I think my heart is ready for “My Piece of Land.”

On March 15, 2014, I heard Amanda Shires for the first time.

The day before, I’d made my way from Nashville to Chattanooga for the weekend. I was in the throes of feeling heartsick; on the outside it appeared to be about one thing, but the truth is, it was about everything. It was every failed relationship, every denial and dismissal, every “thanks, but no thanks.” I was also in the throes of growth, although I didn’t know that yet; all I knew was, I hurt.

And it was through that hurt that I first truly connected to Jason Isbell and his album, Southeastern. Every word, every note rang true through the hollows of my tender, aching heart, and it was like I’d finally found an outlet; it was just borne of someone else’s pain. It’d been a long time since I’d felt that connection to an artist of any kind; pretty much since my high school years when it felt like everything was terrible and hard, and the whole world of music seemed to get it. I hadn’t cried to an album since Jeff Buckley’s Grace.

But through my own past of addiction, through my own lifetimes of heartache, through the loss and through redemption – or at least, the hope of it – I connected to Southeastern. I dug through a lot of Isbell’s older stuff, too, like “Goddamn Lonely Love” and “Save it for Sunday,” among others, but man. Southeastern really nailed it.

And so, with my sad little heart in tow, I drove to Chattanooga for the weekend to hole up in a hotel room and attend the Isbell show at Track 29 the next night. I was already tender when I showed up, and I was (surprisingly, oddly) surrounded by a lot of rowdy cowboys and cowgirls, whoopin’ and hollerin’ and generally raising hell. I was, in all honesty, baffled. How in the hell do you get that response to Jason’s music? Why wasn’t everyone else showing up solemn and affected like me? I didn’t get it.

And so, the feeling of “apart-ness” grew.

Enter Amanda Shires. I’d never heard her music before that night, but I proceeded to stand there and cry through her entire set. With all of her charm, wit, and sweet engaging way, I was just too wide open to the music to do anything else. “If I” threw me over the edge and I gave up on coming back; I was endeared and busted, all at once. When Jason joined her on stage for a few songs, the hope and promise they represented with their own story of “overcoming” was almost more than I could bear, but it was also exactly what I knew I wanted and needed: hope. I couldn’t make it through all of Jason’s set, though, because by the time I heard the song I wanted to hear most, I was pretty well snotty and destroyed and needed a drink before heading back to my room for the night.

Since then, I’ve had Jason and Amanda on repeat, and have gone to see them perform at the Ryman for the last two years in a row. Their music carried me through some tough and interesting times, to be sure. The interesting (and potentially weird) part is that, over the last few years, I’ve probably had 15-20 dreams about the two of them, and in each dream, we are all friends. The situations change, and some are stranger than others, but in every one, we are connected.

I like to think it’s because their music and their story supported me the way a friend would, through a lot of really challenging moments. I carried their music with me and, as a result, I began to heal. (Of course, I was doing a lot of hard work, too, not to mention experiencing the very worst relationship which, I think, carved out room and willingness to now receive the very best).

So it’s almost as though the timing of Jason’s new album, Something More than Free, perfectly coincided with a shift in my own life and perspective. That album is so different from the previous, and yet so similar to the ones that came before – but better. It threw me for a bit of a loop when I first heard it, but I realized I, too, was ready to move on. Back to the person I was before, but better.

I honestly thought I was at the point where maybe I could just enjoy their music without it being so attached to the feels, because you know what? Life is good. I’ve grown and changed, and between the new job and the perfect fit of a love, it seems like the need to connect by way of some music had moved along.

That is, until I heard a new track from Amanda’s upcoming album. She played this one and another at the Ryman last fall, so I knew what I was in for, but it wasn’t til last night when it finally hit me and all sunk in that this, I think, is the record I’ve been waiting for. It’s the logical conclusion; the bow you wrap around the present. It’s the one where SHE lays it all bare, comes to terms and peace, and without even hearing the whole thing, I just kinda know it’s going to be exactly what I need.

