At the tail end of 2019, I submitted in this post that 2020 ought to be my year of “Clarity”. I won’t presume that any of you fabulous readers will hold me accountable for this declaration, so I will do the deed myself.
I’ve gained much clarity in my work life in this new year. The dynamics are changing (new boss) and the expectations my employer has for me in the coming year have been clarified. I’m feeling enthusiastic about the new changes to come and the support that I’m experiencing.
I’m also feeling more clarity in terms of what I am paying attention to. As well as what I’m not giving my attention to. For instance, I’ve decided that for Lent, I’m giving up on stalking a certain state’s court website for updates on the legal status of a person who has wreaked havoc on the lives of my family (for the last 6 years, give or take), specifically it’s most beloved members. I’ve come to realize that this stalking I’ve been doing is draining my mental and emotional energy. Not to mention it’s completely pointless. What happens, happens. Checking it obsessively is not going to impact the outcome.
A musical “epiphany” I had recently drives this realization home for me. It’s from the momentous song we all know by heart: “Let it Be” by the Beatles. The line after “Let it be” is “there will be an answer”. And all this time I’ve been focusing on the “let it be” part. I have faith that there will be an answer, not only in this wretched aspect of my family’s life, but in all things. It’s about faith; letting go and trusting the answer will come.
My 2020 soundtrack is providing me with clarity in how I approach things these days. “Listen as your day unfolds”. That is a great line; the first in “You Gotta Be” by Des’Ree. I see it as a directive for me to pay attention to my environment in the day to day. To pay attention to the people I encounter. The feelings I’m feeling, both emotional and physical. The media I consume.
Clarity with what my writing process is happening as well. I’m honing in on what works and what doesn’t. A prime example is that, per David Sedaris’ suggestion, I’m jotting down my daily observations. I find it to be a sort of therapy in that after I’ve done it, I feel refreshed. It’s helping me sort out what it is exactly that I have to say and how I want to say it.
Before I sign off here, I have a question for you all: What are you clear about in your writing and/or personal life? Right here and right now-in the current?
It feels to me as if the term “self-care” is being tossed around a lot these days. It’s “trending”, which I take to mean the concept will, before long, peter out. It will lose it’s meaning, it’s importance. People will tire of it, finding ways on social media to mock it and render it irrelevant. They’ll find another term to latch onto.
Ironically, I just googled “self-care” and on Merriam Webster, front and center, there is an icon of lightening next to the word “trending”. My point is thus proven.
Before this concept is indeed no longer trending, I’d like to add my two cents about self- care. I can only speak from my own perspective of course, recognizing that many people in the world are struggling mightily to survive another day, physically and/or mentally, so finding the time and energy to even ponder what self-care means let alone practicing it eludes them. Which really is a damn shame.
Bottom line: I am grateful that I have enough quiet time to myself, along with the mental energy to both identify what self-care looks like to me and the physical and intellectual ability to regularly engage in the activities that promote it. Especially during those times, like right now, when those people near and dear to me are experiencing life challenges that are weighing on my mind and heart, causing me to feel utterly helpless.
I think that in order to practice self-care in any sort of meaningful way, it’s necessary to define for yourself what it specifically looks like to you. However, taking the time to recognize why practicing self-care is beneficial for you should be your first task. My personal theory is that if I choose to not practice self-care, my ability to be emotionally present for my loved ones will be dwarfed. I will feel put-upon, frustrated, tired, and stressed out. By not practicing self-care, I will lessen my ability to find the silver linings in things as well as hindering my ability to be the best version of myself. By regularly practicing self-care, my chances of being effective at providing emotional support to those I love greatly increase.
Now, while I am admittedly an over-thinker, I cling firmly to the K.I.S.S. mantra (the Keep it Simple, Sister version) when it comes to what self-care looks like for me. I don’t believe any self-improvement endeavor is worth much if there are too many steps.
Let me share some of the self-care tactics that work for me. I urge you to consider what yours are and then share them with me and our blogging friends here in the comments, if you feel comfortable doing so.
I keep a regular sleep schedule and make it a priority to get enough sleep (8.5 hours per night has proven to be ideal for me).
I listen to my Soul Song and other playlists daily as they bring me joy. I find that listening to my music each morning puts me in a positive mindset for the day ahead.
Regular grooming of fingernails/hands and toenails/feet. As in, at home manicures and pedicures. Taking care of my physical appearance in this way boosts my confidence as I am out and about in my day to day life. And it’s a very relaxing activity for me, especially when I’ve got my favorite tunes playing in the background.
