Saturday, September 24, 2016

I Tom Hanks'd My Kitchen {Saturday Brain Dump}

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Back in 2009, I went back to school. It was about that time that the kids picked up some of the "mom chores". Up to this point, I was doing everyone's laundry and helping little hands clean their rooms. Dad thought that if the kids picked up these two chores, it would lessen my load, considerably.

He was right.

The Man Child started washing his own clothes. He had been cleaning his own room with little help from Mom for a few years.When I went back to school, she wasn't quite ready to wash her clothes, so she started by cleaning her room, solo.

Skip ahead to the kids getting a little older and mom getting a lot busier. Suddenly, most chores were divided between the two of them. They did dishes together every night and on Saturdays (fondly called "Saturday Chores" - inventive, eh?), they swept, mopped and vacuumed floors; dusted; and cleaned the bathroom. When they got old enough to wash the dogs, they did that, too.

And of course, they got paid for these chores when we could afford to pay them (which was about a year after I started teaching).

Things change, as they are wont to do and the chore list has once again changed.

In The Man Child's senior year, when he was working and involved in the school play, Baby Girl took over most of his chores. She got more money and he got less (he was making his own, after all). Then he graduated.

And now we have an adult Man Child living in our home. And, up until two weeks ago, was only working part time. But we wanted to give him the time and opportunity to work more and/or go to school, so we absolved him of all of his household chores (aside from his laundry, bedroom, and bathroom because...well, he's an adult).

And now Baby Girl is a sophomore in school, taking challenging classes, and attempting to find "her pace". Sooo...

The Man Beast cooks every night. I do dinner dishes every night. Every Saturday, Baby Girl does her Saturday chores. I take care of the kitchen.

And I say all this to give you a back story which leads you, dear readers, to the setting of my *real* story.

Do you remember that opening scene of Turner and Hooch where Scott Turner (played by Tom Hanks) opened his refrigerator and found a disgusting mustard mess? He started by wiping down the bottle and the puddle of mustard on the shelf. But the next scene shows Scott completely emptying out his refrigerator, wiping everything down, and reorganizing his refrigerator.

All because of spilled mustard.

I did not have spilled mustard in my refrigerator. In fact, this story doesn't have anything to with the refrigerator. Instead, my story begins with the microwave.

On Saturdays, in addition to putting up clean dishes and loading the dishwasher, I also sweep and mop the kitchen floor. After I emptied the sink of dirty dishes, I decided to clean the dish drainer because it was looking a little sad with some hard water stains. And then since I did that, I pulled out the carrousel plate in the microwave, washed it with soap and water, dried it and wiped out the microwave. Before replacing the plate, I decided to wipe out the microwave with disinfectant, noting that flu season was starting soon and it would be a good idea to "deep clean" once a week to keep the really bad germs at bay.

And then it just went downhill from there. It was like a really bad rendition of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie:

If You Give Mom a Saturday Chore

If you give a mom a Saturday chore, she’s going to make sure she does it right.
And because she’s going to make sure she does it right, she’s going to deep clean the microwave.
And when she cleans the microwave, she’s going to have to rinse out her sponge.
And when she rinses out her sponge, she’s going to notice that the shelves above the sink are dusty.
And when she notices the shelves are dusty, she’s going to be compelled to clean them.
And because she’s compelled to clean them, she has to clean the right.
And because she has to clean them right, she has to remove everything from each dusty shelf.
And because she has to remove everything from each dusty shelf, she’s going to notice that the objects are dusty, too.
And because she’s going to notice that the objects are dusty too, she’s going to have to clean them.
And because she has to clean them, she starts looking around at what else needs to be cleaned.
And when she starts looking around at what needs to be cleaned, she notices several things.
And because she notices several things, she cleans several things.

And so I did clean several things. I noticed the window sills because I wiped the shelves above the sink. Then I cleaned the backsplash by the sink. This led me to the outside of the kitchen cabinets.

By the time I got finished, my kitchen looked pretty good. While I was scrubbing dust off my kitchen surfaces, I thought about how crazy it is that someone would paint kitchen cabinet white. This is not our house. We've been renting for several years. If it was our house, I'd like to think we would not have white kitchen cabinets.

