Okay, okay–so this isn’t the most exciting or dynamic blog post to come back into the flow. It is, however, extremely relevant for me right now. During this time when staying at home is helpful to both myself and to everyone else, I’ve have a lot of time to reflect on the way I’m living. My friends and family are all going through their own levels of life changes, whether it be with job situations or just the realization that they are better made for a more extraverted lifestyle. For myself–and living by myself–it has been an opportunity to look…
I’d like to think that Daylight Savings Time was just as eager as the rest of us to get this lovely day started—this day where (although we should celebrate it every day) we formally celebrate women everywhere.
As a woman, I’ve always struggled with my identity—that is, how can I be the best woman I can be? Do I try to live the best that I can be every day? Do I take advantage of the opportunities that I have? Am I pleased with how I have lived my life? Can I live it better?
Of course, there’s no need to “lift” myself to anyone. We all stand uplifted if we can feel confident that we are being true to our own selves.
Can we be delicate and quiet? Sure, but that doesn’t make us weak.
Can we be warm and compassionate? Sure, but that doesn’t make us passive.
Can we be confident and flamboyant? Absolutely—and it doesn’t make us arrogant or loud.
Can we be strong and assertive? Durn tootin’—but it doesn’t have to make us pushy.
And even if it does…
So the freak what?
We are not limited by words or the opinions of others. Their power does not determine our self-worth. Even when the energy rolls over us more negatively than before, so much the better—because we have learned to dismiss the negativity of it and simply retain the power, and reuse it to make us stronger in the face of adversity.
So, here’s to the women who work hard, play harder, love strong, live true, and fight. Their efforts are selfless most of the time—and are truly allowed to be selfish the rest. 🙂
Here’s to all the women who have made a difference in my life and continue to make a difference everywhere else. I am proud to be a woman and hope that I can set the same example that those around me do every day.
Though the gallery below is far from complete, I’d like to thank all of the women in my life who set a constant example in showing me that a women does not simply have to be one thing only.
A woman can be everything while still being a woman.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I should have realized long ago that only crazy things happen at 11 o’clock at night.
For me, I was trying to finagle a queen-sized bed-in-a-box mattress through my front door, as I waited for one of my friends to come by after work and help me drag it upstairs to my bedroom. I was wired from a long day (and night) of all-day business meetings and a late-night dinner. The effort to remain sociable and chatty with over 60 coworkers for over 12 hours straight had left me drained, yet buzzed to release my inner silliness to the max.
Sure, I had to be awake by 5:30 the next morning. But dagnabbit, I needed to be B.
While I waited for my friend, I turned on Netflix to see what I could play in the background while I prepared a path up to my bedroom. I was still in the midst of massive Marie Condo-style decluttering, and there were clothes, containers, cartons, and other c-lettered crap everywhere. But that is a tale for another post.
In my efforts to widen my viewing pleasure (I’d already watched the heck out of Father Brown, Nailed It, and Tiny Home Nation), I scanned through the trending thread of shows to see what was popular.
And that’s when I locked onto the first featured show, Love is Blind.
According to the synopsis–oh, heck, who am I kidding? Just watch the trailer below!
My first thought when watching the trailer?
What kinda shady, silly, ridiculous love game reality show smut are we putting out there now? Do these people really think that they’re gonna find long-lasting love without seeing the person they’re talking to first?
This, of course, was followed by my second thought:
Why haven’t I pressed play yet?
A Brief History of Dating
Now, I won’t ask for forgiveness for my hasty and presumptuous judgement of Love Is Blind. (Though I will definitely apologize for any cultural dating norms that I may have missed, as I recognize that every population has their personal practices that I may not be aware of.)
As someone who has and continues to have her ups and downs of meeting people sight-seen, I admit that I’m a little jealous of the more adventurous single folk who are willing to take these seemingly strange risks to find love.
But then, of course, I have to step back even further. Is the Love Is Blind premise even the most extreme technique that we as humans have incorporated into our dating repertoire?
In the world of television dating alone, the reality dating show is only one branch of the public game show. The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise, the Joe Millionaire, the Love Island, and all the other like-minded “watch-and-whoop” dating dramas are simply the tail end of a long line of romance games made popular in the United States through The Dating Game in 1965 (thanks, Wikipedia!).
Here’s a little glimpse of the original Dating Game. Recognize the bachelorette?
Again, this is only the televised part of dating. What about the internet world of dating? Within years of the internet becoming a public place for the public to mingle, dating sites like OkCupid, eharmony, and Match were using different techniques, algorithms, and personal information to pair people up, oftentimes without the aid of a photo.
