Friday, May 27, 2011

On growing older

Yesterday I turned 30.

Now I know for some people growing older is a frightening and difficult process.
When we are young each new birthday is a fun and exciting thing that we look forward to with great glee. Then something happens. You hit your milestone 21st birthday and suddenly somehow birthdays seem less exciting. I mean you aren't going to get any more cool new features like you did at 16, 18, or 21. Now all you are doing is getting old. Then as you approach 30 suddenly not only are your birthdays not cool they are frightening. People start to dread them, and freak out over the number that is approaching.

I am not one of these people.

Now granted I don't run around like an 8 year old, full of excitement and anticipation for my birthday, but I also do not fear my birthday. I am not afraid of getting older. I do not think of myself as old now that I am 30. I mean really it is two days since I was 29, I didn't magically become old in two days. Please.

I do typically dislike my birthdays on the simple knowledge that my birthdays rarely turn out well. I have a long history of really bad birthdays. I had a Sixteen Candles birthday...twice. That is right, my 17th and 18th birthday got all but forgotten because my brother graduated high school and then I graduated. I have spent a number of birthdays violently ill (13 was a good example of that. That one also had the birthday party no one came to because another friend whos birthday was a week after mine scheduled her party on the same day and everyone chose her party over mine. Cow.) I cry on my birthday very often (21 was a big crying birthday for me. Hysterics. And not the happy kind).

All in all I would say roughly half of my birthdays were pretty miserable.
I am happy to report that my 30th birthday was absolutely lovely. I had an abundance of 'me' time.
I spent the day mostly alone. I leisurely shopped for clothes and shoes, I had lunch with a girlfriend, I got my first ever pedicure, I lobbed off all of my hair, and then I finished the day with a semi surprise dinner with my friends. It was lovely.

So as I was saying I do not fear my birthday. Being 30 doesn't freak me out, or make me think about my own mortality, or anything else like that. I am certain I will enjoy my 30's as much, if not more than my 20's. Life only gets better as you move on. I am excited to see what this decade will bring me.

I am looking forward to this decade as a decade of changes. A decade without (or with less) fear.
I started off boldly by chopping my hair to a length it has not been since I was in 4th grade. This is a thing I would normally fear. This is a thing I would normally approach with trepidation. Yesterday though I faced it with a smile. It is only hair. It will grow back. Why worry. It will either look fabulous, or I can rock some head scarves for the next four months while it grows out.

And it is fabulous!
Risk paid off. I know it won't always pay off, but when it does it is good.

I will not my fear my 30's, I will not fear my life.
I will live life, because that is what it is there for.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cycles of mediocrity

I have let my own fears make me mediocre.

This is probably a problem most people face. I mean we all want to be our best. We want to look our best and be liked more than anything else. We want to be the special bright shining whatever. Yet when it comes down to it, we don't actually strive as hard as we could for fear of...something.

I think it is some sort of stigma placed onto us from when we were little and had to suffer through the torture of gym class and the dreaded picking of teams for dodge ball. No one ever wanted to be picked last, and really if you were not picked first it got traumatizing. You could be picked third out of twenty but already your young mind was trying to figure out why you were not the first pick. Does little Johnny just not like you, or does he think you are not really that good, or maybe he think you would just make excellent cannon fodder, and a million other ridiculous ideas like that which plague the minds of 8 year olds.

In the end it makes us try to hard (resulting in disasters of epic proportion), or sometimes to try not at all (which avoids the disasters but does not yield anything good either).
Sometimes in the face of winning I choose not to try at all so that when I do not win I am not disappointed.

That statement sort of makes my stomach churn. I know I am better than that. I know I am better than mediocre. I am good. At some things I am actually pretty great. Yet I still do not try as hard as I should or could. I sort of let things just slide by on just enough.

Really in the end it is just a fear that if I try, if I work and do my absolute best, sweat and bleed in my efforts, give everything I have and then some, in the end it just will not be enough. I am not really strong enough in my own mind to handle that.

So I become a slacker and stop trying, which becomes part of a cycle, and then when I want to stop it is almost impossible because it is now part of a cycle, and cycles are really hard to stop (sort of like my love for comma's and run on sentences. I've been trying since like 3rd grade to kick that habit, and still can't).

