Tag Archives: life

Just Enjoy the Walk

My mom’s dog Chauncey is allergic to bees.

We didn’t know this until he got stung for the first time a few years ago, which unfortunately, was when I was taking him out for a walk. His little 13-lb body swelled up within minutes to the point that he looked like a hideous, wrinkly, bloated caricature of himself and he started having trouble breathing.

I swooped him up and ran the half mile back to my mom’s house. She wasn’t home–which is why I was walking him–and so I threw him in my car and literally sped the 10 minutes to the vet with him cowering and shaking on my lap the hole time. Long story short, he was eventually okay after the vet gave him an emergency shot and sent me home with drugs and an epi-pen for future accidents.

But for the first few months after that, he wanted nothing to do with me taking him for a walk, and any fly that even came within feet of his head made him crazy. Understandably, he was scared it would happen again.

Eventually he got over it and I could walk him again, and while he still is extra alert with bugs, he’s pretty much back to normal. He loves going for walks.

For me, even though I know we have his emergency kit and I take my phone just in case, I’m still scared every time that I walk him.

I still remember that day.

In fact, I still remember “that” day in the sense that I remember all of those days. I remember traumatic things that happened 15 years ago, being stuck in the blackout for three days while living in the heart of Detroit, getting sick and being in the hospital, the day that I lost my job, the stress of this last big “basement filled with water and expensive repairs and cleaning,” experience, etc.

Of course you never forget those things, but with me it’s always been different.

Every time we get a storm, I get neurotic about losing power (and now about my basement flooding again.) Every time I start to slip down, I worry that I’ll end up in the hospital again. Now that I have a job that I love and adore, I’m paranoid it might get taken away.

Nobody puts this stress on me but me, but in a sense I’m always afraid to get stung, afraid to have it all happen again.

This is good in the sense that it makes me prepared. This is bad in the sense that it can also makes my OCD ramp up and I physically wear myself down to try and gain some control, but also suspicious of all the good things, wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.

OK. Now I’m rambling.

But my point–I think–is that sometimes bad things happen because you made a bad decision or sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes good things happen because you work hard or maybe you just caught a break. When either of those things happen, you have to learn to just accept it.

joan

Shit happens. Sunshine happens.

I don’t know what that means but I’m just trying to say that you’ll never forget “those days.” Whether you were seriously ill, lost a job or a loved one, or suffered any type of trauma–you know you’ll never forget. It changes you, but it’s up to you to decide that direction of change.

As for me, through all the stuff that’s happened, I didn’t believe people who told me that things would get better. I wanted to, but when you’re in the middle of whatever that thing is, everything seems so far away.

Now that I’m kind of working on getting to that other side, I realize that they were right (have to insert “knock on wood” because, well, see above.)

Things might now work out exactly as you want them to–or when, but then again, maybe they’ll work out even better than you planned at a time they needed to happen. Whatever it is, you’ll get through it. And when you do and come to unfamilar place of “happy” or maybe “content”, don’t waste time wondering why.

In other words, don’t shit on your sunshine or shine the light on the shit or something kind of like that. Maybe a bit more eloquently, don’t be scared that you’ll get stung again.

Instead, enjoy the walk.

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Fear, Freedom and a Fight Club Quote

I have a funny post to share with you, but that will have to wait a couple more days. If you follow my Facebook page, you know I did that annoying vague status update thing about something rather life-altering happening Friday, and not in a good way, and that I might need a little time to regroup my funny.

QUOTE

While I never do things like that, for once I needed support and you guys came out in such a way that I was actually emotionally touched, which rarely happens. And even though I owe you a “thanks” and not an explanation, you’re getting both instead. Plus, writing is my therapy.

*Here’s where you can click away if you don’t want to read a ramble and instead come back next time for normal neurosis (waits for the room to clear.)

Okay. Let me start with a little story…go grab a drink.

I don’t talk about it a lot, but when I was much younger I was in a relationship with an older guy for more than five years. He wasn’t a bad guy, but it was a very bad relationship for me that left me feeling trapped and has contributed to many of the issues I still have today. At a time in my life when that should have been carefree and fun, I was miserable.

I cried myself to sleep way too often.

