Several days ago, I wrote here about a pretty major decision I had made about my career, and life–in general. It was not exactly well-received by friends who know how hard I’ve worked for this path–and was not actually that difficult of a decision to make. But it was significant in that it meant a lot of what I’ve been doing could now evolve into something else.
A little backstory…
So, for most of my life, I’ve kind of been this lost soul when it came to my career. I’ve always been talented and smart and good at many things. I’ve always been highly motivated and curious about almost everything. But I also always put a lot of pressure on myself to do more with my life than just lead an ordinary existence. I sort of fell into my profession, did really well, hated it beyond comprehension, and then–at some point–decided I should be a teacher. That led me down a really exciting, sometimes wonderful road, that basically ended up gutting me. Deciding to leave and disappoint a lot of people was probably the hardest professional decision of my life. It sent me into this tailspin–mostly because teaching was the last thing my mother thought I would do–and she had been so proud of me. It was this thing everyone believed I could do since I was a child. And I was awesome at it. I was exactly what is needed in teachers.
I’ve never really fully written about the experience I had with TFA because it’s always been just so painful to me. But it was this immediate feeling that it was not mine. This immediate knowing that doing this thing would kill me. And for years and years, I didn’t understand what that feeling was about. I tried to analyze it, but at a gut level–it was just this incredible discomfort and wrongness that overwhelmed me so much that I felt almost panicked about getting away from it. The only time I’ve ever felt like that was when I was in grocery stores during the holidays after Mama died. These panic attacks would set in, and I had to get out.
This week, I got some insight into what that feeling was and where it came from and why it was so violently wrong. Why it forced me to move as far away as I could. I’ll talk about it more later. Hold tight. It’ll come eventually.
Anyway, after that experience with TFA, I was like this lost lamb…just sort of shell-shocked–not even knowing who I was supposed to be. Think about it–my mother had died less than five years before. I was still pretty young. I had spent my entire life feeling lost about my purpose and then I found this–and it seemed to be so perfect. Then, I get there and it’s so wrong–I can’t get away fast enough. It was like this huge identity crisis. If that’s wrong, “What the fuck am I supposed to do now?”
I had to work, so I got a job. And except for the selling people shit, indirectly, part–I bumped into things I loved. One was training. I went through this awesome training program, and that kinda sparked something in me. Because–make no mistake–I love teaching. I really, really do. And I have a knack for it. I do it all the time and have always done it. And training is really just teaching adults. The college where I worked offered free education to employees, so I enrolled in their Master’s program for Corporate Training & Knowledge Management. And I basically kicked ass….almost going for an Ed S degree. I actually loved all of it, and it came easy to me. The program was tough, but I really enjoyed it. Only when I was working for this school, I discovered a more profound love for me. Counseling. I really loved hearing people’s stories and sharing mine. And most of all, helping them progress with their dreams. So, it got my wheels turning. And eventually, I landed on this desire to be an art therapist. To work with really ill people and their families. To work with children. To start a nonprofit and lead group therapy programs. That evolved into starting a social enterprise. And that evolved into being the Brene Brown of grief…still doing all those things, but going for a PsyD and doing grief research. Writing books on grief and conducting workshops. Really making a dent in healing the shit we all go through, at some point.
And that felt right. So right. For years.
Until I got close to the end of my MNM program, that is. I had chosen to do the MNM program so I could work in nonprofits while I got my counseling degree. I figured it would be easier and maybe I could get some of the experiential shit out of the way. But I was naive about some things. The job market, for one, and two–the pay scale. Barely liveable. Okay–so that maybe wasn’t the best idea. I also discovered I did not like fundraising–which was the most viable job option and also a key part of being an ED. And then there was something else that started showing up as I was writing my thesis. A crippling self-doubt that came out of nowhere–that made zero sense–but literally paralyzed me. It was the first time in my life that I asked for extensions. It was the first time I ever took an incomplete. And it felt like I’d gone down the rabbit hole again. What the Hell was this?
I did get on with it. But my confidence was blown, and my enthusiasm for NPOs was nonexistent. As much as I loved the ideas I had, I didn’t want that to be my life. I know so many EDs who are trapped by that life, and it just didn’t gel. So, for a while, I thought–I’d start it and then get good people to run it for me–moving to a board position. But–all of it sort of fell apart in my brain. It felt overwhelming and, again, wrong.
But counseling still felt like mine. So, I decided to put the NPO ideas on backburner and focus on making that happen. But there’s so many things that go into that. The biggest being money–how to pay for it–and the other being how to live and work and afford life and manage the requirements. Most programs don’t allow you to do your experiential stuff after 5 pm or on weekends. Most require you to commit to daytime shit. Some require you to not work outside of school at all. As a working adult who had never not worked, this was a big hurdle. I worked to find weekend programs and part-time programs. But even those required Fridays at school. My job is flexible, so I could make it work–but it would involve a lot of less than ethical choices on my part. Things I didn’t want to do. And honestly–I didn’t love these programs. They fit as well as they could, but not really.
So, then, I tried to change my work to fit these programs. Okay–I need a job I can do at night and on weekends. Well, all of those suck–unless you’re a freelancer–and those pay nothing. Unless you’re in tech. So, I got the bright idea of doing UX/UI–something I actually care about and like doing. But it was hard to teach myself such things in a disciplined manner–and it takes time to make that happen. And in addition to all the shit I already do, I’d have to do lots of volunteering and would have to take undergrad classes just to get admitted.
You see why it felt like this neverending bullshit train?
The bottom line? These programs are not designed for career changers. Or people who need to work. They are designed for young people with parents footing the bill. AKA not me, ever in my life.