So come September 16th, I’ll add it to the CD player in my car, along with another two of hers and three of Jason Isbell’s intertwined to tell the story, and I’ll likely sniffle my way through the album release in October. And it will be then that I can marvel at just how far I’ve come, all the while in the company of that perfect fit of a love and the friends I’ve never met but couldn’t be more grateful for.

 

Advertisements

Giving Sunday Thanks.

In lieu of the ThxFriday I missed this past week, and in acknowledgement that I’ll probably keep missing those “deadlines” without Facebook forcing me to find the good because otherwise the site might suck my will to live… I find myself feeling especially grateful at the moment and figured I’d take the time to write about it.

First, I’m grateful for a month off from school. I’m about a week into the month off, and it’s just now sinking in how GLORIOUS it is to have a Sunday with nothing pressing and nothing due. I mean, sure, I have a pile of work to tend to at the office tomorrow, but that’s tomorrow. Having no homework means I can take the day easily, and so I have: C and I had breakfast with his kids before he set out on the journey to get them home; I went to two grocery stores; I’m on the second load of laundry; I’m done cooking food for the week; put away the inflatable mattress we had out for Friday night; and now I’ve got a few hours to relax before heading over to my mom’s house to make dinner for her. I might take a nap; it sounds pretty fantastic. But none of this felt like work, or like it was panic-driven in order to get ALL THE THINGS DONE BEFORE MONDAY. What a gift.

Last weekend was the Maypole party, and I got to take C with me to meet some more of the gang. So good to see familiar and friendly faces, as well as be reminded of times (and friendships) past. We had the best time. For the last four years, that party has signaled the season of emerging from winter cocoons, spending more time outside, friendly gatherings with lots of food and drink, and just an overall sense of optimism and happy. Celebrating the love of two friends and their anniversary, seeing people you haven’t seen in a while, enjoying the weather (whatever it may be)… it was good.

As for C… I don’t even know where to start, but I do know that not a day goes by where I don’t marvel at what a perfect fit we seem to be. He pays attention, and he knows when something is off. He’s not afraid to ask, either. Or listen. Or talk through things that maybe aren’t easy for either one of us. And, too…he told me yesterday that he loves being able to make coffee for me in the mornings while I journal, loves making the bed and doing the dishes while I’m getting ready for work, because it feels like he’s helping me be the person I want and need to be. And he MEANS it. And he IS helping. These are the things that look and feel like love to me, as much as anything else you could name.

This past Friday night, we were driving back from Chattanooga, late, and the front tire blew out. It had been a long, somewhat stressful and cranky-making drive down there to pick up his kids, so it was past midnight and we were all wiped out when we heard the *POP* and his car indicated loss of pressure in that tire. At that point he was in the far left lane on the interstate, but he very calmly and carefully made his way over to the right shoulder, where he proceeded to change the tire – and was good-natured about it the entire time. Last night, he told me that as soon as he realized what happened, he was about to get upset/angry, but he immediately had the thought that three people he loves most in the world were in the car, and he needed to do everything he could to keep us safe; that calmed him down and allowed him to be – and stay – rational throughout the entire thing.

Thing is? He meant that, too. Bearing in mind how new this all is, of course, it feels like we’re laying a solid, healthy, loving foundation for something pretty fantastic. We had a great time with his kids this weekend, we’re spending most of our time together these days, and there is great friendship there, as much as there is love. There is honesty, truth-telling, vulnerability, and soul-baring, just as there is laughter, silliness, affection, and… well, everything I’ve always wanted, and then some.

I’ve admittedly been struggling in a few areas, like exercise and eating well and all that (mostly because work has me SPENT by the time I leave every day – is it June 6th yet??), but even those feel okay and manageable. It’s amazing how life goes when you spend your days feeling loved and adored. Allowing yourself to see you through the eyes of someone who adores you can open up a world of self-love and acceptance that was otherwise hidden by walls of past experience and conditioning.  You know?

