Delightful Silence

An old friend came to visit me this weekend, which was pretty awesome. It’s been great to get to catch up on about five years’ worth of stories and revelations. I also spent the last week collaborating with some good people at work, which was also a plus. I got good feedback from my new boss and I feel optimistic about my work. I have a busy June planned, but it will be a good one. I have baseball games with friends and other fun things coming up soon, including a play opening that was written by a friend from high school. I was able to go out with friends last week to see Wonder Woman. The movie and company were both good. I was able to mix friend groups–an old friend from grad school with my more recent friends from work and there was no George Costanza crisis of identity. All went well. It was satisfying on a deeper level to know that my efforts to become a less fragmented person may be paying off. My old friends and new ones seem to be seeing the same person and they think that person is still fun despite my hermetic tendencies.

The common theme this last week was working or relaxing with friends in a kind of comforting silence. At work, I had to do some menial labeling of samples and got help from a friend. It was a quiet hour or so working on it and it was kind of delightful. There were a few jokes here and there but it was mostly a good kind of quiet. I also got to spend some down time with my visiting friend at home, where there were also some lovely silences. I did enjoy our chats, too, but I realize now more than ever that some of my favorite moments with people I’m close to are those that are the non-speaking moments that fill the gaps between conversations. The looks and smiles. Those times when you don’t even have to say anything. You just know what they mean. Comforting.

This month I will get to visit with family more and see my new nephew. I can’t wait.

“I want you
To know me
To need me
Smile when I call your name

I want you
To never
Look at
Anyone else this way

So strange
This something
We have between us
And it’s not fair
If you’ve never
Loved this way”

“I am not the only traveler
Who has not repaid his debt
I’ve been searching for a trail to follow again
Take me back to the night we met

And then I can tell myself
What the hell I’m supposed to do
And then I can tell myself
Not to ride along with you
I had all and then most of you
Some and now none of you
Take me back to the night we met
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do
Haunted by the ghost of you
Oh, take me back to the night we met”
But I miss you
But there’s comin’ home
There’s no comin’ home
With a name like mine
I still think of you
But everyone knows
Yeah everyone knows
If you care, let it go
I’ve seen more places than I can name
And over time they all start to look the same
But it ain’t that truth we chase
No, it’s the promise of a better place

The Background

Last week was a strange one. I had an embarrassing interaction with a coworker/friend wherein I invited them to a movie and they brought a date. Another coworker was fired and basically disappeared from our office. I was able to go to movies with friends that made it more enjoyable. And I was able to go to our work’s baseball game to see The Dash. It was a nice day to be able to be outside. I was able to see both King Arthur and Alien Covenant in one week. Both were not what I expected but were entertaining.

That has become a running theme for my life these days–never what I expect or assume but entertaining. I continue to have less than good luck with the opposite sex but I think it gets easier to recover each time it happens. The turn-around time gets shorter, even though it always starts off feeling like I’ve been sucker punched. I suppose that as long as I am interested in human beings, I should expect them to be fickle and idiosyncratic. Not everyone is as comfortable with themselves as I am and I have to keep reminding myself of that. “I yam who I yam” and all. Open to new people, but definitely not holding my breath.

I also struggle with cynicism. Well, depending on the day, I thoroughly enjoy my cynicism. I want to like and trust people, but there’s always something. Always some missed communication, some reason not to trust, some reason to hold myself back. I have had to learn when to conserve my energy when it comes to my investing in people. Not a bad thing, per se, just not how I ideally would like to function. But realistically, that’s how it goes.

Ana, one of my best friends from grad school, is coming to visit next weekend, which I am super excited about. She’s one of the people that has seen me at my worst (grad school is like that) and still manages to keep in touch. We have about four years of life to catch up on over wine. I have missed her and her perspective, so I know it will be a good time. I have been generally nostalgic this weekend during my cleaning frenzy, especially with my musical selections.

I rarely like to look back, but sometimes it does help us remember how far we’ve come.

