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Divide

30 Jan

There are forces all around you who wish to exploit division, rob you of your freedom, and tell you what to think. But young folks can rekindle the weary spirit of a slumbering nation.                                                Wynton Marsalis

Do a quick search of “Criticism of the Women’s March” real fast.  Just do that favor from me.  I will wait here until you’re back.  Okay, good to have you back now.  Did you notice anything about the criticisms of the women’s marches that happened all over the world one week ago?  If you answered that most of them are penned by women themselves you are definitely starting out with your finger on something that has probably been the largest barricade for women in the fight for equal rights: other women.

We’ve got women of color talking (rightly so) about the many ways that this protest has been treated in the media differently than recent peaceful Black Rights Matter marches. We’ve trans women talking (rightly so) about how feminism is not owned by body parts and the underlying “womanhood is for those of us with biological vaginas only” message that the knitted pink hats seemed to say to them. And it seems we’ve come full circle in the critical mass. Because now we have white cis-women being critical of other white cis-women for participating in a march which was apparently not “intersectional” enough for these white cis-women.  

It is to these women that I heartily give a great big shut the ever loving up.  Because you are the one of these things is not like the other.  You’ve managed to take a term used to describe the acknowledgement of the latent racism in feminism and turn it into some kind of righteousness that is only held by a small (white) few of you.  No longer can our feminism be about the business of granting women equal status and rights under the law, (with a hearty acknowledgement that that equality comes at more effort for some feminists than others) it must now raise to some standard that you, a white cis-woman, have determined it must be.  No longer is any effort toward feminism a good starting place or jumping off point.  No, now you must feel extra special and decry millions of women for not being as smart as you with your college word.

If we truly mean to be a group of women who show up in both word and deed, then why must I meet some sort of definition of a word before my deeds can mean anything to you?

I was told recently that my feminism was not intersectional enough for the two of us to be engaged in any “sort of productive conversation.”  A quick moment for my own self righteousness yielded that this person’s friends list was even less diverse than my meager attempt at diversity in mine.  And when I came to my senses, I realized, “Why does this even matter?”  It matters because we are human and we always want to be the more special one in the group.  It is not enough that we showed up with millions of other people united behind a singular cause.  No, that singular cause apparently wasn’t good enough and we must quickly establish ourselves as the ruling class of feminism.  We’ve had a ruling class of feminism from the beginning.  It has been white, predominantly middle class, and has certainly stepped on the equality rights of others in order to achieve its prize.  And why shouldn’t there be more of that in this day and age?  We always need and have always needed the best feminists to tell the rest of us what our feminism should really mean.

Feminism is this crazy idea that women should be viewed and treated as equals here on the playing field.  And that means treating other women as equals as well.  Not just women of color, or of different genders and sex parts, but also women that somehow fall short of the feminist ideal that you’ve painted for yourself in your head.  It is this type of divisiveness that does no good.  It is this divisiveness that was preyed upon in the 70s and used by opponents to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.  And we must do something differently if we are to do something more than just show up for the “white people march.”

We must encourage other women to not just say something about what they believe in, but to show up in spirit and body for these causes that we all believe in.  That is not done by demeaning someone and saying that their feminism isn’t good enough for your feminism.  It’s done by saying, “Hey, thanks for showing up.  Here are other ways to show up.”  Let’s quit devouring one another and actually figure out how best to move on down the road together.  Because surely our numbers are there, even if our ideologies don’t match.

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Photo taken at Civic Center Park, Denver, CO

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Whiner

27 Jan

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A friend recently shared this meme on his Facebook page.  By recently, I mean on January 14, 2017.  182 days after Bernie Sanders conceded his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to be President of the United States of America.

This is not a blog about Bernie or Bust.  Nor is this a blog about whether or not the DNC rigged their 2016 primary election for the presidency.  Nor is it a blog really addressing whether or not this alleged rigging is what lost the DNC the presidency.

This is a blog about your feelings.  Because you are essentially still not doing anything to improve or change the way we do things by posting this.  You are simply wallowing.  And then justifying that wallowing by saying, “Look at who got elected!  I’ve got a right to my feelings and I’m going to feel them.”

This is not a blog about your feelings.  Yes, you have every right to your feelings.  Just understand that your feelings are like tears in a bucket.  (Google that phrase for the ending, you won’t believe your eyes!)