So why did I stay in a situation that I knew was wrong, that was making me sick and unhappy? Because at the time, I was naïve and craved that stability and safety. Even if it wasn’t ideal, it was something that I could depend on. I would finish college, get married, have financial stability and the “normal” that we’re told we need to achieve.

When we finally broke up, I was devastated. I mean, I was “cry your eyes out the world is going to end” devastated but not for the obvious reasons. It wasn’t that I was going to necessarily miss him as a person, but rather that the stable future I thought I could depend on was gone.

I panicked. I cried. I did the normal 20-year-old freaking out thing.

But you know what happened? In less than a week, I woke up and everything was fine. In fact, it was awesome. For the first time I had the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. I got a job as a cocktail waitress and had the best summer of my life, making new friends and doing things that made me happy—for me. It took losing who I thought I had to become to finally learn who I was—as much as you can know at age 21.

What does that have to do with me now?

Friday I lost my job.

I’m still a little in shock and I’m sure it hasn’t completely sunk in yet, but the enormity of the situation is obvious. My benefits run out at the end of the month and I have to apply for unemployment all while trying to pay my mortgage, bills, etc. all on my own. That’s huge. Enter panic and “oh my god the world is going to end” initial reaction.

But while you don’t need to know the details, I will tell you that the situation was not healthy and in fact bordered on abusive on several occasions.

And I know I was damn good at my job. Hell, two months before I was told I was great and my job was mine as long as I wanted it, which is why this was a surprise (but not unheard of, seeing as they’re a small company and more than 20 people had come in and out of that office in six years.)

But more than external praise, I know how hard I worked and I’m proud of the quality that I produced, the effort that I gave and the way that I conducted myself, despite an unhealthy situation. So while right now I’m trying to decide how to decorate the cardboard box I might end up living in, there’s also a small sense of…unfamiliar relief?

Although it’s still raw, there’s a sense that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and that maybe this is just what I needed to find something that is healthier for me—physically and mentally. Maybe this will allow me to actually do something that means something to someone other than the only person making the profit.

Because much like that relationship mentioned above, I felt stuck in this job, but yet I never left because I didn’t know what else I could do even though what I was doing wasn’t making me unhappy.

So I’m taking this as a sign.

If I wasn’t going to  seek out the respect and fulfillment I deserve, the universe decided it would step in instead and throw a high-speed curve ball at my head. Now I have no choice.

That’s not to say I’m not scared, that I won’t miss my coworkers or that things are going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. Right now there’s a little bit of fear. There’s a little bit of panic. There’s this whole long ramble nobody probably read. But there’s also no walking on eggshells. There’s no sitting at a desk and counting down the seconds on the clock. 

With my security stripped, there’s also an unfamiliar freedom.

Maybe it will take losing who I thought I had to become to finally learn who I am—as much as you can know at age 33.

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P.S. Thank you. I promise funny next time, but today–thank you. 

It’s (not) Complicated

Long story short: People complicate things.

Long story long: I’m using my cat as a reference even though I’m not particularly thrilled about owning a cat.

The disclaimer is that Monie is basically the sweetest feline on the planet, and with the exception of shedding, somehow whizzing on the top of her covered litter box—parents potty training little boys, I feel your pain—and attempting to eat my fake trees, she basically does nothing wrong.

It’s not her. It’s me.

She’s so damn hairy and clingy and happy all the time. I don’t do clingy or hairy, and I’m much more Grumpy Cat than a purring Pollyanna. 

Wee! I’m fat and chasing a feather!

She just wanders around the house making little Gremlin sounds that are either of delight or a coded message of impending world domination, and no matter what happens she’s simply a peach.

My point isn’t to highlight the fact that my cat is entirely more mentally stable than I am—the fake tree she tries to eat would fall into that category most days—but rather to highlight how animals get those things right that humans continue to complicate.

They don’t have to work, pay bills or bathe on a regular basis—which could describe some humans I know—but as far as we can surmise, they live in the moment of “now.” They feel what they feel, they let you know and then move on to whatever is next.

Life is so simple for them.

Yes, let’s sleep on a shelf instead of your cat bed.

I was thinking about this the other day as I lint rolled the cat directly, my latest attempt at being proactive. As humans, we’re bombarded by vision boards, motivational posters and the reminder to manifest a constant state of motion in attempts to achieve more, do more, be more!

