Things I Love (because life should be balanced and because I was told I have to write this next)

  1. Starburst jelly beans
  2. cheap wine
  3. expensive wine
  4. the fact that just because I love wine people will think I’m a lush (I’m totally not. I have a glass – maybe two – every other day or less. My doctor told me it’s one of the best things I can do for myself as long as I’m not averaging more than one per day. Plus it feels like something an adult would do, ya know? I sip and enjoy. I don’t overdo it.)
  5. nonfiction essays (especially humorous ones)
  6. Romance novels (not, like, lady porn or anything – just some fluff every now and then… and maybe a good cozy mystery)
  7. Classic novels (for when fluff and reality won’t cut it)
  8. comics
  9. basically, to read stuff
  10. brownies
  11. when little children laugh
  12. dogs
  13. horses
  14. birds
  15. fine, all animals, then
  16. cooking (especially old family recipes when I need comfort food, and also trying brand new ones that are more gourmet)
  17. comedic movies
  18. action movies
  19. my best friend (who told me I had to write this list)
  20. music (pretty much all of it)
  21. family
  22. sunsets (I’m far too lazy to get up early enough for a sunrise, if I can help it.)
  23. trees
  24. climbing trees (I don’t get to indulge in this often enough. I’m told adults don’t climb trees, to which I say, pfffft.)
  25. singing
  26. driving (especially road trips)
  27. traveling! (though I rarely ever get to do so)
  28. writing
  29. my job! (for reals – and how many people do you know who can say that?)
  30. the fact that only about 3 people read this blog but I love the heck out of writing it anyway
  31. people who use proper grammar and spelling (this is a personal problem I’m working through)
  32. people who are willing to do my dishes (see “Things I Hate”)
  33. peanut M&Ms
  34. fishing with my grandfather
  35. inside jokes
  36. laughing at myself
  37. making people smile
  38. quiet time
  39. the beach (pretty much any beach)
  40. almost any natural body of water for that matter
  41. heights (that’s right – I love high places)
  42. bright colors
  43. drawing
  44. baking (not to be confused with cooking)
  45. flowers (except the ones that smell like dead things or funeral homes)
  46. resilient people
  47. doughnuts (I’m starting to wonder how I don’t weigh 400 pounds the longer this list gets.)
  48. Greek salads! (HA! I DO like one healthy thing!)
  49. a clean house, especially if I didn’t have to clean it (*dreeeeeeeeeeam….dream, dream, drea-eam….*)
  50. rain
  51. also, thunderstorms
  52. hugs (but ONLY from a very select few people, because I have a personal bubble of space that tends to be wider than most other people’s and I like it that way)
  53. finding ways to fix things that are broken and make them better (This can also be on the list of things I hate if it’s something I feel like I have to do all the time, but I like the challenge in general. This is not effective or fun when dealing with broken people, who I tend to avoid.)
  54. the fact that I’m much more comfortable now in my majestic awkwardness than I was a decade ago
  55. getting letters the old-fashioned way, via snail mail

 

…and lots of other things I’m sure I’ll add at a later date.

(There! Now I’ve balanced it. Better?)

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Things I Hate (or, that make me want to poke my eyes out) Part One