Anyway. The only other thing I have to report is that I’ve been rethinking my career path a little. In the last few months of covering for my supervisor while she’s on maternity leave, I’ve been managing a lot of the IT stuff for our agency. We have a company that provides tech support, but when there are problems or new users need to be set up, I’ve been the initial point of contact… and I like that. A lot. It hearkens back to my time as 1st level tech support for the housing agency, as well as the few jobs I’ve had in IT departments for architectural firms and others. So I’m wondering if there’s a way to combine my obsession with mental health and my interest in information technology, security, and systems into one big awesome job… more to come on that.

Life is good. I’m trying to remember to be grateful for it – all of it – as often as I can.

The devil in nostalgia.

With the advent of my oldest nephew turning 18, I found myself thinking back on the last 18 years. As you do. Where I was in life when he was born, which is to say, on the verge of homelessness and complete physical and emotional devastation. It would be another nine months or so before I’d accept a lifeline, and things would finally change for the better. So I find myself thinking back on all that has transpired since then. The person I am today compared to the person I was 18 years ago, and all the stops in between. I think back on jobs I had, places I lived, friends I made, men I dated, and all the work going on underneath the surface to shift my own emotional landscape. All the “life” that has happened for me over the course of my nephew’s life, because he came along at such a pivotal time.

And while in the midst of all this reminiscing, I find myself battling a not-so-subtle shift from nostalgia to regret.

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing – or at least, it can be. You think back on good times, you reminisce about happy memories and events… that stuff doesn’t have to take away the present moment, it just means you can look back on your life and enjoy the highlight reels, you know? But for me, at least recently, it seems like that nostalgia can take a wrong turn and before you know it, you’re wondering where you went wrong and wishing you’d done things differently. You’re thinking things were better back then, and wishing for times gone by. You’re sometimes even forgetting the bad or not-so-awesome parts and only remembering the good parts, maybe even as being better than they were.

And I guess maybe that only happens if you’re not finding the happy with where you are right now. (Note to self: remember to keep finding the happy in where you are right now.)

Regret is one of those things I’ve always promised myself to guard against. I’ve seen how it destroys people – in particular, someone very close to me; I’ve seen how it can permeate every waking moment, and how it can tarnish even the happiest of times, turning it all into one big pile of “not enough.” I’ve seen how it can make you turn against yourself, lamenting choices made, paths taken… all of it.

And now, I know what that feels like.

(All the more reason to battle against it, then.) 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a family of my own. Maybe it’s because mine was blown apart when I was a kid, and I’ve been trying to get that sense of security back ever since. Maybe that’s why I’ve never truly felt at home anywhere – not for very long, anyway – because it’s just been ME. But whatever the case, I have recognized in me the desire to have kids, the desire to find a partner, the desire – a need, almost – to pair up and settle down and have a life and family together. And maybe it was just the *idea* of these things – although my body was always yearning to know what it felt like to grow and carry a human – but whatever the case, that desire has always, always been there. It was never strong enough to make me willing to settle, mind you; to have a kid in less than what seemed like ideal circumstances, but it’s definitely been ever-present.

Unfortunately, I think that desire was coming from the wrong place. And I should probably put quotations around the word “wrong” because, you know, we all just do the best we can. But when you’re being driven by a desire to fill a void left behind, the results you net probably aren’t going to be what you really want, and, more importantly, what you really, actually need. Instead, it causes you to be a whole lot less selective in your race to the finish line of “happily ever after.” I spent a lot of time and effort on liars, cheaters, manipulators, addicts… you name it, all for the sake of trying to fill that void and get that happily ever after.

That’s a lot of wasted time. A lot of wasted years – if that’s how I choose to view it.