We are not White Kitchen Cabinet People. We just aren't. In fact, we don't have a lot of white in our lives, period. I have very little in my wardrobe. If I wear white, it doesn't stay white for very long. Our furniture is brown (it's not as drab as it sounds; I happen to like it). We had a white living room suite once. It was beautiful. It didn't stay white for long. I think, when we traded it in, there was a chocolate streak on the front of it. I'm pretty sure it wasn't my chocolate. But it was just the proof I needed to get a darker set of furniture. So, brown it is. It doesn't show chocolate. But it does show white (!!) dog hair.

While I was cleaning, I was thinking of what it would take to redo our kitchen cabinets. We'd have to ask permission, of course. The chances are good that we'd hear a "yes". When you look at the inside of my cabinet doors (which are dust-free at the moment, thank you very much), you'll notice a muted yellow color. It would seem that the kitchen used to be a muted, baby yellow. (Why are kitchens yellow? Is it so they are sunny and bright?)

As I'm scrubbing tea stains that had dribbled down the cabinet (I'm keeping things completely real, here), I wondered how many times the cabinets had been painted over. I thought, "Maybe, they could be stripped down before they were repainted." And then I noticed some of the natural wood and considered staining them after stripping them. Unfortunately, I also noticed where some of the wood was flaking and thought it might be more damaging to the wood to completely strip it.

Maybe a new coat of paint would do the trick?

Maybe some updated hardware, ala Fixer Upper on HGTV?

By the time I finished doing the cabinets, sweeping and mopping the floor, and wiping down the kitchen mats, I forgot all redoing the kitchen cabinets.

Apparently, my DIY bug has the lifespan of a mayfly.*

Until next time,
*The average lifespan of a mayfly is 24 hours. (source)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The List {Book Review}

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The great thing about being a teacher on summer break is the ability to read books on your own time. I've read several books this summer but haven't completed any of them.

I charged my kindle two weeks ago and saw that I had downloaded a book. I don't remember when I downloaded it or from where I downloaded it. Originally, I thought that I might have requested to review the book from NetGalley - but it's not listed on the site.  I figured I would read the first couple of pages and figure out why I would have downloaded it.

I read the first line:

"I found the head."
With a great first line like that how could I not continue reading? So, I continued reading. And I found myself going back to read it when I had time. I even took my kindle with me to Atlanta when I attended a conference earlier this week.

The List, written by J.A. Konrath is a labelled as a "techno thriller". It's a who done it with a scientific twist. It also happens to be a book I would not pull off the shelves and read, so the mystery remains: what was I thinking when I downloaded this book?

The story revolves around several individuals who have one thing in common: a mysterious blue number tattoo on the bottom of their left foot. The book opens with one of these individuals found dead in his apartment which starts the lead detective's investigation, who also has a tattoo on the bottom of his foot.

The reader discovers the connection rather quickly but Konrath doesn't divulge the whole plot until the very end of the book, which leaves for a great opening for a sequel. However, as far as I can tell, there is no direct sequel to this book. It's a real shame, though. It leaves a few loose ends to tie up that never get tied up. (According to Amazon, Konrath has written 11 books in the collective as stand-alone novels.) As I said, it's a real shame because this could have easily become a series of two, if not three, books.

The book is rather graphic. The head from the opening line is the head of the first victim which has comically rolled under a chair. The language is rough at points but the dialogue is strong through most of the book. Some parts of laugh-out-loud funny while others are groan worthy. There are some rough patches that don't quite "flow" as smoothly as they could and the ending felt pretty rushed. It was presented to the reader in rapid-fire, which considering it was the ultimate climax, would have been okay. But it didn't seem to flow with the rest of the book. The additional story toward the end was good and was a complete surprise to this reader but felt thrown together like the author was nearing a word limit or a deadline.

However, overall, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. Will I read it again? No. But to be fair, I rarely read books for a second time. But I would definitely recommend this read to anyone who likes thrillers/mysteries. I'd also recommend this book to anyone who doesn't. I am this reader. I read this, completely out of my comfort zone, and I liked it.

Sex - 1
Violence - 10
Gore - 10
Language - 10

Until next time...
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Sky is the Limit

I've been sitting on this idea for a couple of weeks. I've been trying to formulate words that would adequately express my thoughts on the subject without cheapening the idea. The worse thing I could is to share something that would totally turn someone off an idea. Of course, to be fair, I'm never going to have everyone agree with me or even like what I have to say. This is par for the course, I suppose.