So, I’ve kind of been less motivated to make that whole thing happen–though I never really admitted I gave up on it. Because what would that mean?
But then, the other day, I started thinking about it. And that’s when I came to the conclusion I did. That I should just stop banging my head against that wall. And that felt right–for a while.
So this whole week has been really rough. Busy as Hell. On one hand, I’m back with my old team part-time. Which is like putting on an old sweater. On the other hand, I’m on our internal recruiting team–hiring my future teammates–with my hiring manager as my future boss–managed by our VP with every senior leader in the company seeing my work every single day. This is a recipe for all bad things, y’all. And, of course, this is what it’s been.
I am hustling so hard, I make Kim Kardashian look like a boring housewife. I am outperforming as always, but worse–I’m making the full-time veterans look bad. I am in that perfectionist mode that got me that company trip. And while the senior leaders love it, it’s a recipe for my own breakdown.
So, I’ve been trying to keep up with myself and not drop anything and working late. And I just wanting to fucking exhale.
This is exactly why I quit my last job to escape.
But this is exactly the opportunity I need and want if that new goal is going to happen. And it highlights exactly what that decision was about. I love this work. Minus the pressure. Minus the crazy pace. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s mine.
So, yes–managing teams and training and all that shit makes sense. And this IS the place to do it. And this work I’m doing now is what will get me that spot.
But it’s hard. SO hard. And if I keep doing it at this rate, it won’t be pretty. But I have a deadline. 3 weeks till new client launch. Just 1 job to do. Back to the old life I had 2 months ago. So, I deal–but maybe badly.
Given all the crap, weeks ago, I signed up for Unplug with Kelly Carlin. You may still be able to sign up…not sure…but maybe do it if this feels like something you need.
Anyway, I’ve been on a big self-care kick for a while now, but most especially since moving to CA because it’s been rough on my soul. I’ve been struggling with a lot of bullshit. So, the idea of meditating and taking some time for me during my day was pretty appealing. Plus, I’m a big ole hippie beginner Buddhist anyway.
I somehow made it for the first session, having kicked my cats’ water bowl over two seconds before. I won’t go into all of it because you should experience yourself, but I had some pretty life changing things spark for me that I will likely write about more later, as I continue with the course.
So what does all of that mean? A whole lot. I need to embrace ease. I need to be more kind to myself. I need to work on accepting what is. I need to examine the ways I choose to suffer and how it allows me to justify disconnection. And I need to practice mindfulness all the time. Luckily, Kelly gave me great tools to start all of this shit.
And I think I have a new career aspiration. What if I don’t have to throw out my current path or that other path? What if I honored both? I have a really great idea for what I should work to do. But I’m going to work on these things I’ve uncovered and see where I am in a few months.
Anyway, this whole thing is hard for me to even write about–so this is not my normal introspective post. But, look for more unraveling as I process this in the days to come.
It was over 100 degrees today, with pretty significant humidity–which felt a bit like the deep South. To a girl used to no humidity, this was not okay. I mostly stayed inside and did a bunch of nothing. I didn’t sleep much this weekend. So here I am, at midnight, talking to you. Which is very 2006, yea? In honor of that, more questions…
1. What’s the wisest piece of advice your mother has ever given you?
Mama never really gave advice so much as she told me what she would do or what my Daddy would say. I guess her best advice was to take a bath if life felt overwhelming–and that was less of a direct telling so much as that’s what she did and I just noticed it.
2. What was the worst haircut that you’ve ever gotten?
Probably this one. And to be fair, most of the problem was not my hair. Puberty was rough.
3. If you died tomorrow, who do you think your death would impact the most?
My roommate. Because a) rent and b) cats and c) sick cat he’s never taken care of since she got sick.
4. Do you prefer writing in pencil or pen?
Pen–1 million percent. I hate pencils. The graphite and sharpening–ugh. I only will use mechanical pencils, and even then, refilling them pisses me off.
5. What was your favorite snack when you were a kid?
Homemade tortillas with cinnamon sugar. Or fruit of some kind. Cherry freeze cups in the summertime from the lady around the way. Or those giant pickles at the little store. Or chocolate revel dixie cups with the wooden spoons.
6. How did you come up with the name for your pet?
Fogg is named after a character in my favorite book. Mumford is named for the song Little Lion Man because he looks like a lion, and we kept calling him Little Lion Man. His name was originally Neruda for the writer. Rilly (Rilke) is named for the writer. We like to name our pets after artists or art we love.
7. What is the worst physical pain that you’ve ever experienced?
Probably when I had to have emergency gall bladder surgery a few Easters ago. I had been pretty ill and hadn’t slept in days. I threw up 23 times in a day and literally couldn’t sit because the pressure was so bad. Once I got to the ER–after being misdiagnosed by urgent care–they immediately gave me drugs they give women in full-on labor, and those lasted about 10 minutes before I needed more. A friend of mine, who went through it and is a mom, said that pain was worse than labor. I would probably have to agree–though I’ve never been in labor. It was probably the only time I’ve ever sobbed in public.
8. What is the worst emotional pain that you’ve ever experienced?
Losing my Mama.
9. What book was so bad that you didn’t even finish it?
The Iliad by Homer. And it probably wasn’t so bad, in and of itself, as it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I know others who’ve liked it.
10. Are there any colors that you refuse to wear?
Not really. But really bright orange tends to not be so flattering on me. I will wear it to show my Denver pride, though.
11. What one thing are you most proud of accomplishing?
I think earning 3 Bachelor’s degrees, 2 Master’s, and some certificates after being told by many that I’d never make it to college was pretty sweet. But just surviving my childhood and my mother’s death? Those were pretty big, too. The education bit was intentional, though, so we’ll go with that one.
