I feel all of this, written by Rachel Hackenberg for the United Church of Christ’s daily devotional on 12/28/21:
“If you are eager to throw your 2021 calendar in the trash, and you have all of your incense and candles and rituals prepared to sweep out 2021 and bless 2022, remember that even when the year is new: there is still rage and death and dreadful absence that haunts our collective spirit and needs to be healed.
Make room for the rage.
Welcome it like a weary traveler who can’t find a room in the inn.
Give it space where it can cry and groan.
Light a candle if it labors through the night.
Do not be quick to console it, only keep it company to be sure it doesn’t harm others.
Amplify its voice.
Let it be messy and imperfect”
I appreciate this devotional because 2021 threw me for a loop (especially that last month or so). The events in my personal orbit as well as events in this country and world in 2021 have left me feeling older, feistier, and tired.
I don’t know of a better way of putting it, but I feel messy. I need time to process it all because of the emotional whiplash. I need time to recuperate.
There were happy moments for me, however. Photographic evidence:
A truly inspiring and prolific blogger who I follow, Jenny, of Jenny’s Lark, asked a question on her blog recently. I have been pondering it ever since.
Here is my paraphrased version of it: if there is ONE lesson you learned in 2021 that you can keep for yourself, while all of the other lessons disappear into thin air, what would it be?
A tough, yet interesting question to consider, don’t you think?
I’m going to make a list of the lessons I’ve learned in 2021 right now. I will edit this down to just one however.
I realized in 2021 that my life was out of balance: too much working in all it’s forms and not enough writing and publishing.
And this is exactly why, for me, 2022 is going to be all about one word.
Here’s the song of the year for me. I’m pretty sure you all will appreciate it, going into the new year.
So this is my attempt to produce a blog post after having written very little in the last week.
There’s lots of reasons I haven’t been engaged with blogging. 1) I broke my left foot last week and am adjusting to this unexpected temporary reality 2) the election (Yay Biden-Harris won!).
But I don’t want to focus on all that right now.
I feel like I have a lot to say on the subject of bangs and it would no doubt be of great interest to all of my followers.
I’m a fan of them. For myself. I have little tolerance for when they start invading my field of vision, and staying at home due to Covid-19 made me realize that I can trim them myself without completely destroying my “look”.
Not like I have a “signature look”, mind you. I guess I just surprised myself because I always assumed if I tried trimming them myself, they’d end up way too short. To avoid coming across as idiotic, I’d have to make up some lie about how it happened, like I got too close to my glue gun while crafting and had no choice but to chop them off super short. And I am a terrible liar, so that would have not gone well for me at all.
When my bangs get too long and I’ve had a more physical kind of day that results in semi-profuse sweating on my brow, they do something really odd. They curl up towards the ceiling. Like straight up. Like the only way I can rectify the situation is to completely wet and then blow dry my hair. Something I only care to do once a day, thankyouverymuch.
Years ago, I found a website that allowed me to put a head shot of myself up and choose all sorts of different hairstyles to see how they would look on my face. It surprised me how many of the ones that didn’t involve bangs actually looked pretty darn good on me. Of course that website didn’t account for the type of hair one has, which was a major downside. It didn’t factor in my hair being relatively thin and naturally wavy. So how the do’s with no bangs would look in real life on me would most certainly not be flattering.
Despite my hairdresser and both my kids (all bang-less individuals) telling me that I most certainly could pull off the “no bang” look, I don’t think I have the wherewithal to allow my bangs to grow out. They would be in my eyeballs as they grew. I’d be forced to use bobby pins to hold them back, which would look quite strange. Or I’d be doing that thing where I’m alternating blowing air upwards out of the side of my mouth so I can get the hair out of my way and see what’s in front of me and swiping my fingers over my forehead to brush those growing bangs out of my line of vision.
So I think for the rest of my life I’ll be wearing bangs.
I have an almost finished post about how “I” is for “Investment”. It’s about how I’ve been trying to do a better job of investing in myself. Using my time, emotional, physical, and spiritual energy to improve myself.
Investing in myself translates to intentionally going out for walks most mornings, which gives me a lift and helps to collect my thoughts about the day ahead. This investment also includes talk therapy via telephone with a behavioral health counselor. As well as doing more personal journaling and intentionally consuming entertainment that gives me the good feels. I’m feeling better about myself these days. That’s the gist of it.