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled out of town for a week-long conference, which focused on educating all students, regardless of disability. The conference focused heavily on what a huge impact assistive technology can have on individuals. It's an excellent conference and I always walk away amazed and empowered to...yes, I'm going to say it...change the world.

Having just finished my third year in the classroom, seasoned teachers probably still consider me a novice. I consider myself a novice. Still wet behind the ears. That's me. But that's okay. I'm also somewhat of an idealist and a dreamer. I know that my ideas would be considered "out there" by some people. I understand that while my classroom has challenges of its own, I am ultimately sheltered from mainstream education. Well, as an educator. I still have one child in the public school system, so I'm still a vested stakeholder as a parent. But for all intense and purposes, I'm a dreamer and an idealist.

I recognize this and embrace it.

One thing about living in the community I do is that in order to get to anything "good", a drive is involved. Just this past week, I took Baby Girl and some teacher friends to the beach. It was about an hour and a half drive. The conference I attended was also an hour and a half drive. This year, I opted to drive rather than stay on site.

Workshop schedules began at 8 in the morning and lasted until 4:30 in the evening. They were long days that meant getting on the road by 6 am. I'm an early riser, for the most part. And getting up at 5ish to get on the road by 6 should not have been a stretch for me. I do it every day during the school year. But there's something about those summer months. I drug myself out of bed every day despite the fact that I was excited about the workshop. The drive wasn't so bad, either.

In fact, the drive gave me an opportunity to think and contemplate things. Sometimes, I just mindlessly listened to the radio. Sometimes, my mind drifted to places I don't even remember. But one thing I do remember was looking at the sunrise every morning. If I timed my drive just right, the sun wasn't in my eyes. Rather, it was off to the side.

Aren't sunrises beautiful? Sunsets are pretty but sunrises feel so promising. The dawn of a new day. Endless possibilities.

As I drove, I came to a realization. How beautiful the sky became was dependent solely on where I chose to put my focus.

If I looked to the left, I was greeted with a bright sun and beautiful colors. If I focused my gaze on the road ahead of me, I still saw the light from the sun, but the colors were muted, significantly. Finally, if I looked to my right, it was light, but not bright. The sky was blue, but the kaleidoscope of colors from the view on my left was missing completely.

As I looked, I came to realize that it was a perfect representation of perspective. Everyone looks at the same sky, but what they choose to see depends on where they focus their gaze. How significant is this in my own life?

Every morning, the sun rises. Every evening, the sun sets. What I see that day (and night) depends on my focus. During the week of the conference, I was actually awake to view the sunrise and I did, gratefully, every day. Since then, I haven't been up early enough to see the sun rise.  I haven't seen many sun sets, either. But as I sit here writing, I am observing the sun set right outside my living room window. But even as I look at it, I realize that I've missed the most beautiful part of the sunset. Sure, it's still pretty...take a look for yourself:
Sunset from my front yard

But it's not as pretty as it was.

And so it is with my perspective, oftentimes. Some days, I'm spot on. I see the beauty in all its glory. Other days are like today where I see it, but I don't see it quite in all of its glory. Still other days, I miss it completely because my focus has been elsewhere. But it's always there for the taking. I just need to choose to look.

Until next time...

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wounded Hearts

Sometimes I'm a hot head. Sometimes I'm reactive. When I'm "done wrong", I want to retaliate. Usually it's my mouth (I've never been physical - but my tongue is lethal, I'm afraid). If I'm not speaking to the person who has offended me (because I really am a non-confrontational person), I'm burning you in my mind. Or (worse), I vent to a loved one/friend about you. And because they love me, they back me up. They never really emotionally gut-check me.

But they totally should.

Some days, I'm "good" and your attitude/behavior/speech do not offend me. It just rolls off my back and I don't give it another thought.

Still other days, I'm "great" and I analyze your attitude/behavior/speech and wonder why you're behaving how you're behaving.

I'm smart enough to know that I am never great, but sometimes I'm connected to my fellow man and I act how I should (all the time) and am empathetic. I'm understanding. I'm quasi-wise and realize it's not about me because - let's face it - the world doesn't revolve around me.

But what if I did do something to warrant the affront?