12. If you could be interviewed on any talk show, which one would it be?
Super Soul Sunday. After I write an amazing book that helps a lot of people.
13. What’s the scariest ghost story that you’ve ever been told?
I don’t think anyone has ever told me a ghost story–at least not directly. I tell myself ghost stories.
14. Are there any dreams or nightmares that stick out from when you were a child?
After my Daddy died, I remember dreaming about him–he was trying to take me with him, and I told him Mama needed me.
15. What do you think is the worst crime a human could commit?
I don’t know. I think that’s all subjective, really, to the person doing the crime and the person who is targeted by it. All crimes hurt someone in ways that are important. Hard to say. I will say–I think a crime where the person doing the crime has been the victim of similar behavior is a bit more heartbreaking to me.
16. If you were reincarnated, would you want to be a boy or a girl in your next life?
I immediately wanted to say male because I’d get all the goodies. But I love being a woman too much–so I’d choose female.
17. What artist do you wish would be taken off the radio?
I don’t know that I hate any artist enough to ban them from the radio. Someone likes them, or they wouldn’t be there, and who am I to restrict another person’s access to joy?
18. Have you ever witnessed something unexplainable?
Oh, honey, what isn’t unexplainable?
19. If you could go back to high school, what would you do differently?
Probably nothing. I enjoyed high school a lot, and that hard work paid off. Maybe be more social, but that really who I was at the time–and it would have distracted me.
20. How long do you think you could last without having intercourse?
A looooong time. Don’t ask me how I know. For me, abstaining is not that big of a deal. As a female, it’s pretty easy to deal with. It’s the mental part that’s rough, and I’m even pretty zen about that. If I wanted to get laid badly enough, I’d get laid–but I have wretched standards.
21. Are there any mythical creatures that you believe in?
I believe in all mythical creatures. Why not?
22. Is there a specific teacher that made your life miserable?
Yes–a certain teacher gave me a C in English. I made him eat that C, too.
23. What TV show or movie do you want to watch, but haven’t gotten around to it yet?
I’m really behind on The Americans and Scandal for no reason at all. I just haven’t felt the urge to watch them over other things.
24. Do you think any of your coworkers deserve to be fired?
No. I am so blessed to work with really talented, kind, great humans. First time I can say that about my job!
25. When you were little, what scenarios did your Barbies (or G.I. Joes) act out?
Oh my God. Epic, soap-opera style love stories. Tragic BS, man. I had a flair for the dramatic. Also, they were all rock stars and princesses.
26. Do you like the color of your eyes?
I do–it’s the one thing I share with both of my parents that makes me stand out.
27. Do you believe that animals experience emotions in the same way that humans do?
Maybe not the same way, but they have emotions.
28. What’s the most embarrassing dare you’ve ever completed?
It wasn’t a dare. It was a job. I wore a toilet paper costume at a huge festival in Denver and handed out free samples and then guided people through a toilet paper obstacle course for a weekend. They’d paid me damn good money. But it was like 100 degrees and that thing was HOT. I danced to great music, though, and people gave me turkey legs. Haha. I kinda miss doing promo work.
29. What common food have you never actually tried?
Scallops–and various seafood. The whole being deathly allergic to shellfish thing limits me, sometimes.
30. What’s your favorite cat breed?
Persians. And Siamese. And Himalayans. I love big, fluffy cats like sweet Mumford. They are just so loving and so chatty. And Maine Coons like my Fogg. She’s so smart and has so much spunk.
31. What’s your favorite section of the newspaper?
I don’t read newspapers much anymore, but I always loved the food section and the lifestyle section.
32. Which 90s show do you wish they’d bring back?
All of them. No, really. I love that shit.
33. Did your parents ever tell you why they chose your name?
I was named after my Daddy’s Mama. He loved her so much. He insisted on it.
34. What is one memory that you wish you could erase from your mind?
I don’t think I would want to erase anything. All the things I experienced are mine.
35. What TV show did you once loved, but eventually gave up on watching, because it got that bad?
Definitely Grey’s Anatomy.
36. What (if anything) were you bullied over when you were little?
I don’t know that I was bullied over anything. It was more or less–I was so shy and so capable of being spooked–that some kids used to get off on scaring and intimidating me. Really kind of cruel since I was about 5 when it happened, and they were in high school. I ended up with a head injury because of it.
37. What’s your favorite font to use when you type?
Depends on what I’m doing.
38. What age were your parents when they had you?
Mama was 41. Not sure how old Daddy was, but he was older. Maybe late 40s.
39. What’s the most embarrassing video in your recent Youtube history?
I don’t think any of it is embarrassing. I just have a shitload of wisdom tooth related videos. That’s the closest.
40. Have you ever seen a person (or a dog or a cow) give birth?
Cats. I’ve seen lots of cats born. I miss having newborn babies around.
41. Do you think you’re overpaid or underpaid?
42. Have you ever killed a houseplant?
Oh, sure. I am apt to forget they exist.
43. Is there a specific number that holds a lot of meaning to you?
44. On average, how many times do you wake up in the middle of the night?
2-3, sometimes more. Sometimes, I don’t sleep at all.
45. Do you know your IQ?
46. Do you know your Myers Briggs personality type?
INFP. Basically since 1999.
47. Which Netflix show do you think is overrated?
I don’t know.
48. What is your favorite month of the year?
49. Which family member do you secretly hate?
I hate no one.
50. Has a celebrity ever replied to one of your Tweets?
Maybe. I think so. A writer… I keep trying to get John Mayer to wave hello on his Instastories, but he always misses my comments.
1. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
Not in California. I’m in a state of flux right now, so that’s basically the only goal I have.
2. What was the experience that impacted you the most in your life?
Losing my parents–two experiences that inform each other.
3. What type of relationship did you have with your parents?
I was closer to my Mama, especially growing up. We were always equals. My mother never treated me like a child. I always knew what was happening. I knew about her stress and about her worries. Always. She never talked down to me. She was my best friend. My anchor. My safe haven. Biggest cheerleader. We fought a lot once I was a teen and into adulthood. Like bad. As an adult, she struggled with letting me do my thing–mostly because it often meant I would travel and leave her. I always did a lot for my Mama. She had physical disabilities, so I was her ears and her eyes at times. She was also very short, so I would grab stuff for her–but I’m short, too–so that was a debacle. She was horrible with money, so I budgeted for her. And I cooked a lot for her.
As far as my Daddy–I was always a Daddy’s girl. I loved to learn things from him, and he was always teaching me to do stuff or reading to me. I always just yearned for his attention. But I always felt unsafe with him. Not because of anything he did on purpose, but because he was a drunk–so often I was unsafe with him. I have scars that confirmed that. He could be cruel and childish, so I often felt like I had to earn his love by being obedient. We had a very difficult relationship in some ways, but in other ways, he was my favorite person. After he died, I spent years denying that–not wanting to be anything like him and denying the parts of him that exist in me. But now, those are my favorite parts about myself. I’ve forgiven him and worked through the shit as much as I can.
4. Would you be with someone who doesn’t have the same beliefs as you?
It depends on the beliefs. I think some differing opinions are fun and healthy.
5. How would your best friends describe you?
One of my friends once said I’m a huge beating heart. I wear my heart on my sleeve, mostly, is what he was getting at. Smart. Funny. Empathetic. Playful. Inquisitive. Exuberant. An optimist at my core. Resilient. Strong (hate that word). The nicest ever–hate that word too. Unique. Quirky. Kinda crazy. Intense as fuck. I show up.
6. Do you usually follow your heart or your head?
Heart all the way. I can be logical, but it’s Alma logic–which is very much heart-centered.
7. Would you put your family or your friends first if you had to choose one?
I have so little family, that it would probably be friends–but it would depend on who and what was happening.
8. What did your last relationship teach you?
If something doesn’t feel right, confront it quickly and move on. Forgive them, but don’t give more chances.
9. What do you think of online dating?
HAHAHAHAHA. UGH. Basically both of those feelings.
10. Do you prefer dating just one person and see where it goes or dating multiple people until you make a decision?
One person. I actually had issues last year with a guy because of it. I’m such a monogamous person, even when it’s not talked about–and he was into dating lots of women–without being transparent about it. And we hit it off really big, right away–to my shock and awe. To me, when you connect that strongly with someone, you don’t keep dating. You stop and see where that feeling goes. Well, he didn’t do that–and then connected with someone else more…and all would have been fine…except I’m smart and figure things out. So, there was that. The shitty part was–we stayed “friends” after and still had this big connection. That other relationship ended 3 weeks later, but our connection was basically blown because of how he treated the situation. I could see myself with him for a while, and now we’re not even friends. But he was someone who was pretty tone deaf about relationships, in general, and had a lot of growing up to do. I also think he was afraid to be alone–and being with me scared the shit out of him.
11. What are the qualities you’re looking for in someone you want to grow old with?
Commitment to show up for each other. Someone who inspires me. Someone who stands up to me. Forgiving and patient–because I fuck up a lot. Someone who keeps me on my toes. Someone who I can adventure with and laugh with. And he has to like cats at least a little. And put up with me talking in my sleep or not sleeping.
12. What are you most grateful for in your life?
My life. Every single bit of it.
13. If you could change anything about your past, what would it be?
I don’t think I would.
14. What’s the one thing you would like to change about yourself today and why?
More patience and self-care. I’m hard on myself, still.
15. If a psychic could tell you what will happen in the future, what would you want to know?
I asked one once, and it was interesting. I guess I would like to know if I’m ever going to find another big love. Because most days, it feels like I’m not on that path. And if I am going to find it…what the hell am I doing wrong?
16. If you knew that you only had one year to live, what would you change in your life?
Not much. Well, I’d leave California–probably–or move someone I like in California. With the move magically done with no effort.
17. If money and career were no object, what would you really be doing?
See that other post.
18. What do you do when you don’t get something you worked really hard for?
Grieve. Evaluate. Grieve. Lick my wounds. Learn. Grieve. Pivot. Make new goals. Get giddy. Work hard. Move on.
19. Do you hold grudges or do you forgive easily?
I forgive easily. Life is too short for grudges.
20. What are some of your favorite quotes and why do you relate to them?
Pick up Moon Palace and point. You’re welcome.
21. Where do you go when you need some inspiration?
Kids. Artists. Yup.
22. Who is the first person you call when you’re in trouble?
I don’t get in trouble, and honestly, there’s no one here to save me. I save myself.
23. Which fictional character do you believe is the most like yourself?
See previous post.
24. What is the craziest thing that you’ve done with someone?
Love them, without ever seeing them in person.
25. Do you like someone you’re interested in to pursue you or do you prefer to do the chasing?
A bit of both. Otherwise, it’s one-sided, yea?
26. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Come back to me.” and “Breathe.”
27. If you could marry anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
If I knew that, I wouldn’t be single.
28. Do you think confessions make a relationship stronger?
Intimacy and vulnerability? Yea. I don’t confess. I like the word, but the act of confessing implies you’re wrong.
29. Did you ever judge someone for the dark secrets they told you?
Never. Well, unless they lied to me about them and it affected my physical health.