To find myself, at the age of 43, still single and without a kid or two of my own, still not having experienced a thing that, to me, is one of the greatest representations of what it means to be human and to participate in that life experience… it’s hard. To know what a solid human I am and all that I have to offer someone else, all that I would have had to offer a little human as a parent, and to have spent the last 18 years growing and changing and working towards that “better person every day” thing and to STILL have never found what I’ve wanted with someone else…

I think I might just be mourning the loss. And I think I have to be REAL careful to not fall into the trap of blaming myself somehow for all of this. Wishing I could have grown and changed faster, or gotten myself ready to receive those gifts when it was still a possible thing. You know?

Nostalgia takes me back to Minneapolis, when I dated one of the sweetest, kindest, smartest, most generous and thoughtful men I’ve ever known, until he moved back to Boston to finish school. Neither of us was prepared to navigate a long-distance thing, and I know that. We lost touch not long after, and I was left with a lot of happy memories with him, as well as the knowledge that I could, in fact, open up to someone good (after spending a lot of years falling prey to not-so-good). But that nostalgia turns into regret sometimes. Why didn’t I try harder? Why didn’t I stay in touch? Why didn’t we try again? Why couldn’t that have been the one?

Nostalgia takes me back to Portland, too. To another sweet, kind, thoughtful, emotionally-present man who was ALL IN with me… and I loved him enough to break things off when I realized I wasn’t there yet. He deserved and needed more than I could give, and it wasn’t fair to pretend any other outcome was possible then. We’ve also lost touch, and I think that was more of a protective measure for him than anything, at least in the beginning. But again, nostalgia has turned into regret there, too. Or at least a whole lot of “what if” and “why not.” Why couldn’t I have been ready? Why did I have to miss out on someone good who was all about it – and me?

And maybe it’s just that neither of these were the right time, right person, right situation, and that happens. Maybe none of it warrants regret, because sometimes things just don’t work out. I’d imagine they’re both happily with someone else by now, if that’s what they wanted, because they both had such good and willing hearts. I don’t begrudge THAT at all; if anything, I’d be happy for the women they’ve found to spend time (or their lives) with. They’d be some fortunate women.

But I see where nostalgia can go with me, at least some of the time. Nostalgia turns into lamentations of wrong turns and bad calls and all the other things that, at this point, I have no control over other than how I choose to remember them. I’ve continued to make “interesting decisions” in who I spend time with, but I’m pretty sure those days have also come to an end. I’ve finally, finally had enough; I just wonder sometimes if it’s too late.

I mean, I know. There is still plenty of time to meet someone and to have that partnership, barring some unforeseen tragedy. If all goes well, I still have another 40 years of life ahead of me, and that’s a hell of a long time; a lot can happen. And, truth be told, I’m finally in a place where I am happy on my own, too. I’ve got a job that I love again, I’m in school and learning about things that fascinate me and it’s got me on the right career trajectory, I have a roof over my head and loving family members and friends nearby… what it means to be alive is however you define it.

I think I finally get that.

So I guess I’m just making room for mourning the loss – of past loves, sure, but also the loss of hope surrounding certain things coming to pass in my life. Acceptance. And then, too, making room for appreciation of everything else that’s come to pass instead. Engaging in active gratitude, and maintaining perspective about all of it. When you regret, there’s no room for anything else; it tarnishes even the brightest and shiniest of things, and adds a whole lot of weight to the burdens we already bear, just by our very human nature. If nothing else comes to pass in the next 40 years of life, I just want to keep on shining.

And so, no more looking back with anything other than a fond thought and a small smile. Onward and upward, y’all. ❤

Unfriending Facebook.

Over the last few years, and this past year in particular, I’ve thought (and posted) a fair amount about my love/hate relationship with Facebook. It seemed to weigh heavier on the “hate” side – increasing on a daily basis – until finally I came to the conclusion that it was time to sever ties completely. And so on January 1st, I did. At the risk of beating a dead horse, since I know there have been myriad articles and think pieces and studies published about the topic as well, I’m finally diving into writing about why I’m so much happier without it.

