Here is what being a solo parent has taught me about life:

  • 20637948_1755855194454694_3782557840075500292_nDon’t feel sorry for yourself.
  • Make time for yourself because, if you don’t, you will get resentful.
  • They’re only this young and adorable for so long: savor it as much as you can.
  • Dogs are better substitute cuddling buddies than cats but cats are more fun to kiss (on the forehead people – on the forehead!!!)
  • If you listen to too many other people’s opinions about anything (e. g., parenting, relationships, love, sex, dating, career, money), you will never know what works for you (and…I guess that means you shouldn’t listen to me, either?). But if you don’t listen to anyone, you will become an arrogant prick. So find someplace in-between and go for it.
  • Get off your gadgets and talk. It is the best medicine for any/all misunderstandings.
  • If that doesn’t work, then go be alone with nature. That will heal you, too.
  • And if that still doesn’t work, then go read the newspaper and realize that the world has a lot more to deal with than you really do.
  • And if that doesn’t work, well… I don’t know but watching stand-up comedy usually helps me recalibrate my brain (before going back to parenting, or simply adulting).
  • Above all, spend enough time alone to get your priorities straight. I just sat in a car driving up and down the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California, and I learned a lot. I learned that I’ve been chasing this dream of a two-parent family for too long. I’ve learned that it’s distracted me from being a whole parent. And I’ve learned that I want to be all there for my children. Not halfway or ¾ of the way but all the way. Finding a significant other is not a waste of time but it’s a secondary deal for me now. I’d rather be there for myself and my kids first. If/when the right person comes along, ideally, they will also know how to be there for themselves first. And if/when we ever connect it will be because we enhance each other’s lives rather than fill a void. I don’t want to live in a void. Been there, done that. I’m ready to be happy just as I am.
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Loneliness vs. Aloneness

Loneliness versus Aloneness

I’ve been obsessed with remembering my childhood from the age of 7 – 10. I think it’s because I was the most content at that age. I hadn’t yet gone through puberty, that time when suddenly everyone else’s voice is louder than your own. Once that happened, my equilibrium was thrown off.

Back then, my sister and I would play with these two brothers down the street, W and K. But we only played with them if we needed an occasional diversion. It wasn’t a requirement. We also had two friends who were girls – D and F – each one (respectively) about the same age as my sister and I – and we would see them, too, but even less often. Maybe once every few months.

But somehow I was still content. Content enough with my family, my room, our animals, our house, my imagination, the grass, the clouds, time. I don’t know how I filled my time but somehow (without gadgets except Saturday morning cartoons when chores were done) I was fine.  No after school soccer practice, no constantly revolving stream of extra-curricular activities. Nope. Pretty much nothing except my imagination, a few people, and nature.

And I want that feeling back.

Of course, I can’t totally get it back. I have a house now, kids, a job, bills, but I think it’s possible to get closer to that feeling.

Loneliness is a word with a lot of shame, but the problem is if you can never admit that you’re lonely (just like if you can never admit you’re an alcoholic), it’s hard to change. So I’m admitting it. For the past – I don’t know… 25 years? – I’ve been lonely at least some of the time. Not all the time, but sometimes, and I haven’t always filled that void with the healthiest of options. And the reason I can say this is… I know I’m not the only one. Ok maybe some people have all their shit together 120% of the time, but the reality is we’re all human and that feeling happens sometimes. So what do you do with it? Eat too much? End one relationship and begin another the same day? Become a people pleasing workaholic?

Loneliness is akin to boredom. If you’re bored, you want someone to play with (whether you’re 9 or 49). But the truth is, if you’re bored then you’re probably also kinda boring. You want some new gadget or person to amuse you. Maybe it’s a new boyfriend, maybe it’s switching jobs, or the town that you live in. Sure I can get a new job, a new town, or a new spouse, but can I try out new parts of me? Can I learn Spanish? Can I go square dancing? Can I start delivery pizzas and run into my students who will look shocked when I show up at their house? Can I start talking to strangers in checkout lanes at the grocery store? Can I do a social experiment where I eavesdrop on people in Walmart not because I’m a creeper but because it’s fun to watch people when they don’t think you’re paying attention?