“And I would never lie to you no
I would never lie to you no
I felt you long after we were through, we were through
The plans I make still have you in them
Cause you come swimming into view
And I’m hanging on your words
Like I always used to do
The words they use so lightly
I only feel for you
I only know because I carry you around
In the background”

“I’ve never felt alone
‘Till I met you
I’m all right on my own
And then I met you
And I’d know what to do if I just knew what’s coming
I would change myself if I could
I’d walk with my people if I could find them
And I’d say that I’m sorry to you
I’m sorry to you
And I don’t want to call you
But then I want to call you ’cause I don’t want to crush you
But I feel like crushing you”

 

My Own Light

Recently, I decided to get a Fitbit and start tracking my steps. This also synced with my work’s health program, so I saw it as a double perk–I’d be able to quantify my steps AND have it count towards points and rewards. I thought that it was a great way to get motivated, and, initially, I was right. I started walking 8,000 steps a day and gradually worked up to 10k. I found myself getting a mini-high as soon as my little Fitbit buzzed to let me know I’d met the next step goal. I would salivate and awkwardly walk in manic circles in my cube to finish off the next goal. I would check my progress on my phone and laptop constantly, the task almost becoming a reflex every few minutes. I had also been doing this with Facebook, as it served as my main social connection to lots of people and interesting news.

Then, one night I realized that I’d gotten home, fed the dogs, and spent the next 45 minutes pacing and switching back and forth between my step counter and Facebook. I hadn’t played with the dogs. I hadn’t gotten dinner. I hadn’t started my laundry or emptied another box to get closer to completing my unpacking. I hadn’t even noticed the time going by. I lost 45 minutes and hadn’t even noticed. I stopped and looked down at my dog beasts, both of whom had patiently sat down on their pillows watching me with great concern. They sighed and looked at me with big, sad eyes.

I had a small epiphany. I have felt stressed lately without really understanding why–I finished moving and I am enjoy my new job and my new coworkers. But I still felt panicky at the end of the day. My chest was always tight and sometimes I’d get heart palpitations, all well-known prequels to a panic attack (I have those once in a while). I realized as I stood there, desperately clutching my phone, that I had gotten lost in comparing my steps with friends. And constantly comparing myself with people on FB. So many of my friends have kids now and others are out conquering the world in science and the arts, making my successes pale in comparison. So, on top of my anxieties from a constant stream of stressful news stories being injected into my eyeballs every five seconds, I had added anxiety from constantly wanting to match my step-measuring buddies.

I realized that I’d taken a walk around our campus at work on a beautiful day and all I could remember was how many steps I’d done. Not the birds I saw. Not the other people out walking. Not the newly budding trees moving in the wind. Not the lovely symmetry of the long line of oak trees along the boulevard.  Not the way the sun hit the stones in the cemetery across the road, making beautiful tapestries of shadows on the hill behind. All the things I’d previously delighted in observing were now obscured by my obsession with counting and quantifying how much I’d done. How many steps. How many steps. Gotta catch em all. I’d forgotten how to enjoy my walk.

I think that the step trackers work well for a lot of people, but I decided, in that moment, that my addictions both to being constantly connected (FB) and to quantifying (obsessive step-counting) were too much. I needed to disconnect to reconnect, so to speak. I thought about how much time I could get back by removing some of the noise from my daily life. Time to work on writing I’ve been desperate to get back to. Time to spend with my dogs and  friends. Time to finally unpack and get my house in order. Time to focus on getting healthier while still being able to enjoy, truly enjoy a walk in the park. Being aware and present so I can focus on all the blessings in my life. That is what I desire most.

I think technology is ultimately a good thing, but I am disconnecting from FB and social media for a while (other than this blog). I still check the news once or twice a day via the interwebs, but I’ve turned off all notifications on my phone and uninstalled most apps. Suddenly, I can breathe again. I can focus. Just since Tuesday, my last day on FB and Fitbit, I’ve spent more time with the dogs, more time enjoying my walks and more time connecting with friends. I’ve also managed to unpack more boxes and finish my taxes. Most importantly, I have slept better. I no longer have a knot in my chest throughout the day. No more pacing or forgetting dinner. More music. More love. Less noise.

This isn’t to say I won’t try it again sometime. Or that I’ll be off FB indefinitely. But, in future, I will use it with intention and not as a time-killer. Cause we don’t get much of that on this big rock, so we gotta be thoughtful about our souls’ investments.

As I write this, I’m sitting on my back patio watching the willow tree fronds rise and fall in the crisp breeze, dogs all akimbo in my lap and I’m happy. This is it.

