Let’s Just Be Real

I get so tired of people being fake on social media. We see the best of their relationships, the most luxurious of their vacations, and their perfectly posed photos, and then we compare ourselves, at our worst, to them. It can drive you mad, it can cause you pain, and it can make you doubt the blessings in your own life.
Well I’m sick of it so I’m going to be real with you for a moment.
Hi. My name is Anya, and I absolutely do not have it together. Yes I have an amazing husband and a wonderful marriage, but I also have an ex and a divorce under my belt. I have two wonderful kids, but I fail them on a daily basis. I often give them fast food when I should be cooking, I don’t check their backpacks and their grades often enough, and I probably spend too much time on my phone when I could be spending quality time with them.
My house is a disaster. Not the “it’s not perfect so I’m telling you it’s a mess” kind of disaster. The “I need at least two week’s notice before you even attempt to show up at my house” kind of disaster. I am completely consumed by it and I have no idea where to begin to fix it.
I’m seriously overweight. Morbidly obese. I weigh more right now than I ever have in my entire life. The reason for that is because I gained a lot of weight during my cancer treatments. But guess what? Those ended over a year ago and I’m still carrying this weight. I’m miserable. I’m embarrassed to leave my house. I’m disgusted by my own reflection in the mirror. But I’ve lost weight so many times with so many different methods that I’m overwhelmed at how to go about it, so I haven’t started. I need help, I desperately want help, but I can’t afford a trainer or a coach or anything else. My answer is to drown my sorrows in a pint of ice cream. Not helpful.
I struggle with anxiety. Two years of stressing about lost jobs, medical bills, replacing wrecked vehicles, and multiple health problems in my family have destroyed my nerves. It doesn’t take much to send my blood pressure reeling and my heart rate through the roof, and then I can’t breathe. If I’m really honest with you, I haven’t been able to breathe for two weeks, and I’m positive it’s anxiety induced, but I won’t ask my doctor because I’m terrified my cancer has come back in my chest and I don’t want to know. Oh yeah, I guess I should have mentioned I also live in constant fear of that diagnosis, even though I know it’s wrong to worry about things I have no control over.
But this is me. The real me. Beyond the sarcastic front I put on Facebook, beyond the witty remarks on Twitter, this is me. I’m a mess, and I have a strong feeling I’m not the only one. So why are we so afraid to let people see that? Are we afraid of being judged? I can assure you, I judge myself more harshly than any of you ever could. What if instead of judging we offered support? What if we shared our real struggles and realized we have people around us going through the same things? What if they’ve already conquered what you’re going through and they could help?
In the grand scheme of things, someone who’d judge you for your real struggles isn’t someone you need in your life anyway. You might find that getting rid of those influences eliminates some of the very things you’re dealing with. I’ve lost a lot of “friends” during the past couple of years, and it’s really okay. I find that I don’t miss them because they probably weren’t good for me in the first place.
I fear that we are so wrapped up in being competitive, that we’re losing the ability to be compassionate. That’s scary. Compassion is too important to be lost, and saving it begins with being unashamedly real with each other. So what do you say? Let’s give it a shot. Be real. Then encourage your friends to be real. Then really BE THERE for them when they are. 

Be real. 
Really be there. 
Make the world a better place.

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C’mon Get Pappy: Poofer Prep 101

steelloofa

Today was one of those days.

You know, the ones where you find yourself wearing half of an open-front muumuu, lying flat on your back with your feet in stirrups.

Ladies, we’ve all been there. (If you haven’t been, shame on you, call and schedule your appointment today.) Today just happened to be my day. I’m in a lucky position, really, in that I adore my Gynecologist. He’s been my doctor for nearly 20 years now, and I dread the day he retires, because he makes this day bearable. He’s sarcastic, hilarious, and incredibly caring, so I don’t stress about this appointment anymore.

Well, that, and I have finally perfected my routine for this appointment, so I’m always prepared. Maybe you’re one of those people who truly stress about this annual visit, and you either have to psych yourself up for it, or you just walk in terrified. If so, this post is for you. Follow these easy steps, and you’ll never fear those days again.

Step One – 12 months to go

Step one begins when you leave the OB/GYN’s office. Yes, you just got it out of the way, but you’ve just scheduled an appointment and the preparation for next year begins now. You’ve just had the infamous Pap Smear, so you can relax, right? Wrong. Don’t forget the purpose of the Pap. It’s a screening for potential problems that may be brewing, so there are pending lab results coming your way. Should something need further investigation, you should still have the girly bits doctor-ready for any follow-up visits.