The it occurred to me that dedicating an entire post to how I, as a privileged white upper-middle aged woman, was “investing” in myself was a bit too much. Too self involved.
That’s when the anxiety I experience on the daily crept into my brain and manifested itself into another “I” word of which I am quite familiar: “indecisiveness”. Because now what “I ” word am I going to pontificate about? There’s so many choices, I can’t possibly decide on which one.
There’s “irony”, which I have a little story about. I mentioned in a recent post how I was reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle in which I found some pearls of wisdom that resonated with me. Well, I finished that book several weeks ago. In one of the two all female Facebook groups I belong to, one of the admins posted a picture of herself looking all cute and holding up “Untamed”, notifying us that there was going to be a Facebook live video discussion of the book on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. In a moment of impulsivity, I replied that I would plan on attending.
I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to gain more experience with using video communication, both with friends and family, but also with people that I only know online, not IRL as they say. Zoom and Facebook Live are the tools du jour in the age of Covid-19, and I suspect that will only grow just like the amount of time we will be compelled to stick close to home.
Wednesday rolled around. I remembered about this “happening” about 5:30 p.m., after imbibing in a couple of cocktails. Supper wasn’t quite ready. Kid #2 was out at the local Hookah bar and about to come home soon. I was anticipating Kid #1 calling me at any time based on a message she had sent me earlier in the day. I had taken all my make up off, revealing just how “53” I looked. I hemmed and hawed, thinking about putting on some makeup, fluffing up my hair, grabbing “Untamed” and just doing it anyway.
Then Kid #2 came in the door, greeted by a very happy Radar-ling and his slinky sidekick Karl the cockeyed cat. I felt happy. Relaxed. I let myself off the hook and decided “Nah”.
After having intermittent pangs of guilt mixed with a side of regret about flaking out on this experience throughout that evening and into the next morning, I checked Facebook and learned that the admin hadn’t been feeling well the night before so she cancelled the event. Whew!
Now that’s irony. All that worry for nothing. Ha!
I am very tempted to continue this post with anecdotes on other “I” words that I have a lot to say about like “imagination”, “inspiration”, and “intention”.
However, I’m going to instead head on back to my “A-Z” draft folder and work through my indecisiveness surrounding the remaining letters of the alphabet I have to write about to complete this self-imposed challenge.
And leave you with one of my favorite Alanis Morrisette tunes.
They stick out too much. They are too big for my head.
This complex was reinforced by my mom.
Before leaving for my high school graduation photo shoot, Bonnie put scotch tape in her purse along with the little sticks of spearmint flavored gum and lipstick stained tissues I would always find in there when I was being snoopy.
Her plan was to use the tape to secure my ears closer to my head.
My badly permed hair was cut short around my ears, but with just enough hair to cover the top of each ear, as was the style back in 1984.
Bonnie’s perspective was that not MacGyvering my ears with scotch tape for this once in a lifetime photo opportunity would mean that I wouldn’t look as pretty as I could. Having friends and relatives see a photo with my natural ears sticking out as they did (and still do) would in some way be offensive.
I of course was humiliated to have this attention paid to my over-sized auditory appendages but I went along with it. “Mom knows best” and all that I guess.
Now I can look back at this story and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
It doesn’t matter if my ears are too big and stick out. It never did. They serve a great purpose for me. They work. They allow me to listen to the music I love. They allow me to hear my kids’ and Hubs’ voices. Our 6 year old grandson’s sweet voice. They alert me of danger. And they allow me to wear pretty, dangly, sparkly earrings whenever I want to.
My goofy looking ears allow me to do the one thing I enjoy doing the very most: Engage. And that is Everything.
Speaking of “Everything”, here’s a clip of a favorite song of mine and Hubs’ which we had the pleasure of listening to via the NPR channel on our Sirius XM during our road trip to the Midwest last month.
In the summer of 2009, Hubs and I took our two kids on a trip to Washington, DC.
In my mind, it was the best family trip we ever took. I think it had to do with the timing. Our eldest was about to begin her senior year of high school. Her sibling was a year behind her. It was a “seize this moment” kind of attitude we all bought into it which led it to be a memorable and amazing experience.
Part of the planning of this trip was discussing what “one thing” each of us wanted to be sure to see while in our Nation’s capital. Eldest chose the Ford Theater where President Lincoln was shot. The other kid chose the Shakespeare museum. If I recall correctly, Hubs chose Arlington Cemetery. I’m pretty sure I went generic, choosing the Smithsonian (not necessarily one specific museum there, because they are all fantastic).