 

“Yes I be speaking my peace up in my seventies
Ain’t worry bout ya threatening me, I’m just being honest
I ain’t buying fear just because it’s all you got left
We just want to make love ’til we wake up
I believe whoever made us envisioned greatness
And you know they want to paint us with the same brush
Wanna enterchain us ’til we fill our grave up
Alright okay but when it’s all said and it’s all done
And I look back at the trophies I won
I will only count one
I’m using my heart for what hearts are for

“You’re the only one that I want
I wanna be around
I wanna be around you girl
I wanna be around
Ooh I wanna be around”

“I know it’s hard
Only you and I
Is it all for me?
Because I know it’s all for you
And I guess, I guess
It is only, you are the only thing I’ve ever truly known
So, I hesitate, if I can act the same for you
And my darlin’, I’ll be rooting for you
And my darlin’, I’ll be rooting for you

“Love, what did you do to me?
My only hope is to let life stretch out before me
And break me on this lonely road
I’m made of many things, but I’m not what you are made of

Only now do I see the big picture
But I swear that these scars are fine
Only you could’ve hurt me in this perfect way tonight
I might be blind, but you’ve told me the difference
Between mistakes and what you just meant for me”

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Soooo…in the past few weeks, there’s been a flurry of activity in my life, some of it stressful, but most of it good. I have only recently been able to slow down a bit, rest and reflect on all the past few months. Here are just a few of those events/realizations.

I learned to steel myself against unhelpful criticism and find my value. My previous job was in an industry that I knew about and I’d been there long enough to feel comfortable. After some re-orgs, I wasn’t necessarily appreciated as much by my new chain of command, mostly due to their newness to my job function. Despite multiple conversations where I voiced my desire to make changes or improve myself or processes, I met with a great deal of resistance and sometimes even avoidance. I gave it time, thinking that they’d come around. Well, sometimes they don’t. And, despite my eternal optimism about people, I had to admit to myself that the only thing I could change was myself. In talking with others and getting feedback, I realized that I wasn’t just overreacting–I wasn’t being heard. So, what next? I thought. What do I have to offer? It’s a scary question to have to think through, but it is a valuable one. In revamping my résumé, I had a chance to see what new skills I’d learned and how I had grown. With a strong network of friends and family, I was able to recognize where I needed work still and, at the same time, how much I’d accomplished in the last four years.

I had to figure out how to go confidently into job interviews in entirely new industries where I know nothing. Along with the self-examination that had to happen, I was immediately terrified about having to go “out there” and knew that my next steps would involve a huge investment in social niceties and public speaking. Those are not my strong suit, but I can make it work when I need to. The previous step was necessary before I slung myself head first into the world of job applications, awkward phone screenings and talking myself up (again, something I don’t like doing). I prefer to be out of the spotlight, quietly providing massive support and strategy for my teams from backstage. When in the “hot seat” I am most effective when arguing on the behalf of others, but sometimes struggle when I am in a position to fight for myself. Again, it was a good experience that forced me to face both my social anxiety and develop some salesmanship on the fly. I did survive several months of no replies, replies with rejections (primarily because the companies couldn’t do out of region hires), and some phone interviews that ended in rejection. I recognized fast that while I had gotten comfortable in my current job, I had to stress my ability to learn quickly to get call backs from pharma, manufacturers and other industries. And, in the end, my experience with manufacturing and my adaptability were what helped get me my best job offers.

Christmas was essentially non-existent save for some gifts from my folks, but I was genuinely excited about the New Year for the first time in a while. Due to all of my job chaos, I gave notice in mid-December and then spent most of the month dealing with the aftermath of that. I also did a lot of paperwork and coordinating for the relocation.  So, I’ll just celebrate Christmas THIS year. On the up side, I was actually excited about everything happening, even with the chaos and “unknown-ness” of it all.

I had to leave my friends in Maine (along with my comfort zone). This goes along with the excitement–the sadness and uncertainty of leaving my cozy network of good friends and coworkers in Maine. Leaving my best friend and her new baby was the hardest by far, especially since I know it might be awhile before I can get up to see them again. I spent my last week or so meeting with as many people as I could and, ultimately, had two or three going away parties. I was greatly surprised at the people who came forward to tell me they would miss me–people with whom I had only brief interactions came to tell me how I’d made such a positive impact on them at one time or another. I was moved by their stories and genuinely surprised that I’d affected that many people in a short time, especially considering my general reclusiveness. It was a great boost and I left on good terms with a really grateful feeling.

