Life thru the haze of cat hair.

Category Archives: personal

“It’s the friends you can call up at 4am that matter.”
– Marlene Dietrick

So, this morning, I pulled up my chair and my coffee and opened my reader to peruse the blogs that have been updated. I do this most mornings. Why would today be any different?

It was.

I met Debra via Twitter. I don’t even remember who followed whom first. But I found her to be engaging and honest and lovely. We hit it off and we became part of each other’s lives, as much as is possible when we live more than 1,200 miles apart.

For a long time, Debra and I spoke via Twitter, or on the phone, daily. We heard about each other’s successes and hardships. There were well-wishes and hugs being sent through the ether, back and forth as needed. We both knew that if a 4am call was needed, that would be okay too.

At the end of 2010, Debra made a trip out to meet me. I met her in person. And she was just as lovely as I had imagined. She did spend a good amount of time stalking a giant lobster while she was here, but even that was endearing.

At the start of 2011, we had both been through a fabulous class together. (I was only able to attend due to Debra’s generosity.) We both started 2011 full of the desire to make significant changes in how we approach life. Sadly, my desire waned and, while I did make some changes, I ended 2011 not too differently than how I ended 2010.

Debra, however, made lasting and wonderful changes. It was exciting to watch the change which was visible in the tone and content of her Tweets and blog posts. It is my opinion that in 2011, she became fully Debra last year. The changes she displays are profound and noticeable and inspirational.

So, what is my problem today?

This. This is my problem.

And before you say it, I *know* this post isn’t about me. The decisions she’s made aren’t about me in any way shape or form. They are decisions she’s made to continue her own growth and happiness and (jeepers, I hate this word) journey.

And all of that? I am applauding and cheering and I honestly cannot wait to see how it all turns out.

I couldn’t even leave an appropriate comment to that post. (Sorry, Debra.) And for a while, I couldn’t even figure out why.

And then I did.

Friendships are fragile things and require as much care
in handling as any other fragile and precious thing.
Randolph S. Bourne

 

1,200+ miles is a long distance. For anyone.

Now that Debra is not on Twitter, I won’t see her smiling face in my timeline. I won’t see her smiling face on Facebook. I don’t really see the point of G+, so that’s not a big thing.

But the reason Debra’s post affected me this morning is that I am afraid. And a little envious. And afraid.

I am afraid that this friendship is going to end? I don’t know that that is the correct word. I think on some level we will always be friends. I think my fear is that we will become polite acquaintances. And that will make me sad. What makes me sadder is that if that *does* happen, it will be my fault.

Why?

Because I am a terrible friend. I am working on making that an invalid statement, but for now? It’s true. It stems from my own insecurities. It manifests in that I am rarely the one to reach out because, in my mind, the other person always has something better to do. The other person gets tired of always being the initiator. And understandably so. I would get sick of that too.

I have lost a lot of friends this way. Looking back, I know now that some of those people were not “friends” in the true sense of the word. But others were.

Reading Debra’s post affected me the way it did because I immediately went to that place of “I’m losing yet another friend! What is wrong with me??” In my self-centered mind, I immediately made it about me – how it would affect me, what that would mean to me.  Rather than celebrating that Debra is now fully Debra, and that she is out there, actually LIVING life, I internalized it just like I always do.

This is where the envy comes in to play too. I see how far she has progressed since we first met, how happy she is, how many positive changes she has made, and I think: Why not me? When will it happen for me? Why can’t I have epiphanies like that?

I know the answers to those questions, by the way. Debra has put in the time, and the work, and the effort. I haven’t.

“Some friends come and go like a season. Others are arranged in our lives for good reason.”
—Sharita Gadison

Debra – this is to you.

I have watched you grow and change and become happy, over the past few years. I think you are amazing and an inspiration. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life. I don’t think this will be the end of our friendship, but too often, we never say thank you to our friends. Or even indicate the role they have played in our lives.

Thank you for your post. It shook me. It showed me how wonderful life can be when fully embraced. It showed me to not rely on cyber-friends exclusively.

Thank you. You have set such an exciting path for yourself. I cannot wait to see where you go, where you end up.

Thank you.

 

These are the feelings I am having.