This is a blog about how political change cannot be about feelings.  And if you allow your feelings to encumber you in such a way that 182 days after your feelings got hurt you are still slinging memes out into your echo chamber, you might actually be making things worse, not better.

Imagine how your feelings would feel if you were set upon by police dogs.  If your fellow Bernie supporters were lynched.  If you and your fellow supporters were sprayed by fire hoses.  If you were imprisoned without any proper heating or food for many days.  How are your feelings doing when the police show up to a peaceful protest in riot gear or tear gas bomb a crowd because it might get out of control?  This is a blog about how political change has nothing to do with how its proponents feel.  In fact, one could say it’s more about how those feel that are against that change that needs to be made.

Senator Sanders is betwixt his second term in the United States Senate, and with his previous 16 years of service in the House of Representatives makes him the longest serving Independent member of Congress.(Source: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/about)

There is something you need to understand about Bernie’s political career.  It wasn’t something that just started happening on May 26, 2015.  It signified a whole career spent working toward the exact goals and beliefs he espoused on his platform for the presidency.  Nor did his concession speech mean that the movement dies.  If one does share Sanders’ goals for how we are citizens in the United States, then really, that was the beginning.  Just as he laid out on his website.  There are ways to build this movement, to see it be fostered and grown at the local level.  Because change does not come from the top down, but when those of us at the bottom punch up.

There are numerous places you can go to start getting something done.  Pick a thing and do it.  Go march.  Go protest.  Go call your representatives and senators and tell them that they should be representing you, not private interests.  Go read more about those you want to be a voice for.  But do not say that you cannot.  Because you cannot means you’ll just sit at home and post your little memes into the echo chamber.

When Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” he never meant that change was staying home and crying about how the world won’t change.

When Malcolm X talked about “any possible means,” he did not mean his Facebook page.

However, if I may, perhaps you did heed the words of Frederick Douglass when he said, “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them. ”

Because take heed – Social media is silence.  And silence is acceptance.

If you want to be heard loud, please consider some of these websites resources.  Pick a thing and fight for it.  Fight for it outside of the internet.  Because as of right now the world takes place in the real world, not online.

If you are a member of the DNC, it is your voice, and your fight to change how they do business if you don’t like it.  There are also resources for protest and learning more about the Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders has launched an organization called Our Revolution.  This website shows you how to organize, run for government positions, and just in general network to become part of the change.

Believe that Black Lives Matter but you’re not sure exactly how that came about?  Here is the Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves:

The Indivisible Guide has practical things to do for just about every issue.

Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice gives you a practical way to help daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.  Great resource for someone who wants to learn how to start small and build from there.

 

 

Bereavement

15 Jan

“How did you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Start the fire?”

There is a scene in the recently released Series of Unfortunate Events that played on me like a swift blow to the stomach.  The Baudelaire asoue_101_unit_7996_r_cropchildren, recently orphaned, are taken to Mr. Poe’s (their parent’s banker) house and meet his family.  This family gives the banker 2 sons that the Baudelaires share a bedroom with overnight.  As the young orphans try to share a single bed between the three of them, one of the Poe offspring (I’m uncertain if it’s Albert or Edgar) asks, “How did you do it?” The Baudelaires sit up, “Do what?”  “Start the fire?”

Of course, in true Snicket fashion, there is just a tight shot on their faces, and that’s the scene.  Really the Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of how people don’t really know how to deal with others who are grieving.  And so they act in what they feel is a good or kind way, which ends up with some pretty dismaying consequences every time it happens.

Beyond this just being a misstep by preadolescent boys who are obsessed with fire, I think this also touches on our need to try and place blame on the cataclysmic event that our friends now face.  Somehow if we can press blame somewhere onto a cause, wouldn’t that then make all involved feel better?  Most of us who grieve aren’t asked if we started the fire that killed our parents, but here are some laying of blame phrases I’ve heard while actually grieving that people seem to think were appropriate to say to me or around me so that I could overhear them:

“Well, you know he was a bigger man, so a heart attack was likely.”  (Overheard)

“It must be so hard for you to watch someone not care for themself properly.”  (Said to my mother.  At the funeral.)