Something that unexpectedly struck me while touring the Smithsonian Museum of National History was how in absolute awe the kids and I were of the Gems Gallery. Unlike Bonnie (my mom), I’ve never really been the kind of woman who felt a great need to have dazzling rocks adorning my fingers, neck, or ears. Sure, I love jewelry, but honestly I’m good with the costume variety.
I can just think of so many more wonderful things the money spent on fancy jewels could buy. And the experiences the money spent on fancy jewels could fund. The number of mouths it could feed. The amount of school supplies it could fund for under-privileged students. The number of shoes it could buy for the homeless.
We found ourselves gazing at these precious gemstones, “oohing and awing” all the while, deciding which ones we’d most like to wear if we could.
The Hope Diamond was my favorite. Stunning, shimmery deep blue and simply gorgeous.
As magnificent as these gems are, all of them together pale in comparison to all the other “Gems” in my life.
According to Merriam Webster, the “non jewel” definition of “gems” is: a highly prized or well beloved person.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to expand on this definition : a “Gem” is a highly prized and well beloved female human who has, in no particular order, inspired me, loved me, liked me, taught me, cried with me, laughed with me, challenged me, accepted me, shared with me, and cared with me.
I’m going to be honest here. I have too much to say about the “Gems” in my life to properly capture it in this one little post. That is how blessed I feel for the “Gems” in my life.
So, for now, I’m just going to highlight my blogger Gems. There is more to come as this blog proceeds.
I’ve mentioned them before, primarily when I was accepting a nomination for a blogging award (I know, they are cheesy and silly and to my knowledge there are no official prizes or awards ceremonies-but they are such fun) and having to nominate other bloggers as part of the deal.
But this is not that.
These are the blogging broads that never fail to encourage me. To introduce me to new ideas, new music, new recipes, new perspectives. The broads that also put themselves out there with their thoughts and feelings, opinions and grievances in such a way that make me feel less alone in the blogosphere.
I hope to connect with more blogging broads as I continue down this path I’ve put myself on, but for now, I just gotta say…I adore these 4 women and their creative writing abilities so much.
Christi, who lives in the wonderful state (my home state) of Minnesota and happens to be a very thoughtful, clever, intelligent and lovely human being with a knack for creative writing.
Nicole, who is quite a dynamo. Works full time with a husband and two small kids at home but still manages to pull off regular heartfelt posts about life.
Mona, who has been such a cheerleader for me. She’s brave, funny, sarcastic and surprising with her writing on her blog. And Geez Louise, she’s got some fantastic taste in music.
And then there’s Crystal. I’ve always loved that name. Crystal was the name of a girl I grew up with. She was one of those sort of rare birds in that she was pretty and popular (she was Homecoming Queen for Pete’s Sake), but she was also nice. Not a snot. Liked by everyone. My blogging friend Crystal is like that as well. She has a deep soul and a sharp intellect. I really admire her.
Now onto the question of the day: who are the “Gems” in your life, blogging or otherwise? I would be tickled to hear all about them.
The humorous blogger Mona, over at Wayward Sparkles nominated me for the “Real Neat” blog award.
Thank you, Mona!
Isn’t that nice of her? She’s a very cool chick who has a lot to say, about well..a lot. She does so in a quirky, heartfelt sorta way. And she’s super into music, like me. So of course we’ve become blogging pals.
As a nominee, I have been directed to answer the following questions:
Which five places would you like to visit and why?
What food will you not eat and why?
What super power would you like to have and why? (Anything goes!)
What was your childhood dream job/career?
What current actor do you think would make a great Elvis Presley in a movie about his life? Rhonda would like to know this, I think!
What one thing would you like to see happen in 2021?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and would like to pass on to others?
5 Places: All 50 states in our camper with Hubs. We would take a whole year and work odd jobs here and there to keep gas in the truck and our bellies adequately filled. Of course I’d be blogging all about it and who knows…maybe it’d result in a book!
Then of course, there’s Napa Valley, California because wine. And beautiful scenery. NYC to visit all the touristy sites and of course be in the audience at SNL. Europe (England, Germany, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands and other places I’m sure). Cleveland, Ohio to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Food I won’t touch with a 10 foot pole: Sweet potatoes. I think it’s weird to have potatoes that taste sweet. Yuck!! Potatoes are best with salt, pepper, and cheese and all that other salty and fatty stuff.