Moving is always stressful. Moving 1300 miles away is more stressful. Full pack and move services help to lower stress. As generally adaptable as I am, I hate change. Well, change over a short period. I didn’t hear back about my relocation plans until the second week of January and needed to start the new job in the third week of January, soooo…that was stressful. What helped was the relocation package included both monetary help and a full pack and move service to make sure I had minimal manual labor to deal with myself. Fantastic. I’m considering it for all of my future moves. All I had to do was do coordinating via the phone and email and then just get in the car and drive south with my dogs.

For less rent than my 2br/1ba small townhouse apartment in Maine, I now live in a 3br/2ba house with a fenced back yard. The dogs were ecstatic to have their own space to play. The low-cost of living in NC was a huge reverse sticker-shock for me. But in a good way.

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I’ve had to start all over at my new job. I went from being the expert to knowing pretty much nothing. Luckily for me, it’s a feeling I enjoy. For an introvert, I’ve seriously forced myself to be social since my move. And that’s not a bad thing. I am learning so much every day and meeting so many new, interesting people it makes it worthwhile. I know that any social investments I make now will always pay off. I am trying to stay open and to say yes to things, no matter how mundane. It has worked for me before in the past and I’m having good luck with it here, too. Getting past the “I know nothing” phase usually goes faster when you’re willing to put ego aside.

Paying for snow plowing at the old house (for the realtor to show it) while enjoying 60F weather here is the emotional equivalent of taking out a $100 bill every few days, setting it on fire and watching it burn. This is just a given until I get it sold. Fingers crossed that it will happen in the next few months. I can feel my cheapo nerve get set off every time I see the weather forecast for the Northeast.

Mom and Dad can visit me now. With the entire set of dogs! Oh boy! It’s nuts, but great fun! So many dogs!

Trips with Mom to Charleston are now a doable thing. It’s a lot of fun and I’m hoping to be able to plan some trips around the Southeast this year.

Falling asleep after yoga or movie night with new friends in a new bed in a new house with my tired, happy dogs = the best. I have so much to be grateful for these days.

 

“But in times of trouble
I can turn to my mother
And I know that she gon’ understand
So at age 18
I cried to my mother
And she told me, “young man”

“There are moments when you fall to the ground
But you are stronger than you feel you are now
You don’t always have to speak so loud, no
Just be as you are
Life is not always a comfortable ride
Everybody’s got scars that they hide
And everybody plays the fool sometimes, yeah
Just be as you are

 

“My soul, is in Africa with you boy
Looking at the stars
On this diamond sky
Giving you my smile
So you can keep it on your mind
Floating on your blazing eyes”

 

To Build A Fire

Last weekend I was able to take part in the Becoming an Outdoors Woman in Maine Winter Skills Weekend up at Bryant Pond 4-H Center. It was pretty fantastic–I got to be outside most of the weekend with some amazing ladies! For my antisocial self, it was a good balance of groups and being alone. Made some new friends and got to see some old ones, which is always a good time.

Our first day there I went ice fishing with the group on North Pond. We arrived pretty early. I stepped onto the ice slowly and heard it creak a bit, but it felt solid. I followed the group out to the center of the pond about 700 feet from the shore. We drilled holes into the ice and measured it at about 16 inches, which is good for a group and small vehicles. We learned about bait types and how to set traps and jigs. As the sun rose above the hill behind us and hit the ice around us, the lake seemed to come alive. The groaning and loud popping around us was incredibly unnerving. Air pockets that had formed the night before came to the surface and would crack loudly below our feet as we slid from trap to trap.

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I was closest to the first trap to flag and knelt down to pull the line out of the water. The bait was gone, an obvious hit and run. I put fresh bait on the hook and fed the line back into the dark water below. I stood up and turned to watch the sun glistening off the ice and listened to the water moving under my feet. I turned back to the trap after hearing a clicking noise and saw the line being reeled out again. I knelt down, began pulling and soon felt a strong resistance on the other end of the line. After pulling slowly for a few seconds, a pair of beady eyes and rows of teeth drifted to the top of the dark water. No one mentioned we’d be catching prehistoric predator fish. I managed to get the pickerel out of the water by pulling him sideways onto the ice, but not without a fight. Luckily, I was wearing gloves or else the spines and teeth might have been a danger. We took several fish back with us for the cooking class.