“Well, I’m sure you had an inkling because of how he lived.”  (Said to me.  At the funeral.)

“It’s to be expected, really.”  (Overheard no less than 4 times by myself.  At the funeral.)

A quick moment of truthiness here – my father, who passed away when I was 25, did not die of a heart attack.  He actually died of a burst aortic aneurysm.  So as people performed chest compressions on his already strong heart, (which was still beating, by the way, not sure how these folks thought performing CPR was a good idea) his strong heart pumped all of his blood into his body.  And thus he died.  His autopsy actually showed him to be in strong, hearty health, and it was his proximity from the hospital that signed his death warrant.  (Unlike Ron Jeremy, who suffered from the same situation and was able to have a life saving surgery performed. This, of course, illustrates a Universe who deems one sticks around and one dies in a seemingly strange fashion.)

But I’m not so sure that the truth or facts in this case would really assist in what is obviously a very mislead attempt to make myself and my grieving family feel better.  Framing my father’s death in a way that it made it his fault, and ours for not talking sense into him about his diet, was certainly not a healing balm for our grieving souls.

Sure, you might be curious about the fire, but should you really ask Violet, Klaus, and Sunny if they instrumented the fire that killed their parents? Or is this really where that term “morbid curiosity” found its foothold in our society?  Are we simply so curious about morbidity (A human condition really) that it matters more that our curiosity be satiated than those left behind to grieve be comforted?

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“It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus and Sunny felt in the time that followed.  If you have ever lost somebody very important to you, then you already know how it feels; if you haven’t, you cannot possibly imagine.”

 

Isn’t it interesting, that sometimes when we are looking for the right thing to say to a grieving friend, the exact opposite happens?  We very literally say the worst possible thing that anybody could say to them.  Then we excuse ourselves saying, “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say.”  (Then, weirdly, we look away and to the right.)  Take a look at that sentence for a moment.  Here, I’ll put by itself to help:

I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say.

Please notice that when you say this phrase, it is not at all intended for the listener.  It is intended for yourself, to make you feel better for whatever it was you were led to say.  I think this is why we look away and to the right after saying it.  In hopes that we’ve said enough words to now avoid that this horrible thing is not at all happening right now.

Is it really so important that how you feel about someone passing that you feel the need to explain your lack of disregard for those who are directly affected by it?

Here are a few suggestions I have, based upon the people who “did it right” with their grieving friend or acquaintance:

  • Share a short story about why that person is special to you.  If  you are friends enough with the person to know that a humorous story that they might not have known will go over well, share it.  It’s okay to make your friends laugh when they are grieving.
  • If you are curious about how that person died, see if it is shared in the obituary or hinted toward in the “in lieu of flowers please donate to” portion of the obituary.  There is ABSOLUTELY ZERO NEED for you to bring this up to the bereaved.  Is it really so important for you to point out if a death is more tragic if it is self inflicted, or sudden, or from a long disease, or from a tragic accident?  No.  None of that matters.  If they offer details, that is appropriate, but otherwise keep your big damned mouth shut.
  • Actually, keep your big damned mouth shut really works best.  So you don’t know what to say because you know nothing you say will make it better?  Then don’t say anything.  I know for some of us who are good with words it’s super hard to sit in that moment and be quiet; but if my experience is universal, and I expect it might be, your silence will be long remembered.  (This year it will have been 14 years, and I still love my silent friends the most dearly.)
  • Be willing to be that person who just brings a semblance of normalcy to your grieving friend’s life.  Sometimes we want to take a shower, get dressed up, go to a concert and not even talk about what’s happening.  To remember that we are those who live on and that is the best memory of the person we lost.  Be that friend, the one who can go out for a drink and not talk about how it’s so sad what you’re going through.  (Which is, again, selfish, because you’re curious about that that feels like and you want to know.  This is not asked in the guise of any sort of healing for your friend.)
  • If you are, in fact, an acquaintance to the deceased, acknowledge that to the bereaved.  And do not feel like you are allowed somehow to claim this tragedy as your own sad story to tell. (That includes on social media, by the way.  Imagine if you had to hear YOUR parent died via a tagged Facebook post that just pops into your feed?  Again, this is not about you.  It just isn’t.)  Here are some good words.  “I didn’t know him well, but the short time I did makes me realize that your loss is very great, and I am sorry for that.”