Superpower: To fly. At will. Whenever I need a break from the hum drum of life. To learn about the world through my own eyes and feel free at the same time.
Childhood dream/career: I remember making countless lists of careers I wanted to pursue (I seem to recall it being pretty eclectic: stewardess, lawyer, psychiatrist) but the one I think that was most consistent was being an actress/writer. Think Rachel Bloom from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”. I think had I been 12 when that show came out, I’d have been the president of her fan club and very possibly her stalker.
Who plays Elvis? Let me back up here for a sec. This needs context. I posted about the fabulous musical talent Yola recently. While researching her online, I learned that she is to play Sister Rosetta Tharpe in a new bio-pic about Elvis Presley. I did a bit of pondering with other bloggers in my comments section as to who might play Elvis. Didn’t realize till now that the role has been cast. I do think he looks the part, don’t you all?
What one thing would I like to see happen in 2021? Sorry, Mona, in these turbulent times I simply can’t limit it to just one. First one is a cure and vaccine for Covid-19. Second is much prosperity and equality for humans, specifically those who have been so underprivileged for far too long. Health care for all, more financial equity, a much improved and accessible educational system.
Best advice: Life is Fragile, Be Gentle. It wasn’t exactly advice that another person verbally expressed to me. It was this sign that my Dad had hanging on the wall inside his favorite place, our garage. I think one of the best things we can do to be the best versions of ourselves is to heed this advice. Be kind to others, but also to yourselves. Because life is too fragile and precious to do otherwise.
Now this is the part of the post where I nominate other bloggers that I think are quite neat; well actually spectacular. And they are….
I’m marveling at how much my life has changed since last summer.
This summer we have our youngest kiddo and their cat living with us.
This summer we are limited in what we can do and where we can go because of a little something called Covid-19.
This summer we have our own camper which allows us to safely explore parts unknown (aka campgrounds).
And this summer my role at work is morphing into something unexpected and potentially very interesting.
Right now my spirit animal, the one I requested the in-house artist to create for me, is in a state of flux. Behold the Squirtoise.
The squirrel part is pondering creative ideas to bring into my new work project. She’s chewing on how best to support the kiddo in my house with the challenges they are currently facing, as well as the other kiddo who’s single-momming it over in Wisconsin. She’s spinning her wheels trying to figure out what needs to be said and what doesn’t need to be said within this blog.
The tortoise part is doing what she can to slow the squirrel’s roll. She’s firmly opposed to being rushed, particularly by outside sources. She’s soaking up the summer sun and pausing to listen to and appreciate all the other creatures in her midst. She’s the one to blame for this post not being published today instead the usual, Wednesday morning before work.
As you can see, my squirtoise is at odds with herself. She yearns to find a balance between attempting to do great big scary things in this world and enjoying the simple blessings of summer. That sweet balance between activity and relaxation. She needs to sort out when to let the squirrel be in charge and when the tortoise has to take over.
You could say the squirrel part of my spirit animal represents my enthusiasm for life. And probably my ADHD tendencies. The tortoise represents the wisdom garnered by my somewhat advanced age and desire to take things slow and live each day with intention. It’s not unlike a child/parent dynamic.
Any way you and I look at it, my squirtoise guides me as I write, work, parent, love, learn, play, and everything in between. Much like my personal Mantronym. For better or worse I suppose.
Do you have a spirit animal? What does it look like? Is it a real-life animal or person, or a mashup like mine? Please share in the comments!
I’ve chosen the letter “C” for my first installment of this writing experiment because I’ve been itching to write about collaboration. It’s such a powerful thing when two or more people come together to produce something better than what they could have done as individuals.
Like when friends come together to produce fundraisers to help someone in need. Or when families come together to pull off a great surprise party for a loved one. When great scientific minds from different disciplines come together and connect the dots to find treatments to combat physical or mental health challenges. I think when people come together with a common goal, shared hearts, and varied skills and talents, wonderful things can happen.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the “stay at home” or “safer at home” orders (depending on where you live) causing us to have more time at home to consume entertainment, I’m going to focus on that type of collaboration here.
One of my WIGS (Wildly Improbably Goals, a concept coined by sociologist/author/life coach Martha Beck) as a writer is to collaborate with other writers. Put our writerly heads together and come up with original programming. Learn and grow from each other. Inspire and amuse each other. Inspire and amuse the world at large.