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In the afternoon, I learned about placement and building of winter survival shelters and finally about winter survival skills for multiple scenarios with a professional Maine guide. One of my favorite stories of all time is Jack London’s To Build A Fire and so I jumped at the chance to be the first to try to build a fire! We managed to get several fires going by the end of our evening session. We had a great dinner of pork, bear and pickerel, all from less than five miles away.

We went back out on the ice at night to go fishing for cusk, a nocturnal species that is pretty tasty. Being on the ice during the night was both scary and breathtaking with the combination of creaking ice and a vast velvet blanket of pinprick stars. The girls caught a giant cusk fish!

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The next morning was spent at the shotgun trap range, shooting clays with a small group. We went over the different gauges of shotgun and learned about dominant eyes and such. Apparently, I’m left-eye dominant and managed to do pretty well after several rounds–finishing four double clays by the end of the session! Shotgunning was more fun that I imagined, so I may have a new hobby in the future.

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Overall, it was a great weekend. I learned a lot and met other women interested in learning, which doesn’t happen often these days. I am glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone even if part of me wanted to sit on the shore for ice fishing. I think that these small things that I survive while being uncomfortably anxious only serve to keep me grounded. I definitely have to fight my inner monologue in some cases, but it is good for me to step out now and then.

This year’s been quite eventful thus far. I was able to have dinner with Lorraine Warren, the famous demonologist, and her team a few nights ago, but I’ll save that for another post. Let’s just say that it’s only March, and I’ve successfully done several new and scary things for myself: learning how to snowboard, ice fishing, shotgunning, and eating dinner next to “haunted” objects.  I have also been working on forgiveness and letting go of things, both physical and emotional hangups. Clearing out junk in my house and in my mind and heart. I’ve been able to make amends with some people from my past and forgive myself for situations I have been blaming myself for for a long time. 2016 is a good year for forgiveness and courage.

Getting High

January was fun and, though I haven’t posted much, life has gone on. I have been doing a whole lotta nothing since I’m saving for some personal goals. I’ve still had some fun–going to Shawnee Peak at least once or twice a week with friends to try snowboarding. The best part of the whole experience has been coming to terms with my fear of heights. Forcing myself to ride ski lifts has been helpful in that now I can look out and truly appreciate the beautiful sights rather than closing my eyes and wishing it’d all go away.

Ultimately, that’s what I’d like to do more of in my life–look around and take it in even if it’s scary. I am definitely not great at boarding (as in I can slide down a hill but not gracefully). But even so, I am glad I’ve gotten outside this winter and tried something new. I don’t have to be brilliant at everything. This is a big revelation for me since my fear of failure has often kept me on the sidelines.

I was able to go up to Sugarloaf at the end of the month and had a good time with friends. The scenery was beautiful up at Flagstaff. I never thought I’d love winter so much. I was also able to reconnect with some of my Maine family which reminded me to not be afraid to look for friends in odd or unexpected places. Over all, I’ve had a grateful start to 2016.

“Say it’s true, pink and blue
I can share your situation
Been holding our, emotions back
Will only make us cry
If you go, I know, but you know
It ain’t so serious anyway
When that cloud arrives we’ll live on…

Ocean Drive
Don’t know why you’re so blue
Sun’s gonna shine on everything you do
And the sky is so blue
Sun’s gonna shine on everything you do”
“And at the end of the day remember the days

When we were close to the end
And wonder how we made it through the night
At the end of the day
Remember the way
We stayed so close to the end
We’ll remember it was me and you
Cause we are gonna be
Forever, you and me
You will
Always keep it flying high in the sky
Of love”
“Hey love
Is that the name you’re meant to have
For me to call

Look love
They’ve given up believing
They’ve turned aside our stories of the gentle fall

But don’t you believe them
Don’t you drink their poison too
These are the scars that words have carved
On me

Hey love
That’s the name we’ve long held back
From the core of truth”

Matter of Time

Thanksgiving was great fun. I loaded the Norm into the car and drove South. We had good weather and got to listen to some great tunes on the way down. One song that played several times was the new Vanessa Carlton song below. It is a bit haunting and I have been hooked on it.

Seeing the family was refreshing and it’s always entertaining to catch up on all the latest stories and happenings. I did need some time away from work and found myself really enjoying doing a whole “lotta nothin.”

