Live and let live …I guess?

 

Screenshot 2019-08-21 at 12.20.19 PMIn my endless pursuit of self-improvement, I listen to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of books. One of the key messages of almost ALL self-care/self-improvement media (whether it’s about weight loss, spirituality, unleashing your full potential, etc.) is not letting other people’s bullshit affect you.

If you want to test yourself to see what mile-marker you’ve reached on your “journey of self-improvement (puke),” go on a family vacation. Hell, go on ANY vacation with a bunch of adults of all ages and one male 17yr old. The male 17-year-old is not essential- like, don’t STEAL one or anything- but if you really want to challenge your zen level, I mean REALLY want to push yourself, I highly recommended incorporating one into your travel plans.

What did I learn about myself?

I learned I’ve made some good progress, but I still have a long way to go. I learned that if people are pissing me off, I tend to take it out on my husband- which is obviously not cool and needs work. I learned I struggle with wanting everyone to be having a good time and feeling upset when clearly one or two people are not. I learned that I am more able to recognize these feelings in-the-moment and do some self-talk to manage those emotions.

(We’re just gonna go ahead and use “they” here- lest I have people calling for my head on a platter)

  • “They didn’t have to come along, but they chose to because they want to be with the family. So maybe they aren’t having a woo-hoo blasty blast, but they are content to be with the group.”
  • “They are just not as go-with-the-flow are you are and that’s ok. Actually, it’s great for them! They probably have a better credit score than I do because of it LOL”
  • “They literally just said 5 minutes ago they had an upset stomach- this is not about you- you lunatic.”
  • “We are a loud, obnoxious family, not everyone is used to, or is into, that!”

I also learned I’m not sure what the end goal should even be. Are we not even supposed to have feelings when other people act in ways that we don’t like and just understand it’s their bullshit causing them to act that way and understand it has little or nothing to do with us? Are we just supposed to accept and embrace everyone for who they are?  Most self-care media suggests surrounding yourself and spending your time with people who have similar goals and outlooks on life and avoiding people who drain your positivity. So are they suggesting you just “cancel” family members? I understand cutting ties with family members who have repeatedly shown they can’t be trusted; but what about the family members who are just not on the same wavelength as you? Or have very different personalities? Or perhaps some shit they should probably work on? Or just make you crazy? Are we SUPPOSED to enjoy all the time we spend with people and therefore only spend time with people who we enjoy all the time?  Well, that can’t be it because I would be alone 100% of the time both because there is nobody I enjoy 100% of the time and FOR SURE nobody enjoys ME 100% of the time (LMAO)! 

 

 

The little yellow cat

Sean came into the living room tonight to report there was a little yellow cat on the porch meowing, so he opened the door to investigate, and it chased into our entryway after him hissing and spitting and meowing. So I come out to see if there is even really a cat since you never know with Sean.

There is a cat. And it is indeed meowing over and over as it almost frantically walks around on our steps looking at me through our kitchen window. I open the kitchen door and, as previously described by Sean, the cat comes running into the entry towards me, hissing, meowing, and trying to get into the house (even with giant Piper eagerly trying to join in on the fun!). So at this point, we are trapped in our apartment by this cat that I am convinced is rabid or something. I have never seen a cat act like that.

As we contemplate our plan, the cat leaves our porch and walks down the driveway so we can’t see her anymore. Sean is satisfied to move on with life. I, of course, am not. I go outside to see where the cat went and to check in with our neighbors who are cat people (and I mean CAT PEOPLE- like run a feral cat rescue, cat people). The second I turn the corner the cat comes at me doing the same hissing, crying, meowing. I talked to her (because I speak to all animals like they are people), “What is your deal? Are you lost? Are you hurt.?” When she reaches me, she starts rubbing on my legs and standing up on her back legs acting like she wants me to pick her up, but hisses and backs up if I start to bend over. Repeat. Repeat. “Ok weird cat. I’m going to see if you belong to someone.”