2015 was, for me, filled with some good, but mostly a whole lot of toxicity in the form of other people; I’ve done a banner job of simply cutting all of that out and moving on and away. Deleting my FB account was like the final step, because there was something toxic about that site, too. It may have been my own personal experience and interaction with it, it may have been my own inability to moderate usage, it may be due to my own sensitivity to overload, it could be a hundred things that have little or nothing to do with the site and everything to do with my reaction to it… but whatever the case, I can’t tell you how much lighter, happier, and clear-minded I feel as a result of no longer being connected in that way.

Before the advent of social media… how did we stay in touch? How did we interact? How did we connect and STAY connected to the people we loved and the ones who mattered? I mean, were we okay with not staying in touch with that one kid you knew in 6th grade? How on earth did we survive without knowing everyone’s opinions on EVERYTHING? The internet provides a forum for everyone’s thoughts, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, etc., and while this can be a good thing – I’ve met some amazing people through the internet and wouldn’t trade them for the world – this can also be a really, really bad thing. Have you read a comments section lately? It’s like the floodgates opened and everyone’s inner ugly got conjured.

What Facebook turned into for me was a place where people were inflicting everyone else with their thoughts, opinions, pithy quotes on photo backdrops, political discourse, and what basically felt like no one listening to or actually TALKING to each other anymore. It was all just noise, and it seemed to feed into peoples’ misguided belief that everyone else wanted to hear it all, or cared, and that their opinions on things – no matter how ill-informed or bigoted or small – were paramount to truth or the art of active listening. “I don’t care what you think or have to say, but here’s what I think. About everything.”

Everything wound up feeling overwhelming. Superficial. Empty.

Full disclosure: I had over 400 friends on there. Most of them were people I’d gone to school with at some point, worked with at some point, met somewhere along the way in my pinball ricochet moves around the country… only a very small handful of them were/are people with whom I am maintaining an active friendship or relationship. Family, too, but mostly it was people I wouldn’t otherwise be in touch with. Not because they aren’t good people (because they were, otherwise I wouldn’t have added them in the first place – or I would have deleted them, which happened pretty regularly once true colors came to light), but because I just don’t have the emotional or mental bandwidth for maintaining that many relationships or interactions. By being connected to a person on Facebook, I felt some kind of responsibility to try and maintain active contact. Otherwise, what’s the point?

A lot of the people with whom I’d reconnected when I first moved back to Nashville had mostly faded into “acquaintance-land” for reasons I won’t get into here (I’m not sure I could do it justice from a one-sided perspective, anyway), but staying connected to them on FB meant I had access to see all the things they were doing, places they were going, and lives they were living that no longer involved me. This is not a condemnation, because it was a mutual (albeit unspoken and passive) parting of ways. It probably would have benefited from calling it out and owning our parts, but at the same time… eh.

Anyway. All of that to say, it simply reinforced the feelings of “apart” and lonely to which I have always fallen prey, especially in conjunction with my ongoing experiencing of anxiety and depression that crops up in wintertime; FB did a banner job of exacerbating all of that and extending the life of the struggle well beyond the winter months. Instead of being happy for people that they’re out there living life – at least, the little bits they were portraying on FB – I found myself falling into feeling left out. So by deleting those reminders and effectively removing myself from the mindset of being “left out” where I’m sitting at home looking at everyone else living life, I’ve made it so that I’M living life, too. In person, out loud, and I’m no longer being presented with reminders of what I’m not doing and who I’m not seeing. Who needs those reminders, anyway? People with whom I am not actively engaged in relationship of some kind are really none of my business… just as I am none of theirs.

Which leads me to the flip-side of it all, where people had access to me, but hadn’t earned (or no longer had) the right to be there. One major event: someone I thought of as a friend decided to delete me from all social media without saying anything to me about it, and then, in a private group in which we were both members, made multiple comments about how she’d removed two toxic, triggering people from her life without saying anything to them and how it just had to be done for her own sanity (YO I’M SITTING RIGHT HERE). While it sucks to realize and own that sometimes you’re a trigger for other people, it sucks worse when you bear witness to them calling it out, knowing full well that some folks in the group know it’s you, and no one is saying anything. Mind you, I didn’t say anything either – I just left the group, because it wasn’t worth it to me to pursue; I’m happy to let everyone have their own experience and give whatever space is deemed necessary.