There were even sites catered to sugar daddies seeking out sugar babies in a mutually consensual agreement to provide companionship while receiving financial support and care.
(How do I know that? Good question. …Moving on! 😇)
But what if we go even further back and step away from what the advancements in technology have prompted in dating adaptation, and look at what cultures have been doing for centuries?
Throughout history and various cultures, couples have been connected not just to date (or “court,” as it was called), but to marry. Royal, wealthy, and/or influential families informed the next generation just who they were going to wed, when they were going to wed, and sometimes, why. Desires to keep the bloodline pure, the scale of power tipped in the right direction, and even to maintain wealth and property were often the reasons for these unions. If the couple fell in love–sure, great, that’s pretty lucky. The main goal were the reasons above, as well as the chance to produce an heir or two who could carry on the lineage and prove the strength of the bond (*cough*and the husband’s virility).
The courtship before these marriages could vary between couples. There were times when the pair would interact only through correspondence (aka letters) all the way to the day of the wedding. Other times, each party would use a proxy (aka a representative) who would make all the decisions on their side’s behalf. Allegedly, King Louie and Queen Marie Antoinette (who were wed to improve relations between their home countries of France and Austria, respectively) met only two days before they married.
As opposed to the dating games and meetups that we hold today, most arranged marriages did not have the luxury to reject their assigned union. To do so could bring shame, ruin, poverty, exile, or all of the above to the entire household, clan, kingdom–you get the point. To compensate this ruining of reputation, the rejector could be thrown out, disowned, publicly humiliated, or even killed.
A few years ago, my father told me about a friend of his he wanted me to meet–“just to get to know,” he’d said. When I asked for a picture, my father waved it off and said, “You’ll like him. He looks young for his age, and he’ll take care of you.”
When I met this “friend” over dinner, it was very obvious that there wasn’t going to be a second date. He was a very nice man and actually not bad-looking. However, chemistry between two people is dependent on those two people alone, no matter how much the people closest to them promote the union on their behalf.
When my father found out that the meeting hadn’t worked out, he didn’t shame me or berate me. However, the stink eye he passed me for the next couple of weeks certainly weren’t no picnic, either. But I will take that over public humiliation, or–you know–the other options any day.
Does the “Organic” Date Still Exist?
All this review over blind dates and arranged dates can throw some wariness on the phenomenon known as “meeting someone naturally.” It may even throw out concerns to single people who feel like they have tried every avenue, every gimmicky dating style out there.
The list goes on. Oh, boy, does it go on.
Online dating, once considered part of the gimmicky world, is now part of the norm–even if not everybody wants it to be. My fellow single friend Cathy groaned outright when she heard that a mutual colleague who had been on the rebound of a broken relationship for months, suddenly popped up with news of being involved with someone else. How did they meet? Through a dating app, of course!
“I mean, seriously?” Cathy slumped in disappointment. “Is it just not possible to meet people organically anymore?”
I shared her frustration. I had involved myself in dating sites for years in my twenties. While it was easier to gain a “collection” of options without having to spruce up and leave the house (a super introvert’s dream!), I found the whole experience just as draining. So many people’s photos can scroll across the screen, it can leave you exhausted and even numb to picking one or two who really catch your attention.
Then, as the revelation of how thick the veil standing between users sunk in, the chance to “catfish”–that is, lie about any and all aspects about yourself, including age, gender, weight, and general appearance—exploded.
That’s not to say that online dating isn’t a viable option to meet quality people–far from it. After all, you’re quality people, aren’t you?
And your single friends are quality people, too.
And I’m sure that each of you have at least one profile created on an eharmony, an okCupid, a Tinder, a Bumble. It’s just a matter of quality people linking with the quality people. It may take a while, but it will happen.
Some day, I may venture back out into the world of online dating, to see if anything has really changed in the way that I can meet like-minded goodness. I was recently introduced to a really informative article, “Best Online Dating Sites Based on In-depth Reviews,” that not only researched some of the most popular dating sites; it also provided quantitative details on the amount of research that went into the article.
The article was also objective; the first section at the top of the page was a “need to know” space that gave the following statements:
Dating sites don’t perform background checks on their users.
In 2018, Americans lost $143 million to romance scams.
Information in your profile may be shared with third parties.
Personality quizzes don’t necessarily lead to better matches.From consumersadvocate.org
Are these statements stuck at the top to deter you from finding love through a dating site? I don’t think so. Rather, here is the chance to educate yourself fully and take dating seriously, no matter what method you use to date.
Just like when “accidentally” running into a cute stranger, then meeting said stranger for coffee the next day, you need to be realistic on what you know—and don’t know–about him/her.
