust me, half of me is making fun of the other half just for typing that.

I have read a lot about shame and guilt and how those particular feelings can color our entire perception of ourselves. I have first-hand experience with both shame and guilt.  Without going into a lot of detail in this particular post, I branded myself with a giant scarlet A,  and made sure that nobody could hate me more than I hated myself, for years.

After I spectacularly drove my marriage into a ditch, I kept myself in a painful jail of guilt for many years.  I stayed in a relationship that was less of a relationship and more me trying my damndest to be the exception to the rule and trying to “fix” someone.   I stayed put either actively engaging in fix-mode or beating myself up for actively engaging in it. It was a no-win situation for my psyche, and I did it to myself. Cue the shame and guilt.

Guilt is deadly. Even now, I have a hard time accepting the choice I made to cut someone, the someone who these recent posts have been about, out of my life because after he told me that he didn’t have the capacity to care about me the way I cared about him, it just wasn’t good for me to be in contact with him anymore. It wasn’t healthy for me, and I absolutely hated the emotional wreck that I had become.  When he told me towards the end to let him know if I needed anything, my retort was “I need everything. That’s the problem I think”. Everything meant exclusivity.  And he couldn’t do it.

I have written about one of my favorite books called The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, by Susan Piver, and how it has taught me to give my feelings validity, and how not to be stuck in a cycle of guilt, or to be afraid of my feelings. I also learned how to just be still with my emotions, and ask myself what is happening to cause me anxiety. Once I realized that I was truly experiencing anxiety attacks waiting for him to tell me he was dating someone else, I had to be calm, and let go, and write 10,000 blog posts about my feelings, rather than stay engaged and inadvertently make him feel bad just for feeling the way I did, and make myself feel bad because of the way he didn’t.

So I stopped, because every single time I talked to him I thought surely it was the time when he would realize how amazing I was. It was killing me. And it hurt. And if I could figure out how to still talk to him and not feel like I was constantly being rejected, I would, but I don’t know how to do that.

I know this is not where I live. I’m sad. I’m hurt. I miss him every day. I’m a little angry. I’m Taylor fucking Swift.  However, this is not where I choose to reside. So now I’m working on telling myself that it is not a bad thing to do something that is right for me, even though it is so hard and it hurts. And I realize that even after all the work I did to pull myself up out of the jail of self-hatred and guilt that I had put myself in for years, the jail is still just right there, waiting. It’s up to me to keep walking by. I sentenced myself. I can pardon myself too.

heart

Slumlords, Hell Holes, and Gratitude. This Post Has It All

20 Nov

The calendar has moved beyond all things spooky towards the season to express gratitude.  However, I feel I can’t do that fully without first talking a little more about something scary. A haunted house of sorts. No, this has nothing to do with the terrifying creatures  in Washington DC, this is not another political post.

The house I’m referring to is not so much a house as a yellow trailer covered in tin sheets the same thickness as aluminum foil. A place that was literally falling apart under the feet of all those who dared enter. Someplace so horrific that hot water refused to make its presence known. Are you stumped? Cue dramatic music…..it’s where I USED TO LIVE!

I moved the boys and myself into the above-mentioned hell hole because I could afford it, it was a nicer part of town than the hell hole where I lived before, and it had a big yard for the dog. I am a woman who has made some stupid decisions, and lots of mistakes. I am nothing if not fully aware of how imperfect I am.  Choosing to “make do” in the little yellow trailer was not in my top 5 of dumbest decisions I have ever made. That should tell you how many mistakes I have chalked up in my 40 something years. It was solidly in the top 10 however.

The place itself wasn’t HORRIBLE at first. The landlord said we could paint! How nice! I’ll just throw away all the weird stuff left behind by the last tenants. I don’t think I need any more Halloween decorations, especially not jack o”lanterns that are supposed to plug-in and light up and have cords that look like they have been chewed by…um…something…and are covered in electrical tape.  I also don’t need any more Easter decorations featuring creepy bunnies wearing sundresses and straw hats. That in itself is not bad, who doesn’t love a rodent in clothes, but the dresses were covered in some kind of red and presumably sticky substance. I’m going to say raspberry jelly just in case any of you are eating while reading this.