  1. feelings (see previous post)
  2. hamburgers (Okay, so once every three or four months I’ll crave a thickburger from Hardee’s or something, but then I’m done.)
  3. also, meatloaf (only bread should come in a loaf)
  4. pushy people
  5. doing the dishes
  6. having plans made for me without being consulted
  7. being told what to do (see #4)
  8. being ignored (this should go without saying, right?)
  9. licorice flavored jelly beans
  10. fake people
  11. having to be nice to fake people
  12. not saving money
  13. eBay (I just… I don’t know. I’ve never liked it. I don’t know why. It may or may not be related to being forced to attend lots of car auctions in my youth. I’m not an auction person, okay? I just want to pay for something without having an argument or a competition over it.)
  14. mesh clothing (I mean, really, what’s the point?)
  15. baseball caps on the kitchen table
  16. 80s synthesizer music (this should probably be closer to number one, but I’m writing this as they come to me, so keep that in mind)
  17. Axl Rose (but Slash is amazing)
  18. the janky carpet in my house that I want to replace but can’t
  19. flan (yet I love creme brulee, and they’re really similar when you think about it)
  20. Michelob Ultra
  21. Sports Talk Radio
  22. any talk radio
  23. anyone talking on the radio, actually – I just want them to play songs. Is that so much to ask?
  24. ambiguity
  25. Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion (Sadly, I’ll probably get more flack for this than anything else.)
  26. when people misuse apostrophes to make things plural (An apostrophe is meant to show possession and join words into contractions! That is ALL. IT NEVER MAKES THINGS PLURAL. So stop it.)
  27. when people use the wrong form of a word (this one I can let go occasionally – the apostrophe thing I can’t)
  28. small talk
  29. ‘touchers’ (You know – the handsy people who touch everyone or have no concept of personal space so they’re all up in yours? I can’t handle those people. And that’s weird because I’m fairly affectionate with people I love. But if I don’t love you, don’t touch me.)
  30. gratuitously violent movies and TV shows (I’m a comedy person.)
  31. people who aren’t dog people (I don’t trust those people.)
  32. whiny voices
  33. complainers (Yes, I see what I did there.)
  34. hypochondriacs
  35. negative people (This is not the same as complainers. There is, of course, some overlap, but there can be a difference.)
  36. incredibly loud places (or at least for ridiculously long periods of time)
  37. the teacups at Disney (just… no)
  38. Nascar (sorry Dad)
  39. cigarette smoke (I’m allergic to it, so obviously it bothers me.)
  40. poison ivy
  41. mosquitoes (why do they even exist?!)
  42. people who litter
  43. people who don’t say “please” and “thank you” and hold open doors for other people
  44. Chanel No. 5 (I’m pretty sure my grandmother wore this. And I loved her. But I hate this stuff.)
  45. fart jokes (there were far too many of these growing up with brothers)
  46. people who keep their phones in front of their faces all through dinner

 

To Be Continued… (probably)

We Don’t Do That Here

I’ve been exploring and talking a lot about my feelings over the past couple of weeks. I hate doing that. I’m not good at it; it’s incredibly inconvenient because if I talk about them I have to reflect on them and if I reflect on them I have to admit I’m not perfect and that I really do have the feelings even though I don’t do the feelings. Who has time for that? I’m not a starving, mediocre poet writing lines about the trash on the sidewalk. I’ve got bills to pay.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally fine talking with other people about their feelings. I’m quite good at that, actually, and make my living helping other people explore their reactions and why they have them and then overcome them so we can get stuff done. Because after the feelings have been felt, there is still stuff that has to get done in order for the progress to continue. And I am all about progress while I still do care about the feelings of others.

Unless the progress is mine, apparently. That’s what I’ve learned while feeling my feelings over the past few weeks.

I have made very little progress toward my own goals in life. I’ve rah-rahed and fist-bumped my way through team-building exercises and I like to hope I’ve inspired other people to reach their potential, or at least think they can. But if life progress were measured in speed and miles I’d be a flea in a rusted go-cart a couple of inches from the starting line.

“There’s nothing wrong with feeling things,” I’ve been told, usually by people who have their lives together and don’t worry about all of the many possible scenarios that have literally and will likely never happen to them in this life, which is one of the things I catch myself doing. (I legit waste a lot of free time having imaginary arguments in my head that never come to fruition – line by line, action by reaction. I’m told this is one of the trademarks of a true INTP. Of course it is, because I wouldn’t have a useful trademark like making friends easily or being naturally athletic. No. Instead, I’m one of the lucky ones who has a high probability of being recommended for new anti-anxiety drugs and clinical trials to help alleviate ADHD symptoms.) And that’s great for them if they like to get worked up over their emotions and really engage with that mess. I hear there are also some people who love kale smoothies in the morning. I’m happy for them.