I regularly make to do lists, which gives me a sense of order and purpose. This tactic calms my anxious brain and is a valuable tool that boosts my focus on my priorities for the day, or week. I also get a little kick every time I check something off on my to-do lists.
I lay out my yoga mat and stretch my body and do a few strengthening and toning exercises every single morning. I follow that up with some prayer time. Expressing gratitude and connecting with the Spirit helps me clear my head and gives me good mental energy for the day ahead of me.
I ignore people that only have negative things to say as much as I possibly can. You know who they are in your own life. We all do.
I strive to remain mindful as I go through my days. For instance, really listening to people instead of thinking up responses to what I think they are going to say. Also, limiting the amount of times I check my cell phone throughout the day allows me opportunities to see and experience what is going on in my environment. I think it’s healthy to keep FOMO (fear of missing out) at bay.
I mentally pull out a phrase or mantra that speaks to me if I’m feeling stressed, such as “This too shall pass”, or “Let it Be” of course in song version because that is how my brain works.
This past weekend, I attended a “Metaphysical Fair” with my girlfriend here in Colorado. Hubs sarcastically referred to it as a “Satanic Convention”, but I assured him that this not the case. I explained to him that attending this event was my way of expanding my horizons, trying something new.
Truthfully, my primary objective in attending this event was to actually do something I’ve always wanted to do: partake in a psychic reading.
There were a multitude of psychic/mediums/tarot card readers/clairvoyants sitting behind card tables along the periphery of the venue. I walked around, checking them out while asking myself in my head of course “how does one pick their first medium/psychic/tarot card reader/clairvoyant?” Was there some kind of strategy that I should be employing? It hadn’t occurred to me prior to this event to give any thought to this. So, I strolled around, sizing each one of them up.
There were the ones that looked the part: bejeweled women on the other side of 60 with colorful attire and wreaths atop their noggins. There were others that looked like they could be your next-door neighbors or your kid’s best friends mom or dad.
I ended up picking a friendly looking white dude around my age who had the word “Thunder” in his name. I approached this whole scenario with an open mind, sprinkled with just a pinch of skepticism. He almost immediately pegged me as a “planner”. That observation didn’t necessarily impress me, as a middle aged white woman donning her green sweater and emerald jewelry she rarely wears because she obviously planned her attire for St. Patrick’s Day.
He then mentioned that after holding my hands in his for approximately 2 minutes and 8 seconds that he sensed I had lost someone who had a habit of massaging the back of my hair and neck. Nope, I told him. Could not think of anyone who habitually did this to me. He told me that it may come to me later who it is. We shall see.
This gentle, friendly psychic/tarot card reader directed me to pick 5 cards from an array of large tarot cards, each depicting it’s own unique artwork. He then flipped them over. The first card revealed that I was a healer. He asked if I worked in the medical profession. I told him I didn’t per se, but for much of my professional career I have served clients that had physical and mental disabilities. So he wasn’t too far off. Then he pointed to another card and said he could sense that I would have the aptitude for something called “Akashic records”. This is what struck me. Though I have no clue what this term means (he strongly urged me to look it up which I intend to do soon), Hubs fraternity, the place that had it not existed I may in fact never have even met Hubs, was called “Acacia”. Say what?!
He also mentioned that he sensed I lost someone who struggled with back pain, possibly kidney trouble. As he did this, he placed his hand in the middle part of the left side of his back. I told him that it was me, as for years now I’ve struggled with pain in that exact spot. He told me he didn’t sense this was anything serious, but that I should lay off the junk food and drink more water. While I admit this directive may have been a result of him noticing my spare tire, I feel it is very good advice that I shall heed.
One of the other cards that I randomly picked was “long term”. He explained that he felt I should stop feeling guilty and start thinking long term. Honestly, the statement about guilt struck me because as a people pleaser, guilt is a state in which I have lived for much of my life. He said I need to “get the ball rolling” and not get so caught up in how things are going to turn out. Kind of a general, solid piece of advice for just about anyone. However, I think this clearly applies to my blogging. It was a reminder to me to stop overthinking and/or trying to force the words out of my brain and onto my computer screen.
While I’m pleased with my first experience with a psychic/tarot card reader because he essentially told me what I needed to hear and expressed an understanding of who I am as a person, perhaps the best thing that came out of this experience was a book I picked up there. I’ve been telling myself that I’ve been neglecting my “song brain” in my blog posts for a while now and I swear this book literally had my name on it.
It’s titled “Soul Song Playlist: How to rethink your favorite music and manifest your dreams”.
I’ll be delving into it as soon as I finish “The Bedwetter: tales of Courage, Redemption and Pee”, by Sarah Silverman. Didn’t see that coming, did you?