I am a firm believer that it is how we continue on living that brings us healing and peace.  It is also a testimony to the memories of our loved ones how we live today.  But the point is they lived, and created amazing people around them who are incredibly clever, smart, or just good at biting like little Sunny.

 

 

Who Am I?

7 Dec

“Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”   (Maggie Kuhn)

So who the heck is this person?  I’m Heather.  I think I have some stories to share and some thoughts about how I view life, and maybe some thoughts which will help you see something new about how you view life.  I find it best to know a bit about who the heck it is I’m listening to, so here’s a little bullet point list.  The fancy word for this is that I’m trying to flesh out a bit of my paradigm for you, so you can see how I view our world.  Some or all of this stuff will likely get flesh put onto it later, but I feel like you need to know it.  20161203_155954

  • I reside, and have resided, in Colorado for most of my life.  Exception is 2 years spent in Ventura, California.  I have lived in our capital city, in the Four Corners Region, surrounded by mesas on the Western Slope, but mostly I’ve lived in a smallish city in the northeastern part of my state.
  • I am just shy of 40 years old.  I identify as Generation X even though some bump folks my age up to the Millennial generation, I do not identify with much of what that generation values and has experienced.
  • I am a white person who was raised in a primarily white church and school system.  My interactions with people of color were always limited, and even now as an adult, are not as frequent as I would like.
  • I identify as a cis-female (mostly) straight woman.  For those of you who don’t know what the word cis means, it just means that I identify as the standard gender of the sexual parts I was born with.
  • Up until recently, I would describe my class background as “middle class,” or even “upper middle class” at times.  Significant thought on this matter and realizations about my life and how I live it lead me to believe that my family was “house poor,” and quite a few of the ways I live my life are influenced by being raised in a blue collar class (meaning we were never at or below the poverty level but that we certainly struggled and did not have as many bonuses as children who grew up middle class did).
  • I was identified as “gifted and talented” as a child, educated in 2 above average school districts, and was able to attend 41/2 years of college before being forced to drop out due to financial reasons.  While in college I was a History major (emphasis Europe, but really from about World War I to 1950) with a dual minor in Black Studies and Anthropology (I was getting ready to just take the last semester I needed for this degree when I had to drop out of school.)  I am a person who takes knowledge seriously and continues to educate myself by reading about people that I didn’t know about and books by authors who have different experiences than I did.
  • As a baby I was baptized Catholic and then when I was 5 years old, my parents started attending a non-denominational First Christian Church.  (The ones without the cup and flame.)  My mother raised me to strongly value reading and knowing the Bible and to pray and discern what it means.  In high school, I primarily attended a charismatic Four Square Church, and in college found an Evangelical Free Church.  8 years ago, I helped found a non-denominational church plant, but left about 2 years ago.  I currently identify as a Christian, and struggle with the baggage that goes along with that.  I do not presently attend a church with any frequency.

So now you know where I’m coming from so we can go together.  Yes?

 

Writing My Way Out

5 Dec

When the world turned its back on me
I was up against the wall
I had no foundation
No friends and no family to catch my fall
Running on empty, with nothing left in me but doubt
I picked up a pen
And wrote my way out                      (Lin-Manuel Miranda)

I have a lot of journals.  Some of them I’ve had since I was in high school.  Some of them are more recent.  Some are full, many are empty.  This blog is also a journal.  You can tell that sometimes I might set something down, wander away to other activities, then come back and rediscover that it’s there.

Writing has been something I’ve turned to journalsfrequently in life but not as frequently as I should.  The page has listened to more of my sadness, happiness, ideas from left field, and thoughts from right than the whole collective of my friends.  Sometimes the page has helped me to express something that was confusing me, or reason my way through a problem or concept I was trying to understand.  I would like to think sharing my thoughts might change someone’s mind or heart.  But I haven’t kept track of that much.

The time has come to remember that the written word is how ideas best disseminate.  The time has come for us to remember that we are all humans having human experiences together in this place.  And the time has come for us to acknowledge that not all of these experiences are positive.  And how we sometimes view our experiences can hurt ourselves and our friends.  In short, it is time to read and understand more, and to blindly hit the share button (so to speak) less.  I hope, in penning some of my experiences to these pages, that you might find something out of my experiences to apply to yours.