When I was about 25, I was living in Denver and I decided that the reason I wanted to be in a relationship was because I was “bored being alone.” I told myself: “I already know myself really well and the only way to grow as a person is to be in a relationship.” What a crock of shit. Ok, maybe you do grow as a person in a relationship, but seriously. What I’ve learned since then is that if you are going into a relationship because you’re bored, then eventually you’ll get bored again once the novelty wears off. So you might as well learn how to not get bored on your own. Boredom leads to loneliness, but curiosity about you and your world turns loneliness into contented aloneness.

 

 

 

More FB rants/raves/ramblings

Rambling-DriveHow did someone come up with the phrase…’Be the bigger person?’ Like, is it impossible for smaller people to be big- hearted, generous folk? i call that small-ism and i’m not going to stand for it. i’m going to sit down, in fact, and show my support for smallness.

Be yourself. If you’re changing yourself to suit someone else too much? You’ll know it. So don’t do it. Be yourself.

that’s it!!! i’m getting out of this house!!! no more no more no more no more looking at a screen. no more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! at least for 10 minutes.

Sometimes you have to ham it up… in order to egg people on [cue audience groan].

my life consists of doing a lot of repetitive tasks differently more and more each time. not complaining. just observing.

Don’t normally like cloudy skies that are toooo cloudy but this one is special. It feels like a literal blanket that I’m playing hide and go seek under but it feels even more like when you’re swimming in a pool and you look up at the sky through the surface of the wavy water.

cheesy moment #478924578249857409: be a leader of positivity rather than a follower of negativity.

i cannot do it all. i can’t even do part of it. in fact, the only thing i can do really really well is WHINE!. yes i’d say that is one of my best skills. letting it out. yup, that’s what i do. wooohooooo i can do something!!!!!!

i like clothes that don’t make me think so hard when i put them on.

A day of meetings. Woooohoooooo. Ok now where did I put my positive spin on things soapbox? Darn. I used it as firewood.

The world would be such an easier place to live in if we all just said ‘sorry’ more often (including myself) and stopped pretending that we weren’t little shits to each other sometimes.

Sometimes a little space and a lot of coffee is all I need. Sometimes a lot of space and a little coffee. Sometimes it’s a lot of space and a lot of coffee but it’s never little space with little coffee.

 

 

I’d rather say ‘Goodbye’ than walk away

So I was throwing up last night… yup… gross… and I realized (number one) how much I hate throwing up, but (number two) how it is highly symbolic of my life at the moment. But first let me explain why I was throwing up.

I had had enough of never being able to eat gluten (I have Celiac disease). I was smelling this amazing fresh baguette that had a slightly tangy smell to it and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I cut off three pieces and sliced some butter to put on top and ravished them.

Then, a while later, I made this weird concoction we call ‘Gloop’ in my family. It’s basically yogurt with whipped cream with blueberries and chocolate chips. I ate a little too much of that and given that I seem to have developed a growing lactose intolerance, too, within a half hour I was bloated, distended, uncomfortable, angry, and – if I moved too suddenly – nauseous. I convinced myself that throwing up was the way out of this mess so I decided that moving around more and accepting the inevitability of throwing up was the best route. And it worked.

And when it was all spewed and done, I felt better and I was relieved knowing that I had passed that milestone of stupid choices. But I also was grateful that my body felt good again and it made me appreciate my body for when it does work well.

And still, I had to think about why. How did I get into this mess in the first place? By not listening to my body. By not doing what my body has been telling me all along. No gluten. No dairy. Deal with it. I hit a wall but didn’t want to acknowledge the wall.

But also, life is about making stupid decisions sometimes. Live a little.

So I don’t know. Three steps forward. Two steps back. One step forward. Five steps back. That’s how it feels.

And inevitably it comes to this. 10 o’clock at night. I’m tired and done for the day. All of the peppy zip and optimism is gone and I am left facing a feeling of emptiness. The emptiness you feel after a good deal of throwing up. Relief mixed with pain. Bile. Lack of direction. What do you do after you throw up? There’s not much you can do, except sit still. Or what I usually like to do. Write.

I write because I don’t like walls. I write because I don’t want to live in an empty bubble anymore. I don’t want to live in an empty stomach.