So, I painted the living room dark green and made curtains with greens and blues in the fabric. It was adorable! I couldn’t open the windows because the ones that were not painted shut didn’t have screens and this is Florida, open an un-screened window for 2 seconds and risk catching malaria (and whatever else mosquitoes carry).

The boys picked out a nice bright blue paint for their room. This would be fine. This would be just fine. Until things started breaking and it became very apparent that my landlord insisted on making the repairs himself, and that meant a full day with him in my place, tinkering away with parts that he had more than likely pilfered from junk yards, and the repairs would not stick. The only time that something that he fixed stayed fixed was when he replaced my air conditioner when it went out. In July. In Florida. And he didn’t return my call about it being out for 2 1/2 weeks.

I learned tricks to keep things working that were almost broken. My refrigerator teetered at death’s door for months and months, but I learned that if I adjusted the temperature every now and then, that would breathe some life into it. I changed the door knob myself when it became so loose that my door could be opened whether it was locked or not.

When my hot water heater stopped working I could not fake or fix it myself. It was still summer, so I was okay with taking cold showers, but the boys weren’t as easy-going about it, so I broke down and called the landlord. After a couple of weeks, he arrived with duct tape and screwdriver in hand. I don’t really know much about water heaters, but to me, this seemed like he was woefully unprepared to actually fix the problem. I was correct in my assessment of the situation. It broke again a few weeks later. I called him again and told him that I had no hot water once more. Here’s where it got really ugly. It broke the second time at the end of the month. I told him I would not pay rent until it was fixed. He would not fix it until I paid rent. We had reached an impasse. One that meant I would be living without hot water for the next two months.

At this point, I had heard from a lawyer friend that what the landlord was doing was illegal. I did some research on this thing called “the internet” (thank you Al Gore) which is really so much more than cats and porn and blogs (not that I don’t love blogs…and cats…and porn) and discovered that my friend was right, the slumlord was wrong, and I sent him a letter using the words “pursuant” and “statute” and I told him that he was wrong and that he must be used to dealing with people who were afraid of him and/or stupid and that I am neither of those things. He showed up, sprayed some tire sealant all over the hot water heater (no joke. Tire. Sealant) and called it a day. My water still wasn’t hot, but it was very chemically tasting and smelling, so it was a good trade-off.

Here’s where the gratitude part comes in. I was able to tell my landlord that very next day that we would be moving out within the week. I could do this because my brother and sister-in-law offered me and the boys the chance to move into their HUUUUGE house in a beautiful neighborhood in town, for rent that I can afford, because my brother had moved to Texas and my sister-in-law was ready to join him.  As of a few weeks ago, the boys each have their own room, we have two bathrooms, I have an indoor laundry room, a dishwasher, closet space, a yard for the dog, and so much more. To say I am thankful seems like an understatement, but I am so very thankful for their generosity. I am extremely fortunate to have a generous and supportive family who COULD very well let me flounder in my own stupid mistakes, but they don’t. They help and comfort and support me and have never made me feel like a loser who makes bad decisions.

thank you

In the midst of hot water heater-gate, part 2, I had a little breakdown after a very unladylike screaming match in the yard with my FORMER landlord who dropped by to ask for money one night. I had sent the boys inside so that they wouldn’t be scarred for life at hearing their mother cursing at an old man, but they snuck out onto the porch and heard me doing just that.  After he left I was crying and saying that I was so sorry for making the boys live someplace so awful and that I was trying to get us out as soon as I could. It was a great moment in parenting for sure.  My eldest, who at 12 is smarter and more sensitive than a lot of adults I know, said “oh yes mom. Be sorry for putting a roof over our heads and working to feed us and give us things we need. Suck it up”.

I am so grateful that the boys appreciate that I AM trying. We appreciate our family so much, and we can all agree that we will NEVER take hot water, or each other, for granted. This Thanksgiving, or EVER.

gratitude

 

Dear 12-year-old Amy

27 Aug

typewriter

When I was writing this, it sounded very familiar to me and I realized why.  The advice I’m giving myself as a 12-year old is essentially the same that I gave to my boys in the post, A Letter to my Sons.  It makes sense. I have often said that children sometimes act as mirrors and reflect back to you those things you like about yourself, and what you don’t like so much as well.

