ThxFriday, Back in the Gratitude Saddle Edition.

Navigating a Friday night work emergency with relative ease; house and dog and turtle-sitting in the comfort of a lovely home; the horrible and tasty discovery of BOOMCHICKAPOP; Saturday night fires and wine; a beautiful day of walks and books and naps and later-night homecoming visits; dinners with my sweetheart and our teamwork in the kitchen; the glory of beets and goat cheese in salads; perfectly-timed appreciation flowers; remembering to breathe and crowd-sourcing support; working from home and all that was achieved; waking up in my own bed once again; acknowledging the silly in the stressors (fire drill nightmares, anyone?); some very much needed time with friends, and the very much welcome reminders of things; and today, with the shine of the sun and the promise of good things to come.

I’d gotten way out of the habit of revisiting all the good from the prior week, and I can tell and feel a difference in mentality and perception. Gratitude needs to be an active practice; it’s way too easy to fall into the negative otherwise, because of how I’m wired. With all that goes on, between work and school and navigating relationships and friends and wanting to prioritize good health and wellness and and and… these posts remind me to just breathe and appreciate and remember the good. That way, I can stop going into work and announcing that people aren’t allowed to talk to me unless they have something positive to say. (That may have happened last week, ahem. Navigating ends of ropes and boundaries is fun!)  🙂

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From Natural Disasters to the Warmth of the Sun

I’ve had it in my head for a while that I wanted to write a piece here equating the various types of terrible relationships/dates/partners to natural disasters.

You know, like how someone who lies can be like an earthquake: you never quite trust that you’re standing on solid ground because you can’t trust what’s coming out of their mouths. And the aftershocks continue in much the same way the effects of lies are long felt after the original lie is told. Some lies, when discovered, shake you to your very core, and the recovery from that can take months, if not years.

How someone who manipulates and gaslights, making you think you’re crazy or wrong when they’re the ones wreaking havoc, can be like a tornado: tearing through your life like it’s a charming old town, leveling structures you thought would always be standing, leaving you in the wreckage of their behavior wondering what the hell just happened and whether it was somehow, maybe, your fault for being so naive.

How the person who cheats might be like a never-ending blizzard: freezing you out but holding you captive with the hope that things might change or get better, or maybe it’s just a little snowstorm that isn’t nearly as bad as it seems or was predicted or looks on the weather maps because what do they know anyway.

Or how a person who withholds affection is like a famine. Or someone who tries to take over your life is like a flood.

You get the idea.

But after a few months of sitting with those analogies, I just never felt compelled to suss them out any further. I’d like to think that’s because I’ve opted to spend my days and time with more positive mental and emotional pursuits, and that’s probably most of it. I’m much more inclined to celebrate the good in life: the good friends, good relationships, good opportunities, good lessons, and good times.

Which leads me to my current relationship and all of its stability, trust, honesty, happiness, and love. If I am to keep with the prior analogies, it is the calm after every storm. It’s when the sun comes up, the air is clear, and birds begin their bright and clever songs. It’s the happy and the peace you find in quiet moments.

Aside from two notable, long-ago exceptions, nearly everyone I’ve dated has been some kind of natural disaster. I’m not inclined to get into the hows and the whys of it, except to say, a lot of things lent themselves to me following that path. It’s taken a lot of hard work, insight, processing, and willingness to finally get to the point where I no longer have any interest – at all – in chasing a storm.

But in having been conditioned to brace against the elements, whatever they may be, I find myself looking around, not quite yet fully trusting that quiet, that sunshine, that love. I am in the company of someone with whom I feel fully comfortable to speak up, to tell the truth and ask questions and be vulnerable. Someone who finds me attractive in all the ways that matter, and who has no reservations in telling and showing me that, at any and every turn. Someone who is self-aware, and willing to dig deep and talk about things and maybe even change his mind, when it’s warranted. Someone who is simply present, with no games or agendas; just a heart as big and tender as my own, with an infinite capacity for joy and love. I’m learning to breathe and trust it (and him), and am fortunate to have met someone who can be patient and understanding around that.

It’s like, after years of having blindly set up camp in the path of one destructive force after another, I’ve packed my shit, moved out, and followed my internal compass in the right direction.

Here’s to that, y’all. Here’s to letting yourself exhale and be loved.

I don’t FEEL tardy…

Last week, I had a policy brief due for one of my classes. Earlier in the semester, we were asked to find a piece of legislation introduced within the last year, something relevant to the field of social work (whether it benefits or goes against the nature of), and to plan on using that for the class’s assignments. We started off with a lit review which, in hindsight, was a HUGE blessing (in deep disguise, as I was up til 6am writing it) because it provided most of the research relevant to the legislation and our argument for or against it.

So, the policy brief was essentially something written to offer up a summary of the main issues surrounding the policy, provide statistics and other relevant information, and then ultimately give some recommendations, either to strengthen or change the policy, or to offer up wholesale approval (or condemnation). I probably gave my topic away with one of my previous posts on here.

Anyway, the point of all that is to say: At some point while I was digging through reports and statistics and research and writing and editing and crafting the brief, I sat back for a minute and thought, “Whoa! I feel… smart. Huh.”

It was notable for two reasons. One, I almost for a second or two started thinking I *might* be interested in politics enough to warrant future policy briefs and engagement at the macro level. That would have never, ever occurred to me before, and I’m not entirely sure it’s accurate, but it was there, regardless. And two, it just drove home to me how out of touch I am with my abilities and talents and whatever else I possess. Like, I always knew my sister and brother were smart and competent people; their achievements are out there for all to see, and it’s obvious they’re no dummies. But then, they did well in school growing up, did well in college and graduate studies or whatever, they have really good jobs that require you to be really damn smart… they’re achievers.