 

Prepare

1 Dec

We are now in December!  I didn’t quite make it to my “three days a week blogging” goal, but I certainly blogged a lot more and have found that I kind of love it.

I wanted to lay out what December’s gonna look like for you, my dearest reader.  This month will be full of many things.  In churchy words, this is the season of Advent, which merely means anticipation, waiting for an arrival.  We enter the darkest time of the year with the approaching Winter Solstice, and many prepare by adding light to our households; whether by menorahs, or Christmas lights, or trees, or adorning our homes with light.

Since it is always a time of year that I take to reflect on so many things, Mondays will be a time for reflection.  For myself and hopefully for you.  I want to make your Monday reading time a time to pause, reflect, and hopefully to bring some light into these ever increasing dark nights of December.

This is also a time of year when we ponder our generosity.  And so this December I’m going to bring you “Skip the Latte Wednesdays,” where we talk about skipping that Wednesday latte and giving to those that are considered “the least of these.”  To bring light into someone’s dark place.  This “Skip the Latte Wednesday” will feature charities that I feel are worth your five dollars.

This is also the time of year when we spend more time with those we hold dear.  On Fridays, I’ll be reviewing one of the Christmas movies from my list of unwatched films and tv shows and sharing with you my thoughts.  Then hopefully that will put them in mind for you to enjoy with your dearest ones with a nice big bowl of popcorn (either real or microwave) and perhaps a tasty beverage.

So there you have it:  December’s plan.  May you begin December with light in your heart, and joy for the season.  And may you also find peace during a time which seems so chaotic.  See you tomorrow!

Candles

March

20 Nov

“I base my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch.”  ~Gilda Radner

So I promise I’ll get to those holiday videos I’ve been threatening to talk at you about, but I simply must make you view this.  It’s about an hour long and from BBC Channel 4.

This motley crew of septa and octagenarians share their sense of style and their thoughts on how being old doesn’t mean getting old, shopping in thrift shops and catalogs, and even wearing their own art that they’ve created. One is already a very famous model, and another tries to see if she can become a model.  There are some very surprising things in here.  Very surprising indeed.

The documentary is well crafted and basically makes these women gleam and sparkle with glamour, poise, and that general “wisdom of the former generations” that many of us who have long since seen our grandparents depart the earth crave.

There are many funny and endearing moments in this little film.  And here is why you should watch it:

1. Everyone wants to see multiple old ladies don Doc Martens and sparkly Chuck Taylors.  Everyone.

2. Two fingers in a V.  No, it doesn’t mean “Victory” in Britain.  Saucy, saucy ladies.

3. The main thing that struck me about these spry individuals is that each of them is very in tune with her body.  And each exercises and stretches daily.  Smart.

4. I love the idea of owning the look that you like to put on. There is no real rule about what you wear at a certain age.  These ladies certainly don’t go the blue hair, cardigan, dowdy dress look.  But mostly it’s about owning who you are and then showing that by how you dress.  I vow to do a bit more of that.

5. The idea, presented by one of the women, that dwelling on sadness and not moving on is what ages one.  I’ve always felt that dwelling only in the sadness of the departure kind of freezes you in a moment, and it’s not a very healthy moment.

6. This is a film about people who are comfortable in their skin.  Very.  Very.  Comfortable.  I do not think you need to be 87 to achieve this.  I think each of us could become this comfortable if we allowed ourselves the freedom to move on, to discover who we really are, and to march.  There may not be a beat, or maybe your beat isn’t a Sousa (quite easy to march to), but you just march.

7. One of them actually says her style is “street.”  And she doesn’t wish to look “smart.”  Yes.  Very.  Yes.

8.  Not one pair of Uggs among them.  Some funky slippers yes, but not one pair.  Not one.  None.  Zero.  Getting the point?

9. All the color!  So many, many colors!  “Beige, in my opinion, is the color of death.”  PREACH MY SISTER!

10. Old ladies.  Wearing Doc Martens. And exclaiming that wearing stockings suffocates the legs.  Have you not hit play yet?

Really, take an hour out of your day to watch this.  Even if you’re not fashion minded.  Or style minded.  Or old people minded.  Take the moment to just enjoy that these women are some of the people who populate this fine earth of ours.  That the same energy that they tai chi with is also energy that you have in your day to day living.  Be well, friends.  Be well.