Something happened to me just this week. I didn't do anything, but be me. And while I'm not the problem, what was perceived was a very big problem.

Earlier this week, Baby Girl and I went to our local convenience store to get sodas for The Man Beat, the Man Child, Baby Girl and myself.

I was wearing a shirt with this message:

Understand that in the South, this is not an offensive shirt.

Except that it was. To one person.

And it wasn't so much in what he said - he didn't say anything about the shirt - it was all in how he said what he said. What had been a jovial and highly spirited individual to the customer ahead of me turned into a sullen and short-tempered clerk when I approached the counter with my purchases.

I am one of those people. I smile. I kid. I make small talk. Most of the time, if someone is having a bad day, I don't exacerbate it by being a jerk. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. If nothing else, I want to at least make their day better while I'm in their world. (Dreamer and Idealist, Level 50)

Even still, I am of the opinion, that no matter what has been done wrong to you, I did not do it so you need to clean up your attitude. If I don't give you attitude, please do not give me attitude. This is just how I am. Is it right? I don't know. But it's how I am.

No matter what I did, this dude was not having any of it.

And at first, I was angry. And I said as much, in the car, to Baby Girl. (Not my finest mothering moment, I'll grant you).

But then I got a heavy, heavy heart. And I started thinking, out loud. (A better mothering moment).

Maybe, I theorized to Baby Girl, this individual had been offended by my shirt. And maybe, he wasn't offended so much by my shirt as what my shirt represented. Maybe he had been "done wrong" by a Christian. Maybe in light of the recent Orlando shootings, he's associating all hate toward the homosexual community as involving Christians.


Of course, there is no way for me to really know what the clerk was thinking or feeling. I guess I could have gone back and asked, but in reality, it probably would have stirred up more problems than it solved.

But it did get me to thinking about what I represent. It has been suggested that oftentimes, you are the only Bible someone will read. While I'm not sure that's entirely true, I do think we become the face of what we represent. What an awesome responsibility this is! If you are the only chance at positive exposure toward an idea, how would it change how you act?

The only thing I thought about this individual after my initial hurt ego, was that he must have had a bad experience with something that I represented. I can assume it was my shirt. But it might not have been. I could assume all day and probably not even get close to the real reason for his sudden behavior change.

But that's not the point. The point is that I need to be sure that I'm putting my best face forward. I won't be perfect. I'll show my butt, on occasion. I'll miss the opportunity. I'll falter. But, now that I'm aware of what I feel I really need to do, I can work toward doing it. Not perfectly, mind you. But making the gallant effort.

What does this look like? For me, it means love. Just love. And loving doesn't have a thing to do with lifestyle, race, or religion. It just is. It just does. That other stuff? I need to let the Creator deal with that. I have one job.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

I've been thinking {Keepin' It Real Series}

It's been almost two months since Mom died.

I still don't feel like I'm completely "here". I still feel like I'm going through the motions of what is expected of me in life. I'm just existing.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Eat. Work. Sleep. Sleep some more. Can I have more sleep please?

The truth is, I could sleep all day. I don't want to deal with life because life is really hard right now. I want to check out. I want my pillow, my blanket and my comfy bed. I'm sorry. Iva can't come out and do life right now. Please leave a message at the beep. She won't be getting back to you.


 I'm seeing a doctor. I'm not ashamed to admit this. I'm a huge fan of talking and believe that most problems can be talked out. So, we talk every month. Well, I talk - he listens. But then he talks and I listen.

 And I've been doing a lot of listening. I've been trying to make sense of the noise that is going on in my head. Is it normal? I don't know what normal is right now because:

1) nobody really talks, really talks, about what they are going through. Put on a happy face because nobody really wants to be around a sad face. Sad faces make people uncomfortable. Especially when they can't fix them or don't understand what you're going through.
2) I'm treading new ground. I've never been here before. 
I'm turning 40 in a couple of months. I also started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

These two sentences are not unrelated.

At least I don't think they are.

I'm feeling a shift in how I'm feeling about everything in my life. I don't know if it's because I'm dealing with mom's death (I can't really use the past tense dealt. Will I ever truly get over this?) I don't know if it's because I'm turning 40 or if it's because I've been reading this amazing book about simplifying life.

The truth is: I'm tired of the noise. I'm tired of the insignificant. I cannot be bothered by things that I feel are not worth my time, my energy, or my emotion.

