Sunday, April 6, 2014

for this life.

I am so thankful for this woman, every day I am thankful for her. I'm thankful for the friend who sends me links to anything my favorite writer is doing, this friend I can text back and forth with on a Sunday night to discuss birthday cakes for our kiddos and wedding shoes and everything in between, this friend who's pulled me back from the ledge of craziness more times than I remember. I'm thankful for the man who put ear drops in my left ear just now as I squirmed around the bed like a caught fish. I'm thankful for the girl who touched my cheek while reading the Bear story for the fourth time today; it gets read before her nap and before bed. I'm thankful that when it was her turn to read it she said, "Once upon a time there was my daddy and my Rhi and my Eva. And my pink skirt." I stare at her a lot, just smiling. Or crying because it's all too much, in the most wonderful way. And I stare at Ben and I spend a lot of time saying thank you for this life.

I'm thankful I went to the gym six days in a row this week and that both days this weekend involved long walks. And sun. And "I Spy/Hear/Smell." And Sloth stopping to inspect many things which is a gentle reminder for us humans.

I'm thankful that I've stayed true to my "30 day and then some plan" to write every day (even if I don't post on my blog every day.) I'm writing; I'm flexing the muscle I too often allow to get dusty.

Because once a week, usually, hopefully, this woman posts a mini essay on her FB page I read in the middle of the produce section at the market or on the train and everything gets quiet and I remember the point of this life, my life. We are here to tell the truth about our stories; we own everything that happens to us. And nothing gets done without self-care.

Since I'm now watching "Contagion" for the second time in a row it's so painfully, clearly time for bed. Good nights, good weeks, all of us, deal?


(The following was from Anne Lamott's FB page this morning. She's the queen.)

This is the last Saturday of my fifties. The needle isn't moving to the left or to the right. I don't feel or look 60. I don't feel any age. I have a near-perfect life. However, I grew up on tennis courts and beaches in California during the sixties, where we put baby oil on our skin to deepen the tan, and we got hundreds of sunburns. So maybe that was not ideal. I drank a lot and took a lot of drugs and smoked two packs of Camels (unfiltered) a day until I was 32. I had a baby and then forgot to work out, so things did not get firmer, and higher. So again, not ideal.
My heart is not any age. It is a baby, an elder, a dog, a cat, divine.
My feet, however, frequently hurt.
My skin broke out last week. I filed a new brief with the Fairness Commission, and am waiting to hear back.
My great blessing is the capacity for radical silliness, and self-care.
I'm pretty spaced out. I don't love how often I bend in to pull out clean wet clothes from the washer, and stand up, having forgotten that I opened the dryer that's above, and smash my head on the door once again. I don't know what the solution to this is, as I refuse to start wearing a helmet indoors. I don't love that I left my engine running for an hour last week, because I came inside to get something, and then got distracted by the dogs, and didn't remember I'd left the engine on. It was a tiny bit scary when a neighbor came to the front door to mention this, and I had to feign nonchalance, and act like it was exactly what I had meant to do all along.
I backed into an expensive truck in the parking lot of Whole Foods last month. Boy, what an asshat THAT guy was. My bumper had fallen off in the mishap, and I had to tie it back on with the shoelaces from my spare running shoes. Sigh.
Wednesday, the day before I turn 60, I am having a periodontal procedure that Stalin might have devised. How festive is that? But that night, my grandson and niece will pelt me with balloons, and we will all overeat together, the most spiritual thing we can do.
Mentally, the same old character defects resurface again and again. I thought I'd be all well by now. Maybe I'm 40% better, calmer, less reactive than I used to be, but the victimized self-righteousness remains strong, and my default response to most problems is still to try and figure out who to blame; whose fault it is, and how to correct his or her behavior, so I can be more comfortable.
My friend Jim says, "I don't judge. I diagnose." That's me.
Spiritually, I have the sophistication of a bright ten year old. My motley crew and my pets are my life. They are why I believe so ferociously in God.
Politically, I am still a little tense. I love that Obama is president. I love Obamacare. My great heroes at sixty are Gloria Steinem and Molly Ivins.
Forgiveness remains a challenge, as does letting go. When people say cheerfully, "Just let go and let God," I still want to stab them in the head with a fork, like a baked potato.
This business of being a human being is infinitely more fraught than I was led to believe. When my son Sam figured out at 7 years old that he and I were not going to die at the exact same moment, he said, "If I had known that, I wouldn't have agreed to be born." That says it for me. It's hard here, and weird. The greatness of love and laughter, the pain of loss, the bearing of one another's burdens, are all mixed up, like the crazy catch-all drawer in the kitchen.
This doesn't really work for me.
If I was God's West Coast rep, I would have a more organized and predictable system.
So we do what we can. Today, I will visit a cherished friend post surgery, and goof around with her kids. I will try to help one person stay clean and sober, just for today. I will loudly celebrate my own sobriety, and also the fact that my writing has not been a total nightmare lately. I am going to go for a hike on these sore feet, and remember Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The world is charged with the grandeur of God." Charged, electrical with life's beauty and light! Wow. Then I will probably buy the new issue of People magazine to read on the couch before my nap, and a sack of the black plums at the market that seemed overpriced yesterday, but not today.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Friday, April 4, 2014

the job is merciless.