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but from what to eat, what to wear and what to say, things that should be simple are now simply analyzed to death. Just trying to keep up with the next greatest “thing” takes away the time that someone could be actually creating the next greatest “thing” for themselves.

As a result, people today are so scared of missing out on something that they say yes to everything and then marvel at how they have no time to do anything.

See how we complicate things?

I’m included, of course, as I continue to be the stereotypical artist searching for  my Three Things. With each dead end I want someone to tell me how to do ALL the things so I can have ALL the happy emotions.

But much like me waking up to find I’ve suddenly grown boobs, that’s not going to happen. I can either obsess over it or I can be okay with where I am with the understanding that it’s not where I have to be forever.

Does this ease the frustration?

No, not really. But maybe I need to take a note from the cat. Eat and enjoy food. Play. Laze around in the sunlight. Don’t feel guilty. Be curious and not cynical. Forgive someone if they accidentally lock you in the sun porch for an hour or so.

Remember that yes, things can get hairy. But at the end of the day, wherever you are is okay.

moniebag

Even if it’s on my reusable grocery bag, which coincidently, now lives there in my kitchen for her to plop on while I use another one I purchased to replace that one instead.

At least she’s not on the couch. 

You learn to pick your battles.

Lesson learned.

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Live and Learn

Not to stereotype, but the Internet is full of people who proclaim to be experts on everything from parenting and cooking to pictures of animals wearing clothes (thank god for that last group though, right?)

I am no expert on anything other than how not to do various activities, but I have still learned a few things in my 31 years. So while I don’t always follow my own advice—or remember everything that I say—I’m sharing a few things below.

And if you make it through my list, I demand—demand, I say!—that you add a couple things you “know” in the comments as well. Why? If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you people are funnier, smarter and saner than me.

That’s one thing I’ll never forget.

Life Lessons—So Far

  1. The universe owes you nothing. You owe it to yourself to make things work.
  2. You can get through anything if don’t look too far past today.
  3. Righty tighty, lefty loosey.
  4. You don’t have to win—or participate in—every argument.
  5. It’s far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without you having to tell them.
  6. There are those who dust and then vacuum and those who vacuum and then dust. The latter group is wrong, by the way.
  7. Work is work. Most people don’t love their job, but most people also need money.
  8. Time spent doing what you like is never time wasted.
  9. Hurt people hurt people. Often those who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.
  10. The best way to make yourself feel better about having to wait in a long line is to look at the people behind you.
  11. Teeth are jewels, not tools.
  12. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  13. You learn by doing, even—or especially—if that means doing something wrong.
  14. For every action, there is an equal and opposite overreaction.
  15. There is no baseline for normal. Once you realize this, it takes the pressure off.
  16. What you do every day is more important than what you do once in a while.
  17. Share.
  18. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  19. Non-stick pans and self-cleaning ovens? Lies, nothing but lies.
  20. Everyone has a story. Not everyone has plans and not excuses.
  21. A writer writes. A painter paints. Action trumps intention.
  22. The best sign of a healthy relationship is that there’s no sign of it on Facebook.
  23. People think their way out of doing everything that’s worth doing in life.
  24. Read. Books.
  25. Sometimes life does give you more than you can handle. Never be ashamed to ask for help.
  26. Don’t pull the tail of a goat or scratch the top of a buffalo’s head.
  27. Envy is a waste of time. Be better, not bitter.
  28. If you have more than one junk drawer, you have too much junk.
  29. Take your time.
  30. Everything can change in the blink of an eye.
  31. If a car is held together with masking tape and plastic wrap, always let them merge. They obviously have nothing to lose.
  32. Drop the ego. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  33. No. 32 is really hard.
  34. Busyness does not equate with productivity.
  35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  36. People rarely RSVP to pity parties.
  37. Thinking, “Could I make a bigger mess?” is basically just issuing a challenge to yourself.
  38. No matter how lonely you might feel, there is always someone who can relate to you.
  39. Never judge a book by its movie.
  40. If you mean it, say “I love you.” Say it often.
  41. You can—and will—always be humbled by something or someone. This is a good thing.
  42. Overprepare and then go with the flow.
  43. When in doubt, just take the next small step—even if you’re clumsy.
  44. Old people are wise beyond our years.
  45. Sundays are for washing floors and clothes, not for washing hair.
  46. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  47. “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” –Buddha
  48. I hate ending things on an odd number, so this is the last one is basically filler.