Engage(d)

4 Nov

It seems this fall that engagements are almost an epidemic in my life.  Perhaps there is some sort of water being passed out, or maybe they had a great deal on rings at Kohl’s or something.  Or maybe Tom Shane has just succeeded at wearing everybody down like some sort of bored Urkel?

(In case you were wondering about the voice who’s wearing you down to visit his store.)

Most people my age will now commence with either sharing a sweet, wonderful story of how their present spouse proposed to them or a semi-bitter story about their ex whatever.  I have neither of those to share with you from my personal experience.  I also do not find it surprising when a friend of mine recounted a story of an ex sister-in-law of hers who is now on marriage three and she has not yet hit age 30.

And I also do not find it a bit surprising that there is currently a blog entitled “You Probably Shouldn’t Get Married” floating around teh internets right now.  It’s an incarnation of the same post that’s made its rounds about once a year about how marriage is super special, and it’s really not about you, and many other yada yadas about unconditional love.

Part of my survival mode in avoiding the scary c-word (which happens to rhyme with enrichment) that goes along with engagement has been to become a big ol’ nerd.  This started in middle school.  Hey, if the boys aren’t going to ask me out, I might as well do things like memorize large chunks of Shakespeare’s greatest works and spend a lot of time with Picard, Crusher, and Data.  It’s a lot simpler to not be reminded that you’re not out on a date if you’ve got a Next Gen marathon on channel 2 or a pile of Vonnegut or Asimov at your disposal.

The Nerdy McNerderson disguise works excellently.  Well, until you attend college and all of a sudden post college us nerds are at the top of the heap, and damn are some of those nerds attractive!  And then, seemingly all of a sudden, you stumble upon a nerd who knows all the movies and Joss Whedon shows from which you nerdily quote.  And who can get exactly why you are so excited that there is a new Sandman prequel series.  And who absolutely understands why the deletion of Tom Bombadil from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was absolutely NOT a necessary edit.

And then you find yourself back at square one, nerdy disguise peeled away, flowers sitting on your dining room table, and many hours of time have been spent with that person.  It is at that point you realize something very important: you have no idea what it is you got yourself into, but it seems mostly harmless.

Yep.  I'm not.  (Thanks XKCD.com for explaining all the feels!)

Yep. I’m not. (Thanks XKCD.com for explaining all the feels!)

Now, I’m not saying I’m anywhere closer to that elusive c-word that rhymes with equipment, lest my phone and facebook feed blow up with a gagillion congratulations.  I am saying that I’m staring down the cliff over the edge of a precipice that I’ve watched many people jump off of, but I’m not sure this safety harness is gonna’ hold.  Thankfully there’s someone standing next to me.

Maybe that’s what it is: Thankfully there’s someone standing next to you. Congratulations if you’ve found that someone.  And if you’ve not…keep doing the things you like and pay no mind to that cliff over yonder.

Dear Teenage Me

20 Jul

Yep. That’s me. Circa Fall 1995 with one of my good friends from youth group.(Class of 96!)

 

 

My friend Lydia over at On the Other Hand recently wrote her take on another blogger’s letter to her teenage self.  I thought it was a good idea, so I’ve decided to do it myself.  So.  Here goes.


 

 

 

Dear teenaged me,

Wow, there are so many things that get put into perspective now that you’re 34.  I know you’re just thinking about what’s happening this weekend or freaking about the new play in production; but really, there’s a lot more to it than you think.  I’m gonna let you in on a few things now.

1.) All those unrequited crushes that never lead to dating are okay.  It’s good that you’re not dating right now.  And some of the most awesome men are right around the corner.

2.) The nice guys do finally figure it out.  It’ll happen in your 30s.  Now, you might date some who seem like nice guys until they’re not.  That’s okay because of:

3.) You have a wicked sense of humor now.  Sometimes it surprises the folks you went to high school with, because it wasn’t there back then.  It’s pretty dang awesome.  It helps you survive just about everything that comes your way.  And also makes you a hit at parties, bars, and sports commentating.  (Yeah, you become a commentator, pretty sweet, huh?)