The incorporeal “they” don’t say that “knowledge is power” for nuthin’.
The Best Way to Find Love
True love is not built on unrealistic fantasies, hopes and dreams. That being said, is it wrong to fantasize and hope and look forward to meeting someone who makes you smile in the morning and holds you tight in the evening?
Is it wrong to take risks in the world of love?
Nope. Nuh uh.
If it is, I’m flippin wrong till Tuesday and beyond.
No matter what you do or how you date, once you’ve done your research, educated yourself and ensured your safety–once love truly begins…let it happen naturally. The only control you have over whether the other person finds you as wonderful as you find them, is with yourself.
From what I’ve heard, the season finale of Love is Blind has posted on Netflix. Idealized couples and tropical vacations aside, it’s the self-control that helps you keep a grasp on reality as you come face-to-face for the first time with the person you’ve fallen in love with after only a few weeks. I have to wonder how many of those lovely contestants remembered that.
Click here to go straight to my 2020 New Year’s “resolves”!
It’s an interesting revelation to realize well into your adulthood that you are pretty much unchanged, personality-wise, from when you were a child. If you were neat as a kid, instinctively putting your toys away after playing, you probably still find sweet pleasure in maintaining that cleanliness in your home. If you were a bossy kid, always telling the rest of the neighborhood how to manage the kickball league in the street, you’re probably just itching to become manager in your current department at work.
As a child, I always appreciated the quiet and intimacy that nature and my closest loved ones provided. For example, when my family and I lived in Illinois up until I was nine, my mother would take my older sister and I into St. Louis, where we would visit one of the city’s most notable landmarks, Forest Park. I couldn’t have been more than five or six at the time (I could still fit in my stroller, though goodness knows my mother should have kicked me out by then), but I remember the long strolls we took through the winding pathways beneath ageless trees. The inherent silence of the area (my mother preferred off-peak park hours) as our footfalls padded upon the wide pathways and the wind nestled into the lush crowns above our heads, created a sense of security that I wished could last forever.
At the time I began this post, I was sitting before an artificial fireplace with a cat dozing to my right and my older sister crocheting in an armchair to the left, and I found the sentiment rising in me again. Over thirty years have passed since I last set foot (or stroller) into Forest Park, but the silence of my current stance and the company kept have not diminished my adoration for quiet moments. No TV blaring in the background; not even the pleasing trills of music. Just…quiet and good company.
2019: Last Looks
Reflection into the past naturally brings me into reflection of this year alone. Though I did set a few resolutions to give me structure and a sense of stability, that is a far cry from having any control on the outcome. I can be a very emotional, stress-influenced person: if I don’t set a plan or a schedule on how my life is supposed to proceed, I freak out and shut down. This results in no progress being made, sending me further into a panic.
That’s why my primary resolution for 2019 was to spend time with the people I love. Though the emotional toils of 2018 drove this decision, it could have been easy to make this priority almost mechanical. Hanging out with friends and calling family on a regular basis seemed simple enough.
But when the lives of your friends and your family are just as real and complicated as your own, you can’t simply tuck time to talk to them in whatever gaps are available. I also learned that just hanging out or talking more didn’t make me a better friend or daughter.
And then, something else happened that I didn’t expect.
My own life started to break down.
And then I broke down.
For a few months in, I tried to ignore my own physical symptoms–the exhaustion, the lethargy, the insomnia, the anxiety, the brain fog, the migraines–and forced myself to keep going.
Keep working. Keep giving. Keep helping. Keep nodding yes.
When Winston Churchill said famously, “When going through hell, keep going,” I’d like to think that he didn’t mean until you physically can’t get up. I certainly don’t think he meant stand at your desk, take a look at the To-Do List–filled with tasks you’ve done over and over again for years–and burst into tears because your head has been throbbing for nearly six months and you’re just so sick and tired of being sick and tired.
It’s a shame that it took half a year and a point where I was dizzy and near-fainting before I realized why. I was paying attention to everything but my own well-being.
The Turning Point
By mid-summer, I was visiting doctors, counselors, and therapists at least three times a week to figure out what was wrong. I was on heavy medications and getting bloodwork and CTs to find a deeper meaning to my ailments than simply psychological. It wasn’t until September that I finally received some kind of answer.
“Surgery?” Numbly, I held the phone to my ear as the physician’s assistant provided me with the vague results of my head CT. “It’s bad enough where I need surgery?”
The PA wouldn’t expand on her original instructions. “Just come into the office. You can discuss the procedural options with your surgeon then.”