I've put myself out there for a long time. I am the classic People Pleaser. I bend so that others don't break. I've always put myself on the back burner while I give everyone else the best of me.

This is what good people do.

However, when that's not reciprocated, you're left with an injured spirit. You begin to give because you want to avoid the unpleasantness. After giving that way for 40 years of life, when the primary person who has hurt you over and over (and over) again is gone, your mind begins to shift. Suddenly, you wake up from a nightmare and what you discover is that who you've always been is not who you really are.

Who am I?

I am a wife, mother, sister, friend. I am a teacher, a nurturer, a healer. I am a writer, a thinker, and an inquisitive mind. I am a lot of good things. These things I do not want to change about myself. I like these things. I want these things. I don't want to lose these things. These things are at the root of who I am and I enjoy being those things.

Who am I not?

I'm not a doormat, a scapegoat, the cause of someone elses misery. I'm not a second thought, a pot on the back burner, or someone to be discarded at a whim.

I am learning that life is short. God might call me home tonight. He might call my husband or one of my children home (Please, God - don't take them now). When you are at your lowest, you find out who your true friends and family are.

Who are these people?

They are people with integrity, who can see through your walls and your pain and hurt and push through. The harder you push away, the harder they push back. They are the people who tell you the truth: words you don't always want to hear, but words you need to hear. They are people who allow you to be your own true self - full of fault, bruises, and a little darkness - and love you all the while. In short, they love you when you are unloveable. When you can't love yourself, they wrap you in their arms and love you more.

These are the type of people I want to make time for in this next chapter of my life. Not because I'm narcissistic but because this is how I love. This is how I've always loved and this is how I will continue to love. This is the only love I know how to give.

I'll love you during your highs and celebrate with you, but I'll especially love you in your lows and weep with you. I'll walk through the door when everyone else is walking out because that's who I am.

But this paradigm shift comes at a cost. You see, when you start changing, people aren't always open to your change. Why? They might like it when you're in a rut so they can feel superior to you. They might like it when you're in a rut so they can have company. They might like when you're in a rut because it means leaving them behind when you dig yourself out.

Whatever the reason, however good the change might be for me, it's painful.

But as my doctor said - change and growth, even if they are good things, hurt. Sometimes a lot.

And this is where I am currently. I'm trying to find my new balance. What does life look like right now?

I'm just trying to draw a map.

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Friday, December 25, 2015

{Planners for the Rest of Us} Unboxing: Uncalendar Lifestyles Pro

Since my mother's diagnosis three months ago, my life feels like it has gone off the rails. Friends, colleagues and family have assured me that on the outside, I'm holding it all together. But I know differently.

I know I can do better. {Read: I am a perfectionist.}

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was on Facebook, chatting with fellow You Need a Budget (YNAB) users and the discussion was: "How do you get it all done?"

Ever the student, I eagerly read comment and after comment (there were several) about how different people "got it done".

Someone mentioned the Uncalendar. Having never heard of it, I went on a search.

The website led to a pretty basic layout of an undated planner. What seemed unique about this undated calendar was 1) you could start at any time and 2) the creators broke it down that provided enough parameters for people to meet their goal while, simultaneously (and this is the genius part) allowing it to be completely customizable.

I was intrigued.

The next stop is where everyone goes to learn everything about nothing at all: YouTube.

What I discovered was that while there were tons of videos on planners (for every planner under the sun, including but not limited to, making your own from a dollar notebook), there weren't a whole lot for Uncalendars. But they were there, so I devoured everything I could on the subject. I even found (joy!) a Uncalendar Users Facebook group.

So, naturally with it being the Christmas season, I asked for it for Christmas. I asked for the Lifestyles Full-Size version and received the Lifestyles Pro Full-Size version. When I shared this on the Facebook group, I had several people beg for pictures of the planner (and even an unboxing. You can view it here, but I'm warning you - as my first video it is beyond rough. This why I've created this blog post. It's much, much less painful.)

I will be unboxing the Uncalendar exactly as I received it. I did spend a couple of hours this afternoon customizing it for my use. I will share that as a later date.