Allow me to give you a visual that demonstrates how I envision working with a team of other writers on a tv or film set (I’d be the one taking the picture).
If I were a producer, however, I’d be in a position where I could orchestrate interesting musical collaborations….
The first one would be Alicia Keys and Alanis Morrisette. It might sound cheesy, but I envision them putting together a 2020 version of “Ebony and Ivory”, a la Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul. Alicia would be at the piano and Alanis would whip out her harmonica at just the right moment. I think their voices would compliment each other.
How about a star-studded version of that rebellious ’80’s tune by Twisted Sister, “We’re not Gonna Take It”? It’d be along the lines of “We are the World” (remember that one?) featuring artists such as Foo Fighters, Green Day, and Pink. It’d be the rallying cry for the DNC to motivate Americans to vote all blue in 2020.
One of Hubs’ favorite songs of all time is “A Little Good News” by the Canadian songbird Anne Murray. I’d like to see Jewel collaborate with the Dixie Chicks to cover this one. Wouldn’t it be so fitting for these times?
Let’s have some fun, people! Let me know by sharing in the comments what collaborations you’d love to see in these times? Or maybe share a collaboration you have seen and loved?
Here’s the best one I have probably ever seen. Enjoy!
I was late to the party. Not an uncommon occurrence for me, when I reflect back on my life.
Or I could say I missed the boat. The boat that scores of other bloggers hopped on last month. The “A-Z” challenge. For whatever reason, this annual blogging challenge didn’t come to my attention until last month, when I began reading Crystal’s “A-Z” challenge blog posts. And while enjoying these posts, I found myself thinking that I should do this. It’s just so up my alley.
But April is outta here and now we are in May and I’d feel like a dork if I started it now. And today’s is Mother’s Day and I probably should be publishing a post about that.
I’m going to embrace my dorkiness and do it anyway. With a twist though. My way. In other words, not starting with the letter “A” and ending with the letter “Z”. I am committed to covering each and every letter in the alphabet however. Just not in order.
Being that I’m starting this writing challenge this month as opposed to last month, I’m already not “in order”. So I’m going to just roll with that.
That’s why I’m calling it the “Alphabet Soup” challenge. I will keep the list of the letters with the corresponding words in a special draft folder and cross them off each time I publish a post (lest I accidentally choose one letter twice). Until I’ve done them all. It might take a while but I’ll do it regularly. I’ll aim for once a week, but there might be a week here and there where some other topic has taken up too much space in my brain or in my heart compelling me to write about that instead.
I hope you’ll stick with me folks. It’s going to be an experiment. And if there ever was a time to be experimental with the writing I put out there in the universe, this, my friends, is it.
Things have changed in oh so many ways. And I suspect the changes in my life, both at work and at home, are going to continue, in wild and unexpected ways. For better and for worse. As all of ours will due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
I was banished from my workplace yesterday. It came to light via email yesterday morning that I may have had contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Not anyone at work, but an unknown individual (HIPPA prevents the employer of this person from publicly naming them) at a location where I was picking up items for our food bank.
While I donned a face mask during this pick up and am fairly certain did not get any closer than 6 feet from anyone else there, my employer gave me the rest of the week off (with pay, thankfully) as a precaution.
So here I am now, at home, overthinking everything and anything. Unsure what to do next. Determined to maintain continuous virtual contact with my co-workers, at the ready to answer questions or complete other tasks assigned to me that can be done from home (what those tasks might be remains to be seen, but I am determined to roll with it). In other words, I finally broke down and decided it is in my as well as my employers best interest to sync my personal cell phone to my work email account. I suppose I’ll be setting up a Zoom account on this phone shortly too.
All that said, I am, alas, at home today until next Monday (with maybe one trip to the store in the mix). So clearly I ought to take care of our little sanctuary. Do some cleaning. Organizing. It’ll make me feel better and it will increase our collective level of comfort.
But not until I engage in some serious ventinglamenting writing. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been fantasizing about just one day during which I inhabit the role of a full-on, at home, creative writer. One who furiously taps away on her Chromebook drinking an array of beverages all the while-starting with coffee and ending with a glass of fine Pinto Grigio. Wearing the comfiest of clothes , making sure to get up and stretch and/or dance to keep those muscles loose and the mental energy high.
So that’s my plan for today. I think anyway. Because I also know this….