Step Two – 11 months to go

Your postmaster smiles and hands you that ever-so-discreet postcard with the “normal Pap Smear” box checked. You’re in the clear for the next 11 months. Now you can breathe. If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with your down-there “do”, this is the time. Have you always wanted to try a Brazilian wax? Maybe you’re itching for a landing strip? Heck, maybe you want to shave a picture of Putin on your poontang. To each their own. But NOW is the time! You’ve got 11 months to grow it out and forget any embarrassing mistakes.

Step Three – 10 months to go

Remember what you weighed at the doctor? It doesn’t matter what it was, you think it was too much, and as you stood on those scales you vowed to lose weight before the next visit. You’ve eaten your way through the last two months, put away a few pints of Ben and Jerry’s to drown your sorrows over the whole Putin fiasco, and bought some bigger sweatpants. This is when you either decide to own those curves and enjoy your ice cream, or start getting it into gear so you actually have time to get a little healthier before you go back. Either choice is completely acceptable.

Step Four – One day to go

You’ve been living your life, completely oblivious to your own appointments because you’re worried about everyone else’s schedules. Then one day, your phone rings. It’s the message reminding you of your gynecologist appointment…tomorrow. Thank God it’s automated so they can’t hear your panicked scream. The only thing worse than a gynecology appointment is a surprise gynecology appointment. You look down at your baggy sweatpants and try to remember the last time you shaved your legs. Your eyes scan to your badly-in-need-of-a-pedicure toes, and you wonder how you’ve let yourself get to this point again.

Step Five – 4 hours to go

It’s time to shower. Yes, it’s 4 hours for a reason. This is no normal shower. This is when you trade the loofah in for the steel wool scrubbing pad. Anyway you feel like you should. You scrub every inch of your body at least 3 times, you shave in places you forgot grew hair, and you slather on all the smelly lotions you can find. You even put smelly lotion on the insides of your thighs, just in case you get sweaty during the walk from the car to the doctor’s office door. You examine your closet for whatever simultaneously makes you look thinner, and comes off the quickest, because everyone knows you’ve got to be a quick-change artist to get naked and settled into your fancy sheet before the doctor walks in the exam room. Finally, you paint your toes as best you can, because you know they’ll be right beside your doctor’s head while he’s inspecting your poofer. You’re no doubt running late at this point, so you do one last check in the mirror, sniff your pits, spray one last mist of body spray, and walk right through it as you head out the door.

Step Six – It’s TIME!

You walk into the doctor’s office to check in, fill out some paperwork, and hear the nurse call your name. Everyone is happy to see you, you make small talk about the past year, discuss how old the kids are now, and realize that while all of that was going on, your doctor finished your exam and it’s already time to go. This is that split second where you remember how quick and painless this appointment always is, and wonder why you stress about it so much.

Now schedule next year’s appointment, go get some ice cream, and return to Step One.

 

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Respect 101

I usually go to great lengths to avoid posting things that step directly on the toes of people I know. Partly because my opinions are just that, and everyone has the right to their own without my judgement. Mostly because I hate conflict and being the source of someone’s feelings getting hurt. With that said, what I’m about to write about will no doubt step on some toes, rile some people up, and work others into a defensive frenzy.

This time, I don’t give a flying crap.

Yesterday, as I have every year for the past 9 years, I headed to the elementary school for the awards assembly on the last day of school. It’s typically a celebratory day, as the kids are recognized for their accomplishments for the year, and everyone is looking forward to a few months off. This year was different.

First, a little backstory. Our school has held this awards assembly for as long as I can remember. As a student here myself, I remember sitting through many of them with my classmates. We’d file in, wait for our names to be called, and sit quietly while our peers received their awards as well. Our families filled the gymnasium, and everyone hung around to say hello to familiar faces, and wish each other a happy summer break. Our Christmas and Spring concerts went much the same way, with the whole community gathered to celebrate our kids.

That was then. This is now.

