Saturday, December 31, 2011

ringing out, ringing in....

so my attempts at writing every day in december fell flat on their collective face; HOWEVER, i'm proud of myself for even trying...and isn't that all that really matters?

it's an hour and ten minutes from the new year and i'm so damn thankful to say goodbye to 2011. this year, while a blessing in the sense that it was another 365 days around the sun that i spent above ground, was taxing, tiring, tremendously tense, and a few other 't' words i can't think of just now. i need a new frame of reference, and i'm hoping 2012 can be just the change i'm in the market for.

while i can't recap most of what was difficult for me this year (this is a public blog, after all), let's just say that i'm glad i ended it with my best friend in the world. we spent the day just as girlfriends should: brunching, shopping, laughing our asses off, singing random songs, driving around town, watching movies, talking about men-people, and just getting to enjoy each other's company. i am so thankful that regardless of what kind of madness comes my way, i have someone in my life who's always on my side, always got my back, always the keeper of the things i hold dear. there is nothing in all the world like a true friend...and i'm just so fortunate to have a few to call my own.

in the coming year, i want to dig deeper into my relationships (the ones i've had to shelve for the sake of my busy-ness), pursue my creative leanings, make more time for true rest (not the counterfeit version i've been trying on for size), drink more water, eat better, and turn off the devices a bit more often. i want to carve out a new path for myself...one that means me getting to be happy and to live some of the dreams i'm still holding out for 'someday.' someday is now. someday is 2012. day one starts in an hour, and how shall i spend it?

first, i intend to get up at a reasonable hour. then, i'm going to go see my favorite almost-one-year-old and his phenomenal parents. i'm going to soak in the love of people i hold dear to me. and then i will get out all my pent-up aggression while watching my favorite football team kick the collective bee-hind of the cincinnati bengals (Lord, let it be so). i will have madcap fun with my bff. i will think positive thoughts and make grandiose plans. i will not regret one moment.

and then the next day, and the day after that, i will make every effort to taste the sweetness of what is in front of me. this past year may have left a bad taste in my mouth, but the coming year will be delicious. i just know it....

[note: if you've intentionally or unintentionally found your way here—and whether you know me personally or not—my hope for YOU is that 2012 brings you all the joy and laughter and love your heart can hold. may you be overwhelmed by all that is good and lovely in this world of ours. and then may you share that goodness and loveliness with someone next to you who needs a little of it. happy new year. today and every day.]

today's prompt: what is your "one word"? One word for this year, one word for next year—courtesy of Amy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

the book shelf

friday's prompt (i'm running behind): What was your favorite children's book? —courtesy of Niki

when i was little, i didn't have a boatload of fancy, brand-name toys and trinkets (no barbie dream house for me, folks!), but what i did have, i had in spades. like my father, consumer of all things literary, i had a shelf (or two, eventually) packed full of books.

for one thing, i learned to read when i was 3, so my voracious kid-brain started devouring stories as soon as i knew what they were. also, my dad read to me practically every night (even long after i could read for myself)...it was our little ritual. sometimes i would spend what seemed like hours in my room, just reading and re-reading the books from my shelf. some were brand new, many were hand-me-downs from my sister, but i didn't care. i loved them all. the pictures, the smells, the feel of the pages beneath my fingers. i would sometimes bring a flashlight to bed so i could stay up as late as possible to keep the magic of a story alive.

to add beauty upon beauty, my aunt was a librarian and would often send some lovely book to me for christmas, signed by the author and/or illustrator (i thought this was magical somehow, never once considering that she probably had to attend some library conferences for work). i still have all those treasured gifts stored in boxes, along with a few dozen other books that just meant the world to me: where the wild things are, bread and jam for frances, the little bear series, the very hungry caterpillar, anything by dr. seuss...the list goes on and on.

even now, when i'm feeling particularly blah, i'll go into the bottom of my closet and open those boxes, look at all the familiar faces and stories, remember writing my name on the inside covers (sometimes in crayon), and get swept away once again in the magic and adventure of the stories they contain. those books kept me busy on rainy days. they taught me lessons about how to treat other people. they opened my imagination and sparked my creativity. and they are the reason i learned to love words.

so, yeah. if i had to pick a favorite? i'm going with the whole shelf:)

mom, jr.

i've done a lot of soul searching and self-examination in my adult years, and one of the many conclusions to which i have arrived with little to no effort is this: the apple does not, in fact, fall far from the tree.

as a kid, i always remember my mother wearing high-heeled pumps and suits and going off to work early in the morning and coming home long after dinner was done. she put in hours over the weekend. she worked on family holidays at my grandparents' house. and she talked about work (and the people at work) constantly. these things drove me batty as a child, when my one and only wish in all the world was for someone to take me to disney world and pay attention to me, for God's sake. i promised that i wouldn't ever be shackled to my job when i grew up, and i'm generally happy to say that, except for the last 12 to 18 months of my life, that's been true for me.