I think it is funny that I can identify this fault in myself, I can even talk about it at length, and yet I can seem to do nothing at all about it. I do not know if that says I am weak, or if it says I am lazy, or if it says I am still just too afraid to change. I do know though that it probably is not going to change any time soon.

I still don't want to be the last kid picked at kickball. I also don't want to be the person begging to be picked first. I want to be picked first because I am deserving of it, and without any prompting on my behalf. I want to be noticed without drawing attention to myself.

It really is just maddeningly frustrating. I hold myself back and I know I do.
I want to break that cycle. I just do not know how or even if I knew, that I would.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The thin line between trust and jealousy

I have never considered myself a jealous woman. The idea of jealousy, real honest jealousy, never has appealed to me.

I mean yes in general looking at jealous person is not a pretty sight. People do some radically stupid and ugly things in the name of jealousy that really are quite shameful in the end. However looking at someone else being jealous and being jealous yourself are also vastly different things.

Still, I like to think that for the most part I am not a jealous person. I find jealousy too be a rather wasted emotion. Why be jealous? That is sort of a rhetorical question really. I am not stupid. I know the reasons for being jealous, and I suppose in their own way they are valid. That does not make jealousy any less a wasted emotion.

Jealousy is a small petty emotion. It brings about unneeded anger and resentment and hurt feelings. Jealousy takes up a ridiculous amount of energy as well. In the end it never leads to anything that is good. It leads to arguments, and throwing things (tantrums and physical objects), and occasionally binge consumption of chocolate.

As rational as my views on jealousy are, there is one glaringly large problem with them.
Jealousy is an irrational emotion.
Mostly you can control the level of jealousy you exude, but even for a person such as myself, jealousy happens. Which is why while I do not consider myself a jealous woman, I am only mostly not a jealous woman.

You see I believe that the amount of jealousy you exude is directly proportionate in the amount of trust you have in the thing to which you are becoming jealous over. I can not say I ever find myself truly jealous of physical tangible things. I am not jealous of a person because they have more than me, or something I really want.
Covetous? Yes.
Jealous? No.

That sort of jealousy really does seem silly to me. If someone has more than me or does better than me, well they just do. I mean I like to take pride in the fact that I did the best I could and they did as well and certainly they deserve the honor that they are receiving. Such events tend to be grossly subjective anyways, so until I perfect the art of mind control there or become the most adored woman in the world, there really is very little I can do to control such things, so why care?

The only truly jealous moments I have are in relation to my husband.
Now this is not to say I do not trust my husband. I do trust my husband. I trust him from here to eternity (because I am not making some analogy about throwing things since everyone knows I can't throw anything any distance to make that a good analogy). My husband is a wonderfully loyal and loving man. He is also completely oblivious to the opposite sex's attraction to him.

Seriously, short of a woman box checking him or sticking her tongue down his throat, he has no idea he is being flirted with. He has it in his head he is unattractive and women are not ever going to throw themselves at him. Did I mention he is a little delusional?

So my husband is actually a big, strong, virile, attractive man. Women flirt with him all the time. I don't care because I trust him completely. For the most part I also trust the women I see flirting with him. In our world, in our group of friends, flirtation is a fairly common occurrence. We are incredibly affectionate flirtatious people. It happens. He trusts me, and I trust him, and I also trust the women flirting with him.

If he ever lost his mind and looked at one of them and honestly said "You, me, the bushes, right now.", they would look at him like he had grown a third eye and ask if he had lost his mind. It is a respect thing for me and for our marriage. They have respect and that is why I trust them.

There are however a few women who have no respect and that would pretty much throw a leg up and be ready to go right then and there with no regards to me. With those women I become jealous. There are precisely four women who set off this emotional reaction, and I must say it is a fairly extreme reaction.

On Sunday I went so far as to lick him in public because one such woman had been flirting with him. He was of course oblivious to what had happened and why I was licking him at faire, but he is pretty good about not asking questions.

I do not like it when I get like this. I hate feeling petty and small. I hate wanting to hurt people over something that I know will never happen. It makes me feel like I am showing that I do not trust my husband, which is so very far from the truth.

Still it is an irrational emotion and until I learn how to conquer irrationality (which will be up there with when I learn to control minds or get my husband to take his dirty dishes to the kitchen), I will have to just hope that my more rational tendencies keep me with just licking my husband in public and not punching some woman in the throat.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sleep perchance to...sleep!