The assembly always begins with a graduation ceremony for the Kindergarteners. They march in with their caps and gowns, perform some adorable songs, and file across the stage to get their diplomas before going to sit with their parents in the crowd to watch the older students be recognized by their own teachers. Only this year, no one could be bothered to stay in their seat. The kindergarten parents gathered their things and their children and headed for the back of the room where they proceeded to take pictures and mill around as though they were the only people in the room. The Pre-K teacher stood at the podium, calling names and announcing awards, but, even with a microphone, she stood little chance of being heard over the dull roar at the back of the room.

Then the Pre-K teacher finished, and it happened all over again. The Pre-K parents gathered their belongings and began to exit the room. This was the scene on repeat as each teacher finished handing out the awards to the remaining classes, and by the time the last class got to the stage, there was no one left to applaud them.

awardsassembly

Finally, the Superintendent took the stage. He stood there for five to ten minutes, recognizing a long list of people who had contributed to the school this year, and giving a heartfelt thanks to the community for being so supportive of our school.

You know, that community of people who had already left the building because they couldn’t be bothered to sit through the whole thing.

WHO ARE YOU that your time is so precious that you can’t be expected to sit for a single moment after your child is no longer the center of attention?

I’m sure if you could ask everyone who left early, there would be a million different excuses as to why they just had to rush out of there before the assembly was over. I’d be willing to bet about 2% of those excuses were valid. If your child had been recognized at the end of the hour (OH MY GOSH, NOT A WHOLE HOUR!!) you would have had your behind planted in that chair until the end. I guess it’s too much of a sacrifice to sit there for anyone else’s child. Because clearly, your time is more important than showing some respect.

It’s embarrassing, it’s disgraceful, and I thought we were better than that.

I could rant and rave about this for hours, but I’ll just say this. When you show no respect to those around you, and you value your time and your prerogative above all others, you are giving up the right to complain about the generation of self-absorbed, disrespectful young adults we’ll see in the future, because YOU produced them.

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Flip The Calendar, Cross Your Fingers

Before you even say it, I know. We don’t “cross our fingers” because it’s not about luck. But after that year we just went through, it can’t hurt.

I was hesitant to start blogging this year. There’s so much negativity in my life right now, and I don’t want to blog that kind of vitriol. I just need something, though. Something to give me an outlet. Something to keep me motivated. So I thought maybe if I set a goal to blog once a week, it’d motivate me to do something, anything, that would make me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

I don’t want to rehash the last year, you can read about that in my previous post. I do, however, want to talk about what I’ve learned in the past 12 months. Maybe you can take something from it.

  1. Even the big stuff can be conquered. I faced two job losses, a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, and a cancer diagnosis for my mom. Home life is chaotic, as post divorce home life can be. I’m still dealing with after effects from my surgeries. The list goes on. But the miraculous part of it all is I got up, every day, kept moving, taking things one minute at a time, and I conquered it all. Yes the consequences are still here, but I’ve learned to cope with each and every situation that, had you asked me a year ago, I’d have told you would have crippled me.
  2. It’s okay to sweat the small stuff. Yes, we are not supposed to worry. Yes, everyone will tell you it’s all for a reason. They mean well. But when there’s so much BIG stuff going on and your nerves are shot and your emotions are duct taped together, the small stuff feels pretty big too. It’s okay to take a moment to be terrified, or angry, or worried, or scared, or every stinking one of those at the same time. You’re allowed that luxury. The only stipulation is that you get back up and don’t let it take over a whole day, a whole week, or worse.
  3. What’s important to you will not always be important to those around you. Even the people who love you the most. You are an individual. What someone else sees as insignificant, may be the most important, earth-shattering thing in your world at any given moment. Don’t let them discount your feelings. Let them blow you off and go on about their business, but don’t let them make you feel wrong for being hurt or upset by whatever is making your heart ache at that particular point in time. I’d like to say that if they really love you, they’ll get it eventually, but that’s a lie. People are wired differently and they may never truly understand why you can’t just get past something.
  4. Rejoice in the little victories. When I got my diagnosis, I prayed so hard that each test would be the one that finally said, “Nope, false alarm. No cancer!”  That never happened. So I learned to rejoice about each small victory along the way. They removed my whole tumor. I don’t have to have chemo. I can feel my fingers again. I finally pooped! (Yes, after a couple of surgeries and a fair amount of pain pills, you DO rejoice over a good poop. Trust me.)
  5. Be absolutely ECSTATIC over the big victories. You no longer take anything for granted when you’ve been through a particularly bad stretch, and you learn to be thankful for everything, so the big things seem like a given. But stop what you’re doing, even for just a few minutes, and squeal, jump up and down, meet someone for lunch, plan a night out, or just flat out party when the big things happen. The reason? Because you never know when the next opportunity will arise.
  6. You don’t need money to be happy. This is pretty self explanatory, but there have been moments this year when I’ve been exhilarated that we had money in our account for a few groceries. There are a lot of things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go, and things I wanted to buy that a year ago would have disappointed me a great deal. This year? Not a chance. I have my family. We are pretty healthy. We are happy and warm. Those are the things that matter.