I would rather be stripped to the skin, drizzled in honey, and tied face-down to the top of a fire-ant hill (is that a thing? do fire ants have hills?) than talk about or even acknowledge ‘the feels.’ I feel the same about kale breakfast smoothies, to be fair.

Unfortunately, through an ongoing series of events (and we’re talking years here) and because of some of the books I’ve been reading lately to add some ‘tools to the tool-belt’ for work, I’ve been reflecting on my feels and dreams and hopes and wants and expectations and hang-ups and fears and co-dependencies and I’ve realized I’ve got diddly squat compared to what I have the potential to have, and worse, compared to what I expect(ed) to have at this stage of life. I’ve been forced to look in the mirror, stop having imaginary arguments for a minute or two, and tell myself, sternly, what I always hated hearing from grown-ups when I was a child: I am so disappointed in you.  I thought you were better than this.

I don’t know if you’ve ever sternly talked to yourself in a mirror before, and if you have I hope you had the sense not to do so as soon as you rolled out of bed and before you’ve combed your hair, brushed your teeth, or wiped the previous night’s mascara out from under your bloodshot eyes and the flaking-off drool from your chin. Regardless, it ain’t cute.  It’s downright ugly if you do talk to yourself in the mirror first thing in the morning like I did, but at any time it ain’t cute – not if you do it right.

The crux of the issue is that I’m disappointed in myself for being less than what I know I can be because I’ve spent all of my time ignoring my own feelings, needs, goals, and dreams in order to take care of other people’s feelings and apparent needs. Were they real needs for those people? Possibly, but I didn’t have to be the one to provide for them or fix them. The fact that I felt compelled to do so was a disservice to them and to myself. I tied my self-worth to the validation I felt when others needed me, or at least appeared to need me, instead of to what I know is true about me. I believed I could only be worthy of love or friendship or success if I could prove how useful I was. I watched dream after dream after dream of mine fall by the wayside, fiery meteors of death and devastation crashing to the earth around me. I let go of little pieces of myself along the way, minute by minute, dust particle by dust particle, until I lost myself. I lost friends, time I would’ve loved to spend with them and with my family, the balance I felt when I focused on things I loved like art, writing (see? I’m slowly getting some of my own back), the outdoors, and anything I could possibly get my hands on to read. I lost money, and gave up my goals to travel, and at one point my dumb@$$ gave up the chance at a MacArthur Fellowship.  (Yeah. I’m an idiot. I got that.) I gave up everything I loved about me, everything I loved before I decided I needed to be needed.

All of it. Gone.

I tried to replace it with taking care of people and working my tail off and fitting into a mold that I thought my family expected me to fit into. I tried to tell myself that it was worth it and that maybe this was what I was meant for – to be last in order to gain my ultimate reward. Isn’t that in the Bible, too? “The last shall be first and the first shall be last” (Matthew 20:16)? (FYI, it turns out that verse isn’t about being a martyr like I thought. It’s about a landowner being smart with his resources regardless of what others do for him or how much they think they need from him or deserve. Let that sink in a bit.) And while during some of that time I learned some new things about myself, about how strong I am and can be, and about what I can tolerate and withstand before I’m ready to start slamming faces with a baseball bat, I’ve finally realized something deeply, exhaustingly disturbing.

I was wrong.

And I know I said that the crux of the issue is that I’m disappointed in myself but truly the crux of the crux of the issue is that I was wrong, and I really, completely, totally, wholly hate being wrong. (<— And that is the true crux of the issue. I’m petty that way. I know my truth.) It makes me feel stupid, worthless, and embarrassed. And you know what? I don’t like to feel my feelings, at least not those feelings. Those feelings suck like a stoner siphoning helium from a birthday balloon behind the local Chuck-E-Cheese.

Now, the heart of the crux of the ocean of issues is the fact that I have to make a decision to do something about it. And that means I have to confront my feelings and then talk about them with the people I’ve given so much up for, and we don’t do that here. We don’t fight, we don’t disagree, we don’t stay mad at each other, and we don’t talk about how unappreciated I feel because of everything I’ve given and done and everything I haven’t gotten in return.