There is a difference between insomnia and sleeping poorly.
I have been an insomniac all my life, so I feel that I am more than qualified to distinguish between a night of no sleep due to insomnia and a night of really bad sleep.

You see, a bout of insomnia would involve a whole lot of laying in bed and staring at the back of your eyelids (or your slumbering spouse, your slumbering cats, your slumbering dog, the ceiling fan as it rotates, the shadows on the curtains, or generally anything that is in line of sight), and being grossly aware of the fact that you are not asleep. You lay there, ohh so tired, and ohh so very awake. You know you are awake. You know you are not getting any rest. You know there is nothing you can do about it.
Pretty much you know you are scrummed on sleep.

It is frustrating. It is annoying. It is insomnia.
Those who suffer learn to live with it.

Now this is completely different than a bad night of sleep.
At least with insomnia you don't have any delusions of sleep. You are not taunted by mere minutes of sleep. You get nothing.

A bad night of sleep is ohh so much more cruel. Sure it might only be one night, whereas insomnia can be months and months without sleep, but that one night stretches on like some form of ancient Chinese torture.
You actually fall asleep. It seems that everything will be lovely and peaceful and restful, but it isn't.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Love is

Love is:

Giving up the remote knowing that you will end up watching a show you hate but will make them happy.

Driving through rush hour traffic in the opposite direction of home just to get the specific flavor of drink they want.

A hand reaching out in the middle of the night just to touch you.

Foot massages after long hot sweaty days before a shower.

Eating the fast food you hate because they always eat the fast food you love.

Doing their chores because you know they had a bad day.

Finding your favorite candy on your spot on the couch.

Staying awake 3 hours longer just to see them when they get home after being gone overnight.

Cooking their favorite meal when you are exhausted and would rather order pizza.

Making sure not to eat the last of the cookies they like.

Baking a batch of cookies for them and not sharing with anyone else.


Letting someone pet you because they need the contact even if you are not up for it.

Love is all the hard things you don't like, but don't mind because it means that the person you care about is happier for it, which makes you happier in the end.
Love is sacrifice.
Love is hard.
Love is ugly.
Love is everything including the bad stuff.
Love is worth it all.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The little things

People always like to say cute things like 'Stop and smell the roses' and 'Enjoy the little things'. Honestly though how often do any of us stop and appreciate anything? I mean most people on a daily basis have trouble appreciating the big things like being alive, being healthy, having a steady income. Who takes the time to appreciate the small things like flowers, or rainbows, or a perfectly buttered piece of toast?

Normally it takes some major tragedy or upset to make you stop and take stock in your life and appreciate what you do have. It is not always something personal mind you. It easily could be a local natural disaster or your next-cube-neighbor at work losing their mother, or your friend losing their job again. Moments like these make you stop and appreciate the fact that you still have a home, a mother, a job, or any other large essential part of your life.

Still these are not little things.
These are not the roses you should be smelling. These are important things, but our lives are not made up of giant things alone. Yes we have all the big stuff, but between the big stuff is an almost infinite amount of space that we fill with small things. These small things are so very important as they tend to cushion the big things, and heaven forfend that you should lose a big thing, the little things help to fill that gap.

So with that in mind, I would like to appreciate at least one little thing:


When I was about 20 I developed an allergy to fresh fruit. This was horrific to me. I like fruit. I like fruit a lot. Suddenly I couldn't eat any of it. Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, you name it, I couldn't eat it. Every time I would try over the next 10 years I would result in a mouth full of hives (and believe you me, there are fewer things in this world more uncomfortable than hives under your tongue).

It was a sad state of affairs, but one I came to live with. I accepted I would never bite into a juicy crisp apple ever again. Then someone suggested I try organic fruit.
What? Why?
Well the general fact that I could eat processed fruits led them to believe I was not allergic to the fruit but instead tot he chemicals and pesticides used in growing and preparing fruit for market. It made logical sense and I batted around the idea for several years. I was still hesitant to try because should the theory be wrong, I was the one who would end up with hives in my mouth again.

Finally I got brave (or stupid) and bought an organic apple. I sliced it up with some lovely gouda and a nice spinach salad and sat down to try my luck. I held the slice before me and pondered how good an idea this really was. The memory of the painful itchy swollen gums made me hesitate.