I have what can only be described as a “songbrain”. How it works: a certain word or phrase will be used in my presence, or a mood will strike me and a song starts up between my ears. It’s like a have some kind of jukebox that clicks on just the right song to match what’s going on with me emotionally in the moment. I don’t have to will the song to play, it just does.
Now, readers who are familiar with my blog surely understand my deep and abiding love for music. I have been known to wax nostalgic about music from my growing up years like I did here: Song Stories
I’ve also shared my love of making Google playlists for myself, like I did here: Music Therapy
Suffice it to say:
This is the song that runs through my head on days when my 50 year old body is crack ‘a lacking and I forget what I came down to the kitchen pantry to get. Today, truth be told, is kinda one of those days. Thank the good lord I have a massage scheduled later.
This is the song in my head when I’m feeling sassy, playful, and I’m having a particularly good hair day.
This is the song Hubs and I could very much relate to when our spawn were, at 14 months apart, in the throes of those oh so fun teenage years. It allowed us to daydream for a bit. Thanks, Fastball.
This is a song I recently discovered while listening to The Current, a MPR station out of the twin cities, which has a show on Sunday mornings entitled “United States of Americana”. This is a song that really makes me think and feel. Now when I am reading or watching news reports about young black youth being harassed, beaten, or killed (as in the case of Trayvon Martin in Florida), I hear this song in my head. “With a pocketful of Skittles”. That line, to me, is the essence of the entire song. He was just a kid.
“My Sweet Lord” by the late, great George Harrison is so beautiful to me. It comes to mind for me when I’m feeling present, aware, and grateful for all of the blessings I have in this life of mine. It’s both comforting and worshipful to me.
I would like to present to you the reasons for good lord that we as Americans need to offer blessings for Bobby Mueller.
I do realize his name is Robert. However, I recently saw Tim Weiner (pronounced “whiner” not “wheener” like this dude below) on Rachel Maddow’s show refer to Mr. Mueller as Bobby, so I’m going with that. It seems more relatable to me to refer to this potential American hero using this likeable nickname.
Mr. Weiner is a former New York Times reporter, author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. I think it’s fair to go with the assumption he knows Bobby on a personal level.
I write this post as a relatively well informed (politically) American, whose faith, often informed by my chosen religious denomination of the United Church of Christ, can’t help itself from co-mingling with my politics. Yes, my faith and my politics are colliding.
Not like the way a baseball bat collides with that dumb pinata from your kids birthday party that simply will not break open and supply you with all the sugar needed to line the pockets of your neighborhood dentist for eons. More like this:
I am not telling you to pray to God. Or Yahweh, El, Allah, Dude, or any of the other monikers your religion dictates they be called. But if any of those are your jam, by all means go for it.
I am by no means even directing you to pray. I believe atheists are good people too.
I am encouraging you to send this man positive energy, as you personally see fit. It might be in the form of meditating on a positive message for him along Boulder Creek on a cloudless August morn. It might be in the form of baking cookies that you deliver to him in person (I am going to be in D.C. soon). It might be making a giant, lit up, lawn sign that says “Find the Truth Bobby”. Whatever floats your boat.
My point is, this man needs all the good juju we can collectively send his way.
Fact is, he’s got a long, hard road ahead of him in his search for the truth. And regardless of where your political alliances reside, all of us as Americans will benefit from the full truth being brought to life.
So here’s my go at a prayer for Bobby:
Dear Infinite Spirit,
Are you there, Creator? It’s me, Real Rhonda. No, this is not going to be me lamenting about my impending menopause. As you are aware, I am fully ensconced in AARP land here in Colorado with my Hubs. And I believe in you.
As you undoubtedly are aware, the United States is in turmoil. The man narcissistic bully con-man serving as POTUS has turned everything upside down. He has recklessly pitted Americans against each other with his non-inclusive rhetoric and agenda. He appears hell-bent on taking this great country of ours down in flames. Most importantly, it appears he, along with his cadre of reprehensibles, have not only worked in cahoots with the Russian government to obtain the power they now enjoy, they are also likely benefitting financially from their evil endeavors.
Bobby Mueller needs your guidance, your strength, and your grace.
Please provide him these tools so that America can survive this assault on our democracy and begin to thrive again.
Please be present for him as he hires staff to help him with this investigation.
Please be present for him as he prepares the questions to be asked of those he subpoenas.
Please provide him with the physical, mental, and spiritual energy he will need for however long it takes for him to find the whole truth and present it to the American people.
Please provide him with the fortitude to successfully prosecute all of the individuals who are found to have broken the law.