She did. Our neighbor exclaimed, “Oh my god! She got out earlier, and we haven’t been able to find her, and she’s never been outside before!” He walked outside with me, and the cat immediately ran (meowing, of course) into his arms.

And that was that.

I just can’t stop thinking about that little cat and the emotional turmoil she was CLEARLY going through. So much so that I honestly thought she was rabid. She was terrified but knew finding people, STRANGERS, to help her was the only way to get back where she belonged. She had to trust in people when it was going against her natural instincts. A giant internal emotional battle inside a tiny yellow cat. A tiny yellow cat who let herself trust (as much as she could) and is now home.

2018 in review

Why the heck not, right?

(And if you are wondering where I’ve been (and I’m sure you’re not), 1. I am journaling- like with a pen. In a journal. every morning, so that hits my writing spot. 2. I tried the new WordPress editor thing in November and H.A.T.E.D. it, and it wouldn’t work right on my chromebook, so I got annoyed and haven’t wanted to deal with it again.)

January: We started game nights. It lasted about a month with an occasional smattering here and there the rest of the year. I “Konmari’d”  …way ahead of the masses doing it now because of her new show.  I think I need to do it again. Jessi came to visit (you’ll see a theme here).january

February: The last shrouds of game night. Jessi came to visit. The winter blues started to set in. I fought them by trying to cross country ski and doing other fun stuff. Fun fact: I can’t cross country ski. YET.february.jpg

March: Beach vacation canceled (Boo!) and turned into an Old Orchard Beach vacation (aka making the best of a horror show of a month) –and visit with Jessi (shocking, I know)–and a super fun St Patrick’s Day that may become a tradition! Winter blues now officially “Seasonal Affective Disorder.”march

April: Sean turned 16!   Jessi came home to visit for Easter! I smell spring! I see sunshine …and the ground! I got REALLY into audiobooks! Jessi and I went to see Justin Timberlake in Boston on the train! Lonnie got fully into outdoor stuff and started going out in the woods to “do stuff,” -sometimes overnight- in freezing weather!april

May: I decided to become a plant person in an effort to have more hobbies and interests. Spoiler alert: MOST ARE STILL ALIVE! Yes, I said, “most.” We hiked. Sean cooked. I ran. Sean went to the Prom (under much duress)! I had my tubes tied! (Those 2 things not related)may

June: It’s SUMMER! Ran some more! Went to the lake with the dogs on my own! Hammocked and attempted to read a book. Instead, got a dead fish thrown at me by Piper and chaos ensued. We planted a little container herb garden. We had a doggie guest for a few weeks and Piper was in heaven!

june

July: It’s hot! I dove with both feet into Phit n’ Phat and set a goal to lose 100 pounds. Lonnie got a new charcoal grill that immediately began to feel like “the other woman,” but since I got Paella out of it, it’s all good.  We took the fam to Boston for a couple days and had a blasty-blast! Sean saw his fav Youtuber, Lonnie and I had real Korean food, we sat in Teslas.

july

August: We went to visit Jessi. Twice LOL In my defense…. the second time was for Sean to go school shopping. I ate my weight in watermelon. I continued to kick ass with PnP -even in Boston!august

September:  I started at UMaine grad school- Bye Bye Walden! I also started my internship. Bye Bye free time. Lonnie started a new job too at the crisis unit, so we had to find every moment we could to spend time together! AND– We became KITTY GRANPARENTS!  Oh yeah, and Jessi came to visit to pick up her new baby. september

October: I mastered getting up around 5-530 every day. Lonnie got back into hunting, so one night when I was bored and he was working, I went out and filled a bag with pine and fir needles to store his clothes in. He was wildly impressed and only mildly concerned about my clumsy-ass running around the woods with a saw.  Oh yeah, and Jessi came to visit… I mean it WAS her birthday month after all!october

November: When I started PnP I decided to start on the half sleeve I’ve always wanted. One flower at the time, every 20 pounds. Got my first one in November! Super fun turkey day at Jimmy and Lisa’s house and super fun AND FREEZING Black Friday with the kids- because… you know… Jessi was up for a visit 😉november

December: Merry Christmas! In true full-circle, game night came back! Sean went to Boston ON HIS OWN (with a friend) on the train to see a Travis Scott concert while I stayed in Portland at a hotel (and visited Jessi LOL). Christmas  (and Jessi) arrived and macaron making was attempted with pretty good success! Lonnie and I both worked Christmas Day, and he worked Christmas Eve too- that kinda sucked; but we made the best of it!