4.) Contrary to what you’ve been hearing at summer camps and in youth group, your body is beautiful.  It is not a one stop sin factory like they say.  The sooner you embrace this the more you will find you like yourself.

5.) Your greatest strength is always turning back to the Bible to check what people in positions of leadership in the church are saying.  Keep doing this, you’re on the right track.

6.) Your dad has started to finally come around to this whole being involved in your life thing.  Don’t cut him out of yours now.

7.) Pretty soon you’ll get your bestest childhood friend back.  It’s called the Internet, and it will revolutionize your friendship.

8.) Keep your flannels.  You’ll want them in about 15 years.

9.) You will be heading to college.  You will be taking out loans.  Do not do the stubborn thing when you hit a hiccup in funding.  Take that year off of college and re-enroll when you qualify for Pell Grants.  Seriously, teenage me, it will be the only mistake you end up regretting.  All the others you will learn from in one way or another.

10.) Buffy the Vampire Slayer is awesome, not stupid.  Pick it up right now, because when you watch it as an adult a bit of the “OMG they’re the same age as me” magic will be gone.

11.) You have an incredible core group of friends there in Durango.  They have taught you how to mellow out and not be a pharisaical jerkface.  Keep in better touch with them.

12.) On the other hand, getting out of Durango was the right choice for you.  Remember this when you become slightly jealous of your brother staying there in a few years.  You really did need out.

13.) No really.  It is incredibly awesome that you’re not dating right now.  I promise you.

Okay, I think that’s it.  Just remember, teenage me, that it’s not as tragic as you think!  (But your poetry is!)

Love,

Almost 35 year old me

How about you?  What’s in your letter to your teenage self?

Advice

14 Jul

“Don’t cry for a man who’s left you, the next one may fall for your smile.”      – Mae West

Sometimes an inch is all you need for freedom

When you’ve lived the single life as long as I have, you get a lot of advice. And a lot of it, quite honestly, is shite. It’s meant in good will; but seriously, folks: If I hear someone say one more time, “There are plenty of fish in the sea,” I will not be responsible for my actions.  I’m not a fish, nor am I seeking to date a fish; ergo, I don’t care how many of them are in the sea and how that relates to me in my singleness. Seriously, when you reach an awkward point in the conversation where you want to say something to make someone feel better, just do not say something cliche.  Your silence is camaraderie enough.  But that’s another post for another time.

“The perfect time to make the most of every opportunity is while you are single.”  – Lady in Waiting

When I was a freshman in college, a Bible study I was in read the above quoted book.  That was 15 years ago.  I was doe eyed, hadn’t had my first boyfriend yet, and didn’t know the slightest bit about making the most of every opportunity while I was single.  But I certainly committed myself fully to the idea of living a fulfilling life without feeling like I needed a man to be fulfilled.

I traveled around the States by myself.  Went to movies by myself.  Learned how to go to dinner by myself.  Read books on the subway, on a mountain, by a river, in a hammock, by a Great Lake, by the Atlantic, everywhere.  I learned what it was like to give up summer break to bring light into children’s dark places.  I also learned what it was like to take a 2 week vacation just to relax and enjoy my friends, a campfire, and the Fourth of July.

Sure, I’ve bought into relationships here and there, even invested in one so fully that I relocated.  And then that one ended.  But something strange happened:  my life didn’t completely end.  In fact, very strangely, it all began again very quickly.  And I was stunned.  So I did what any woman does when she’s ready to move on: I got a haircut.

While in the waiting area, I absentmindedly thumbed through a Cosmo, and landed on an interview with Cameron Diaz; you know, the ones with the fill in the blank survey?  In the slot that said “Best piece of advice you received,” she had scribbled something to the extent of “You can’t be in a relationship until you’re fine just being with yourself.”  One of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood sounding ridiculously level headed, a refreshing change.

Damn you, Cameron Diaz for being my epiphany.  Sitting in that chair. Waiting for the “let’s move on” haircut.  Ridiculous.  But sometimes we all just need a reminder that returning to the fundamentals of life are what we need.  Or what I need.  Not that I’m going fishing anytime soon.  Because who goes fishing when there are places to go read?

“A woman without her man is nothing
A woman, without her man, is nothing.
A woman, without her, man is nothing.”         -Comma Joke