Our big road trip visiting family and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin came to a close when we landed home last Monday evening. The trip had it’s share of ups and downs. The downs are why I have not posted anything on this blog since our return. I, for lack of a better term, needed a “vacation from my vacation”. I realize that is utterly a “first world problem” but given my emotional/mental state after this two week journey, it is 100% true. I assure you, however, that there were more ups than downs.
It is so absolutely flipping awesome to be back home again in my happy bubble in Colorado. Back to our own comfy cozy bed. Back to my wonderful microwave that pops my popcorn to perfection with one small tap on the “popcorn” button. Back to counting bunnies on my (mostly) daily strolls around our neighborhood. Back to my weekly volunteer gig at our local food bank, where I have the pleasure of directly helping those in need while not being responsible for navigating the day to day trials and tribulations of my clients’ lives (as I did as a social worker in Wisconsin for years). Best of all, I’m back to blogging.
Time spent in the car traveling through Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin provided me with ample opportunity to do some personal pondering. I took stock of the varied life experiences I’ve had and how they have informed who I am in the here and now. That said, here is a by no means comprehensive list of lessons learned during my life as a girl and a woman. These lessons, in small and sometimes big ways, led me to become the 50 year old creative writer/optimist/politically aware and engaged/spiritual/feminist/truth-telling broad/hot mess I am now.
First lesson learned: There are truly good guys out there-you just have to be patient. And I deserve respect, dammit!
Moment: I was the girl in college who, thank-the-good-lord, chose to not stay with and/or marry the boyfriend who referred to my breasts as “clangers” (as in “hey honey, your clangers are looking fine today”). I shit you not. I met Hubs in the nick of time.
Second lesson learned: It’s okay to look like a fool. And you feel better about yourself if you resist the impulse to run away, crying in shame. And it’s okay that you just gave your fellow Zumba pals a funny story to tell over margaritas later.
Spoiler Alert: I may have learned this lesson from a goofy lady who annoyed Bob Barker.
Moment: I was the woman who at 40-something decided on a lark to join a Zumba class. Probably 2 classes in, I tripped over my own feet while attempting to keep up with a fast paced number, landing ever so gracefully on the floor with a thud. Shortly thereafter, I popped back up to continue the dancing festivities. I think this was the moment I decided to stop caring if I looked like an idiot in public. I imagine I may have looked a little like this:
Third lesson learned: God is among us.
Moment: I was the UCC’er (United Church of Christ) who experienced the most spiritual moment of my life when, at Hub’s and my one and only year of attending Lay Academy, our group was re-baptized under a sunny blue October sky in Wisconsin while singing the hymn “Here I am Lord”. The connectedness to the spirit and humanity in that place was palpable. Growing up, and as a young adult, I could not have imagined myself in this scenario.
Third lesson learned: You can survive the ultimate embarrassment of your mother doing this:
As a pimple faced, awkward 14 year old with a bad perm, I miraculously survived this epic mortification. Even in spite of the knowledge that all of my high school classmates got to watch it when it aired during the school day (it was a moment of civic pride for our small Minnesota town), I managed to keep my head held (somewhat) high. Thankfully I got to stay home with my family for a private viewing. I am ever so grateful my mother’s 15 minutes of fame happened in ye olden times before the advent of social media.
Fourth lesson learned: At the core of true friendship is kindness.
Moment: I was the 13 year old girl who desperately wanted to follow her big sister’s footsteps and be a cheerleader (Go Agates! Yes, that was our sport teams’ name. You can only imagine how much crap we got for that). My best friend, Therese, was also trying out for cheerleading. When she was picked and I was not (mind you, I had the voice and enthusiasm but absolutely no other cheerleading skills such as doing the splits or a cartwheel, so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise), she offered to decline the position in order for me to snatch it and bask in the glory of the cheerleading life. I refused her offer. To this day, this may be the single most kind thing another human being has done for me. Did I mention that all of the girls trying out made the team but me? We had a small high school. Don’t judge.
Fifth lesson learned: Choose your friends wisely, and treasure them always. And cancer sucks the big one.
I was the bride who had the good sense to appoint the best possible personal attendant in my dear friend Gail. She arrived armed with necessities such as safety pins and kleenex. She was a skilled wedding dress hoister-upper while I peed and smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves in the bathroom at our wedding reception. She passed away from cancer 5 years ago and I think of her often and miss her so so much. Cancer is such a cruel fricking bastard. This is why I will support political candidates who believe in financially supporting medical research. I wish everyone could have a friend as special as Gail was to me.
How about you all? What moments in the timeline of your lives contributed to the life perspectives you have now?