I don’t get why we all live in our little empty bubbles so much. Well I do. Phones. Computers. Screens. These bubbles make you feel full, too full for awhile. But eventually you have to purge.

I’ve experienced it firsthand myself. I’ve communicated with no one except computer screens for too many hours. I’ve limited my social time to those carefully constructed moments where I stand nothing to lose. And you get into this habit to the point where – when I am confronted with a human being whom I know – I don’t know what to say. I’m tongue tied. I get exasperated at the idea of being stuck in a long conversation and not having the finesse to get out. It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that – when I spend too much time conversing with them on machines (e.g. work email, personal email, facebook, texting) – I forget the nuances of how to maneuver my way through and around them in real life. And I get it. I think that’s why the world is becoming the way it is. It’s so easy and convenient. People there at your fingertips. Gone when you want them to go. Present if you need them. Delete-able if you don’t.  But in real life, people don’t just disappear when you’re done with them. They’re still there. Conversations go on whether you have time for them or not. And you have to develop other skills like how to gracefully exit a conversation when you really don’t have time to sit down and listen while they show you their favorite song on YouTube (even though you really would stay if you had time but you only have 5 minutes to eat before you have to be at another meeting). In other words, you have to give up control. You may end up being late for that meeting – god forbid! – but at least you remained human and politely came to a close with that conversation, a short but sweet declaration of farewell.

What if we ended real, live conversations the way we ended digital ones? What if we just walked away abruptly without a ‘goodbye’ or a ‘see ya.’ Maybe it really will get to that point eventually. Maybe it will be ok to just turn your back on someone who is mid-sentence and wordlessly strut away. Maybe. Anything is possible.

But I’m still going to try to not do that. So… goodbye… for now. I don’t want to live in a bubble.

My life story: the stone, cold facts

[Disclaimer: Why do I feel compelled to archive the memories of my childhood? Is it because someday I may not remember them at all so when I’m old and doddering in a nursing home, potentially living through Alzheimer’s, maybe someday someone will read them to me, and I’ll be sane again for a moment?]
I was born in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. I was born on my sister’s birthday. All I know about my birth is that there is a picture of her holding me and she looks like she’s crying. For a long time, I thought they were tears of joy until one day I figured maybe they were tears of sadness because from then on out she had to share her birthday with me. I don’t know. I’d like to think the former. It’s probably a mix of the two.
[Sidenote: I was going to catalogue every single memory I could recall and then I realized how boring that would be so I’m trying to hit the highlights of the last 48 years. You don’t have to read on. This is an exercise in avoiding memory loss, remember? It’s nice of you to come with, if you don’t mind.]
When I was about 5, we lived in Horseshoe Bay. And I remember we had this very proper British neighbor who was always correcting my sister and I whenever we said, ‘Can I have some milk?’ She’d say, ‘I don’t know. “CAN” you?’ I also remember my sister stepping on a needle and getting rushed to the hospital although I didn’t go with her. Oopsie!
When I was about 5 we moved from Horseshoe Bay to White Rock, a small town that was more inland. It was a log cabin on an S-curve. It was an idyllic childhood in many ways. Cats, dogs, goats, chickens, a mum who stayed home (not that moms have to stay home but it’s nice when someone is home. It could be a dad. In fact, it was a dad later when I was growing up. Go figure.). We had a German shepherd named Igor who would one day bite a girl’s head because she was chasing me in the yard and he thought she was attacking me. On another occasion, Igor was forced to wear a ring of dead geese around his neck for killing the Dutch neighbor’s animals. Igor was really a nice dog. We didn’t train him to kill. It was just in his genes. We also had a Samoyed. A couple in fact. I think one of them got hit by a car? I know, it’s sad. But sometimes that is what sticks out from childhood. The trauma. There were good memories too. Sasha, the Samoyed, was beautiful. All white and fluffy. Igor was very loyal and we felt safe. Sorry but I remember the dramatic details of death and carnage first. I’ll try to remember more positive ones from now on.
We had goats. My mum used to go down and milk them and make cheese. I don’t remember liking the taste of it but I loved the idea of milking goats. And gathering eggs! I got to help carry the eggs in the house sometimes. One time my mum told me to hold on tightly to the egg as I walked with it. Well, I held on so tight I crushed the egg! Oops, sorry. More trauma. Poor egg.
My sister and I played piano growing up. We each were given lessons and when guests came over we would perform our little songs. One time, when we had guests over I remember taking a bath when my sister decided to play a trick on me. I think she knew I had forgotten we had guests over and so she told me that my grandparents from England were on the phone in the kitchen so I ran through the living room with just a towel barely around me, half naked in front of the guests. I used to cry a lot to get my sister in trouble. I’m sure I cried a lot that time. (to be continued… whether anyone is reading or not…)