One thing I’ve never had is a charm bracelet. I find them fascinating. Each piece telling a story about the person – where they’ve been, who they’ve loved.

When my niece was born, I started a charm bracelet for her. For the first 10 years, I kept it to myself. I tried to find charms reflective of what she was into that particular year. On her 10th birthday, I gave it to her. And now every year I send her another charm. Honestly, I don’t even know if she still has it. I’d like to think she does and that she appreciates it.

The past few years have sucked been less than optimal, I think, for many people. So last year, I decided I needed a reminder of good things – affirmations, if you will.

I decided to make myself a charm bracelet.

However, there are some drawbacks with charm bracelets. They can be very jingly, which some people at the Gas ‘n Sip would find annoying. (I know I shouldn’t care about that, but there you go.) Also, by being jingly, they can prompt questions from random people; people who don’t need to know what’s going on in my life. People who don’t care, really, about what I’m trying to say with my charms.

So instead, I bought myself a 24″ sterling silver necklace. It’s long enough that it hangs near my heart, and it stays tucked into my shirt, so no one else needs to know it’s there. Also? No jingle. Ergo? No questions. Now if I’m playing with it or someone sees it, and they ask questions, I can tuck it back in, out of sight. Or I can answer questions if I choose.

Why am I telling you this now? Excellent question. I’m telling you now because I am using this now, not so much as a chain of affirmations, but more of a reminder of the journey. Does that make sense?  It’s much less a tangible life raft, and more of a comfortable friend. I don’t need it to be a secret anymore.

So. Do you want to see it?

 

Fabulous, right? Now, would you like to know what they are?

Okay. Since you’ve asked nicely. And really, more that despite WEEKS or MONTHS of no activity, you still keep coming back. (What is wrong with you? *snort*)

I’ll start from the right, because they have been around the longest.

(OMGoat. Why am I nervous??)

The Beginning

The first 3 disks go together. They say Fear, Less, Ness.  Sometime ago I wrote a post that I wanted to get that in a tattoo. But who knows what I called it. I looked for the link but can’t find it. I bought the disks from someone on Etsy. I would totally post links to the store (well, stores really, because a few of these are from Etsy) but again. My organization leaves a lot to be desired.

Anyhoo. Fearlessness is a term I love. And aspire too. I found it on Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart site. She sells one there that is gorgeous (and you can see her wearing it every week on her show) but last time I looked it was $450. Love the sentiment. Don’t love the price.

The next is a heart. It’s to remind me to keep my heart open.

You can’t really see the little clear crystal thing I have. It’s my faux diamond. Because I deserve diamonds.

And the last in this grouping is for courage. Similar to fearlessness. But it’s a reminder to step out of my comfort zone more often. I tend to limit my risks. About this time last year, I broke my comfort zone by signing up for a triathlon.

Next group:

The Year Continues

From right to left: “Follow Your Bliss”, a faux topaz, “I Am Enough” and a little prayer box.

Follow your bliss is something I got at Etsy also. We all need to do this. Listen to your heart. It knows what is right. Also, don’t get trapped in doing what other people want you to do, what will make them happy. Follow your own path.

The topaz is my mother’s birthstone. I have written about her a lot. She is my hero.

I am enough. How many of you can say that, on a regular basis, with conviction? I got this from Tracey Clark’s wonderful blog. There hasn’t been an updated post there in a while, but the message is still true. Have you had your breakthrough moment yet? That moment where you have the epiphany that yes, you are enough?

The last one in this group is a little prayer box. It opens up, so you can put a prayer/wish/plea out to the universe. Once it is out there, the universe begins to conspire to make it happen. I change out my little slips of paper about once a month.

And finally:

Last, but not least. And I'm not done yet.

 This group shows a little disco ball, a butterfly, a breast cancer ribbon (with a little rubber ring) and an owl.

The disco ball is just a reminder to have fun. Dance when I feel like it. Listen to music that makes me happy.

I think the butterfly is pretty self-explanatory. I know that I am working towards becoming something more beautiful than what I started with. And I don’t mean just physically. I know I am becoming a nicer person. I can feel it. The outward appearance is just window dressing.