We brought in the New Year asleep. And I’m good with that 🙂  Bring on 2019!!!

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This is a puke-free zone.

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Last night I said, “Honey…..” and my daughter said, “What?” I replied, “Not you, honey; Lonnie honey.” She said, “I know, I was just kidding. You have a very specific Lonnie voice.” My gut reaction was a feeling of awkward, indignant embarrassment. 1. That I am so predictable and 2. That I have a ‘Lonnie voice’ and other people notice.

Fortunately, I am a MASTER at thought replacement because of all the self-help podcasts and books I listen to.

And you can be too!  I responded within 2 seconds  with a giggle and a smile and, “I know I do!”  Our brains are AMAZING. Within those 2 seconds, the following conversation happened inside my head.

“WOAH…. I’m having a negative emotion about that! What’s that about? Why does it bother me that she pointed that out? Oh. I know why? Because for most of my life I was a ‘tough guy’ and equated snarky and sarcastic with being cool and strong, but I’m past that now and I am trying to live my life modeling love, especially for the kids because I was such a terrible role model for them with their father. I KNOW I have a ‘Lonnie voice’ because I want him to know I love and care about him with every word I say, and because I feel happy just talking to him and it comes out in my voice!  I want everyone in the world, ESPECIALLY Jessi and Sean, to have a special person who brings out a special voice in them too! So I’m gonna OWN AND ROCK THAT SHIT!!!”

screenshot_20180604-095258_snapchat43249595_10156848241724581_1724424228268146688_nOne way I worked on this issue was to recognize when I was having a negative reaction to people displaying love by rolling my eyes or thinking, “OMG GET A ROOM,” or “gag me with a credit card and put me on layaway.” or the puke emoji. I decided every time I caught myself doing this, I would stop myself and replace the thought with a smile and “Aw. I love love. They look happy and the more happy people in the world, the better!”  (even if I didn’t really feel that way yet as I knew I was a ‘lover of love’-in-training)  The smile is important. Saying it all out loud is even better. When you accompany your thoughts with physical actions, your brain locks that shit in! With years of practice, my instant, involuntary response to people kissing, holding hands, or taking couple selfies, is now a smile and a feeling a happiness.

I think that’s pretty great!

I’ve been dreading this…..

screenshot_20180829-153934_samsung experience home3819688419122669314..jpg….and here it is. I’ve reached the practicum/field experience/internship stage of the MSW program. As of Saturday morning, I officially have no life outside of work, classes, and my practicum placement. OK; that’s dramatic and not even true. And a bad attitude. Let’s try that again. As of Saturday, I will have less free time and need to put a bit more focus into organization and time management so I can enjoy the free time I DO have!  THERE! Much better! For real though… looking at my calendar makes my heart race a little. I have carefully crafted my schedule to at least have Sundays free for family time, because they are my top priority!

I’m definitely scared and worried– partially because there is still a lot up in the air, but I also know I’ve got this. Lonnie is supportive. Sean seems to have his shit together. Jessi doesn’t even live around here 😉 And I feel good about at least having Sundays reserved for them. My biggest worry is working all my new healthy habits into this new busy lifestyle. I am kicking ass and taking names and I don’t want to throw away all I have learned. And I’ve not going to. MARK MY WORDS!

