Life thru the haze of cat hair.

Fact or Fiction?

Hello! Come in and have lunch. Just sandwiches but help yourself.

*****

The ringing phone roused her from what could not honestly be called sleep. More accurately, it was a night full of tossing and turning while her mind played out every possible negative scenario. She had tried to sneak in a few possible positive thoughts, but they didn’t get far.

A quick glance at the clock told her that it was 4:05am, and it was time to get ready for the daunting task ahead. 

She showered and dressed quickly, all the while avoiding thinking what could be coming. She fed the cats, taking time she didn’t have to sweep up around their bowls. She knew she was delaying the inevitable. It was time to go.

The drive to her first destination, normally a trip that took 10-15 minutes, seemed to take hours. The  torrent of thoughts flooding her brain continued to prevent coherent thought. 

Finally, she arrived to pick up her passenger. He was pacing. Nervous. Anxious. His partner was equally nervous – talking too much. The needed to leave. She hugged the partner, and ushered her passenger out the door. 

The Passenger did his best to keep up a normal conversation, commenting on such mundane things as a trip to the local big-box store, and how hungry he was. She tried to keep present so that he would not notice her unease. She laughed when appropriate and commented on things about which she thought he would be interested. She wanted to keep his mind off things, as well. 

When they were almost at their final destination, they were stopped by a train. The building was visible over the trees and surrounding buildings, but the train cars continued to pass. Slowly. In all actuality, they were only stopped for about 3 minutes, but for the Passenger? It was just one more delay. Finally, the train passed completely and they made their way up the hill to the parking lot, and into the building where the Passenger would be staying. 

She and the Passenger walked in together – she didn’t want to leave his side until she absolutely had to. They looked around uncertainly until they saw where they would check in. They sat in the waiting area in silence. 

The Passenger was taken into a separate room and questioned. It wasn’t long until their escort came to take them into another area, for further questions and preparation. He was weighed and measured, his blood pressure taken, and blood sugar tested. She was taken out of the room when someone came in to do some more personal preparations. As she waited in the room down the hall, the nurse came by to see if she was okay. She was barely holding back the tears or the nerves, but wanted to appear strong for the Passenger. The nurse had an Ativan to give to the Passenger. She wanted the nurse to provide her with one as well. The nurse wouldn’t agree. Understandably.

Finally, it was time. The Passenger was completely prepped, and the gurney was waiting. She waited in the doorway until he was lying down and covered. 

The group of four – the nurse, the orderly, the Passenger, and She – made their way to the elevator, where she and the Passenger would separate. The elevator car stopped one floor down, and she was told that she needed to get off there. She hugged the Passenger one more time and told him she loved him. Then she and the nurse exited the elevator car, while the Passenger and the orderly continued their decent. 

As soon as the elevator doors shut behind her, the ugly cry started. All the anxiety she had felt for the past few weeks erupted. The nurse waited patiently for her to collect herself again. Then they walked to where the Passenger would be after the operation. The nurse kindly talked her through what would happen, what she could expect, and gave her numbers for checking in. Then, the nurse said the nicest thing – “Take care of yourself. The Passenger needs you.”

And with that, she walked from the building. 

Once in the car, she allowed herself one more cry. As she drove toward coffee, she noticed the sky. It was blue – a kind of angry, grey blue that happens before a storm – and pink – a mottled, bright pink that promised hope. The coffee tasted rich and soothing. 

She got home, and tried to sleep. It was no good. She got back in her car and drove to the Partner’s house. They could wait together. 

The call came. The wait was over.

“Dead man walking” stopped going through her head. Things were going to be fine.

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The Sound of Silence

Hi!

Happy weekend. I hope your day is going well. I am just putting some burgers on the grill. How would you like yours cooked?

*****

Another writing prompt:

Write about a time somebody silenced you.

*****

I remember very clearly when someone silenced me. 

Growing up as the youngest of 3 kids, there was a good amount of hand-me-downs, and “XX did that, so you need to”. If my sister competed in swimming, I needed to. If my brother ran track, I was encouraged to do so. I took the same classes they did. I was always known as XX’s little sister. 

Then came college. The older 2 both went into the same field. At the same school. When the time came for me to go to school, I ended up at the same college too. I was asked “Are you going to be an ABC, too?” Um, no.