The breast cancer ribbon? I gave that to myself after I completed the triathlon. It wasn’t pretty, but that wasn’t my goal. I finished – and was seen in public in a wetsuit – and I am still pretty damn proud of that. The little rubber ring came with the ribbon. I like to think of that as the life-saving ring that I might have needed during the swim portion. 8^D

And finally, the owl. Debra got me started with the owls. (Turns out, owls are the new *it* girl). Everyone loves owls now. But for me? Debra reminded me that I am wise, and that inside me is the wisdom I need to succeed. Plus? It’s sparkly.

So that’s my charm necklace. I didn’t buy all the charms at once. I buy a new one when I see something that strikes me. I don’t think the owl will be the last one either. Just as I’m not done improving, my necklace needs to reflect that.  The first charms – Fear, Less, Ness – are looking pretty beat up and worse for wear. But they’ve been with me the longest. The owl? Still pretty new.

There is your glimpse into my life. I don’t let it show often. But Courage, right? If I don’t show it, I won’t have new experiences. And that’s what life is for.


It’s December. 2011 has just flown by!! I’m already looking ahead to 2012.

About this time last year, I was on top of my game  – feeling good and ready to make 2011 my bitch! I started the year that way too. But then, as the year progressed, I slipped back into my old ruts and habits. My word for the year was Kind. But regressing back to self-destructive behavior isn’t very kind, is it?

I was kind to others. I was kinder to myself than I had been in years past. But I’m still a work in progress.

As I look to 2012, the word that keeps coming up for me is Wellness. I know some people won’t understand that I need to take care of myself. Since I’m single and have no kids, what else am I doing? How can I *not* be taking care of myself? Right? Well, in 2012, that is my focus.

How, you ask?

1. I’ve already started eliminating beauty products with chemicals in them. My goal by the end of the year, is to use homemade or organic products only.

2. My job at the Gas ‘n Sip – I will either get a new job or get promoted. Either way, by the end of the year, I will be in a different job.

2a. I reached my absolute limit at the Gas ‘n Sip Monday. Background: You already know I am the Slurpee Manager. However, there is an exam to become certified in Slurpee creation. I have been working towards this certification for years – it’s a combination of education and hours. You have to spend a certain number of hours making Slurpees before you can take the certification exam. I? Have completed all the prerequisites and now I just have to take it. But here’s the thing. The exam is ridiculously difficult. So, in order to help the Slurpee Managers at the Gas ‘n Sip pass the exam first try, the company is hosting a prep class. YAY! The class is being held in another state. BOO! My manager said I could go. YAY! But her manager said it was too expensive to send me there. BOO! What the phuck??????? Am I so dispensable? You can’t send me to a class to advance my career? I was so pissed. I am pretty defeated.

2b. I spent Monday evening stewing and not sleeping and feeling like a loser. But then? I got up on Tuesday, and turned on the radio, like I do every morning. The song playing was that woman screeching “You are loved, you are loved, you are really really reeeeeeeeeeeeally looooooooooooved.” You know the one I mean.  The Universe has spoken. I stopped and listened. And then I realized, Slurpee Manager is what I do, not who I am. I have been beaten by them for the last time. If they don’t want to send me to a prep class? I’ll send myself to a prep class. I *will* get certified. And then #2 will be realized.

3. By the end of the year, I will have all but eliminated processed food from my diet. I can’t promise to give up pizza, because, c’mon. It’s pizza! I’m human, not a robot.

4. I won’t quit the group I joined. I still think it’s a tough group to get into, but everyone is so nice and I totally support what they do, so I’m going to tough it out. It’s worth it.

There will be more that I will add to this list before the end of the year. I may have slid downhill a bit this year, but I plan to keep trying. 2012 will help me regain that ground and move ahead again.


For as long as I can remember, I have always felt like an outsider. One of those sad little wall-flower people, looking in through the window at the cool kids, hanging out, laughing and sharing inside jokes. It’s a cold and lonely place to be.

I remember being on the outside during high school. I was friends with some of the “in-crowd” but never fully accepted. Same thing happened in college. Again, at my jobs.

And OMG, don’t even get me started on the book clubs I have tried!

The common denominator in all of these situations? Me.

Maybe my insecurities have stopped me. Maybe my shyness. Maybe my self-esteem (or lack thereof).