 

It’s not you, it’s us

Taboo subject alert: We have had several discussions about re-homing Piper over the past couple years. In fact, a few weeks ago we even began to put out feelers for amazing humans living in amazing situations with yards and kids and dogs and lakes where she could be her amazing self. Then we began to have lots of feels. …,.which to be honest, is quite uncharacteristic for me. I love dogs! BUT I am not one of those people who goes on vacation and sits around missing my dog. I do not call my dogs my children. I do not have dog birthday parties. My dogs own zero articles of clothing. And dogs are not allowed in the bed at night.

Back to Piper. She just turned 2 years old and she is an extremely intelligent dog with a lot of energy. We are a super laid-back low-energy, house. Recently, Piper has spent lots of time with her buddy, Mia. Both at our apartment and at my friend Nicole’s house–that is in the country with a nice big yard that Piper LOVED running around at top speed! Piper LOVES Mia. Mia LOVES Piper. Mia is everything Luna (our Golden Retriver) is not. Luna is an incredibly submissive and delicate flower. She has little to no interest in Pipers shenanigans. There is some playing, but mostly annoyance, and hunkering down or hiding to avoid getting TACKLED, herded, and dragged around by the collar. Not an optimal situation for either pup.

But I can’t let her go. She is 12/10 on the personality and intelligence chart and I love that shit! So we’ve made some renewed commitments to make sure both dogs are getting what they need to be happy. Lots more walks, separate (so Luna can RELAX) and together, and trips to the park run and run and run. Fortunately, both are good off-leash so on hikes and park trips, they can really go FULL SEND. I’ve also been taking the time to really train Piper to walk well on a leash to make it enjoyable for all involved and it’s WORKING! AND I spent today researching local agility training because I KNOW she will love it since she loves playground equipment so much! And we are HOPING a well-trained, well-exercised Piper will be a better friend for Luna. …Or at least be tired enough to take it down a couple notches.

And note-to-self and readers… Just because you have always wanted a German Shepherd or border collie or pug or English setter or husky or teacup poodle, etc doesn’t mean they are the right pup for your situation or that you are the right owner for theirs! Don’t ignore the widely available breed characterisric information …..like I did.

Cross the Green Mountain

A few weeks ago my mother said, “You know, looking at you kid’s Facebooks and Instagrams and all that, no one would never even know your father was dying. It’s a little odd.” She’s right, it was a little odd, particularly for me, a lover of all things social media and self-proclaimed open book. But I didn’t know what to say, I am not a “thoughts and prayers needed” kind of girl, and I didn’t need thoughts or prayers. I was having more than enough thoughts for all of us! If my father and I had a relationship status on Facebook, it would be “it’s complicated.” Even last night when my brother called to let me know Dad had died, I had no idea how to feel and had to keep reminding myself of all the recent conversations with friends telling me there is no “right” way to react or feel, only “my way.”

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Dad and Jessi, 1996

Right before my dad went into the hospital, we had an argument that began with my suggesting he move up here so my brother and I could help him out more than we could bein. I pissed him off, and he wrote me off. At his request, I never visited him in the hospital or the rehab facility where he lived his last couple weeks. While it hurt and pissed me off, I understand why he did it. My father was a stoic loner. Ending his life in need of 24/7 care was humiliating. He knew he was dying, he was scared, he was horribly ill and weak, and he just wasn’t able to add dealing with emotional drama to that list.  So it was easier to just ignore it…. me. And I completely understand this because he passed down to me that same ability to cut people off rather than allow them to cause me pain. That trait, given to me by my father, has been mostly blessing my entire life and I am thankful for the strength it has given me over the years.

Anger is so much easier to feel than sadness, forgiveness, or gratefulness. Given the way dad chose to end his life, compounded with the way he lived it, it would be So. Easy. to just say, “Fuck that guy!” I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t swirling around in my head a bit, but each, “fuck that guy,” is met with a good memory, a gratefulness for the traits that made me who I am today, and happiness for him that he no longer living in misery. He had a spot-on Donald Duck impression. He gave all his children passion for music and art. He loved me the best way he could, and in the best way I can, I love him right back.