30. What is your dream vacation and who would you take with you?
I really just want to drive along the coast for a few years. Get an Airstream. Add some cats. That would be enough. No need to take anyone.
31. What is one thing you’ve always wanted to cross off your bucket list, but haven’t yet?
32. Would you ever just quit everything and start over in a new country?
Yes. The only reason I haven’t moved to Ireland or Scotland is that I have cats that I couldn’t possibly leave that I’m unsure I could take with me.
33. Would you relocate for love?
Depends on the length of such love and where. Probably not, though. Learned that lesson a while ago. Any place I move to has to be right for me independent of that love.
34. How do you feel about staying friends with exes?
I’m fine with it and would like to have more exes as friends, but that’s not for me to decide. I am friends with most of my near misses, and I live with an ex. One is a very very very light acquaintance. Like–bygones–but not much more than that. The rest–I guess most of them are in this state of–you exist and I forgive you, but I don’t need to know you (their actions say that–which makes me question a lot of what we had…but not too much because it doesn’t matter anymore). For me–it’s you exist and I wouldn’t mind knowing you, but you take the lead. They ended things, so that’s their prerogative. I really only have hard feelings toward the Canadian, and I’ve forgiven him–but I don’t want to know him. Like ever or at all. I really have zero romantic interest or even attraction to any of them, so being friends isn’t that big of a deal to me. But that’s me. They have the right to be whatever they feel like being.
35. What’s your love language?
Quality time & acts of service. The time thing is a big deal to me. I remember talking to an ex once, and discovering he was online–chatting with people during our conversation–and it was such a slap. Like I was angry about it. I think I even called him out. I don’t really tolerate stuff like that even with friends. If you’re here with me, be with me. Otherwise, I can go do something else. Don’t waste my time with this nonsense. It’s a button. Can you tell? I dunno. I really believe in being present with people. It’s what I really need.
36. If you could choose one superpower, what would it be and why?
I’d love and hate to be invisible.
37. What is your biggest regret in life so far?
See that other entry.
38. Who is your role model?
I have no role models.
39. What was your favorite romantic moment and why?
This one might be a tie. When I met my ex-fiance, we met in a movie theatre. It was a movie on suicide bombers, and it was totally empty. He sat next to me, and I kept moving. And he kept sitting next to me. Eventually, we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet at this bookstore in downtown Denver. It was my birthday, and it was horribly hot. And I remember walking into this Barnes and Noble–the lobby–where they had these books on carts. And his face lighting up for me. He held my hand as we drove up 25 to his apartment, and when we got there, he surprised me with all these little gifts.
The other favorite romantic thing was when a guy drove pretty far just to visit me–and literally sat outside my apartment for hours, talking to me, because I wouldn’t let him in. I was a bit of a hesitant asshole. I know that sounds pretty whatever. But you had to be there.
40. What is your favorite childhood memory?
Baking with my Daddy.
41. Are you still in touch with your childhood friends?
A lot of them, yes. Some of them are my closest friends now.
42. What do you do when you’re angry?
Slam doors. Yell. If I’m really really really mad–I say nothing and get really quiet.
43. What are your beliefs on God?
I’m a Buddhist. With training wheels.
44. Do you believe in soul mates?
See previous post. 🙂
45. How long does it take you to really trust someone?
Sometimes, it’s immediate. Sometimes, it never happens.
I want to clear up a few things that happened this week–mostly because I’ve been asked about them–and I just want to be transparent about my life. Not that I owe anyone explanations or anything, but because that’s what I committed to myself to do here.
ICYMI, earlier in the week, I made a pretty huge decision about my career–the fact that I’m not going to pursue counseling/therapy and nonprofit management as a career. Mostly because I’ve been chasing those goals for quite a while, and during the chase, I kept banging into walls–kept losing my passion for it–and worse–found myself not living my life to the fullest because of that chase. It limited me in a lot of ways because I was trying to make that happen with limited resources. I felt like a hamster on a wheel. And worse than that, after really thinking about it, I realized that while I love aspects of these things–and yes–they seem perfect–like TFA–they’re not right. Why? Because I was taught to fix things, and for me, that’s a toxic need. It makes me focus on other people’s shit rather than my own. And, quite honestly, as selfless as I am and want to be, I kinda need to be a bit selfish to heal the crap that’s been in my life. It’s self-preservation–that idea that you can’t help others, truly, till you help yourself.
Years ago, I threw myself full-throttle into a similar career (teaching), and I was so convinced it was mine. Until I started doing it. While I loved parts of it and was really good at it–I felt like I was drowning every day. I realized pretty much immediately that–if I did this work–I would die. Probably literally. It was a humbling, devastating experience for me to give up on that. But I really had to–and it disappointed lots of people–which is really the worst for me. And it disappointed me. Did that mean I was a bad person? I made peace with that decision, but it took a long time, and I still sometimes question it.
The thing about what I do now is that I have this tendency to not accept things I don’t actively choose. I like to be in control. And it’s made my life much harder than it needed to be. It took me leaving my career and then coming back to it to see it for what it was. But I was right, it wasn’t exactly right–but that didn’t mean the entire path was wrong. And actually, I’m in the best place to do things that don’t rip out my heart or steal my soul–things where I can be me and not give all of myself away.
And to clarify–it doesn’t mean I’m going to to give up my goals about helping others. It just means I’m not going to bastardize it by being paid for it. It means that anything I do will be done joyfully and freely. And I’ve already found a great volunteer opportunity supporting a crisis hotline. I can do these things on my terms. That’s key for it to be healthy for me.