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P.S. I have been nominated as one of the Top 25 Humor Blogs over at SkinnyScoop. While I’m not sure what that means, I would be most appreciative if you could to click over, scroll down to my blog icon (the second one under When Pigs Fly) and click “like.”

But don’t do that before you add your own Life Lessons here.

Remember No. 17.

It’s Not the End of the World

Along with the inevitable “Top 10” lists that come out this time of year, we’re also being inundated with talk of the Mayans and the end of the world.

“What would you do if it were your last day? How would you spend your time and what would you say/eat/wear/post to your soon-to-be-doomed Facebook page? For the love of broccoli, live each day as if it were your last!”

I don’t live each day as if it were my last simply because it’s impractical. If everyone subscribed to that suggestion we would have no custodians, waitresses or accountants and only millions of actors and musicians traveling the world or co-writing a column with Tina Fey from their couch (okay, that last one is me.)

But that’s the practical, concrete “big picture,” and that’s not the point of this post. The point is that watching the news or reading online makes it painfully clear that everyone—young and old—is mortal. Regardless of our differences, this is something we all have in common. It’s a challenge we all face together.

Another challenge is admitting that fact, or more accurately, any weakness to those that we know.

I’m convinced that most people think “the other person” has figured out the world before they have. That person won life, so that means we’ve lost. We don’t have it all figured out yet and good lord! We’re at an age when we SHOULD have it all figured out, we SHOULD know what makes us happy and exactly how to get to—and more importantly—stay in that place.

I call bullshit.

I call bullshit on the whole thing, as the world is too freaking confusing for anyone to have it all figured out, whatever that even means. We live in an age when people hide behind computer screens or emotional barriers and carefully plan their communication with other people, something that makes truly honest moments few and far between.

And for some reason there’s a societal stigma attached to feeling lost or confused, to letting yourself be seen as vulnerable or admitting that no, you actually don’t know what the hell you’re doing — even though most people likely feel the same way.

Well, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing other than living life day to day.

I’m technically a mess.

I’m open, I’m raw, I say how I feel and often feel stupid about a lot of the things that I do or don’t do. I question myself and my decisions a lot of the time. And those questions I have yet to find answers to? I obsess over that all too often. I’m human and I’m flawed, but long ago I made the decision to not feel ashamed of that fact.

And when I see people who have sort of an effortless peace to their lives, who are comfortable with wherever they’re at even if they don’t have it “all figured out,” I know that that’s something I want—not to “figure it all out,” but to be okay with wherever I am.

So to do that, I ask myself this—not just before the planned end of the world, but on days when I’m feeling like crap:

  • Who and what do I want to surround myself with? Is it healthy or simply a habit?
  • If something is ticking me off, do I want to make a change or make a point, be right or be content?
  • Why do I feel insecure? What’s really important to me?
  • How will obsessing on things in the past help me feel more at peace with things now?

I try every day to find peace and accept there are bumps—sometimes massive, frustrating speed bumps—in the road, in everyone’s road, truth be told.

But you know what? That’s just life.

And it’s not the end of the world.

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Just Keep Nodding

I use humor as an escape 90 percent of the time, so I promise to keep up with the snark when I can. However, I was overwhelmed by the response/support from this post and and want to keep myself accountable.

But truth be told—as it should be, unless I ask you to pretend I don’t look like a homeless person, in which case I need you to lie—I hesitate to publish these serious things. Does  anyone care other than me?

I have no idea. However, I need to get past worrying about that, so you’ll be getting more of these posts once in awhile. I’ll need you to pretend that’s okay.

Keep nodding your heads. Let’s move on.


I’ve made it my mission to read out of my meditation book for a minimum of 15 minutes each day and write at least one or two lines—sometimes quite a bit more—about the things that I’ve read and how I can apply them to now.

Well, life keeps throwing shit snowballs—things I never discuss on this blog—and this “mindful” mission feels more like a mindfu#* at times. I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to truly be balanced and live my authentic life, I have two choices:

  1. Move to a remote island (with Internet access and a full vegan chef) to practice yoga and meditation with Buddhist monks and hot retired Canadian hockey players or
  2. Become a hermit and tell the universe to go screw itself.