Then it hit me; subtle sweet clean earthy smell of the apple. Long forgotten memories of cool fall days sitting on my grandmothers porch and enjoying an apple after school flooded into my mind. The memory of the sweet tangy taste filling my mouth as I crunched into the perfect red skin and into the firm white flesh of the apple. I could almost feel the juices escaping and rolling down my chin. 

All thoughts of hives and bad ideas were pushed aside and before I knew it I was thoughtfully chewing on the slice of apple. It was not as I remembered. The flesh of this apple was a little mealy (probably because it is so incredibly not apple season). It was neither very sweet nor tart at all but it had a good apple flavor to it. It was all in all what a normal apple eater would consider an average, if not a little below average apple. To me though it was nothing short of brilliant for one reason alone. No hives.

That's right, I ate an apple and had no adverse reaction.

So yes it is a little thing. It is just an apple (and not even the world changing fruit of knowledge sort of apple).
To me though it is so much more. It is something that I appreciate. It is my rose that I have stopped to smell.

Have you smelled your roses today?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The language of love

Well more precisely the title should be love languages, because the language of love is French, and while I speak French (or used to, now I sort of can mumble a few phrases and pretend to know French), this is not about spoken language. This is about the ways in which people express love.

While saying you love someone is of course an expression of love, the ways in which people show their love is very very different. Some people need words, some people do tasks, some people give gifts, some people use touch. It really is dependent on who you are as to how you show your love.

One of my biggest love languages is touch.
I am a toucher. If you pass by close enough that I can make contact with you, chances are I will touch you. The more I care for you the more I touch. It is simply the physical connection I am looking for even if it is as simple as reaching out and placing a hand on your arm, scratching your back, poking your tummy, or holding your hand, or pressing my forehead to yours.

Now I don't necessarily need to be touched in return (though I am equally willing to take physical affection as I am to give it). I like it when people return love in kind, but for me it is about reaching out and making that connection with people.

It is almost an unconscious thing too. I will suddenly realize I am petting someone and not really remember starting. I will simply be passing by and reach out and run my hand along someones back as I pass. I am not looking for their attention or even recognition. I am just in my own way letting them know I am there and I care.

Another one of my love languages is food.
If I love you, I will feed you.

I think this is part of the southern woman in me, or perhaps a side effect of being raised by my grandmother, but I love feeding people. If I hear someone is sick, my instant reaction is to make a pot of soup. If I hear someone is having a bad day, my instant reaction is to bake them their favorite type of cookie. If someone is just in the slumps I want to feed them a good hearty home cooked meal. Someday I will make an amazing grandmother.

I am often told that I am an excellent cook. I like to think I am more than capable of making some truly tasty things. In the end though I think what makes my food special is that I always cook with love. Every meal I make, I make with the thought that it is going to feed someone I care about, and the love transfers through.

So those are a few of my love languages. I have more, but those two are fairly defining elements of me. Touching and food.
And now you know how to tell if I love you.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The sound of silence

In my mind one of the true tests of friendship is silence.
There is so much to be said about a relationship when you can just sit silently together.

I mean there are a lot of things that are important to a friendship; conversation skills, common interests, and hygiene to name a few.

The ability though to just sit together and be silent is really a testament to how comfortable you are with another person. And I am not talking about sitting together and watching a movie or some other event where you are expected to be together and not talk. I am talking about long car rides, or sitting outside on a nice afternoon, or a meal, or any moment where you are just in one anothers company.

It is finding that comfortable silence that is just sort of zen like. It just allows you to be. Being comfortable enough around someone to just be speaks volumes without a sound being made.

I have friends I can not be silent around, or perhaps can not be silent around me. There is always this tension there that forms in the void of conversation or distraction. It is the void that awkward silence forms in. No one likes an awkward silence. So you find yourself prattling on about nothing whatsoever so that you avoid that moment where nothing is being said and you begin to wonder why.

Why aren't they saying anything?
Have I upset them?
Are they bored with me?
Do I smell bad?
What are they thinking?
What do we do now?

When you can achieve silence though there are no questions. There is only you and your friend and an understanding that nothing has to be said or done, that you can simply be. It is a comfort really, and something that I highly value in my friends.