I see so much of myself in my boys, for better and for worse. I want them to “GET” things earlier than I did, I want them to not beat themselves up for being flawed, I want them to learn from their mistakes, but mostly I want them to know that they can do so much more than they think they can because they are amazing. I let the fear of failure, and on many levels, the fear of success, color my choices. I hope the boys realize the only thing standing in their way is themselves.

None of us can go back and do things differently, and by and large, I don’t want to.  I do wish I had more time with my dad, and Brett, and I lament some of my choices, but even if I had the chance to go back and change things, I don’t know if I would because I feel like every broken heart, every rejection, every seemingly wrong turn, led me here, parent to the two most incredible boys on the planet. BUT, if I could go back, this is what I would want to tell myself.

Dear 12-year old me,

You’re kind of mess right now, aren’t you? You feel like school sucks, your parents are dorks, your siblings are jerks, your hair is a nightmare, your braces will never come off, and you will always live in a tiny town and feel something like a fish out of water. Well, never fear, 43-year old you (me) from the future is here to soothe your troubled soul. Granted, your hair will always be kind of a nightmare, but the rest totally works out.  I have some guidance for you to help you on your journey.

When you start high school, you will meet some fantastic people. Brett will be one of your closest friends. He will be there for you when few others are. Cherish him. He will be gone far too soon.

Dawn is someone who is very special and she will teach you about strength and love. Don’t lose sight of her.

Mom and dad love you but yes, things will get weird. Dad’s a complicated man and slowly you will start to realize that he is a human being, not a super hero. That’s okay. He can still be your super hero. He gave you his sense of humor and he loves the hell out of you and would do anything for you.

Emulate mom if you can. She’s incredible and totally comfortable in her skin. Also, give her a break about crying over Little House on the Prairie episodes and long distance carrier commercials. You will be exactly the same way. Also, you will do other things like she does too, so…keep that in mind the next time you laugh at one of her eardrum shattering sneezes.

Missy and Clay will always have your back. Clay will become one of the best guys and fathers you’ve ever seen (and probably won’t fart on either of his children’s heads even once like he used to yours) and Missy will grow more than you thought possible and will teach you about introspection. Listen to her. They will be your friends forever. Don’t fight with either of them about stupid shit. It’s not worth it.

Your family will grow to include a sister-in-law and two nieces.  Enjoy time with them when they’re little because soon enough they will be grown up and you will be in awe of the women they become.

In the coming years you will feel immortal and you will drive after having had a lot of alcohol to drink. You will do this more than once. Don’t do this ever, you freaking idiot.

Stay in journalism class. Continue in college. Writing is the one thing that you have always done and it is what you will always do and it would be fantastic to be paid for it.

Rethink that crush on Ashley Wilkes.  Weakness is not a quality to be desired. Trust me on this. Ashley could never have handled Scarlett anyway.

I know it seems like a self-destructive streak in boys is fun and desirable, but realize, that streak is inside you. Don’t seek it in them, deal with your own.

You feel like the chubby funny girl who boys don’t like. Boys DO like you, exactly how you are, and if one boy doesn’t, another one will.

Don’t even think about changing yourself for anybody. Ever.

It feels like you’re the girl who will never be kissed.  Not only will you be kissed, you will fall in love, several times, and boys will fall in love with you. You fall hard and you always will. Things inevitably end and it will hurt. It will not hurt forever though. I promise.

There are other things you could change and do, but it is imperative that you go to the On the Border restaurant with Missy and one of the guys she works with and one of his friends. The guy she works with will be more into Missy, but just hang in there. Meeting him will lead to two of the most amazing creatures ever.

Life is short. It’s really short. You will make choices in the coming years that you will not believe sound like a good idea to you at the time, and they probably aren’t, but I think you have to make them to get to where you end up. Remember this, nobody can beat you up the way you can. Give yourself a break after you make amends for your mistakes..and you will make so many mistakes, but everything will be fine. It really will.

Trust yourself, know your boundaries, love with everything you can, learn from and clean up your messes. You will be just fine. 