Christmas decorations were being put up as I packed up and headed North again, which does make me happy. I always like this time of year the best. It is a bit odd that winter is one of my favorite seasons–I think the last few have put it even above autumn on my list.

Everything gets quiet and crisp and cold and the air feels so thin. People are generally nicer and more helpful (at least those I am around). And then there’s the snow. Then people help each other out of snow banks and help clear walkways for those that can’t do it for themselves. There’s hot cider and warm bread and cozy blankets for puppies and their humans.

I guess I’ve always been nostalgic and this time of year combined with the weather just intensifies this feeling. I think it’s the time of year that people are most appreciative of what they’ve been given or what they have in a way that isn’t really seen in the other seasons.

I never thought I’d enjoy some of the things I like now–living above the Mason-Dixon, snow, beets, etc. I suppose that it’s part of growing. From what I’ve seen of my family and friends, we’re never really done growing and changing, so it’s best to enjoy the ride and those willing to come along on the ride with you.

Some friends have been worrying over me in a most delightful way, not wanting me to be alone during the holidays. While I definitely look forward to having a few holiday parties to go to (I do have some fantastically funny friends), I don’t really feel “alone.” I kind of enjoy the alone-ness without feeling lonely. Hard to describe, really. It’s not a bad or sad feeling. It’s a grateful feeling.

It’s coming in from helping someone out in the snow storm while having a good laugh, getting to play with your best friend/4-legged rascal and enjoying warm coffee with a great new book in your warm house. Like for a whole four months. Not so bad with the right boots. Not bad at all.

“Give her all your darkness
Give her all your light
Love is like a carriage
It’s no spirit in the night

Like a wishing well
Where your pennies fell

He said it’s only a matter of time
Before your heart is mine
Have you been searching?
You’ve been looking the world over

When is it time to let go?
And is it then that you know?
All the peace that we’ve been bringing out of each other
Out of each other

Flowing like a circuit
Through a curse of neon signs
Writing her a letter
What’s the curve of your desire
When the cycle starts its run
And we become what we become

He said it’s only a matter of time
Before your heart is mine
Have you been searching?
You’ve been looking the world over

When is it time to let go?
And is it then that you know?
All the peace that we’ve been bringing out of each other
Out of each other

When is it time to let go?
And is it then that you know?
All the peace that we’ve been bringing out of each other
Out of each other

Give her all your darkness
Give her all your light
Love is like a carriage
It’s no spirit in the night

River Rocks

I found Ricker’s Hard Cider, a delicious treat from Turner, Maine, during my grocery shopping today. It went nicely with the sweet and spicy baked chicken legs I created for dinner. Yes, created. Like from my mind parts. With no recipe. They are tasty! I would’ve taken a picture, but I was too busy getting all gross eating them. Normand assisted by licking my hands off right after. She’s good like that.

This week has been strange. Not bad, just strange. I have been excited about some things, sad about others and oscillating betwixt the two. My tendency is to barrel into everything I do, head first, like a freakish tornado of enthusiasm and idealism. Knowing this, I have been trying harder to stop myself. To be more thoughtful about my choices and about my reasons for doing things. It is harder than it sounds, and I do struggle with being self-aware during my more manic moments. This is easier to do at work since I have more restrictions and guidelines. On my own, though, it can sometimes be a free-for-all when I sink my teeth into an idea.

I have been trying to watch less TV and read/write more in that recovered time. It has been going well, but people do look at you oddly when you tell them you haven’t seen the latest episode of whatever. Although, in my case, they’re usually already looking at me oddly for a wide assortment of other reasons. In talking with some acquaintances, I keep coming back to the realization that I’m not on the same “path” as most of my cohort. Some of them are sure to remind me of that, as if it were something shameful or embarrassing. I don’t choose to think of it like that, which seems to infuriate some of them. Like I am a challenge, with a trophy given for when I can be brought back around to doing things “the way things should be done.”

Thinking about it, I am a relatively flawed individual. I oscillate between healthy living and bad habits according to my mood that minute. I latch onto emotionally unavailable people easily and prostrate myself until I forget who I am on my own. I self-isolate and make excuses for not connecting with people, and, in the same breath, get angry that I am not connected. I get impatient about the weirdest things, sometimes projecting my desires years into the future without acknowledging the reality that we really only have today. I am too easy on people when I should be hard and I’m hard on people when I should be softer. I am great at starting multiple projects and awesome at never finishing the loose ends. I judge people for their affluence or their elaborate emotional support systems when, really, I harbor some jealousy. How could they possibly ever appreciate anything? They’ve never had to struggle for anything! But that is not my place and it is not so simple. They struggle in other ways, ways I likely will never know or understand.