I, on the other hand, prided myself on failing through high school as hard as humanly possible, and never challenged myself at all in that respect. I think I just gave up at some point, and felt like I could never measure up to my siblings, so why bother trying? Instead, I went the “creative” route through life, and it’s only now that I’m even beginning to really tap into what I’m capable of.

It’s weird.

And yet, even when I do well, I just assume that I’m doing as well as everyone else, or that the teacher is an easy grader and I can’t trust their opinions because if I’m getting 100’s then everyone else must be, too, and it can’t REALLY be this easy (which usually means I then assume I failed an assignment or did it completely wrong until I get the grade back), and and and… yeah. What a crummy way to think of yourself. I mean, I think it’s good to have some kind of sense of what you’re capable of and what you’re good at and especially what you enjoy doing regardless of whether you’re good at it or not, but to have an underlying messaging system of “you’re not that smart and you’re probably messing it up and there’s no way you’re earning these grades or the reputation of being smart and people are just being polite when they say you’re smart or funny or a good writer or ________” – it’s messed up.

More importantly, it’s incorrect.

So I’m glad, in a way, to be so caught off guard by feelings of competence and smarts, because that means I need (and want) to do more to challenge myself, both academically and also emotionally. I may never get completely rid of that pre-programmed internal naysayer commentary, but I can certainly tell it where to go, and then drown it out with the positive messaging I get from EVERYWHERE ELSE.

Go team!

All the news that’s fit to print.

Welp, this is certainly one of those times when I can honestly say I haven’t been writing here because I’ve been busy as shit living life elsewhere, and it’s a GOOD THING. There have been blog entries rolling around in my brain for months, but they just keep getting knocked around by all the other stuff I have to think about instead. I haven’t even had time to write the weekly gratitude posts, but that’s something I plan to get back to. I think it’s important. Even though life is, for all intents and purposes, really damn good right now, I don’t want to lose sight of that during the inevitable times of struggle.

So… let’s see. I started a new job back in November. The difference is like night and day from my last job. I had genuine affection for some of my former co-workers, but the environment was just… not a good fit. I could say a whole lot more about it, but this being a public forum and all, I’ll leave it at that. What I will say instead is that my new job has me twice as busy as I was before, and I honestly feel like I’m helping and making a difference. I work with people who practice active gratitude, every day, and we’re all busy, sometimes overwhelmingly so, but it’s all to work towards something greater than ourselves. Our leaders have big visions, and we are the ones who make it happen, all with the goal of helping as many women as possible.

One interesting thing for me is that it’s a faith-based organization. Anyone who knows me knows what a choice that was for me to make. And I was nervous about it at first, but you know what? Our missions are the same. Our goals are the same. Our driving forces are, ultimately, the same. The only difference (to me) is the language we use to talk about it. There was definitely a time in my life where I don’t think it would have worked for me to be there, but now, it absolutely feels like a great place to be. I am as welcome there as anyone, and we’re all just grateful for each other. It’s pretty cool.

And all of that works out well, having that emotional support, because my boss just went out on maternity leave so I’m now doing three jobs instead of two. I came home every day last week feeling like I’d been beat up (from the feet up), so I’d do a face plant on the couch and then wake back up to dig into homework. Which, by the way, is going well, and I am loving my classes this semester, because it is CHALLENGING. I’ve never been one to think about social welfare policy – or any policy, really – so even though I’m out of my element, I feel like I’m learning to inhabit new elements. The other class is covering the DSM-5 which is super interesting to me, of course. I’ve diagnosed everyone I know, just about. (Kidding, of course. I started with myself and my family. YOU’RE NEXT.)

On top of all of that, just as I’d had enough of the verbal abuse and ick factor from online dating and was planning to shut down my accounts… I met someone good. Like, really good. Kind, attentive, sweet, funny, smart, honest, handsome… and I find myself wondering if I even know how to handle that, after so many years of there being some kind of drama or unfortunate business going on with my dating choices (to put it mildly). It’s been a while. But whatever adjustments are necessary on my part to figure out how to let someone in and keep the walls from going up and staying there, I’m all about it. And the best part is that we can (and do) talk about all that stuff. He’s as able and willing to dig deep as I am, with as tender and big a heart as mine, if not bigger. So, we’ll see where all that goes. My thanks to all the previous self-selectors, as well as the ones who behaved in such a way as to put me on high alert and avoid any future BS.

“There are two kinds of people in this world; those who build you up, and those who tear you down. In the end, you’ll thank them both.” Yep.

Anyway. So between work, school, the new fella, and then, you know, regular life and stuff, I am BUSY, my time is filled, and I am apparently terrible at reaching out to people now that I’m no longer on Facebook. But have I mentioned how much more peaceful my life is without it? Because it is. I will say, though, that I’m glad for the people who remember me and extend invitations that are otherwise taking place on FB. That aside, I’m still just waiting for all the pieces to readjust back into their new places with all that’s going on. Life was already full before C came along, so I’m doing my best to make room for him without losing myself in the process. I was in the habit of going to the gym after work, but that stopped a few weeks back and I want to squeeze that back in. That has more to do with being wiped out after work, though, and not as much to do with my personal life. And then of course there’s friend time and family time and house-sitting gigs and the desire to skip town for a few days before long…

Anyway. Life is good, and I am happy. Even when I’m a big ol’ ball of stress. That’s what the pedicures and massages and appointments with Noelle the wonder therapist are for. And the gym. And this glass of wine. Also, cookies. But maybe not so many cookies anymore, because it’s time to get back on that healthy train, too.

Monday. I’ll hop the train on Monday.

And will try to write more here, too. It feels good, even if I’m the only one reading it. 🙂