Yay, Awards! And Some of my Favorite Blogs

19 Jun

oscar

I have been meaning to write this post for months, but, and I am sure this will surprise no-one, I am a flake. In case you doubt that, let me relay some scattered fragments of thoughts I have found in the notes section of my phone where I usually jot down ideas running through my head that I may want to write about some day. Please read, and be afraid.

I have given pieces of myself to so many
I have shattered my walls
What the hell does this even MEAN? Did I even write this? Is this from a Taylor Swift song? I have no idea, but it’s over-dramatic and stupid and I have no idea what prompted me to write it.
My sister dated the rock stars,the guys in bands. I dated the light guy. Do you know how hard it is to be a groupie for a light guy? “BABY, you are a LIGHTING GOD. When you pushed that button and made the yellow light come on, then the blue one and made green? CHILLBUMPS.”
Okay, this is hilarious, AND TRUE, but how I thought I would suss this out into a whole blog post is beyond me.
“She seemed very beautiful, she seemed very nice.” “How can you tell that someone is nice just by how they look?”
If there is one shining moment in my history of parenting it will be this sentence uttered by my 12 year old son this past weekend.

That and when my then 7 year old son asked during the Lion King if the voice of Scar was David Bowie.

Yeah, again, I don’t know.My point of sharing these with you is to make you realize just the kind of insanity that you’re dealing with, and to apologize to all of you who have been so kind to give my blog awards. I appreciate each and every one of them and I have not been able to write just how much I appreciate them because I am busy pretending to be an angsty twenty-something, an aging lighting groupie, and a mom who is pretty easily impressed but cannot remember details.I am going to do my very best to list those who gave me the awards. I HIGHLY recommend everyone I follow. I honestly follow so many awesome blogs that I find myself getting really behind in reading all of the posts. I went through tonight and have almost caught up. You guys are too good.I will list here and hopefully sometime in the very near future I will put the actual award badges on my blog and maybe even do the stuff that you’re SUPPOSED to do when you get one of these.  I think some of them have requirements to fulfill, but I will not be sending any naked pictures to anyone as recipient of the “over 40 and still fat” award. In the words of George W. Bush, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”  Turns out that award doesn’t even exist and now my pictures are on commercials as the “before” picture, and I didn’t even get paid…(This is humor and so not true. Don’t panic, mom).
 
 MommyVerbs –  Bestowed the “Inspiring Blog award” to me and I am so pleased she did. She is so great and she has three simple rules that she tries to live by – eat well, play more, choose happy. How can you not love her?

ADignorantium – I was nominated for the “Inspiring Blogger Award” by another favorite of mine who called my blog “stream of consciousness”, which is true. In contrast, his blog is not only “stream of consciousness”, it is an “ocean of awesomeness”. He has so many cool things, and funny writing, and serious writing, and good stuff on his blog. Check him out.

The Grimm Report – This blog is so clever and so much fun to read. They feature stories based on fairy tales and folklore.  Some of their posts are about the discovery of a mysterious 8th dwarf and news of the owl and pussycat marrying in Vegas.They nominated me for the “Super Sweet Blogger Award”.

Mollytopia –  Not an AWARD, exactly, but she digs me…and I dig her…and we’re going to don mermaid tails and swim around together someday.

Speaking of DON,  Don of all trades, is a funny dad with lots of hilarious stories, and sometimes, he throws in some heart-wrenching ones, just to keep you off balance. He deserves a mention.

Four eyed gals unite! Miss Four Eyes is so much more than a pair of glasses. She’s hilarious and her observations on life are refreshing.

Mom in the Muddle – This lady is so cool and fun to read and her pictures are even neat!

I am lucky to get to read Lucky Wreck. Her writing can be funny, or poignant, and it is always a pleasure to read.

AND…I cannot leave out Ben,  or he will become even MORE bitter, and nobody wants that.

I really and truly am tickled that anybody reads what I write and I know I am going to be doing at least a part 2 as I discover more blogs that I love. I may not be the best at  accepting awards, but I really do appreciate them and I thank all of you for indulging my extreme narcissism by reading and following my blog.

J. A. Allen

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