One thing I did mention in my video was the idea of creating a series for planners who were anything but natural planners. Certainly, I cannot be the only person who is grasping at straws trying to find something that works for her. If the interwebs has taught me anything, it's that whenever you think you're alone or unique, you are not. There are millions of people just like you. As such, whenever I write about the Uncalendar, I will label it Planners for the Rest of Us. Being new to the Uncalendar, I know that I'm going to be constantly tweaking my system. And I want to be transparent in my journey in hopes of it helps someone out there. If it does, great. If it doesn't, well that's okay, too.

Uncalendar Unboxing

The Uncalendar Lifestyles Pro Full Size comes in a 1 inch textured vinyl three-ring binder. There is a pocket inside the front cover. The planner comes divided into four tabs: Day/Week, Month/Goals, Notes/Techs and Data. Each tab is printed on durable card stock with suggested uses for each section.
First page of planner

Overview of planner

Suggested weekly schedule w/ example day



Suggested mantras for different areas of your life: Interacting w/ Others, Family, Personal Efficiency, Diet and Exercise

NOTEsystemPAPER (notes) suggestions

At the very back - and I believe this is what sets the Lifestyle Pro apart from the regular Lifestyle is a phone book/contacts log. As I mentioned in my video, most of my contacts are stored in my phone or on my various emails, however, as The Man Beast pointed out - if I'm ever in a training and I need to jot down contact information, this would be a good place to put it.
Index at the beginning of the address/contact log

Address/contact log (there are 40 contacts per page - front and back; contacts are divided up alphabetically: AB, CD, EF, GH, IJ, KL, MN, OPQ, RS, TU, VW, XYW)

Index at the back of address/index log (I'm not sure why - unless these are frequently used numbers/contacts OR these are the contacts you will carry into your next year's Uncalendar. Honestly, I see this part of my Uncalendar physically being moved to my new Uncalendar next year. This might change.
The Uncalendar is color-code with primary colors: red, yellow, blue, green and sometimes black (depending on the section).  While there are suggestions throughout, the general blocking of the planner is very empty (and thus customizable). 
Weekly planning page which is adjacent to Weekly page (52 of each)

Weekly layouts begin on Monday and end on Friday (with the weekends underneath in large blocks). Each day is divided into three sections. What these are used for is up to the user's discretion: morning/afternoon/evening; work, home, personal; home, personal, finance - options are endless)

Monthly goal planner sheet

Bottom of goal planner sheet (complete with larger grid for monthly tracking)

Monthly planning

Monthly layout (12)

Projection for the next year (appointments, planning, goals, etc)

Notes Section w/ blocking and large tracking grid

Full sheet, numbered (45 lines) note page

Data sheet (very large tracking grid) w/ boxed-out areas

Frequently used numbers (data sheet)

Three-year at-a-glance (data)

The Uncalendar comes in two sizes (half and full) with three color options (black, blue, and red). The Lifestyle (full and half size) come coiled-bound. All Lifestyle Pro planners come in three ring binders. The company also offers full and half size refill planners.

Prices are as follows: (Please note that since I received this planner as a gift, I do not have working knowledge of shipping cost, how the product is packaged or how long delivery takes - my apologies)

Lifestyle Pro

Lifestyle Pro Refill

I will get into how I am planning on using the planner in another blog post. This one is just to get readers a general idea of what the Uncalendar Lifestyles Pro entails.
While many product reviews found on the web offer paid compensation, I want readers to know that I in no way, shape, or form received any compensation of any kind for completely this unboxing. Like most people on the interwebs, I just like sharing.
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Healthy Outlets

Yesterday, I cried. 

I was on the brink of tears all day and managed to keep it together - because, you know, it's unprofessional to cry at work - right? My emotions didn't get the memo. A professional planning meeting and dropping the Littles off at PE were two such instances where I did not keep my emotions in check.

But yesterday, I did.

But I wasn't fooling anybody. I could never be in a position where I would have to lie (or not tell the whole truth) to protect a secret because, apparently, I wear my heart on my sleeve. At the very least, my eyes are an open window to my soul. They are a spiritual TMZ of the body. They know all. They tell all. All they don't care when it's appropriate.

So, even when I think I'm keeping it together; I'm really not. At least to those who have my figured out. And man! Do I hate that! On one hand, it's extremely comforting knowing that there are a select few on this planet that really understand how I work (and probably a little bit more than myself). This is comforting. However, it's extremely frustrating having these people in your space when you feel like you don't want to share what is going on in your head - either because you just don't want to share or because you don't know what's going on.