I won’t lie. I am beyond ready to kiss 2015 goodbye. I just don’t ever want to forget what it all taught me, because then the struggle would have been for nothing. Here’s to a much better year ahead, and perhaps fewer lessons to learn. (Please, God? Just a little break. Let these soak in first? Thank you.)

Happy New Year, y’all. Savor every moment.

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The One Where Everything Fell Apart

“I never see you on Facebook anymore.”
“Why don’t you ever tweet?”
“I haven’t seen you in ages! Where have you been hiding?”

I’ve heard all of those lines so many times in the last few months. In fact, it’s pretty much been the extent of my conversations for a while now, because no one really wants to stand there and listen to the real answer. The real answer leaves them speechless, not knowing the right thing to say. If there even is a right thing. I’ve learned to say I’ve been busy, or just hiding out in my house, because people want to hear that everything is fine so they can go about their business.

Some of you, though, actually care and because you’ve asked, I thought I’d just put the whole story here for you to read. It’s long, so I apologize, but there’s a lot to tell you about.

Let’s rewind back to January of 2015. I was working at an energy company in downtown OKC. I loved everything about that job. I loved what I did, I adored my coworkers, and I loved the downtown life in general. I was a contract worker, and my boss was working to create a permanent position for me. Life was good. Better than good. It was the best it has ever been.

And then, while you were busy cheering about the sudden fall in gas prices, my job disappeared. By February I was an unemployed single mom with no idea how I was going to support myself or my kids.

March quickly rolled around and I finally landed a job. I thought things were looking up. But the same week I interviewed, I found an odd lump in my left bicep. I am usually miss worst-case-scenario when it comes to lumps in the body, so I had a meltdown and went to the doctor so she could tell me it was nothing. That’s how it always goes.

But this time, it wasn’t “nothing”. They sent me for an ultrasound, then an MRI, and before I knew it, I was seeing an oncologist. I had surgery to remove it, and the pathology came back as clear cell sarcoma. That led to another surgery to remove lymph nodes to make sure it hadn’t spread. It’s an extremely rare cancer, with a not so great prognosis if it has gotten very far, but we caught mine in time. Thank God. My prognosis is great, but I’ll be on watchdog status the rest of my life.

I ended up having two surgeries and six and a half solid weeks of radiation treatments. All the while, working full-time and fighting through the fatigue. My boss at my new job was incredibly understanding, and I managed to keep up full-time hours throughout the process. I was finally bouncing back from radiation when the other shoe…or shoes…fell.

The day I had my last follow-up with my radiation doctor, my mom told me she needed me to come up to her house for something. That’s not unusual. Mom lives 4 blocks away so we are together a lot. When I walked in, however, I knew it was anything but “usual”. She didn’t speak, just pointed at the dining room chair and dialed my sister on the phone. My worst fears had come true. Five years after she kicked breast cancer’s butt, it had come back with a vengeance. I was devastated.

It was a Monday night. I was inconsolable. I normally worked from home on Wednesdays, but there was no way I could keep it together the next day so my boss let me stay home on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I got up for work as usual, happy to have the distraction. When I got there, my coworker came to my office to tell me she had heard the news and how sorry she was. I was talking to her about how I just didn’t think I could handle anymore bad news.

Oh, I should probably mention at this point that I had met the most incredible guy back in March. He stuck with me through my whole diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Our story is one for another time because it deserves its own happier post. Anyway. Just a few weeks prior to my mom’s news, he had left his job to go to work for my boss’ husband. Long story short, that was a terrible decision. Working for dishonest people often is. He let him go without warning, on the word of someone who didn’t want him there because he felt threatened.