When I arrived later that week for my appointment, the surgeon explained that most of my symptoms were a results of increasingly severe inflammation in my nasal cavities that had been growing worse over the last year–“and probably longer,” he said. This was the reason for many of my physical symptoms: my brain and body were literally being deprived of oxygen it needed to function normally. “Sounds like you just only started feeling the severity of everything this last year.”
Since I was no longer responding to any of the medications they were giving me, endoscopic surgery was the next best solution.
One month later, I lay on my couch with gauze strapped to my bloody nose. I was fully congested but forbidden to sneeze, blow my nose, or even sniff. My mouth was parched from hanging open every night in my attempts to sleep through the pain. Sufficed to say, I felt like all my symptoms of the last year had multiplied tenfold.
But even through my recovery, my 2019 resolution rose to occasion on its own in a way I hadn’t expected. Though I had felt too miserable to remember to check on my friends, they had been kind enough to check up on me.
In fact, they did more than just check up on me. As I lay prone, eating nothing but rice, bananas and chicken broth every day, so swollen internally I could only breath through my mouth, my loved ones came to me. My father stayed with me for a few hours after surgery while the anesthesia wore off, taking the “day shift” while one of my closest friends (who had volunteered to drive me to the hospital) took the night between her shifts at work. Friends dropped off groceries at my front door when I was too sick to even text them.
On my birthday, while I was still too nauseous and dizzy to even wear my glasses, the well wishes poured in through texts and Facebook notifications. I held four-hour phone calls with my mother. I even heard from old friends I hadn’t spoken to in years.
By the time I returned to work, even my coworkers–some I hadn’t thought even noticed that I was gone–lit up in smiles when they saw me enter the office. This notion surprised me–I had spent years living under a radar and assumed that not many people noticed me. I assumed that even less of them cared.
Appreciate Them, Appreciate You
After seeing the amount of people who reached out as I dealt with not only physical problems, but mental and emotional ones, too, I was struck with the amount of damage my low self-esteem and dismissive attitude has possibly done. How many friendships had I lost by assuming that people didn’t like me? How many people’s opinions did I unintentionally disrespect because it was faster and easier to believe that they were just being nice instead of actually saying something out of love?
If I wanted to truly show loved ones how much they mattered to me, I also had to believe how much I mattered to them.
Sound a little self-serving? It certainly did to me.
But, think about it like this:
How many times has someone complimented you, your clothes, a solution you gave in a meeting, or who you are in general?
What was your knee-jerk reaction to the compliment?
Did you wave it off in embarrassment?
Did you say, “Oh, I’ve gained so many pounds; it’s not fitting like it used to”?
Did you defer it to another person: “Oh, Joey mentioned the word ‘bootstrap’ earlier, so he was really the brainchild for it.”
Why did you blow the compliment off? To sound humble? Because you don’t feel like you deserve it?
Look at it from another angle. Instead of questioning why you said it for yourself, recognize that you just blew off someone’s verbal positivity in your direction. Someone literally tossed you a lovely gift, and instead of catching it, you slapped it away. Or, you caught it and immediately began criticizing the gift itself. Or, you caught the gift and, right in front of the person who gave it to you, gave it to someone else.
Accepting a compliment isn’t just allowing yourself to feel good. It’s receiving the person’s kindness towards you, letting it sink in, and appreciating to the full extent.
2020 New Year “Resolves”
Which brings us–finally!–to my 2020 resolutions.
Or–as I have determined to call them–my 2020 resolves.
As I do every year after Christmas day, I consult with my family and encourage them to set goals as we all march into the New Year. Years ago, they didn’t take this ritual nearly as seriously as I did. I don’t know if I had a direct effect on their changed minds, but they have commented on how incredible and fun-filled my last few years have been–and how they seem to be getting better and more fulfilling as each new one rolls around. Though 2019 was…a smidgen rough, I certainly can’t fault it on the level of activity or the lessons learned.
Regardless of the reason, I was immensely pleased when, as the New York Square New Year’s clock chimed past midnight on the TV, my family nestled themselves into a makeshift circle and took turns sharing our resolutions and goals for 2020.
Since I felt I had to pause my progress halfway through 2019, I’ve decided to stay on the current path of internal work and well-being. Though I do have New Year’s resolutions (concrete goals like achieving the splits or taking a dance class or finally gaining a voice-over agent), my main focus will be on my resolves–adjusting lifelong habits, emotional hangups, and overall life perspectives into more positive, assertive, productive, true-to-self manifestations. Focusing appreciation on my loved ones will continue, of course; however, I am also going to focus on improving my own self-esteem, well-being and mindfulness.
Novel, ain’t it?