So, I could try sticking to something for longer than a week. Or only give my affection to those that give it first. Remember who I am and find new ways to connect to others. Stop projecting. Accepting. Learn how to better “speak softly but carry a big stick.” Finishing a project, even a small one (blogging for more than a month counts, right?). Minimize my judgments and allow the comments of others to flow over me. Water over river rocks. Not be afraid to be my own kind of strong and encourage others to be theirs. This is what I desire.

A few years ago, I went out with two friends after a really awful day. We got food and booze and took it back to our apartment. After a couple of drinks I decided that instead of venting about how awful our lives were (a common thing for us in grad school), we would go around and each give a good, long “rant” about something amazing in our lives or something really meaningful to us. After only a few rounds, we were in a delightful haze of good memories and hilarious stories. Even now, with a good job and much less stress, I relive that night with an even greater appreciation. With distance, I can see now how that one particular night changed me. I want to get back to that night, in spirit at least.

“This is never gonna go our way
If I’m gonna have to guess what’s on your mind
Say something, say something,
Something like you love me
That’s you wanna move away
From the noise of this place”

“Don’t let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don’t try
Don’t let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there’s a strength that lies

Don’t let your soul get lonely child
It’s only time, it will go by
Don’t look for love in faces, places
It’s in you, that’s where you’ll find kindness
Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now”

“I’ve made some friends, and I’ve lost some too
Crashed my car, I was 17
My mother in the seat riding next to me
The things I’ve learned from a broken mirror
How a face can change when a heart knows fear
Through all the things my eyes have seen
The best by far is you

If I could fly
Then I would know
What life looks like from up above and down below
I’d keep you safe
I’d keep you dry
Don’t be afraid Cecilia
I’m the satellite
And you’re the sky”

 

Swamp Monsters and Chihuahuas

The last few days have been beautiful. The sun has been out and it even got up to 50F! I did survive my run today–did a decent 3 miles in 30F weather, entertaining myself by turning my breath into dragonesque smoke rings. I did have a fun time sliding down the snowy hill into a mud puddle before I actually started running. I like to think it entertained people driving by. “Hey, why was that swamp creature wearing neon green shorts?”

There is a woman that walks her three loud chihuahuas in a large pram, all of them barking a cacophony at anything that moves. While all of this makes for good people-watching (my favorite hobby), she refuses to move out of the way of cars which makes it difficult for drivers on an already narrow road with residual snowbanks. I managed to time my intervals longer today to miss crossing paths with her too closely.

I was reading an article that touted that you should know why you run. I thought about it WHILE running. While I think it’s primarily stress relief for me, I think that it’s also a self-challenge in part. I spent years doing mentally tricky things, so why not go the next step and see if I can challenge myself a bit more physically. I also tend to think up all sorts of interesting ideas while I’m doing something physical. Similar to Matthew Inman’s in The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances on The Oatmeal. I’m definitely not fast, but I’ve never been a sprinter. I’m more of a stubborn turtle. And I’m okay with that.

Along with working with my friend to reach our individual goals, I decided to actually up the stakes (for myself) by signing up for a couple of local races. The one I’ve helped out with for several years, the Urban Runoff 5K,  is coming up soon at the end of April. We also signed up for the Color Run in South Portland at the end June. That one sounds particularly fun, especially for before and after pictures.

Working a lot lately, which is why my posting is mostly about fun non-work things. Not bad, just busy. When not spacing out to my increasingly electronica-heavy running playlist, I’ve been binge watching Amy Schumer, Britcoms and blues music.

Huffins and Puffins

Whew. This last week has been relatively productive even though I haven’t gotten finished cleaning my dining room table. Last week I decided to start a Couch to 5K program with one of my friends from work. We’re both pretty slow. It still doesn’t keep me from feeling super excited. I’ve been in some pain over the past 6-7 months from some endometriosis-related health issues, but I have started to have more good days than bad. Still have some bad days, but definitely better overall. I knew that once I started feeling a bit better I needed to get back to exercising a few times a week.