I can’t do everything, but this will allow me to do more things that I do love in ways that don’t burn me out. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper and far less stress. I might even get to travel again because I’m not saving every penny for tuition.
Something else happened this week, and you probably didn’t see it unless you’re a Twitter friend. Being private on Twitter has cut out a lot of BS for me, even as it has limited the experience–but honestly, the crap that comes with that experience is more toxic than the good things about that experience. I’m pretty choosy about who I let follow me on there–and who I follow back, especially. With the world being what it is, there’s a lot of noise. I’ve noticed that–while there are some good folks on the Twatter, there are also a lot more who fall into the brand versus bully dichotomy. Luckily, I don’t really know a lot of bullies. I’ve easily rid myself of them, but I have dealt with quite a few self-promoters. And, well, there isn’t much wrong with that–really–if you’re transparent about it–and really, no judgment, but I’m in a place in my life where I’m realizing I get to choose what comes into my consciousness and what doesn’t belong there.
Since I joined social networks, years ago, I came to the table with one goal in mind–honest connections. And being the people pleaser I am, I’ve often compromised on what I’ve accepted from people because I didn’t value my own needs over other people’s wants. That didn’t work out so well for me, and at varying points in my life, I’ve had to set down some boundaries. It started way back when I violently rejected Myspazz and took a lot of flack for it. I lost “friends” over it. But you know–I realized they weren’t friends. I’ve put in a lot of work with my FB to make sure it reflects what I value, and unlike most people, it’s a healthy place for me. But Twitter hasn’t been–not for a while–and I often deactivated because of it–rather than just unfollowing people.
So, this week, I did it. I unfollowed, with lots of warning–telling people who were lurkers to say hi if they wanted to stick around. Being clear about who I wanted to be in this little community of mine. Namely, saying that–if you’re here to brand yourself–fine–but interact. Don’t just respond to me because you feel obligated to–or you want me to read your stuff. I can tell when things are genuine, and when they aren’t–probably more than most people–and it just doesn’t sit well. And if there were friends who hadn’t been on, I told them to catch me later when this shit mattered to them. But I’m placing those boundaries in the sand. So, I purged–and got some tit for tat that just confirmed what I already knew. And I’ve found that I’ve been actually seeing things I value more, and I’m able to interact more meaningfully because I’m not hurt or angry all the time.
This whole thing–both of these things–seem small to some, I’m sure–but to me–they’re huge. I’ve really come to this place of not giving a shit about what others think of me–or even what I think of me (and trust–I have a bitchy inner mean girl). But I’ve done a lot of work to be healthier, and the pain of sitting in people pleasing hurts much worse than the discomfort of being me.
I’m no longer chasing things that aren’t mine. The things that are mine will show up for me without me forcing them to exist. You might call that acceptance.
So, glad I got that out–even if it took a lot longer to say what I wanted than I intended. Of course, nothing is ever a quick little aside with me. You know this.
I feel like I’m actually in a good place right now. Which is so odd to say given that–a few weeks ago–my heart was so heavy and I was actually as close to depressed as I get. Life is still life, and I’m still working on a lot of shit. But I feel solid in myself. That said, like everywhere, I feel like this place has gotten a bit heavy–which is why I’ve been trying to bring more music and more of my actual writing into this space. That will continue–though I’m not going to be too perfectionistic about how often I share.
I feel like–with all the bullshit right now–it’s really easy to get caught up in the mindset that everything is an outrage (and it probably is)–but I think that’s a bad mindset to embrace. Especially if you’re a sensitive soul like me. Such things make it easy to indulge anger and depression. It’s easy to give up. Like all things, there needs to be balance–even if it feels like betrayal. The thing is–these chaotic forces thrive on our rage and grief just as much as those things can be catalysts to counteract. There is such a thing as using beauty and humor to fight back as well. I noticed that, for me, since the election, it’s even more important for me to indulge in art and music and words. It’s more important to be in Nature and to find intimacy where I can find it. I’m prone to being a melancholy fuck, a lot of the time, but for me–so much of my healing and joy come from those outlets. And well, a lot of times, here…I indulge the melancholy too much. So, I’m going to start sharing more things here that help me–because they may help you, too. It may be frivolous discoveries. Or music. Or things I’ve written that matter to me. It may be photos or art I’ve discovered. I’ve been working with a lot of self-help tools, so maybe I’ll share those things too. And maybe I’ll share stuff I’ve learned to cope with shit through therapy. I’ve been really drawn to video stuff lately, too, so maybe I’ll vlog a bit. We’ll see. But I’m going to share things that have made a difference to me. Because we all need to dance and laugh and be stunned by the beauty of this world–especially when there is darkness and orange men in office.
Today, I’m going to indulge some Q&A because I love questions, and what better day than a Sunday for lazy meanderings. 🙂
So, of course, I read Thought Catalog. What self-respecting INFP doesn’t? And I stumbled upon this. Share your answers, if you’re so inclined. Or email me. Whatever. It’s cool.
1. What’s one thing that’s happened to you that has made you a stronger person?
Having my heart broken. Being rejected by people I loved, who I thought loved me just as much. I have always considered myself a pretty strong person, but love was the one exception–mostly because I was so committed to being vulnerable there. I have a pretty thick skin, doing the work I do and having survived the shit I have, but my relationships have been the one place where someone could really gut me. And oh, they did. They really did. Learning how to accept that rejection without holding on to anger and bitterness has been pretty transformative, though. And it’s really helped me know what I want and who I really am–and what they’re missing out on–which is quite a lot, frankly. The fact that most of them are not even in my life anymore is sad. Mostly because of whatever they’re holding on to. It’s not mine. I’m clean. Took me a long time to realize that. I’ve also realized that I really am someone who is ride or die with people, even if they hurt me or choose not to be in my life. I am still always there for them, if they choose that path, and that says a lot about my own inner strength than it does about our connection.