#1: Take Yourself More Seriously
For years, I often felt like not much was expected of me. This I felt on both a personal and a professional level. When I was busy victimizing myself (which I applied throughout my adolescence and 20s), I blamed my parents, my teachers and managers for this point of view–everyone but myself. Even worse, instead of choosing to defy this stigma, I played it up. I was loud and bouncy and perky all the time. I bumbled and pretended I couldn’t do things well, especially not the first time. I laughed at myself and acted like a silly ten-year-old well into my twenties.
Until I thought–why?
Why did I keep selling myself short? Why did I act like some silly, ditzy little girl all the time? It wasn’t me–at least, not all of me.
It’s been a defense mechanism I’ve used for years, but it’s not one that I want anymore. It no longer serves any purpose. It’s not fun. It’s annoying.
I’m ready to start blaming the one person who perpetuated this behavior in me–and I’m also ready to hold her accountable so that she never makes excuses for herself ever again.
The way I want to truly be will require me to cut the crap–something that should have been said and done a long, long time ago.
#2: Self-aware, Self Care, and Self Prepare
Funny what you notice once you start feeling better mentally, emotionally, physically.
What are a few things I noticed after my nose surgery?
- Huh. My house is really dirty.
- When did I accumulate all this clutter in my house?
- Why am I nearly 40 and still never had a long-term romantic relationship?
- When did I gain all this weight? Why do I feel so old?
- Omigosh, I cut off a LOT of my hair last year.
These are all small things by comparison, but when you’re trying to succeed in the world of “adulting,” it’s when all the little things build up that can really make you feel out of sorts. So, now is as good a time as any to begin sorting through it all–both with the internal work and the external work.
I’ll touch on a few of the changes in future posts, but in the meantime–changes will definitely, definitely be made.
Do what you need to do to feel good about yourself, that brings you peace of mind.
#3: You Have a Choice
As I said in my last post last year, it’s easy to go through life on autopilot, living each day in a reactive way. But what would happen if we lived proactively? Just because we’re used to waking up and climbing out of bed on the right side, doesn’t mean we can’t try climbing out on the left side for once. What about the art classes or the dance classes you always wanted to take but never did? The smile you chose not to give the cute guy or girl, because you assumed they were out of your league?
When you choose not to do something because you assume you already know the results, that’s just it. You are assuming. You don’t know for sure. You assume you’ll be a horrible dancer. You assume your art will suck. You assume you aren’t attractive enough and will make a fool of yourself. But you don’t know. And you will never know the actual results until you freakin’ suck it up and try.
You have a choice to live life exactly the way you want to live it. You entered this world with yourself, and you will escort yourself out. Don’t you two deserve to have conscious control with what you want to do with it?
I certainly do. After 37 years of ignoring myself and assuming I was not pretty, talented, smart, good enough to do or be anything, I finally had another thought.
“I’ve spent enough time feeling like I’m not worth the time or energy. How would it look if I spent less time focused on my endless ‘faults,’ and more time turning my life into one that makes me feel happy, empowered and fulfilled?”
I don’t know the answer to this. But it sure will be interesting to find out.
Happy flippin’ new year, ya’ll. 🙂
Want to recap on my 2019 resolutions? Read my old post below!
It’s an understatement to say that the second half of 2019 took several turns I didn’t expect. I stood at multiple crossroads that I had absolutely no control over. I thought I was handling everything in the best way possible, but things initially didn’t seem to be improving.
We’ve all been in those situations. Am I in the right relationship or the right job? Should I maintain friendships with certain people? Should I take a leap of faith in how I live my life? Why is this person no longer talking to me? I’m sick, and I don’t know how to feel better. I don’t know know if I will feel better.
What do I do? What should I do?
This isn’t a flippant comment. And this isn’t a demand that you make a decision. Sometimes the problem with trying to make a decision is that we not only get mentally stuck; we get physically stuck, too.
We lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, lost in thought. We eat meals, churning the problem over and over in our heads. We may even turn on the TV–not to watch it, but to distract our own anxieties.
I am notorious (well, in the tiny world that is me) for going on very long nature walks when I’m trying to clear my head. I can walk for hours. I don’t consciously think of a destination, although I do have to keep tabs on how to get back. The change in scenery and the exercise/activity itself helps me focus on something outside of myself, while the brain continues to work subconsciously.
Another option is to journal. I’ve journaled since I was 10 years old, and the glory of this action is that there’s no wrong way to do it. My scribblings range from budgets to pages upon pages of streams of consciousness. What you write about doesn’t have to relate to anything near the problem you’re lamenting. That being said, you may write about your feelings concerning it.