Okay. Maybe there’s a third option.

I can’t afford the airfare to the island or live off the few green beans left in my garden, so I’m left trying to deal with real life in a way that isn’t quite so self-destructive — something that has been my default for the past decade in some way, shape or form.

I’m still struggling with the fact that even though I can let go of what doesn’t serve me, accept what’s out of my control and try to mindfully move through the occasional muck, that doesn’t change the fact that these things still go on.

Being “mindful” simply means I’m paying attention, and sometimes that feels worse than ignoring said frustrations and/or literally running myself into the ground.

So, second conclusion: it’s more than just “paying attention.”

We’re not meant to be so reactive, always anxiously on the edge of our seats waiting to see how we can control the outcome of whatever it is we feel is out of control. We’re meant to trust that some how, some way the universe will provide what we need.

Yes, that sounds like a load of shit. I’m fully aware of that. I’m also fully aware that I’m no longer comfortable with the rationalizations and compromises I’ve been making with things. “This” happened, so I feel like I deserve to do “this” or complain about “that.” We all have our own examples.

How has that been working out? Exactly.

So I have to believe that one right action—even if uncomfortable—can have a positive reaction and that a series of interconnected “right” actions can cause things to change. Eventually doing the work and getting through that discomfort will feel better than always avoiding the pain that inevitably returns at some point.

And that’s really the point, isn’t it? Life isn’t about dancing with the unicorns and frolicking with the butterflies, but rather opening your umbrella for shit storms with awareness and a sense of inner peace (why is that never printed on a motivational poster?)

I suppose it’s because good ol’ Buddha makes more sense with, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” He was a bit more eloquent with his words, but tomato to-mah-to.

The point is that each day we try.

Keep nodding your heads. Let’s move on.

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Hitting the Target

I was in Target the other afternoon for one thing, meaning the second I walked in I suddenly felt like I needed to buy ALL the things.

As I was walking down an aisle silently praising myself for not grabbing a shopping basket—if I only grab what I can carry, it cuts down on the damages—I saw a little girl with sun-bleached blonde hair and a deep summer tan by the toys.

She looked to be about four or five, but then again I’m a horrible judge of age when it comes to kids. She could be 12 with a criminal record for all I know, but she was little.

Anyway, a second later a boy who looked to be her slightly older, tanned blonde brother came and told her that their mom was waiting. She put down the toy and flip-flopped her way through the store.

I ran into the kids again a few minutes later with a woman who was unmistakably their mother. An older daughter and a baby added to the mix, all of them chatting and shopping — mom telling the boy that they had chips at home and the baby babbling happily from her perch in the cart.

For some weird reason I couldn’t stop looking, which wasn’t hard to do considering they ended up being those people that I kept running into every single aisle.

But I was struck.

This will sound weird coming from me, but the beauty of that seemingly average family scene really touched me in some way. Maybe it was the tans and identical blonde hair or the fact that the mom seemed like one of those moms that the neighborhood kids would all like. Maybe it was the way the kids seemed so fun or the fact that they were well-behaved.

I don’t know what it was, but something just drew me back in. So the next time that our paths crossed and we did that polite, “Yes, we’ve just run into each other again and I’ll give that fake smile once more” thing, I let her know.

“I’m not a weirdo or anything,” I said as we passed once again, which is always a good way to start. “But you have a beautiful family—and they’re all so polite, as well!”

With the baby moved to her hip, she looked stunned, as if I’d just told her the little blonde midget walking through all the toys did have a criminal record.

“Oh my gosh,” she said as she smiled a bit shyly. “You don’t know just how much that means. We have our moments, but yes, we truly are blessed. Thank you so much for that. Really, thank you.”

At that the baby began shrieking, the mom made a joke about how we had cursed things and we went our separate ways, the older kids politely not making any comments about the crazy lady with her arms full of ALL THE THINGS who refused to just grab a cart.

But along with unnecessary items, I also had a strong sense of peace. I know I will never walk into Target as a mom, and will probably never walk in as a wife. Those are experiences that will elude me, experiences I’ll never have, but those are the choices I make.

And while I have not one iota of doubt, regret or envy, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the beauty of what I don’t want or extend my admiration for those who chose paths that I’ll never walk down.

My path is mine. Her path is hers.

And that is a beautiful thing.

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