2. What’s one thing that’s happened to you in your life that made you feel weak?
There’s something that happens when you see your parent as weak and frail. Something that breaks inside you that makes you realize all the ways you’re weak and frail. I think, for me, that moment of seeing my mother in the hospital after her initial heart event was that moment. It gutted me and made me question my competence in everything. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been through it.
3. Where is one place you feel most like yourself?
Near water. It doesn’t even have to be an ocean or lake. A bathtub works. I’m just infinitely more calm, more at peace, more playful–more introspective. It’s a holy feeling.
4. Where is your favorite place to escape to?
This little place called Silver Thread in southern Colorado. If you’ve ever been a friend in any capacity, chances are we’ve roadtripped there.
5. Who do you think has had the largest influence on the person you are today?
Oddly enough, considering I only had him in my life for six years–my Daddy. And most of that was because of his absence.
6. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I don’t know that I would change anything, really. All of these things that I find challenging about myself got me here. All of those things allowed me to cultivate the good things–maybe the best things–about myself. I struggle most with the controlling, perfectionist side of myself, but a lot of it is just learning how to honor it. So I wouldn’t change it, but I would love to be better at managing it, so it doesn’t become malignant.
7. If you had one day left to live, what would you do first?
The silly thing is–having witnessed someone’s last day–I don’t know that I would live it any differently than any other. We try to infuse meaning and joy into these things, but really, it’s just the normal shit that means the most.
8. What decade do you feel you most belong in?
The 90s. I miss it.
9. Who are you closest to in your family? Why?
It used to be my Papa and then my Uncle Everett, who have both been gone a while now. I think the closest family member is one of my female cousins in Arizona. She reminds me of a very religious version of myself.
10. Who is the one person in this world that knows you best?
I don’t think anyone really knows me well anymore. My roommate thinks he does, but there are so many things I don’t share anymore. I have a few good friends who know versions of me, but very few know the whole story. I think that’s why I sometimes struggle with relationships. I really do want to be so well-known and understood, but that takes time and lots of work that most don’t invest in. Friendships and love interests are so fickle and fleeting these days.
11. What is your favorite quality about your best friend?
I don’t have a best friend. Feel free to show up, potential best friends. I’m not looking for you.
12. When you were younger what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
See prior blog entry. 🙂
13. If you could identify with one fictional character (from a book, show, or movie) who would it be?
I always identified a lot with Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Just for her curiosity. Hope Davis’ character in Next Stop Wonderland is maybe a closer match–but she’s a bit too quiet. (hmm…two wonderland references).
14. Do you easily accept compliments? Or do you hate compliments?
I am learning to accept them and say thank you. It’s weird because I am fascinated by what people notice about me–because it’s something I can’t really predict, usually, and tells me so much about them–but at the same time, I hate that people are noticing things about me. Makes me wonder what else they notice that I don’t want them to notice.
15. Is your favorite attribute about yourself physical or non-physical?
Ooh. I think it’s a tie.
16. What is your favorite physical attribute about yourself?
I have an expressive face. I also like that my blue eyes take people by surprise. I could do without the comments and questions about my hair. Yes–it’s all mine. Yes–it IS thick. Yes–that is my natural color. Or (when I dye it)–no–I’m not brave. It’s hair.
17. What is your favorite non-physical attribute about yourself?
Who I am when I’m “weak.” A near miss once told me I was at my most beautiful when I finally let him see how broken I was. It took a lot for me to let him, so that comment always has helped me open up to people.
18. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Sorta–yes. But not directly. Like–you can be infatuated with someone at first sight and that can beeline to love. That totally happened with my ex. First time looks ever really mattered that much to me. (And yes, it was that same ex I mentioned yesterday).
19. Do you believe in soul mates?
Not anymore. Not really. Or at least, I don’t call it that. I think there are souls out there that have work to do with us. I think they’re attached to us and are in our lives when we both need each other until we don’t need each other. They’re not like all the other souls, but I don’t think that makes them ours either. Or at least, I think my soul is a free agent.
20. How seriously do you take horoscopes?
Not too seriously, but I do read them and have felt they hit the nail on the head at times. I can’t deny that an important relationship was totally predicted by a month of horoscopes. And, generally, the portraits are true. I’m an absolute Leo. And most of the interactions I have with others line up with their signs. Though the love shit is nonsense.
21. Have you ever been in love? How many times?
Yes. A few. The thing about love is that it evolves. So, what was love for you at one time may not qualify later based on loves you had since. It’s still love, but maybe–if you met it again–you wouldn’t claim it.
22. What makes you fall in love with someone?
Oh, that’s complicated. Well, I have to be open to it, and they have to be open to it. If there are obstacles there, from the get go, it won’t happen. You might think it happened, but it’s something else.
Infatuation–that’s about chemistry. Chemistry is weird. It’s unpredictable and uncontrollable. It sneaks up on you. For me, it’s this weird giddy feeling combined with comfort where I can’t help but be myself. It may be accompanied by being enamored with their physical whatever or their superficial personality traits. But eventually, that deepens…there’s a turning point somewhere where it stops just being fun, and you start being serious about it. For me, though, that seriousness translates to a deepening of the fun but a lot of emotion attached. Love is easy to fall into. But I think even that first blush of it is also easy to lose and the real love comes with showing up every day–even when it’s hard–and not giving up on them.