Maybe your indecision on what to do stems from lack of knowledge about the situation. Unsure of whether you are capable of living on your own? Take the afternoon to research your finances and set up a plan for the future. Worried about an upcoming trip in a new city? Read about the city online and learn more about what is available to see and do near where you’re staying.
The point is, calm your mind by using your body. You know what they say about idle hands. They’re…you know…idle.
If walking can’t get me far away enough from agonizing over the problem, I hop in my car and go for a long, long drive. As with doing something, going somewhere–potentially away from things that are constant reminders of the issue at hand–lets you focus outside of yourself.
If you have a destination in mind, go there and immerse yourself within it. Even just the drive allows you to narrow your focus. Muttering curse words to the driver who just cut you off without a blinker. Watching in disgust as said driver flicks a lit cigarette onto the road, then feeling Tibetan monk-level calm as you imagine all of the glorious karma he’s going to receive due to his self-centeredness.
Watch office parks meld into groves. Count the stoplights as they increase or decrease in frequency. Get lost on a country back road and admire the architecture of the homes you pass. Grow frightened and thank goodness for your tinted windows when you pass one with a Confederate flag posted next to the driveway.
If you can afford to go further for a few days, take the opportunity. Visit friends in a nearby city. Visit family in another state. Take a weekend retreat. Go on a week-long holiday. It’s never healthy to try and escape your troubles, but sometimes it’s best to just…get away for a bit.
Throughout childhood, one of my fondest memories was coming home from school and finding the furniture in one of the major rooms in the house completely rearranged.
“Ooh!” I’d drop my backpack on my bed, then head back to the room to take a closer look at the new layout. Lurking in some nearby corner was my mother, the one-woman moving machine and natural-born interior designer.
“Looks good, doesn’t it?” She would beam proudly at her handiwork, as well she should. Aside from her natural talents, my mother is also instinctively well-versed in Feng Shui. As far as I am aware, I’m not sure if she could have even told me what Feng Shui was.
Or maybe she could have. (*Makes a note to check with her.*)
My mother had various reasons for spontaneously rearranging rooms. She wouldn’t always tells me the reasons why, but I have a feeling that she used the redecorating as a symbolic way to gain a new perspective on a situation. How often do we walk through our homes, not pausing to appreciate the layout? We’re on automatic, day in and day out. Everything is the same, and everything is mundane. Nothing changes.
Even if we don’t know how to change what we really want at the moment, maybe we can slightly change something else in the interim. Something that will at least shake us out of the “automatic pilot” trap.
When I was recovering from one of my biggest relationship heartbreaks, I decided to get a tattoo. It wasn’t an impulsive decision; I’d known that I’d wanted to get one for years, and I’d known what I actually wanted for months. When the heartbreak was too much to bear every day, planning and setting up for getting the tattoo was a relief to my stress levels. It would also serve as a marker on the type of person I wanted to be from that moment forward.
I didn’t tell anyone in my family that I was getting the tattoo. In fact, no one in my family found out about it until about 8 months after, when summer arrived and I could wear tank tops. My mother–who was visiting at the time–joined me for breakfast one morning, and I asked her if she wanted any eggs as I rose from the table and strolled towards the kitchen. My shoulder blades and the upper part of my back leered at her from beyond the camisole straps, but I didn’t think of what that meant until I heard her call my name.
“…B,” she said slowly.
I knew that tone of voice but continued my movements towards the stove. “Yes, mother?”
Deliberately, I turned and walked back to her, clasping my hands primly before me and willing my halo to glow unnaturally bright.
She was trying not to smirk as she spun her index finger in the air. “Turn around.” When I did, there were a few seconds of silence as she took in the handiwork. At last, I glanced behind me to see her gaze, a mixture of motherly accusation and an aura of something almost gleeful. “Is that real?”
“Uh huh!” I exclaimed, bursting with self-pride. “Looks good, doesn’t it?”
Her only response was to sigh loudly and shake her head, but the grin on her face proved my point. She would never get a tattoo herself, would have never even considered it, but even she had to admit that it wasn’t a bad choice.
Of course, there is the ever-faithful option of telling someone about your problem and gaining an outside opinion. Consulting a trusted family member, a close friend, or a respected professional can give you insight that you, in your own mind, would have never considered. Even if they don’t have a solution, they may be able to provide perspective that you have yet to consider.
Of course, asking someone doesn’t mean you have to take their advice, but it can be nice to know what someone else would do in the same situation. That being said, be aware from your own side that asking someone for feedback or advice may cause the person to try and tell you what to do. At the end of the day, your struggles are both your responsibility and under your jurisdiction. Don’t be afraid to gently yet sternly tell the person that you appreciate their advice, and you will take their thoughts with you as you–you–make the decision that is best for you.