There was a time back in Atlanta where I was running at least 4-5 miles a day (even in the heat and humidity) with no problem. I’d like to use Maine’s magnificent Spring-Summer-Fall weather to jump start my way back to that goal. Then, I can figure out something indoors for Winter. I remember feeling so much better after those runs–I relaxed easier, slept better, didn’t have as many sugar cravings, etc. So, it’s the start of my second week. I’m up to 2.5 miles so far.

I love running outside. I caved and spent the extra $20 to get myself some nice running tights (designed for winter running to go under shorts) to go with my winter/mud season running shoes. Both were fantastic investments! I feel warm enough in the 20-40F temps and the fabric does a great job of wicking away sweat. My other favorite piece of running gear is my pair of Thor-lo Experian socks. I won’t wear any other socks when running. Life’s too short. I am hoping to get my summer runners broken in before my trip south to Edisto in May. I want  to do some sunrise beach running with Normand.

This weekend I found myself getting caught up in the Phryne Fisher mystery series by Kerry Greenwood. I picked it up at the library because I liked saying the name “FRY-NEE FISHERRR.” I’m not a big mystery fan, but the heroine definitely has pulled me in. A gun-toting flapper gal solving mysteries in 1920s Australia. Then I found that Acorn TV has episodes of the series online (called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries)! After watching a few of those, I somehow got caught up on the show London Irish, which made me laugh, though mostly because of the strong accents and generally irate demeanor of the characters.

Also, this is currently top of my running playlist (super poppy).

And here’s another from the playlist that’s also got pep.

I need to make a real rock playlist for running. TBD.

Banananana Bread and a Brontosaur

Update on Phase 3! It is no longer Phase 3! We have successfully made it to Phases 4 and 5, 4 being “Lookie! Lookie!” and 5 being a combination of “Awww” and “WTF is that?” (common sentiment I have with most newborns). Thus far, our experiment has yielded one blue alien creature, a lovely brown and yellow lizard and even a delightful baby brontosaur!

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While I’ve been catching up on my Criminal Minds and Backstrom episodes today, I HAVE managed to be somewhat productive by finishing some laundry and baking some banananana bread. I used this recipe.

Best Bananananana Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 bananas, finely crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and crushed bananas.
  3. Combine well.
  4. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla.
  5. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
  7. Keeps well, refrigerated.

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Ugly loaf, yes. Moist deliciousness? Oh yeah. I’m sure there are other great recipes out there, but this is one of my faves since it comes out soft and keeps well in aluminum foil for several days.

Alien Eggs and a Gummy Bear Coma

Today was loads of entertainment, none of which had anything to do with the Superbowl. Squash and I went to get breakfast (eggs, ham, grits, ham, ham and delicious fried apples for me!) and then made a random visit to the Christmas Tree Shop (CTS) to observe their sundries. We were not disappointed today. Among our found treasures were water-assisted hatching “Alien Eggs” and a marvelous brand of gummy bears that has twelve legitimately distinct flavors!

First adventure was the Alien/Dinosaur/Lizard/Duck Egg Experiment. Amusing! Funny! Novel!

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Observe, alien/dinosaur/lizard/duck eggs in Phase 1 (removal from shipping materials, prep of water bowls and randomization performed by Squash to make me less biased when making later observations on the individual species):

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Phase 2 consisted of dropping the eggs quickly into the water bowls, care being taken to ensure their full submersion:

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Now, onto the most exciting phase, Phase 3:

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……………:

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……………still Phase 3:

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………….(heavy breathing)……..:

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Checking the shipping materials, we learned that for Phase 3 there is an incubation period  of 12-24 hours:

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So…my update on Phase 3 status and completion of subsequent phases will be delayed until a later date.

During Phase 3 buffering, we enjoyed these marvels:

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Albanese World’s Best Gummi Bears! Squash first discovered these on a previous adventure to the CTS. I was initially skeptical. Though I love gummi objects, I am often unimpressed with their muddled flavors and poor overly-hardened texture. However, these were a delightful change! So soft and chewy and twelve great flavors in each package! Definitely try these if you find them or order them from their website (you can also order whole bags of individual flavors and sugar-free items!).

I am curious about the Giant Gummi Rattlesnake:

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Over a foot of gummi deliciousness!

For now, I continue to monitor Phase 3’s progress……:

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Maybe if I watch them more closely….

To be continued.