But I know I have something to contribute. I *know* I do. I’m smart. I’m funny. I’m creative. And yet, I still hover around the edges, hoping someone will smile or say hi or take me under their wing, and help me be more comfortable. Am I just having flashbacks to the mean girls in high school?

I recently joined a group, ever the optimist. They have been together for a good amount of time and are well established with each other. I joined because I support what they do for the community and people in need. But at times, I feel like I’m stepping into a rushing crowd with no idea what’s going on. So I either get out-of-the-way or I get trampled. And, there I am, on the sidelines again.

How do I get over this? Give me some tips, please! I have been thinking about leaving the group already (it’s been a few months now). They will go on and continue to do good things. And I will feel like I have failed. Again.

So I ask you: Does it ever get easier to fit in with an established group?

 


This morning, I was skulking around on the Interwebz, looking for new and lovely blogs to add to my readers. I have several now, but as my tastes change, as my interests change, as *I* change, the blogs I like change too.

Anyhoo, when I looked at the “suggested sites” that were listed on my reader, I noticed that there were several “bundles” available. A bundle is sort of a folder of blogs, grouped together by theme or category. Well, now, that is wonderful! So much easier for me!! There seems to be a bundle for every interest – news, sports, computers, gaming, writing – you name it. How cool is that?

Then I see a bundle called “Beauty”. Awesome!!

Only…no.

The blogs in this bundle included references to high-end clothing stores, expensive make-up brands, how to find the best shade lipstick, etc.  So, that means that only by making the packaging “pretty” can one be considered beautiful, right?

I am not so enlightened that I eschew make-up or nice clothes. I like how mascara makes my eye-lashes look. And I would be delighted to find that one perfect shade of lipstick. Maybe it’s societal pressure; maybe I’m just crazy vain.

However.

I don’t consider the wrapping an indicator of beauty. To me, beauty goes beyond me and what label is on my clothing. It goes to helping clean up the environment. Or to helping other people. Or smiling at someone. Or lending a hand/ear/shoulder to a friend in need. Or even saying “Good morning” on Twitter everyday without getting a response.

Beauty is teaching others how to live a more peaceful life, or to eliminate clutter, or to walk through this life gently, or making people laugh, by pointing out life’s absurdity.

Maybe this is a function of my getting older. Or more cynical. I know that I bought into advertisers’ ideas for fashion and beauty back in the day. How can a young person NOT succumb to the constant mental and visual barrage?

I like my idea of beauty better. I like to see a smile. Or to see the silver lining in a bad situation.

My idea of beauty doesn’t match up with Google Reader bundles. And maybe not yours either.

When  you think “beauty”, what comes to your mind?

(Also, if you have any recommendations for yummy blogs, please let me know.)


Dear Universe:

I just need help.

Right now.

Love, Me


So, yeah.

You go to work everyday, dreading it.

While at work, you find yourself crying, at least once a week.

After 2 weeks vacation, you head back to work and the second day back, you wonder if you can call in sick without getting fired.

You know that continually bitching about the situation is not at all helpful, so you keep it all inside.

You have your resume out on the interwebs on every. single. job-related website you can find, but don’t have any bites yet.

You have applied for no less than 25 new positions, internally, and have heard ABSO-PHUCKING-LUTELY nothing on any of them. Yet they claim that they are Pro-Employee and help employees with career development. AND! If they treat actual employees this way, how do they treat potential employees?? (Go ahead and ponder. I’ll wait.)

You are well aware that the job market blows right now, so you should be thankful you even have a job.

You know that you are NOT what you do, but you are so desperately unhappy at your job that you don’t know which way to turn.

You know that changing jobs will not necessarily, nor magically, improve your happiness. But you want to try because staying here won’t help it either.

You know that you choose your happiness but you can’t find even that one thread to hang on to.

You aren’t suicidal, but your doctor thinks you might be.

Yeah. That.