Eyes out

dt_150716_eye_cornea_800x600Why can’t wildness and tenderness walk hand in hand?

Why can’t we show our wild sides to each other without scratching each other’s faces off?

You look at old married couples staring off into space as they sit together in a restaurant. Is it because they know each other so well and somewhere deep inside there is a tumult waiting to be unleashed later in bed? Or is even that blasé?

You look at younger couples kissing in stairwells and sure they have passion but will they stab each other’s eyes out after they experience their first fight?

Is there anything in between?

All I know is you need to do what you love, do it with passion and see where it takes you.

don’t settle

Don’t settle for being on the backburner of somebody else’s life.

Settle for people who:

  1. Wish you a good spring break in a text for no other ulterior motive but to wish you a good spring break.
  2. Who leave gluten free noodles on your doorstep for no reason.
  3. Who smile and give you a hug even though it’s been a year since you’ve worked with them on a play.
  4. Who tell you that you helped to get them out of a cult just by teaching them about critical thinking.
  5. Who remember memories you barely remember like how you used to laugh when they said the word, ‘sisteeeeeeer.’
  6. Who blush when they see you or get so tongue tied and nervous that they have to run away for five minutes before they get up the courage to speak to you.
  7. Who tell you each time that they see you that merely your presence makes them feel calm.
  8. Who ‘get you’ so well that when you call for no reason, they know exactly why you’re calling and name it.
  9. Who follow you home one day in their VW van because they’re a new friend who can tell that something is up and you need a good listener and then they become an old friend who doesn’t mind reading the epic long emails that you write to them about life, love, relationships and everything in between.
  10. Who glance at you from across the room and with their Harlequin romance novel smoldering gaze they set your soul ablaze.

Until then, don’t settle.

What do you care about?

I’m 48 years old now. Does it even matter? I don’t care anymore how many wrinkles are around my eyes. How thin the skin is getting on my eyelids. How thin the hair is coming out. I don’t care that my eyelashes are fading away to oblivion.

What I care about is people.

I care about the fact that I like to make people laugh. That I can help people forgive themselves when they are shitheads to themselves or each other. Not by ignoring what they’ve done but by learning from it. I care about the fact that I know how to be patient and calm most of the time and when I’m not there’s usually a pretty fucking damn good reason for it. I am proud of the fact that I can teach people how to communicate. To get out of their fucking shells and live in this world and stop hiding behind gadgets and gizmos because I know, even though there is a lot of joy to be had from all that shit, that ultimately what we all really need for happiness is connection.  Face to face, skin to skin, eyes to eyes connection. Those are the memories you’ll remember when you’re lying on your deathbed. Not the time you sat in the car and stared at your phone for an hour to kill the monotony.

I sound like a preacher most of the time. I think it’s because of all the catholic school. Sometimes I hate that. Sometimes I embrace it. Sometimes I wonder why the hell I can’t write about anything else. And then eventually I accept the fact that this is who I am right now and I jolly well should just enjoy it. I better be who I am until I am sick of it and only then will I be ready to move on and be somebody else.

random abandon

I am waiting for someone

Who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about doing things the right way

But who also knows what it means

To be there, unselfishly, for something larger than themselves.

I am waiting for someone

Who is concerned about more than money

More than fame

More than networking

More than namedropping

More than buttkissing

More than being cool

More than being anal retentive

More than being jealous

More than being controlling

More than serving themselves first.

Who prizes creativity over compliance.

Who values solitude over toxic relationships.

Who needs laughter more than dwelling.

And who craves random abandon over premeditated perfection.