So when I say I couldn’t handle anymore bad news, it’s because two cancer diagnoses and sudden unemployment in the span of 4 months was enough. My boss walked past my office as I was saying this to my coworker, but didn’t say a word. She proceeded to spend the entire day questioning where all the work I had done was stored on the computer, and making sure I was caught up. I was. I was a full two weeks ahead on my work, as I had been every time she had questioned me the past few weeks. At 3:30 that afternoon, she called me into her office and fired me. It’s a bit of a blur, because it completely blindsided me, but the line that sticks in my head is, “I’ve given you too much grace with all your doctor appointments, and now with your mom having cancer, I can’t take on her problems too.” She scrambled for a million other things to accuse me of, to justify this whole thing in her mind. Social media abuse, cell phone use, etc. I have records and facebook posts (or, rather, a lack thereof) that would prove all of that wrong, but it’s not worth the fight. She’s already threatened me with an attorney, because that’s what all good Christian people with integrity do to all of their former employees. No? Just her? Okay.

So she sent me packing. No notice. No severance. (No money for the wedding dress I had purchased after she told me she wanted to buy it for me.) And I knew after we had been threatened to not file for unemployment for my fiance, that I didn’t dare file for unemployment from her.

That brings us to the present. We cancelled our wedding and made a quick trip to Arkansas to get married by a JOP. It was a wonderful day full of great memories, but not what we had planned. And now, application after application, phone interviews, in-person interviews, second interviews, and everything else we can think of, we are both still job hunting, and just doing what we can to keep the lights on and food on the table. And praying. Man do we do a whole lot of praying. I’d say the frustration is mounting, but we’re both pretty maxed out. I used to say it’ll all work out, things will be okay, etc., but I’ve lost whatever shred of hope I had left. This is what rock bottom looks like. Something has to give, I’m just praying it’s soon.

I don’t want to leave this on such a negative note, as I have much to be thankful for. I am cancer free. I got out of a terrible work situation that I wouldn’t have walked away from on my own. My mom is feeling great while she undergoes treatment, and we are enjoying life to the fullest. I have the most amazing husband a girl could ever ask for. I still have a roof over my head. My kids are healthy and happy, well, as happy as a pre-teen and teenager can be at any given moment. As bleak as things seem, there are plenty of silver linings around those terribly dark clouds, and for that I am eternally grateful.

 

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The One with the Pancake Rage

http://stefancompart.blogspot.com/Pancakes.

Thin pancakes. Fluffy pancakes. One pancake. Stacks of pancakes. Letter-shaped, or perfectly round. They invoke warm memories of moms cooking breakfast, families gathered around the table, and happy tummies full of maple syrup.

Unless you’re my children. Just ask them if they want pancakes, then stand back and watch their eyes fill with fear and panic while they shake their heads wildly as if to erase the very mention of it from the air.

“No,” they’ll whisper, “Mom isn’t allowed to make pancakes anymore.”

“Why?” you’ll ask quietly, curious as to why this conversation is on the down low.

“She has…pancake rage,” they’ll say, in all the seriousness children can muster.

Sadly, it’s true. I pride myself on the fact that most anything I’ve attempted in the kitchen has turned out fairly well. Most of the time it’s actually good. Certainly never inedible. And I actually like to cook. (I’d like it a lot more in a much bigger, perfectly organized kitchen. But I digress.)

Pancakes, though. Pancakes are a different story. Pancakes are the Joker to my Batman. The Green Goblin to my Spider-Man. They are, in fact, my kryptonite.

It all starts innocently enough, with the best of intentions. “I’ll make breakfast for everyone this morning,” I tell myself. “It’ll be a nice surprise.”

Thirty minutes later, the near-obscenities are flying from my mouth at a speed rivaled only by that of the spatula flying across the kitchen.

The “I’ll surprise them with breakfast” turns into “here are your frickin’ pancakes,” and the family is left holding their forks, watching, jaws agape, as I storm off to my room.

I know what you’re thinking. “Pancakes are so simple! How can they make someone so angry?”

The answer is simple: They’re not perfect.

My pancakes should look like they came straight off the griddle at IHOP. Perfectly round, golden brown, fluffy stacks of sponginess, ready to soak up a gallon of warm, buttery syrup. Instead, they’re all different sizes, varying shades from golden to charred, and more like dense memory foam than fluffy sponges. Sure, they taste fine, and no one would even complain. But they’re not perfect. And for me? That’s a deal breaker.

So, I don’t make pancakes. Because I’d rather not have them at all than have someone know I can’t make them perfectly.