And then there were some overt, extensive, and extended attempts at manipulation from a few people with whom I no longer engage, one person I hadn’t seen or talked to in over 6 years sending me some unexpected, nasty, off-base words (someone I wasn’t even friends with on there, mind you), and a whole lot of other messy stuff… done. No thanks. People sometimes use the internet – and especially FB – in a lot of terrible ways, and I was tired of being on the receiving end of that, even just a little.

Not to mention the manipulation of Facebook itself. Controlling who and what you see, how much of it you got to interact with, the push for advertising to infiltrate your timeline, and all the ways they were trying to make themselves an invaluable and irreplaceable means of staying connected – or at least convincing you that you NEEDED the site in order to stay in touch, social, and relevant…

NOPE. Nope nope nope, and nope.

At the end of it all, there were maybe two things I knew I’d miss. Pictures of far away family or friends and their kids, and the occasional big life updates from folks I care a great deal about who only seem to share that stuff on FB. Also, occasionally hearing about cool events going on around town. So, three things I’d miss. But those three things are manageable and surmountable. I can poke around online to see what’s going on in town. I can reach out to friends & family and get them to send pictures via text or email, or if they’re local, I can actually, you know, make plans to see them in person. Picking up the phone, firing off a quick text or email, hanging out in person… it all works for me just fine.

I knew there were people who enjoyed the things I’d share and write about on FB, but all of that – or some of it, anyway – gets posted here, too, for anyone willing to follow a separate link. Otherwise, I way prefer to update my people on my life in real time and in person, because that’s how you engage and build connection. By having a conversation. And while I’m overloaded with grad school homework, I can just reach out to let people know I’m thinking of them.

When was the last time you did that in some way other than on FB? When was the last time you sent an email, or hell… wrote a letter, or sent a card or postcard, or picked up the phone to call someone and hear their voice?

By deleting FB, I’m no longer on information/opinion/social media overload. I can hop on Twitter for the occasional 140 characters from smart people I want to learn from, with links to articles I might not otherwise see. I can peruse the Instagram accounts of my friends for a quick peek into their daily lives. I can write here, and if folks want to read it – and even respond to it – they can.

I guess it all comes down to priorities and boundaries: prioritizing relationships with those who are important to me (and, honestly, the people who show that I’m important to them, too, because the effort shouldn’t all be mine), and erecting some real and serious boundaries with the rest.

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who love having contact with/access to hundreds of people, but for me, it was just too much. By deleting Facebook and severing unnecessary ties (as well as eliminating the weird expectations that come with them), I’ve effectively right-sized my social circles and interactions, and have begun making the transition back to real life interactions and in-person connections. It’s really been nothing but a huge relief.

Kicking it old school, y’all.
———————————-

Update (later that day):

After writing all of this out, the conclusion I finally reached is that ultimately, Facebook was doing nothing to encourage or enable me to be my best self. Instead, it was enabling me to get lazy with my efforts at friendship and family connection; it was enabling me to let the FOMO get out of control; it was enabling me to beat myself up with all the presumed lost opportunity; it was enabling me to maintain one-sided engagement and espouse my beliefs and thoughts mostly unchallenged. So, it really had little or nothing to do with everyone else; it was all just me, not being the woman and the human I want to be.

With all the other major steps I’ve taken toward cutting out the unhealthy influences in my life, this was just one more step in the right direction.

Sunday Randoms.