writing is your job, and this job has a night shift, and a weekend shift. it's merciless, and your boss is a tyrant. your customers are fickle, demanding. if you let them down, they will eat you alive.

i read this a few days ago.

i printed it and made notes in the margin. i read it again. i put it in my purse and forgot about it. i dug it out, all covered in bits of raisins, and read it again.

writing is your job.

it's merciless.


i'm reading this right now. it's beautiful and funny and full of rich moments like this.

for me writing is about control. or, more accurately, loss of control. maybe you are a writer, and you agree because writing for you feels more like walking on the beach or getting a massage. well, maybe you and i should never meet for coffee.

this. women like this whose words i read and smile and laugh and cry to myself, often on the train, all the while thinking, i wish i could have lunch with this woman. we could talk for days.

both of these writers are true. this job, this life i want is merciless. it will never let up. and 99.99% of the time i do not feel as though sitting down to my computer is comparable to walking on the beach.

and yet, neither of these things scare me. they don't make my choice or path any easier. they just are. and it doesn't change anything. i still go to work.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

i believe...

patty griffin and rainy days were made for each other
sometimes there is nothing better than starting the day with an empty office for an hour and a half
days we can ease into are gifts
completing two workouts before 8:30 warrants something special, like new post-its
there is nothing remotely sad about being excited by post-its
sarcasm is important
a gal can never have too many polka dot shirts
or ones with stripes


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

3:00.

around 3:00 pm most days I reach the point where I know I should stop the coffee and switch over to green tea.

some days i do and i always feel the difference. i sit at my desk and think, is this what it's like to meditate? is this what it's like to be good at yoga? this is good. i should do this again tomorrow.

the days i do it are usually better than the days i pour a third cup of coffee and contemplate a chocolate run downstairs.

but i've trained myself to stop and listen.

this is hard.

some days it's less hard.

our days can go in a dozen different directions, but i'm grateful that this one is ending with a dog burying his head in my lap because he knows how i need it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

thirty days in a row of writing. day 1. why do we close our eyes?

at church this past weekend i had a moment with eva i'll put away in the forever file.

we'd just come back from receiving communion and were kneeling to pray when she asked, why do we close our eyes?

so we can get quiet and talk to jesus. when i close my eyes it helps me be quiet in my heart so i can talk to him and say thank you.

say thank you?

yes, for all of my blessings, like the little bear in your book. 

it was such a lovely, innocent moment i want to remember forever. and her question made me think of the other big times i've closed my eyes. one of the biggest was nearly eight years ago when i studied in florence and cried on the terrace of our sixth floor walk-up.

i cried because i was homesick and heartsick and scared of everything. i sat on white plastic lawn chairs and prayed, please let me let this place change me.

over and over and over i cried these words.

and then i started to whisper them.

and then i sang them. because i learned to do it.

i got quiet.

Monday, March 17, 2014

when i can't write.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”*

-Anna Quindlen

i go through phases where i can't write. 

physically can't. mentally can't. there's always enough in my head; that is such an understatement. 

i can be emotionally full and yet. 

yet nothing comes out. this blockage, the more i push, the thicker and heavier the wall starts to feel. 

i have to repeatedly remind myself to leave the heavy things to themselves. i often forget this.

and sometimes i find myself on a 5:10 train out of the city on a thursday with a brain that won't turn off. so i take out my neon pink and green college-ruled notebook and make a list: what happens when i can't write.

and i remember the words start where you are.