Anyhoo. I went my own way with my college major. After my sister graduated, she decided to get her MBA. That was a big deal back then. Her concentration for her MBA was to be the field of study I was pursuing. I? Was pissed. Why was I pissed? I should be thrilled that she was pursuing post-graduate work, right? 

But the way I saw it? I saw it as this field of study was mine. MINE. It was the first time in my life that I was pursuing something *I* wanted, not something I was being told I *should* do. Childish? Yes. Petty? Yes. 

But I didn’t see it that way at the time. 

I talked to someone about it, explaining why I was angry. The response? “That’s just stupid.”

And with that one phrase, I was silenced. 

That was the first time I can remember that my thoughts and my feelings were completely discounted. (It probably had happened before, but this is one time I can look back on clearly.) I was summarily dismissed and what I heard was that my feelings were not important. I was devastated. 

The person that said that to me probably would have no recollection of the comment or the conversation. If I could replay the scene, the comment was very likely just tossed off without malice or a second thought. 

But for me? It began a lifetime of censoring my own thoughts and words. For years, I stopped myself from expressing that which was important to me at the time. It became a habit. It became a way of being. 

The impact? The impact is that I have been living a life that other people want and expect of me. I have not been living an authentic life for as long as I can remember. The fear of being judged or criticized was too much. 

It’s only been recently that the silence, the sound of silence, has become too much for me. Granted, people who know me would say that I am anything but reticent to speak my mind. But, I think that if they stopped and considered exactly *what* I say when I speak up, they too would realize that I speak my mind when I know it is safe. I am fine being the center of attention if I put myself in that situation. However, if someone else makes me the center of attention, I completely shut down. It all goes back to fear. 

The sound of silence for me is stifling. I now know better. If someone today made the same comment to me, I would either defend my position or brush off their obvious insensitivity as a character flaw on their part. I know now that my feelings have merit. My thoughts are worthy of expression. My personality deserves to shine in the sun. And if the people in my life don’t agree with me? That’s fine. We are all entitled to have our opinions. However, if they openly disregard my feelings and thoughts, or go out of their way to belittle me, then they no longer deserve to be in my life. 

Silence is appropriate in many situations. But silence when you are trying to express your truth is NOT acceptable. The world needs you to be you. It wouldn’t be right without you. 

Have you been silenced?

Friday Free-write

Hi! Come on in. It’s hot so I’m offering iced tea and shortbread cookies. Enjoy!

*****

I mentioned before that I was doing a writing class this summer. Sadly for me, I’ve not had the energy to do a whole lot with it. I would say not enough time, but that’s not a true statement, right?

So, one of the writing prompts:

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”  ~André Berthiaume

I wear a mask. Every day. I’ve worn it for years. I would like to think that I only wear one, but if I’m honest, I think I have many. I have one with my family – it hides the parts of my personality that I don’t think they will understand. I have one at work, although I know it slips frequently. And I have the main one that I show the world.

This is the mask that I have been creating for years. It is the mask that I created to protect myself from hurt. I didn’t realize I was doing it for the longest time. After high school, I gained the “freshman 15” (plus a little more). After college, and after I had been hurt a number of times, I kept gaining.

Now, here I am. I don’t have any excuses or anyone to blame but myself.

But now? I *really* want to shed this mask, but finding the motivation and keeping it is *really* hard. I want to shed this mask.

So what is stopping me?

The second part of the quote – that I cannot remove it without removing some of my own skin – hits home. I know that by shedding this mask, I will be opening myself up for potential hurt. I will be exposing myself, metaphorically, to people who may judge me. Am I strong enough to stand up to the Judgies of the world? Can I shed that skin and leave myself open like that?

I’m not in my twenties anymore. No one has the ability to change me or impact my life or to make me feel lesser other than me. I am the only one who can do these things.

And since I have, in essence, been living only half a life for so many years, I think it may be time to remove that layer of skin and let ME shine through.

Yes, currently, I *am* overweight. But that doesn’t mean that I am not good enough. Not good enough for a promotion. Not good enough for success. Not good enough for love.

I am good enough for ALL of those things. And wearing this mask? Hasn’t worked for me so far. What I thought was “protection” has turned out to be the equivalent of wrapping myself in bubble wrap. It’s hot (and not in the sexy way), and no one ever gets to know *me* – the real me. They get to know the surface that I allow them to see, which, while great, is not the fabulous me that hovers underneath.

Taking this mask off will be hard. It will be scary and I will falter and will become vulnerable and it’s time. I need to do this. I don’t want to live half a life anymore. I want to live a full and exciting life.