I’ve had a few light bulb moments lately that seem to be pointing in a pretty positive direction, all things considered. It’s kind of funny to be 43 and still have these realizations, and to still be so impacted by them, but I suppose that’s just what life looks like when you’re paying attention. Always learning and growing, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Anyway. The first came as a result of my new job and managing people for the first time. There was a part of me that felt like I needed to be a certain way, look, talk and act a certain way, and basically be someone I’m not, in order to be a supervisor. But in the last few weeks, after taking the bigger picture of my entire life experience into account, I realized I’ve had bosses of all shapes and sizes, and none of them ever felt the need to pretend to be someone they weren’t, just for the sake of managing someone else; at least, I never got that impression. Instead, they could absolutely be themselves, and what made them good managers was a willingness to engage, listen, ask questions, and actually lead. I’ve had my share of really BAD managers, too, but I won’t get into that. The bottom line was the realization, for me, that I can continue to be my quirky self and still be an effective manager; I don’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything else.

Another thing was having gone on two good dates with someone I met through an online dating site, with tentative plans to get together again after the holidays, only to have him fade and disappear, with no explanation. Like, I sent him a message to which he never responded, and I haven’t heard from him since. Ghosting, I think they call that.

It was a little surprising and a little confusing, but I pretty much immediately came to the conclusion that whatever caused it – he met someone else, he got busy, he lost interest, etc. – meant that ultimately he was doing me a favor by dropping off. It may go without saying, but I’m not a fan of the ghosting method unless the other person is dangerous or toxic in some way and it’s just better to cease all contact for sanity’s sake; that, I 100% endorse. Otherwise, it seems the least you can do, whether in friendships or dating or whatever, to say SOMETHING before making your exit.

But in this case, the disappearing act wound up offering insight into some things – like character. And also, the fact that I didn’t just assume I must have done or said something wrong. It’s possible I did or said something that struck him the wrong way – I (obviously) have no way of knowing. But the realization that I’m not in the mindset to immediately assume there’s something wrong with ME like I would have in years past… that’s pretty nice. I’m more than happy to just move on and wish him well.

So with the disappearance of the one person of any interest or promise from that particular site, I decided to shut down OkCupid. I was getting too many messages from guys I had no interest in. Even if the original message wasn’t offensive, if I opted not to respond then I’d often get a second message going off on me for not responding to the first one. And that’s one of the big issues I have with online dating sites – the sense of entitlement, but also the sense of responsibility. I feel bad every single time there’s a message I don’t respond to, but it would be a full time job to respond to every one I get, even accounting for removing the gross/ugly ones no one in her right mind would respond to. I’m not sure there’s a good answer to that.

When I deleted my Facebook profile, it took Tinder with it. I’m okay with that. Although that app has actually done me some pretty huge solids over the last year and a half, oddly enough, so I would have kept it, had the connection between it and FB not been necessary.

I’ve had a few people suggest I reopen a FB account just for the sake of having access to Tinder. I’ve also had people suggest I reopen a FB account and add back all the “good” people in my life so I can stay in touch. I have a whole lot of thoughts about Facebook, though, and why there’s no way in hell I have any intention of getting back on there again, even as the rest of the world seems geared toward requiring it in some way. That’ll be a different post.

So school starts back this week, and I think the dating thing is just going to take a backseat for a while. I’m totally good with that, too. Especially since I’ve been working towards living life in person rather than online, and am hoping to meet people that way instead. Which leads me to…

The final realization I recently had was that I no longer want to sit around and wait for someone to come along who will want to do things with me, like going out to nice/new restaurants, exploring, the symphony, opera, events, etc. Most of my friends are happily coupled up and spend most of their time with their partners, which I understand. I am not a priority to most people, and while that may sting sometimes – if I let it – what that means is it’s entirely up to me to get out and do all the things I want to do, whether I’ve got company or not. Actually living life, instead of waiting for it to happen.

So that’s what I’m gonna do.

A Wise Person Once Said…

Friendship multiplies the good of life, and divides its evils. – Baltasar Gracian
Gratitude turns what we have into enough. – Melody Beattie
Live in freedom. – My CEO
Never again. – Me

I was talking to Noelle TWT yesterday about how, in many respects, I feel as though I’m walking on a bridge that’s exploding in fire behind me. Not that I set those fires, necessarily, but that this past year has been filled with toxic environments/people, growth opportunities, and lessons to be learned once and for all. It has felt really good to move on, forward, and away; to take a lesson from my niece and recognize those situations and people and just excuse myself from those reindeer games completely. Scorched and salted… just the way I like it.