Don’t do anything.
Sometimes the hardest thing a person can do is absolutely nothing–especially when they’re used to doing absolutely everything at once, all the time.
But when you have friends, family, doctors, coworkers, colleagues, therapists and correspondents all telling you, “..stop,” the best thing may be to just….listen.
Or, you can do yourself one better.
You can tell yourself, “Maybe I should, at least for a little while…just…stop.”
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to sit. Rest. Watch the sun rise. Let the wind blow.
One of my favorite shows of all time is Scrubs. General spoiler: In the first episode of the second season (“My Overkill“), the main character J.D. laments at the troubles happening to the people he cares about the most. At first, he works tirelessly to fix everything, but his efforts just seem to make things worse. Finally, through an act of a dumb lucky break, J.D. realizes that doing nothing can actually fix many troubles.
Sometimes, time itself is the answer. And letting time pass–while trusting in the power of those around you to act on yours and their own behalfs–can lead everyone in the direction needed.
A river doesn’t stop flowing when you stand in the middle of it. You can either spend time trying to force it to flow in the opposite direction, or lean back and accept the joy of the current.
Check back next week for the return of posting!
Today’s a Nick Drake kinda day–a day when you take long walks, languidly pick up that hobby you promised yourself you were going to finish, catch up with loved ones over a nice, warm drink…and read pleasant little stories inspired by gorgeous, surreal imagery.
I’m a little overdue since posting my last writer’s prompt. I hope you read and enjoy, and have a wonderful Sunday!
Image credit: Pinterest.
June stood, watching him with a wariness that she had always held. She knew the cost of this trip–for months, they had traversed the cragged landscape, seeking the stone doorways that might–oh, Sera, might–bring them back home. The portal that had brought them there–golden and glittering with the promise of abundance, riches–had been nothing more than a ploy of cruel universal physics. Gold does not mean promise, or peace. How she wished she had been one of those companions who’d had enough wherewithal to provide Ralph counsel!
But no. She was but his secretary: his faithful, devoted secretary who had been sure–absolutely sure–that what they had stumbled upon in the basement ruins of a demolished bank vault, would save them from the financial ruin that his previous perils and excavations had put them through. Now, look at them. Look at them!
The others who had followed them were all gone. The Tigmas–first George, then Pauline, and last their twelve-year-old son, Kris. The policeman Mr. Myron Johnson had sacrificed himself to the beast who had found their resting spot that first night. The newlyweds, Berturde and Guy, had succumbed to the Hunger Roots a couple of weeks after, just before they’d reached the City of Promise. By then, it was only three of them left: Dr. Kenon, herself…and Sera.
June doubled her fists. Dr. Kenon was inching towards the edge of the cliff; any second, the invisible field would snag him into its atmosphere, and he would no longer have a choice of remain or return.
Wildly, he threw his head back to stare at her. His eyes distorted by those silly aviator goggles he’d always kept with him. A momento of his mother, he’d said, on her final flight around the world. Everyone thought Amelia had been the only one, but Laura Kenon–oh, she had been glorious. There just hadn’t been the press or the public attention to watch another woman make a grave mistake.
Under the front of living as a physician, Dr. Ralph Kenon had studied the energies of the universe, the hidden dimensions that were but a hair’s width away. In the depth of the ocean, in the threshold of Egyption huts–June had been his longest-tenured secretary, and she had seen him in his more focused and his most psychotic episodes.
There was no proof as to where this portal would take them. In the depths of Promise, its residents spoke of a multi-lensed “doorway” that flickered on the outskirts of the country. “Oh, sure,” said one barkeep, tossing a spheroid glass to his counterpart across the room without spilling a drop of the iridescent liquid inside, “it’s always been there. But no one ever goes there. It’s just one of those things, like breath. A lyric in a song.”
“But we sing songs where we come from,” Dr. Kenon responded. The second barkeep bowed reproachfully but said nothing. He was built for expression only, a silent, judgemental sentient being with a purple trunk and soft, rounded shoulders meant to lie your mournful head between. It was the first barkeep took orders and gathered regular stories so that passing strangers could understand the flow of the time in that sad, sweet city.
A city where what you wanted was guaranteed to be at your beck and call, if you only learned about it before it had already moved on.