That decided it. Let the transformation begin.

How would you comment on that quote?

Tuesday’s Tiny Bits

Oh, hello! Good to see you again. Have some strawberries and other fresh fruit.

*****

True to form, I’ve been M.I.A. for a while. I honestly don’t set out to be so lax. My intention is to come here and write but then life gets in my way.

*****

Work has been crazy busy – 10-12 hour days busy. I don’t like it. At all. By the time I get home from work, I am so physically and mentally exhausted that it’s all I can do to get dinner for myself and The Wonder Twins.

I have a new manager at the Gas ‘n Sip too, so having to break him in is extra work. *heh* So far, he is good. He puts up with my venting and is good about providing solid feedback.

*****

Also going on is that there are several family members that are having surgery in the next 4 weeks. Yes, I said several. It’s been extremely stressful, even though I don’t want to believe it.  One of the surgeries could potentially impact my life significantly, depending on the outcome. Actually, I suppose all of them could impact my life depending on the outcome. I don’t think I want to think about that.

*****

I’ve been asked to help my niece practice driving so that she can get her license. Apparently, the Sister and BIL can’t deal with her attitude when they drive with her. My feeling is that they are hyper-critical. I’ve been out with her a couple of times. She does okay. She just needs practice.

*****

I am currently on 2 weeks holiday from the Gas ‘n Sip. I wish my time off was being spent in Paris or on a safari or something equally fabulous. Alas, I am here, providing transport, moral support, and other assistance as needed for said family members during the pre-op weeks.

I might paint my bathroom though. That’s exciting, right?

*****

So what’s going on in your lives?

Happy New Month!

Hello! Come on in. I have some lovely Sancerre and cheese for you.

(I was told that people were sad that I stopped offering snacks. I’ll do better.)

It’s June 1st. A whole new month of possibility opening before us. What do you have planned? Have you set your intentions?

*****

I started a writing class today. It’s for a few weeks. We will get prompts and are encouraged to free write on the topic. Then, there is a site where we can post our writing for critique or just sharing.

I checked into the group today and I am immediately intimidated. There are people who have been writing for years, or who write every day, or have at least one novel in the drawer, or do NaNoWriMo every year.

My first instinct is to hide in a corner. Possibly chewing my hair. Possibly rocking back and forth. Turn tail and run.

However.

I also signed up for a self-love workshop. So I will be taking what I learn in the self-love class and will not chicken out. I will continue with this class. I will see it through to completion. My writing will still be “new” and stumbling. But I will learn with each prompt. And I will learn from what others post. And from the critiques. And who knows? By the end of this, I might even screw up enough courage to post an entry into the group.

Now, before you say anything, I know what you might be thinking. I post stuff here. What’s the difference? The difference is that based on the first prompt? Things could get kinda personal. And weepy. Maybe I’ll do all my posts on here. And then you’ll be sorry! *snort*

Either way, I will keep you posted.

I hope June will be good to you.

Mag and Moo have a special comment for their grand-people: Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary! We love when you take care of us. Love and furry kisses, your grand-kittens.

Dear John OR It’s OVER! OR It’s not ME, It’s YOU

PHOTO CREDIT: http://livingalimitlesslife.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/its-over/

Dear John,

Or as your friends know you: “Target”,

It’s over. We’re through. I cannot do this anymore. It’s time we go our separate ways. We are breaking up.

Don’t tell me  you are surprised. You had to have seen this coming. Over the 14 or so years we were together, you continued to get bigger and more influential. I relied on you.

You, Target, were my happy place. If I had a bad day at work, I knew I could visit and wander your halls and somehow, you would lead me to that certain something that made me feel better. I don’t know if it was your bright lights or the clear hallways or the bright red symbol, but you comforted me when I needed you.

Remember when I was in graduate school? I would visit you for a highlighter, and come out with $150 of stuff I *had* to have. You did that for me. You were there for me. You comforted me.

But then? Gradually, you started to change. It was just the small things at first. Your parking lot was full. Or the size I needed was not available. Or the items offered in my size were dated and unstylish. I ignored the fact that you stuffed “my” section in, between maternity and the fitting rooms, all the way in the back as if you were ashamed of how I looked. As if I were to be hidden away.

Then it was bigger things – you decided to contribute to political campaigns that went against everything I believed in. I *still* defended you. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, right? I didn’t like it, but you were still my happy place.