Something else we talked about was my decision to deactivate (and potentially just delete forever) my Facebook profile. I understand there are people out there who can use those sites “normally” (whatever that means), but I’ve found that for me, it’s not healthy. As I put it yesterday, it’s like I’m trying to fill a void, but instead just end up making it bigger. That site makes me feel lonely; being privy to the photos and events and other things that friends (near and far) participate in doesn’t make me feel closer to them – it makes me feel further away and disconnected. I also feel like the site opens me up to things I want nothing to do with, so. No more. I figure if I’m not interacting with people in real life now, removing that site from my existence isn’t going to change anything or make it worse. If anything… better. Much, much better.

There isn’t really much more to report these days. I’m getting back into a gym routine, slowly but surely, and that feels good. Last week I stopped drinking coffee and am now having tea in the mornings instead; I don’t know where the hell that inclination came from, but I’m just going with it. Now that the horrific caffeine headache has passed, I’m just enjoying the change. I’ve spent this weekend mostly at home, nesting and tending to things that needed my attention, which felt way better than going to the shows I’d planned to attend. Basically, just paying attention to what my brain & body are telling me is best.

And really, that’s what it all comes down to. I’ve spent a lot of time ignoring those things, and struggling for/because of it. I guess that’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year: your body will tell you the right thing to do and the best direction to take. I know mine does, despite how much I’ve tried to ignore it (and paid the price). When someone or something causes you severe anxiety, pay attention to that. When someone or something causes you grief, confusion, or upset… pay attention to that. When a message or a path or an insight keeps poking its head into the door of your awareness, let it in and follow its lead.

Don’t be afraid of hearing or telling the truth, and find the people who will tell it with you.

All the News That’s Fit to Print

Tomorrow marks the first day of my last week with the Ronald McDonald House. The last 2+ years have flown by and a lot has happened during that time, both at work and in my own life; it’s interesting to have it all combined in perspective like that, since I anticipate great change in all things and ways with the start of the new job.

I can definitely say I’ve grown and learned a lot as a result of working at RMH; my biggest lesson was reinforcing my need/desire to live in and appreciate the present moment, especially when you don’t know how many more you might get. I’ll miss having little kids come in my office to hang out or play or talk or dig through the drawers or “help.” But for many, many reasons, it’s time for me to move on to the next opportunity. My new position is with a non-profit that provides treatment services for women impacted by drug/alcohol addiction, mental illness, trauma and/or incarceration, and for just as many reasons, it feels like the next right thing. I’m excited about that.

Mom had major back surgery on Thursday morning, and is recovering pretty nicely. Two fusions and decompressive lumbar laminectomy to relieve some of the nerve pinching, done by the head of the spine department (I think there’s such a thing?) at Vanderbilt, so she was/is in good hands. She’ll be moving to rehab tomorrow, staying for two weeks, and we’ll bust her out for Thanksgiving, I’m sure. We’re all optimistic for a much better quality of life after this, and in the meantime, I’m clocking a lot of hours hanging out at the hospital.

Last weekend was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, five days spent in Portland, OR. I have a separate post about that, complete with photos for posterity’s sake.

School continues to go well, and I’ve got about 2-3 weeks left of my first semester, I think? Something like that. I am hoping that with all the other life changes going on, I’ll be less exhausted during the week and more inclined to spread the love when it comes to school work (rather than cramming it all in to the weekend). I keep thinking about dipping my toe back into the dating pool, but I think I’ll wait til after the holidays. My time is real precious and limited at the moment (especially with the realization that I need to get on the ball with making my cards again this year…erf). I suppose it’s enough to know, for now, that I’m willing to consider it, and we’ll see what the new year brings.