I am…

…a daughter

….a sister

…an aunt

…an adoptive mother to two furry critters

I am…

…a college graduate

…the holder of an MBA

…over-educated for the area in which I live

…employed in a job that does not excite me, nor ignite my passions

…exploring new careers

I am…

…beautiful, outside and in

…plus-sized, in so many ways

…a person who loves to laugh

…very funny

I am…

…a triathlete

…a hockey fan

…a football fan

…a kayaker

I am…

…always looking to learn

…searching for my voice

…a fiercely loyal friend

…a woman who loves hard

I am…

…a rape survivor

…an ex

…a seeker

…healing

I am…

…worth it

…someone you should know

…tremendous

…enough


I’ve read that if something bugs you, you need to either write about it or talk about it – just get it out, or it will eat at you. So here goes….

People. Not *all* people, of course. But the ones who walk around completely oblivious to the world around them. You know who I mean – they cut you off in a store without a second thought; they park their shopping cart randomly in the middle of an aisle and ignore your attempts to get around them; they stay on their cell phone at the checkout line.

What in the world has happened to common courtesy?? I have even tried to act like these people. I was mortified for myself. The total disregard for anyone around me made me feel like I was the biggest jerk. Ever.

Lately, when I go to Target – a magical place where nothing bad ever happens – I leave thinking “I need to not be out among people”.  I find myself less and less tolerant of this type of behavior. Thank goat for online shopping.

*****

Commercials. When did we, as a culture, become so stupid? 98% of the ads I see on television make me cringe. Apparently, ad companies think it is okay to treat consumers as if they have the collective IQ of a dandelion. Cartoon bears to sell toilet paper? Cartoons to sell car insurance? Cartoons to sell *anything* to adults?? I get it if they are using cartoons to sell to kids. (I don’t know that it’s appropriate, but I get it.) But to adults? Really?

And restaurants who show how big their portions are? Do we *really* need a 2 pound calzone? Or tacos the size of a loaf of bread? How about we just get a real portion and pay less?

******

As-seen-on-TV-products. Don’t get me wrong – I love me some info-mercials and shopping TV. I am a WEN girl because of the info-mercial. And I got my ped-egg from seeing an info-mercial.

But have you seen some of the other things that are being hawked? The plastic egg cooker things that make it “so much easier” to make hard-boiled eggs? The premise is that peeling hard-boiled eggs is *really* hard. And takes forever. Really? Is that a huge problem of which I am not aware?

And the bags that save  you space? On one hand, I do get that. But the ad shows a closet where everything is stuffed in and it seems that they have 4,319 comforters and 80 pairs of pants and 24,941 sweaters. Perhaps the problem isn’t that you don’t have room. Maybe you just HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF!! I’m just spit-balling here.

******

Blogs that require a verification every time you comment. I don’t like spam any more than anyone else, but if I comment on a blog frequently enough, I should be “approved” to comment. OR if you don’t like what I comment, delete it.

******

There are so many more things. I’ll complain more, I’m sure. But I needed to get that stuff off my chest.

If any of the above hits a nerve with you, I’m sorry. I am fully aware that I bug people. All. The. Time. And I’m sorry for that too.

 


After 6. Long. Months, it’s official.

I am a triathlete.

Sunday, 7/31, I participated in the local triathlon, Tri-for-a-Cure. It’s a women’s only event and all funds raised go to further breast cancer research. On Sunday, we were told that unofficial totals were that we, the participants, collected over a million dollars for breast cancer research. Go us!!

I’ve written about this before. And if you have spent any time with me at all, I have no doubt that I have driven you absolutely crazy with my stress and worry and fear of not being good enough.

Sunday started for me at 7:30. I got to the venue and set up my transition area – where we dump the swim stuff and pick up the bike for that leg. I met some women and we were all feeling a great anticipation. Those of us who were first-timers had no idea what to expect.

I picked up my timing chip – it was an ankle strap that would record my time for each stage of the race. Then I picked up my wetsuit and wandered down towards the beach for the start of the swim.

I did, though, stop by the medical station to see what was in my eye. It felt like I had a small animal in there. And of course, I kept rubbing it.

I caught sight of my brother. He came to support me and represent the family. Mum and Dad were not able to come, so Bro was there. Then my friend, the K2Kid, and her husband came to cheer me on. It was a HUGE help that they were there. Since I had signed up alone, and trained alone, it was nice to know I wasn’t alone for this day.