But this weekend? This weekend was the last straw. The camel’s back is broken. This weekend convinced me that I need to make a clean break with you.

I can accept that you want to remodel. I can! I encourage it, in fact. Brighter lights! YES! Shinier stuff! ABSOLUTELY!

And then I walked in.

Your shelves are now lined with higher priced items. Items that, in my opinion, don’t warrant the higher price tag given the fact that you are *Target*.

You have made “my” section even smaller – the 4 racks and wall display of unattractive options has now been reduced to 1 rack in amongst the Maternity section and Boys section. I can take the hint. I am not welcome there.

You have put the Pet section up front, in the Frozen Food section. You heard me. Frozen Food.

You have put *some* of your Health and Beauty items in a random display between Girls and Greeting Cards. The rest are over near paper towels.

Your aisles are now wide enough for a single cart. There is no wiggle room. Another person in the aisle? No problem, as long as they back out of the aisle. Perhaps that is your way of giving people some privacy; that “alone time” that some people need.

At the checkout, your clerk was complaining about computers. I might even say whining about them. But she rang up my items and then…..

The computer froze. The clerk’s response? “I wish this was mine so I could take a hammer to it!” Followed by “WHY ME!?!?” No sign of “I’m sorry for the delay. Let me get the manager.” The manager wandered over at the sound of the whining and said she had to reboot and it would take a while so I had to go to another register. No sign of “I apologize for the inconvenience. Let me help you move your purchases.” It was just “You should go to that one. She’s not doing anything.”

So, my friend. You are no longer my happy place. You are dead to me. I will find my items elsewhere. You aren’t the only big box store on the block. I will no longer go in for a birthday card and come out with a cart full of stuff.

It’s not just that you let me down. It’s that you let me down, and had your people brush me aside like “I” was the problem. I deserve to be treated better. I deserve respect.

As I said before. It’s not me. It’s you. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s over.

Regards,

MaM

 

PHOTO CREDIT: http://livingalimitlesslife.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/its-over/

Some things I have learned over the last 45 years…

In no particular order:

1. Smiling is more fun than frowning.

2. Having a good loud laugh usually makes other people smile too.

3. Only say about others that which you would say to their face.

4. Own your mistakes.

5. Don’t try to hide your mistakes; they will ALWAYS be found and you will look 100% worse for not taking responsibility.

6. Life is too short to read bad books.

7. Treat yourself to some good wine (if you partake). It will make things so much more lovely.

8. Use your good china/cutlery/glasses, etc. What are you waiting for?

9. If you don’t LOVE it, get it out of your house.

10. If you haven’t used/worn/looked at it in 6 months, get rid of it. (12 if you live in seasonal climates and swap things out).

11. Wear your good jewelry.

12. Who cares about the number on the size tag. Wear what is comfortable.

13. Dress for your age.

14. Cats are fantastic companions.

15. Don’t dwell on *how* you ended up where you are. Focus on the you, you want to become.*

16. Don’t berate yourself for not being great at something. You are great at something else.

17. Dogs? Also fantastic companions.

18. Friends *can* be made through social media.

20. Popcorn for supper is acceptable.

21. Eat more green things.

22. Brussels Sprouts are not green balls of hell. They are quite delicious.

23. Chia seeds *can* be eaten.

24. Ask for help.

25. Approach stressful situations from a position of love. It will change your outlook completely.

26. Approach ALL situations from a position of love. See above.

27. Sports are better when seen live.

28. 9 pounds of cat can feel like 90, when you have to pee.

29. Candles make things lovely.

30. Foreign films tend to have better plots.

31. A movie made from a book will more than likely disappoint.

32. Some things should just not get remade.

33. It seems that there are few truly NEW ideas.

34. Celebrities are really not that interesting.

35. Taking the time to learn about a foreign co-worker’s country of origin benefits the relationship immensely.

36. There IS life after cable TV.

37. Kindness really *does* go a long way.

38. So does patience.

39. You are so much more than the work you do.

40. Wait at least an  hour before responding to an infuriating email/phone call, etc. Longer than that, if you can.

41. Taking care of YOU is a gift, not a sin.

42. Fewer people than you imagine are paying attention to you right now.

43. A song – a single song – can change your mood completely.

44. One really can have too many wallets.

45. I’m pretty great.

 

*Someone recently said this to me. The more time I spend thinking about it, the more sense it makes.