get pissy
cry
swear
think of random ideas i will then email to myself/begin to write about/get frustrated over/get sidetracked and forget about
feel jealous of the writing ben does/feel proud of him/feel bitter and jealous again
go back to anne. always anne. "you sit your butt in the chair and you force yourself. you just do it."
think about the night in november when i met her and lost any semblance of "cool" and cried my head off
remind myself that perfectionism is poisonous bullshit
get pissy again
drink coffee
wise-up and drink tea
write some
cut even more
hear the words, "comparison is the thief of joy" drift through my head. 
say a prayer of gratitude to the universe for moments like these: signs, gifts, nudges, prayers
make lists
organize my lists
organize eva's clothes
clean the pantry
go through notes from months ago
say "mm hmm" and "wtf" in equal measure
walk
cry
catch up on "the pioneer woman" and lifetime movies i've seen five times 
laundry-lots of laundry

and i stop and look out the window on that train and pray. i remind myself that everything is prayer. moments of desperation and moments of joy. the desperate prayers, the "help me, please. i don't know what to do. please help. please, please, please help me." are heavy and ugly. the prayers of gratitude are always lighter. joy is always lighter. and it feels good. so many times we forget what this feels like, especially when it's been awhile, after a really good workout, after a walk, after Church, after a hot bath, a lovely dinner, we have to hold on to it. 

we have to fight for happiness. because it's a choice.

i was put on this earth to write. this is my purpose. i know this. and yet. 

yet the days, weeks when it feels like i never learned how to do it/forgot everything i've learned/forgot why i do this with my life/don't feel good enough to do this, those days add up. especially when there is too much on my plate. 

those days add up when i'm cruel to myself. being kind to myself gets me a lot further than the opposite.

start where you are. but, and this is a big but: do not stay there. 

have faith that the blockage will pass and you'll find your way again. 

*i love this quote, absolutely love it. and then i forget about it for three months. and then i come back to it. like life.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

things i've wanted to write about.

i'm not a writer if i'm not writing.

i had this thought about two hours ago, wide awake in bed. after i let out the dog and stopped pinning recipes on pinterest, and making moves in words with friends, i gave in. no good comes from being wide awake at 4:00 in the morning. except that i was able to hear eva stirring.

as most things do for me, i'll start back with a list, a not fully-organized list because i've been up since 3:15. my apologies.

how badly the long weeks without eva hurt. and after a year and a half they haven't gotten easier. how i don't expect them to. how i keep her bedroom door closed on those days, and only open it to put away laundry. it helps if the door stays closed.

hearing this song at a bar thursday night and having it stop me in my tracks and immediately asked the bartender who it was. how i left the bar and went to get my nails done and the kindness of the woman in the shop overwhelmed me. she gave me a tissue to wipe the rain off my face. and she wiped the rain from my purse. two small things that were exactly what i needed. and how it stopped raining once i left, and the way it felt to be back in the north side of the city for a few hours. and how the smell after a storm is one of the best things in the world.

reading this article and in the biggest understatement of the century knowing i need to up my game. how the fact that ms. morrison was a single mother of two boys would wake at 4:00 am every morning to write before work and my first thought was, what in the hell is my excuse? and then i remember that it makes a difference when we're kind to ourselves so i got off the criticism train and boarded the self-love one.

scary how easy it is to forget to be kind to ourselves.

how one awful day at work was followed by a really good one. on a friday. and how grateful i am for it, and how needed it was.

the grown woman on the train tuesday morning who called another woman a fatass. and how ugly it was.

how obsessed i am with true detective. truly and completely obsessed, watching as many behind-the-scenes clips i can get my hands on, reading articles and interviews, and sitting on an episode for a week, letting it marinate in my brain, counting the days until sunday night. it's smart and sharp and matthew mcconaughey is incredible. and should and will win every award.

i'm not a writer if i'm not writing.

it was 4:00. so i got up to write. pen, "paper," prayer. and a little pioneer woman. because she's the best.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Engaged!

Ben gave me the best birthday gift by asking me to marry him. I am over-the-moon excited about being this guy's wife. And I'm so thankful for all the love we've been shown. We're so blessed. (Super late with this post. Thanks, holiday frenzy!)



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

loving feelings.

people will try to silence you everyday in small, quiet ways. 

i wrote this on my birthday last year. the world does this to us a lot, but i believe we do it to ourselves far more often. sometimes we don't know how to speak up, so we find a way to fill that need. or silence it. 

2013 has been an incredible year, but for someone who does not thrive on change aka someone who has a whole lot of fear surrounding change, 2013 was a doozey. i finished graduate school, left a job i'd had for two and a half years, then moved to another state. to live with a man and his daughter. i walked away from so many things that no longer served me. i went through dozens of recruiters and job interviews, most of them crap. i found one job, which, for several reasons did not work. i then found a great one, a job i like more and more each day. i get to work with kind and smart women and i fully believe we are the company we keep. and I rounded out the year by turning 29 and getting engaged. hello, big things!

the "funny" part is i want to change. i want to grow and be better and learn more and become who i'm supposed to be. and yet... all of these things terrify me. 