I wish I could say it stops with the pancakes. But I’d be lying. It’s everything in my life. That book I wrote? I loved it. You’ll never see it because an editor hated it. That person I’d like to get to know? Hasn’t met me because I wish I could be 50lbs lighter before they ever lay eyes on me. That contest entry? I’ll never make it, because I’m not as dynamic and eloquent when I speak in public as I’d like to be. This blog post? Almost never happened because I couldn’t flesh it out completely in my head before I wrote the first word.

I hate that about myself. I hate to think about how much I’ve missed out on in life because I was afraid of what could go wrong. I hate that I’m aware of it and still can’t overcome the fear. Most of all, I hate that I’m leading by example and teaching my kids to be afraid to put themselves out there and live.life.

I have to get better. I have to make it better for them, before I sentence them to this anxiety-ridden, disappointment-filled existence I’ve subjected myself to for so long. They deserve to do all the living that I haven’t done. I’m just not sure how to go about it. Perhaps it starts with making a phone call. Perhaps it begins with hitting the publish button.

Perhaps…it starts with pancakes. With a side of imperfection. Hold the rage

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Rosie

About a year and a half ago, twitter introduced me to someone. A friend. And not just any friend. Not just another online contact. Not just another screen name or silly avatar. No, she is much more than that. So much more, in fact, I thought it was high time I told you about her.

Her name is Rose. I call her Rosie. She lets me. She doesn’t even complain when I call her Rosalita or Rosé. Which is good, because I am physically unable to call people by their real names. But I digress.

She does complain when I make her take selfies every time we’re out. But she usually indulges me…be it ever so begrudgingly.

rose2

Sometimes, to make her feel better, we hide our neck fat so we look good in said selfies.

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See? How could you not adore her?

Rosie is the one who encourages me to step out of my comfort zone. From the very beginning, our goal was to conquer “One Terrifying Thing a Month”, and in the year or so that we’ve been friends, she’s given me the courage to do so many things I never would have done without her. From networking events at the racetrack, to painting a (terrible) Van Gogh in front of a whole group of people (whom I’ve only met because she introduced me to them). She’s also the reason I’m okay with the fact that my painting was so terrible. She pushes me to blog. Clearly I’m not doing so well with that, but she’s the one who makes me want to keep trying. She believes in my talents and abilities to the point where I start to believe in them, too. That in and of itself is the reason I am where I am today. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take this job if she hadn’t spent the last year building me up.

She’s the friend I can tell anything without fear of judgment. She’s the one I can say nothing to, and she knows it’s probably because I have a whole lot of something to say, and I’m just afraid to say it. She’s the friend I can go to lunch with on a day that I’m feeling stabby and unsociable, and know that she’ll sit there feeling stabby and unsociable too, and we’ll still end up making each other laugh.

She and I had a conversation about silence recently, stemming from this post on her blog. We talked about how mutual, comfortable silence is so rare. Silence without awkwardness is difficult unless you’re extremely comfortable with a person. I realized at that moment that I have that kind of friendship with her, and it just came naturally. Someone commented a couple of weeks ago that they were surprised we had only known each other for a year, because our report suggested otherwise. To me, that sums our friendship up pretty well, because I love her like I’ve known her forever. She’s pretty doggone special to me, and I hope she knows that.

Love ya to bits, Rosie! Thanks for being…you. :0)

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The Moments I’ve Missed

Sitting at my desk today, I was sort of assessing where I am at the moment. I’m literally living one of my dreams. This is the job I’ve wanted since the day I decided on technical writing as a major. This is the job I dreamed about when I was in High School Yearbook, realizing how much I love this whole writing and publishing world. This is it. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

But I’m not happy.

I’m not happy, because it’s temporary. I’m not able to enjoy today because I’m so focused on when this will end. And I have no idea when that will be. It could be next week, it could be next month, I simply have no clue. I should just be living in the moment, and soaking it all in while I can. But the uncertainty is killing me.

The whole thought process brought me to the realization that I’ve done this with my whole life. I didn’t enjoy school because I worried, from the day I watched my sister graduate from High School and I myself graduated from Kindergarten, about what I needed to do to get a valedictorian trophy like she did. No, that’s not an exaggeration. I asked my mom about it that very day, and made it my sole purpose in life for the next 12 years. I missed a lot of fun in school because I was at home with my nose in a book while my friends were out…(and they were still doing just fine in school).