Sera had remained generally present those first couple of nights in town. Still, June could already tell that she was losing her when the young woman chose to look at everything else in the city but her. At first, June blamed it on the illusion of the crystalline skyscrapers, the gloss of the marble-like sidewalks. Even the native citizens walked as if elongated by grace, striding with an elegance that made you want to lift your neck to meet them. Even the streetwalkers, who spun around corner lights and giggled as they cuddled the thick metal poles, felt heightened in status. June kept her hand tightly around Sera’s, but the shine was too much for either of them. They parted that first night, just for an hour. Then, in the morning, for two–June to find their houses of literature, Sera to explore the artful fountains that seem to shoot strawberry lemonade instead of water.
Every second was a spin of luck, every moment a chance to laugh for the first time since arriving in this barren world. She and Sera raced around like children, finding more and more and comparing notes later and later in the day. Finally, it was only when they curled into a single bed at night, just before slumber took them over, did they have but seconds to learn who’d had more to share. In the end, June would spend many hours waiting, head drooping as she squinted at the illuminated web in the window that represented their clock. On the moments she did rise early enough to see Sera slipping out the hotel room door, she tried to stop her, to ask if maybe they could meet for lunch. “Too dependent,” was what she heard, just before the door snapped shut once.
Only Dr. Kenon stayed rigid during that week, collecting the necessary supplies and verifying the stories of the three stone rings and the night that would arise and give them a chance for home. When he had pinpointed the day they would activate, he hastily gathered the ladies as they were about to steal away towards their separate agents and told them the good news. June immediately looked to meet Sera’s eye, as they always had when they were both parties to Ralph’s excitable nature.
But Sera was smiling at a mother and her son as the latter chased a cubold drifting down a waterspout’s sparkling stream, beside a marblesque sidewalk, along a picketed lane.
The night before they were to part, Sera suddenly demanded they spend the evening exploring together—”Just you and me,” she told June.
She dragged June through alleys and under fences, and demonstrated that you watched the best music there, not heard it. The accidental dropping of crystal marbles by an elderly gentleman upon glass steps lingered in June’s mind as they climbed to the peak of a pyramidal park. The sound reminded her of her brother, and she began to cry, doubling over at the wretchedness of the memories. Sera’d turned away and waited until June had wiped her eyes and risen to her feet, shaken out her skirt and tightened her low bun. Then, they’d fed on juicy buns and jumped over light stones with other festival-goers in one of the city’s cobbled squares. June thought this showed hope, that maybe she’d been imagining the distance between them all this time.
The morning that Dr. Kenon woke June up, Sera was already gone. The second bed in their room (which Sera had taken to lying in so as not to rouse June in the middle of the night) was made, and what few articles of personal belongings she’d bought and collected had disappeared as well. Only a note lay on her pillow, and in that note too few words: “I’m sorry. Good luck.”
Dr. Kenon pushed June from the room as if it had always just been them. “We have three days to get to the portal before it shuts down,” he said gruffly, and waved down the cab that would take them to the outermost limits of town.
Now, the waves of return lifted Dr. Kenon’s feet from the crumbling cliffside floor. His rope snapped behind him but remained tied to the iron stake he had drilled into the ground yards away. Behind it June squatted, holding her coat still against the wind. Even from the distance, she could see the fright in Dr. Kenon’s bug eyes. Soon, he was no longer over the cliff’s edge, and drifted aloft by some instinctual force that lured him towards the rippling lenses. The portals were doing their job.
“Go,” June called, and hugged herself. They had played Rochambeau to determine who would go first. Dr. Kenon had attempted chivalry, but what best displayed the proper gentlemanly nature here? Go first, and potentially plummet through an unstable set of energy fields into internal implosion and your death. Stay behind, and risk abandonment, solitude.
Dr. Kenon became a silhouette, then a dot. The pools of rope strung out into a single line. It was one of his biggest weaknesses, depth perception. It always had been. When he had been measuring out the amount of rope they’d need to reach the portals, he’d asked her to check his math. He always had. It was the afternoon before they’d left, just before Sera had burst into the courtyard and enticed her with pastries and an evening of togetherness.
June had looked at the math, taken but a glance, before pushing the pad back to him and turning away to smile.
Dr. Kenon was still a good couple of meters when the rope started to strain, but June was quick. One pull on the loose end, and he never even felt the jerkback as he plunged into the first sheet of energy. It converted him to light and thrust him into the second portal, which transferred into an as-yet-undiscovered equation that passed him through a world of dimensions, choices, and opportunities. Only the strength of his will would determine whether it would lead him home.
On the cliff’s edge, June rose to her feet as the lightning dissipated, and the sky began to clear. An uncertain calm resonated in the breeze, leaving her arms free to dangle as she stared through the rings to the mountain range far beyond them. She spoke but one word, as the perimeter of the first portal began to disintegrate, and the second crumbled like the shell of dried meringue.