this is a massive amount of change and even when the majority of it is big and good where there's change there is sure to be stress. and when we feel so stretched and exhausted we find ourselves on christmas morning swearing in the kitchen because you forgot the parmesan cheese for the lasagna and the only way to feel better is by doing three loads of laundry and cleaning the bathroom and reorganizing the pantry it's time to stop. a lack of parmesan is not a tragedy. (and in a pinch chihuahua works just fine.)

moments like these are signs to stop, reminders that this is not the hardest thing we will ever go through. but one of the hardest things to do, no matter the circumstances is show myself patience. and kindness. 

loving ourselves is an inside job. it doesn't matter how many books we read, or programs we enroll in. i did weight watchers for about six months several years ago. i hated every second of it. 

therapy helped. one of the biggest things i took away from working with jim was when he said, food is not the problem. your emotions are the problem. (for those new to the blog here's a good starting point. here and here too.) when stress piles up so do the bad choices. i hit the gym less and the chocolate dish more. but i know myself well enough to know why i do the things i do. thank you, therapy. but when we know ourselves, and there is magic and a hell of a lot of hard work to this, this is when true change happens.

if you want to have loving feelings, do loving things.
-anne lamott

walk more. as much as possible. take the long way-to the bathroom or the train. 
slow down
drink more water (so many problems are solved by having a glass of water. truly. the slowing down thing is a huge part of it.)
nap more
stay off the goddamned scale
get out of your head 
cook more (relaxing beyond belief)
put lavender in your bedroom and bathroom
get the spicy sushi for lunch. laugh at the fact that it makes you sweat ever-so-slightly
watch more episodes of the pioneer woman on saturday mornings when the world is still quiet
walk through macy's on your break just to hear the jazz
forgive
forgive
forgive

i know i'm a better person when i do these things, when i am kind to myself. so "simple," but so frigging hard. but i'm a happier, healthier person when i do them. and i vow to forgive myself when i forget.

how do we get there? left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe. 

to a new year and a clean slate, cheers. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

29.

at this time last year i made a "what i know at 28" list. i like the idea of reflecting, on one day at a time, but also the passing of a year. a whole year, one in which we sometimes move in with a man and his two year-old daughter. and finish graduate school. and see babies be born and loved ones leave far too soon. and go through three jobs. and finally find a really great one. and i like to write about birthdays. i love birthdays; i always have. and i particularly love having one so close to christmas. there is magic at christmas. period.

at 3:05 this afternoon i turn 29, which begs the questions, when in the hell did this happen? where did my twenties go? for one thing i would say the #8 bus where i spent an ungodly amount of time during graduate school.

it feels so good to write again. i've been scribbling for weeks in my notebook on the train and my lunch. and naturally i'm back with a list.

what i have learned this past year, on the eve of turning 29...

everything is a form of prayer. i feel this when i walk, when i talk with ben late at night as we're falling asleep and again when we wait for eva to wake up. i feel it when we put eva to bed and she rubs my hair and talks about everything under the sun and wants stories and songs and to talk about how sloth really needs to go outside. crying is prayer. it's release. these things fill us up which is good because so many others leave us feeling depleted.

some of the best conversations/nights have started with, i'm scared. or hi.

it is really fucking hard to be vulnerable. brene brown is helping me with this.

it is really fucking hard to forgive. period.

rumi. always.

should is a dangerous and useless word.

when you meet the author who has changed your life you will cry. you will shake when you hand her the letter you wrote. you will take the four pages of notes you wrote while she spoke at a church in boystown and you will DO SOMETHING WITH ALL OF IT.

silence is severely underrated. we fear it because silence is scary and the instinct is to fill it. i beg you, learn to sit with yourself. again, this is hard. it gets easier. i promise.

trite but true, when you know you know. about love, jobs, health, that movie on netflix, etc... the trouble happens when we don't listen.

green tea is severely underrated. i take one sip and it's like i've been through an hour of yoga. minus the swearing.

loving eva has helped me learn to love myself again. i forgot for a little while. and then i remembered that it is something i need to be doing for myself; i remembered, but deliberately chose to do the opposite. because that felt natural and familiar to me. but those thoughts and actions are poison.

sometimes the ends of things feel like deaths. other times they feel like you're coming to life again. when you know you know.

29 will be a beautiful year. because i want it to be and wanting is half the battle. it's the first step, but the biggest. it will be the year i throw away all, but one!, of my nude lipsticks and wear bright pink. or red. red! it will be the year i bake and cook more because these are two of the best things i do for myself: taking the time to take care of myself. it will be the year of more dancing and writing and singing. it will be the year i find myself again, in every possible way. because i went away for a bit these past few, or seven months. and i'm slowly, ever so slowly, finding my way back.

to 29. cheers.

p.s. to the people who politely, consistently, lovingly asked when i'd write on here again, thank you for the push.

xo,
rhiannon