The day I brought my first child home, I cried. Tears of joy, right? Wrong. No, I cried because he was going to grow up. Valid worry? No. Absolutely 100% how my brain works? Yes.

It affects all aspects of life. Be it not enjoying a job because you’re wondering when the contract ends, not savoring every moment of your children’s lives because you’re worried about them growing up, or not fully allowing yourself to engage in a relationship and just relish in being loved at the moment because you’re so terrified it will end in heartbreak. Maybe those things will come to fruition. Everything eventually comes to an end, after all. But what is life if you miss the joy of being in the moment? It’s only an endless string of new worries each day, and that’s not living at all.

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The One About the Folders

I was sitting at my desk at work today, sorting the mountain of papers I have accumulated during this project. As I reached for the folder I’ve started organizing them in, I had a flashback. A flashWAYback, if you will, all the way to 1990. My 7th Grade year.

Picture me, in a too-tiny-for-me-but-I-love-it-anyway desk, somewhere in the far corner of the room. It was my own little corner. (Because the other one was occupied most of the year by someone else, equally as ornery as I). I don’t really remember how or why I ended up in the corner, but if I had to venture a guess, I’d say it was probably for running my mouth. I was a smart aleck in 1990, too.

Shocking, I know.

But in the corner I sat, every day, for the vast majority of that school year. Most likely griping under my breath because it was no doubt an injustice in my 12yo mind. Just like the things that rotten teacher expected me to do. Horrible, torturous things you can’t even imagine. Like keep a daily journal, or write in a poetry notebook, or keep track of my daily assignments in a……….folder.

Those darn folders were the bane of my existence. I was terrible about keeping them updated because, quite frankly, I thought they were a waste of time. Something she must have dreamed up in one of those “creative ways to torture your students” brainstorming sessions with all the other rotten teachers who had it out for us. I’d argue with her until I was blue in the face, and she was probably ready to choke me until it went from blue to a nice shade of purple. We butted heads equally as hard over the journal. I was sure she hated me.

But then something happened. Possibly something miraculous and earth changing. More likely something involving me, you know, growing up. But something. That part I’m sure of.

Seventh grade ended and 8th grade began. 8th became 9th, then one day I dozed off and woke up in college. And there, in my backpack, as I trekked across the campus, sat my folders. Organized just as she had taught me. Maybe not quite up to her standards, but they were there nonetheless. Now today I find myself sitting in a high rise building, smack in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City, at my desk, at my dream job….with my folders keeping it all together, just like they did in 1990.

I have to chuckle every time I realize those folders have resurfaced in my life. Now I have kids of my own, one of which totally inherited my lack of organizational skills, and I have found myself telling him, “Lord I hope Mrs. Dunn is still teaching when you get to 7th Grade. She may be your only hope, child.”

Of course he just rolls his eyes. Because mom doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Just like that rotten teacher way back when. But one day, years from now, should he be lucky enough to have had her for a teacher, he’ll be just as excited as I am to run into her at the local fair, or in Walmart, or wherever it may be, because she’ll be “The One”. The one who taught him to keep it all together, to be responsible, diligent, and respectful, and to stick it out and power through those things you don’t like because maybe, just maybe, they’re shaping your life.

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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

To say it’s been a long year would be the understatement of…well…that very.long.year.

I don’t have to tell you I’ve neglected my blog. The date on the previous post kind of gives that away. But it’s more about avoiding than neglecting. Let me explain.
My blog is my happy place. I want it to be enjoyable to read, and to write. I’ve never wanted it to be a negative place. The problem is, I write about my life, and the past year of my life has been, overall, a negative experience. Rather than fill my blog full of complaining and negativity, I chose to not write at all.
Here’s the problem. I love to write. I *need* to write. It’s just something in an English major’s DNA. Writing is therapeutic, and going through the things I’ve gone through this year with no therapeutic outlet hasn’t made it any easier.
So. I’ve decided the solution to this little conundrum is this. I’m going to write again. I’m going to write about my life. But…and it’s a big but (not unlike my own…but I digress), I’m going to write about the good stuff. I’m going to force myself to look for the positive in the overwhelming negative, to spot the silver linings in the grayest of skies, to laugh as much as possible, and, with any luck, make you laugh along with me.
When I wrote this (ages ago) it was National Happiness Happens Day…I think every day should be Happiness Happens Day. So stick around, and let’s make some happiness happen around here.

 

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