All the athletes made their way over to the start area for opening remarks, etc. But since we were all in our wetsuits, we were also all cooking in the sun. It was SO HOT!! The event itself didn’t start until 10am, so the sun was high and hot.

The swim portion was broken up into waves so that 1,100 women wouldn’t be plunging into the water all at once. We were all given color-coded swim caps so that we knew when we had to go. The first wave is reserved for Survivors – women who have won their battle against cancer. It was so cool to see all these incredible women who will NEVER give up. After they go, there is a 5 minute wait before the second wave went. Then, every 3 minutes after that, each consecutive wave entered the water for the 1/3 mile swim.

I was in Wave 3, so thankfully I didn’t have too long to wait. One lady beside me told me to just relax and take my time and look around for the experience of it all. So that’s what I did. When it was my turn, I walked into the ocean with 100 of my sisters, to begin. I didn’t start swimming until I knew I wouldn’t get kicked in the face. Then, I did just what my new friend told me. I took my time. I passed some people. Some people passed me. Despite having a stitch in my side from about 2 minutes in, I finished that portion with ease.

Bro was there to take my wetsuit, and give me a clean shirt. Others were sprinting up to the transition area for their bikes. I was taking it all in.

I got to transition, got my gloves and helmet and an energy snack and started out on the 15 mile bike ride. Bro and I had ridden the route once before, so it wasn’t completely foreign. I was going along pretty well – don’t get me wrong, it was HARD! But, again, I was passing some, and some were passing me. It’s all good.

The volunteers along the route were amazing – yelling encouragement and cheering. There were homeowners out along the route too, yelling encouragement. I don’t care what anyone says, that REALLY helps!

Right about mile 3-ish, I got a flat tire. GAH! I had a spare tube, sat down and started changing it, trying not to get frustrated. A race official stopped to help me and I was on my way in about 15 minutes. Great, yeah?

Jump ahead to mile 7-ish. Flat tire number 2. AYFKM?? There was another route official there, picking up a couple of women with a medical issue – they would not finish – and he stopped and helped me. This almost made me lose it. But, I just kept remembering why I was there.  20 minutes later, I’m back on the bike.

I was cruising! It felt great! I was coming up to mile 12 – almost there!! WOOHOO!!! I look down. Front tire flat. (The first 2 were the back tire). Oh. Em. Gee. WTF is going on??? I found a group fixing tires and made it to them. They fixed that, I get ready to go – Um, did you know that your back tire is flat too??? Flat tire #4. Awesome. Oh! And? At this point, I ran out of water, AND the small animal in my eye? Yeah, that was a torn contact lens, which had scratched my eyelid, thanks to all my rubbing. Let’s tally this up – so far? 4 flats and I’m down to 1 eye.

Assured that I was almost done, and that *this* tire would hold me until the end. The same guy fixed my tire twice so far, and he kept behind me making sure I was okay. Bless his heart, he offered me his water bottle, which I took gratefully! About 1/2 mile from the end of the bike…yup, you guessed it. Flat tire number 5. Even the guy fixing it couldn’t believe it. I carried the bike back to the transition area. It took me FOR. EVER. to finish the bike portion. All that time, sitting on the side of the road, counted against me.

By the time I was done with my bike, I noticed that almost everyone else was done. With everything. I still had a 5k run. I filled up my water bottle, and started out. Bro was there with an icy bottle of water, and an energy bar. Did I mention how awesome he is?? He walked with me a little way and then I got to a “non-spectator” area. I caught up with another lady – we were both walking – so we walked together.

She was from NY and had come up to participate, along with her sister and sister-in-law, in memory of their dad, who died from cancer in February. We walked almost the whole rest of the way together, just chatting. Right at the end, I jogged across the finish line.

The. Finish. Line.

My time was horrible. But that wasn’t the point, right? I, myself, raised $870 for breast cancer research, thanks to the generous support of friends and family. I set myself a goal to finish the race, and I did. And I did it all on my own.

My life will never be the same. I don’t think I can every say “I can’t do that” and really mean it. Apparently, I can do it. No matter what “it” is. I’ll stumble. I’ll end up with 5 flat tires. I will scratch my eyelid with a torn contact. And I will run out of water. And you know what? I will finish. And still be smiling.

I am a triathlete.