And yesterday was one such day. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what I was feeling exactly.

Magenta. That was me.

And I hid it well. Not really. But I managed.

Until I got home and TMB saw it all and asked those all-too-imposing questions that get the waterworks flowing.

What's wrong?

Everything. Nothing. I don't know.

And then I did. And then we talked. And then he said something extremely profound:

"You need to find a healthy outlet."

And I do. But what? What can I do that will relieve all the magenta feelings that well up inside of me, day after day?

And he's not the only person to say this. Several people who love me very much have said I need to find a healthy outlet. Recently, I was told that I give and give and give and if I don't take time for myself, all my giving is going to use me up. (It was a little bit more eloquent that that, but that was the general gist.)

I enjoy reading and now, since I'm on break, I feel almost certain that I can finish a book I started two weeks ago but haven't quite gotten through. I'm also pretty certain I can make it to the library before Thanksgiving to borrow the third book in the series (I love series, don't you?)

But the problem is, I don't feel refreshed when I read. If anything, it makes me feel more anxious - especially if a main character is going through something dramatic and I want to see him or her through to the very end.

My readers will understand that all readers go through this. It's just what we do.

But the problem is, it does not really renew anything. I can't even say it relaxes me. I do enjoy it and I will continue to enjoy it and will continue doing it (although not as much as I'd really hoped because I choose not to take time to read.) Still, that is not my healthy outlet.

Which brings me to writing.  Is writing my healthy outlet?

I believe that yes, it can be. I recently wrote a loved one an eight page letter, pouring out my love and support to them. (They will be receiving it soon, so I cannot reveal to whom the letter is addressed, lest they read my blog - and I really hope they do.) I remember having a great pen pal relationship with a friend in California. We would take a week or two to write to one another and we'd end up emailing pages and page of general chit chat to one another.

And I loved keeping in touch with my friend this way. I loved connecting with her trials and her joys. The "voice" in which we each wrote to one another was almost like we were talking face-to-face. I would laugh. I would cry. I used to devour those letters.

As I write this, I think I've discovered what my healthy outlet is. It is writing but more than that, it's connecting with people I love and cherish.

And it's the one thing that's really been missing in my life.

Once upon a time, I used to write. I wrote letters. I wrote stories. I wrote little anecdotes. Most of my writing was never read by anyone. And to be honest, putting some of my "stuffs" out in the open is very scary. I want to share but I'm afraid of what you will think about what I have to share. Will you like it? Will you agree with me? Will I insult you? Anger you? Will you reject me?

The People Pleaser in me shines through.

But despite it all, I still have that urge - that need - to connect with people. I'm not as eloquent live and in person as I tend to be on paper. Once upon a time, I was great on paper. I look back over past things I've written and I feel they were really well formulated. I feel I've lost that. No, "lost" is the wrong word. I've placed in the back burner - so much so that it's been collecting dust. It's still there. I just need to dust.

Ultimately, I feel the need to get my thoughts on paper (or screen). It's even more therapeutic when it's read and enjoyed by someone. Hence the letter writing.
I could be doing another type of writing. Every November, writers spend 30 days at their computers, at their desk or in coffee shops, pecking out 50,000-word documents for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I competed one year. I finished a manuscript. I have been meaning to flesh it out (50,000 words hardly constitutes a novel). Yet, there it sits, printed out in six manila envelopes, unedited. 
I contemplated participating this year, but thought with everything going on, I probably shouldn't add something else to my plate. I even commented on Facebook that while I couldn't do it this year, as a 40th birthday present to myself, I'd do it next. 
I still want to do that. But this morning, while I was taking a shower, I thought of two sequels to the novella I wrote in 2007. And I just know if I don't put something down on paper (or screen), I'm going to completely lose the ideas. I already lost a flash drive that had several stories on it. I really should get some ideas down and save them in a place where they won't accidentally get lost. (I suspect there was a rip in one of my purses and when I donated the purse, I didn't check the hole. 
For all I know, the person who bought the purse doesn't know that the flash drive is in there. Wouldn't it be spectacular if the person, tiring of the purse, donated it to the same store she bought it from and then on whim, I went to the store, found the purse, bought the purse, and found my flash drive?)
What a story that would make!
Until next time,
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