We don’t do ROI (that’s Return On Investment for you non-business people) discussions and we sure as heck don’t rock this boat we’ve been patching with peanut butter and holding together with frayed bungee chords while we’ve been navigating the stormy seas of the hurricane we’ve been in for a decade. We talk about how we’ll pay the bills and feed the kids and how in another decade we’ll go on an imaginary trip overseas so we can do more things I really couldn’t give a flying flip about but that I support because it’s what I thought I was supposed to do.

And again, let me be clear: I did this. This was me. There is no blame to be laid but at the door of my dilapidated shack of self-efficacy, washed-up dreams like fragments of seashells and plastic can-rings left by the tide as it washes back out to deeper, bluer, livelier places. I’d love to be able to end this by saying I have a brighter outlook (I do, I think, but I’m hesitant to hope) or with a witty turn of humorous phrase. But I can’t, because this is serious stuff I’m addressing.

And we don’t do that here.

 

How to Throw a Solid Pity Party

*Note: this is not meant to be serious – mostly.*

I have always loved to make lists. I write them on Post-its daily, on the refrigerator (which I use as a whiteboard), on napkins, and during a brief stint in elementary school, I would even write them on walls. And I haven’t included one here, yet. I don’t know how that happened, but it’s time.

Also, just so you know, I’m doing this backwards. I 110% plan to complain (again) about something on here soon. I’m about due, I think.

But first, so we’re all clear about how this thing works, I’d like to educate you, via itemized list, on the joy that is the throwing of a pity party.  (“Pity? Party of one? Pity! Party of one!”) Also, to be even more accurate, you need to know this is Biblical. I’m not making this up. If you don’t believe me, read 1 Kings 19. You’ll see the theme.

So, without further adieu, here it is. The List:

How to Throw the Best Pity Party Ever

1. Make sure you’re alone. Invite no one else. No one – not your dog, cat, child, spouse, bff, squad, nana, not a single other living creature, not even your houseplant. You cannot properly be pitiful if you’re with someone or something else that is alive. They’ll either try to join you, dividing the pity between you and making you less pitiful, or they’ll comfort you, and you’ll feel less pitiful, which is unacceptable if you’re taking this seriously.

2.Be sure to plan your party food, or lack thereof. Starvation is about as pitiful as you can get, but remember: the angel gave Elijah cake. This is really all about extremes. So if you’re not into that whole starvation chic thing, you’ll need lots of ice cream and chocolate. Cheesecake is also acceptable, but it has to be full-fat. Now is not the time to worry about your health. Healthy people are not pitiful. Also, it needs to be something that might get stuck on your chin or drip onto your shirt. Pitiful people wear stained clothing.

3. Find a pitiful place to be, and go there. (And if you really want Biblical accuracy here, you need to find a pitiful tree to sit under – preferably one that’s well over half dead and makes the Charlie Brown Christmas tree look like a bountiful Douglas Fir.)

4. Bemoan your fate and wallow – deeply – for a while.

5. If you still feel like you could do better, find a darker and more pitiful place. Caves are great for this. No cheating and taking lights. Total darkness is key.

6. Continue to wallow. Even better, claim to be the only person that has ever gone through anything remotely like your situation, and tell God how awful it is. Repeat it to him often until he believes you.

7. Don’t be surprised when he tells you to shut up, suck it up, and get up and get back to work.*

*Now, at this point, you have two choices. You may choose to end the pity party, knowing you have truly given it a valiant effort, and move on with life. On the other hand, you can choose to become offended that God doesn’t believe how pitiful you are, and the downward spiral can continue and/or repeat. You do you. I won’t judge.

(That’s a total lie. I probably will judge. I’m not a saint, after all. But I won’t judge you to your face; I’ll make sure to comfortably judge you behind your back. Cross my heart and hope to spit. I say ‘spit’ because I’m too young to die.)

Good luck!