23. What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
Oh, that’s everything. Vulnerability is letting my shell blow off. It’s removing all the masks and admitting to all the shit that’s embarrassing or hard or just junk. Just being every bit of the beautiful, ugly, heartbroken mess I can be. It only happens as part of a choice. It may be a specific choice or a choice of how you’re going to live. But sometimes, it’ll sneak up on you. When you are you’re most broken, you have no filters left, really, so you can be inappropriately vulnerable.
For me, vulnerability shows up when I run into familiar pain. It’s there with children and the elderly and people who show up for me. It’s there with every animal ever. I’ve really committed to being vulnerable in all situations, so I actually am easily intimate with people–which can freak them out or can make them assume our friendship/whatever is more than it is in that moment. Vulnerability is rare, so it startles people.
24. What’s one thing you’re scared to ask a man, but really want to?
Do you want me?
25. If you were a man for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do?
Fuck all the things. Seriously. It seems like their version of sex is just way more interesting, and I’d want to see how it all feels–just for the fact that I’d like to be better at understanding it so I could be a better lover.
26. What do you find most attractive about each sex?
There are certain body parts, ahem. Um–I think, beyond that–it’s all connected to strength for me. Like while I tend to go for guys who are maybe not the biggest, tallest men ever–I like guys who are strong. Who make me feel safe. Like–hey–he’s a man. Who can fix the shit I break all the time. Haha. Emotionally, ironically, the most attractive thing is when a strong guy is vulnerable.
27. What’s one thing you’d love to learn more about?
Oh, God. I want to learn about everything. Are you kidding me? I can’t choose one thing.
28. What is something you’ve never done that you’ve always wanted to do?
Get married and have a family.
29. Why haven’t you done it yet?
Haven’t met the right person. Came close a couple times.
30. If money didn’t matter, what would your dream job be?
Money doesn’t really matter. See previous blog.
31. If you had off from work today, what would you do?
I do have off. It’s Sunday. I got up WAY too early. Ate a boatload of Turtle Chex Mix (crack, y’all). Bought some aromatherapy body wash that I shouldn’t have bought (such an addict–too much shopping this weekend). Cuddled and chatted with kitties. Caught up with social. Wrote this. Plans are to feed, medicate, and water cats, clean the catbox, take a really long bath, eat leftover tacos for lunch, and Netflix into oblivion. It’s gonna be a busy week. I need to steel myself up for it.
32. What was the last thing that made you cry?
My uncle dying.
33. What was the last thing that made you laugh?
Probably Rilly trying to lift my kettle bell with his head.
34. What is your favorite memory?
I don’t know that I have one anymore. I guess the one I’m in, if it involves people I adore.
35. What’s the last thing that REALLY embarrassed you?
It’s been a while, but probably the condition of our apartment when the cleaners showed up when we moved. It was bad after all the packing and men in and out. I think I literally had PTSD triggers form from that goddamn move.
36. What is your biggest fear?
Not gonna say because part of me thinks you will it into existence if you say it out loud.
37. Do you have any regrets? What’s your biggest one?
I do. I would have said goodbye. I would have been vulnerable instead of shut down during tough times. I would have fought for things more…or let them go with more grace. Hindsight is bullshit, though.
38. Have you ever broken a law? If you haven’t what is one law you’d love to break?
Yes. Jaywalking, of course. Speeding–like REALLY speeding. Like–how stupid are you…speeding.
39. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Loved a narcissist. Haha. Oh, and jumped off a cliff.
40. Would you have a conversation with a stranger?
That’s actually my job. Do it all day.
41. Would you tell a stranger they have toilet paper hanging from their shoe? Or their dress tucked into their underwear? (Or anything else that is embarrassing to be seen in public)?
Yes–and all kinds of other things. I’ve done it all.
42. What’s your favorite joke?
I don’t have favorite jokes. I just laugh at stuff.
43. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
More cat, but I love both. I pine for a doggie friend. We can have them here, but we’ve maxed out our cat allotment.
44. If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?
One that’s not endangered or dependent on humanity to protect their habitat.
45. What’s one show, movie, or book, you’re embarrassed to admit you enjoy?
Oh, I’m not embarrassed at all. I own that shit. There’s a long list.
46. How do you think your parents would describe you as a child?
Opinionated, painfully shy, a good girl, the protector, the advocate, funny, smart as hell, driven, Mama’s shadow, Daddy’s girl, stubborn as fuck, not a morning person, a fast walker.
47. If you could go back to any age or time of your life, what age or time would it be?
Probably age four or five, just to see both of my parents again. And maybe to help that little girl prepare for what was coming.
48. What’s something you believe in that not everyone else does?
Guardian angels, holistic medicine, acupuncture, rolfing, Chinese medicine, therapy, science.
49. What’s one thing you would say that makes you unique from other people?
I am really forgiving of most things. I don’t hold grudges. I show up for people who have hurt me. I walk my talk. I’m a nice person who can be a raging asshole, though.
50. What is one thing you feel your life is missing?
I broke down and ordered Postmates because it was late, and I needed tacos to live. So, it was actually a good experience for once. Except for one thing.
I noticed, when the driver was assigned, that he looked exactly like my ex. And worse, he had my ex’s formal name. Then, the guy called to ask me where to park and for general directions. He called himself by the exact nickname my ex went by–which is common for that formal name–but still. He was Southern–thankfully–but still.
So, he gets here–he’s wearing something my ex would wear and is basically his exact height and body type. And he even does the little chuckle my ex did. Like doppelganger city.
I was grateful I had just washed my face and looked like hell with my hair on my head because I do not need more of that in my life, and CLEARLY, this is a test. CLEARLY.
Okay–fine–I flirted–but can you blame me? I was with that guy for years and it’s hard to turn off, man.
Yea–he totally liked me, too.