but more than the workaholic i knew and loved as a child, my mother was (and is, and ever shall be) someone who got things done. she took charge, she rallied troops, and people generally followed suit (often so relieved that someone was willing to take the reins). she has always been able to pack a suitcase like a champ, figure out how to jerry-rig a sagging curtain rod (with fishing line, tied to a heating vent!), iron some complicated garment with precision, sew a costume, and can help you pick some good stocks, write a killer resume, and rearrange your whole apartment in a matter of days. she is a workhorse. she is relentless. she is a chip off the old block (the old block being my grandmother, a 4'11" spitfire named sarah).

and who am i? um, pretty much someone following in many of this woman's (and the woman before her's) footsteps. i am pushy. i will follow up until action is taken. i see things through to completion. i always carry tissues in my purse in case of allergies.

but we're not entirely the same, you see. i am definitely less orderly in my life. and for years, i was embarrassed by my mother's diligence (especially when it involved her confronting someone in public - the humiliation!), but i have gotten to be not only like her in that way but even more so. during one particular incident in a video store a number of years back, i was confronting the manager about the store's horrid customer service and the fact that they were accusing me of stealing some ridiculous movie. after a particularly long string of rebuttals and announcements about the abject unrighteousness of the situation, my mother took my elbow and quietly said, 'i think you should back down now.'

i looked at her with something resembling horror. 'what?!' i said. 'do you even know whose daughter i am?'

and, dear reader, it should come as no shock to you that i pushed that man until i got back the store cred i deserved. it was only fair, really...the right thing to do! :)

in all seriousness, people love my mother. she is a guru of all things HR and has helped a lot of people in her day. but she's also the kind of person who will say a kind word to someone no one else pays attention to. she takes communion to shut-ins. she has been a huge advocate for a number of her elderly friends (sometimes right up to the very end of their lives) who needed someone to be there for them. and she has rescued (literally) family members from situations that would have destroyed them if she had not stepped in.

also, she does not back down from a challenge, even if that challenge is to have a relationship with me. and ours has taken time and patience and effort to get it to where it is now. i love that. my mom understands that things worth having are worth working for, just like any job or opportunity in life. and my mother has proven herself to be relentless in these things as well. i am more than glad to be called hers...and to call her mine.

and yes, i may be pushy as heck, but can you blame me? i'm the apple, remember? those seeds were planted early on!

sunday's prompt: How are you like your mother? And if you're a mother, how is/are your kid(s) like you? —courtesy of Jessica

Thursday, December 08, 2011

just write

i still remember the first day i learned what a blog was. it was back in april of 2002. i was in the midst of clawing my way out of arguably the darkest place i'd ever been in and, on top of it, i had a lot of time on my hands. my dear friend tim had started this 'blog' thing (and at the time, i was in the habit of searching for friends of mine on the internet to see if there was anything to see), and i found it and started reading. then i clicked a few more links and, the next thing i knew, i had fallen down a rabbit hole straight into the blogosphere.

i knew almost immediately that i was hooked...and i just had to start one of these blogs for myself. i mean, what a great way to share all your random musings with the great unknown. what a great way to be 'heard,' even if no one ever saw anything i posted. (if someone writes on their blog and there's no one around to read it, does it make a 'sound'?) i didn't care one bit. the promise of the experience was too tempting....

i quickly discovered that my blog wasn't salacious enough to garner thousands of readers...which is fine, really. i don't need recognition to keep writing. Lord knows if i did, i would have stopped years ago. but it was enough to make ME feel better. it was therapy for my weary soul, and boy did i ever need it.

from that first day, april 29, 2002, i just kept writing whenever i felt like it...sometimes multiple times a day. i wrote about dreams i from the night before, things i made for dinner (not much has changed), moments of stillness and calm with God in the midst of utter chaos, wishes for my future self, reflections on my early life, letters i would never send, etc. it was just me, out there for all the world to see, but it was my eyes that needed to read the words.

every few months, i would go back and read where i had been and how far had i had come (or not, as the case may have been). i would learn from my own reflections, realize how prayer and meditation and good honest work had changed my heart and my perspectives on things. i had created a series of milestones for myself. and the looking back healed the me i was becoming.

it's been almost 10 years since it all began, and although few and far between, i've had others come to me...some friends, some strangers...and share how my words, my pain, my triumphs have helped them to see themselves—and God, life, etc.—more clearly. i've made some friends through the experience. i've learned about other people i might never have known. but i've also cleaned out the closets in my heart and kept my own inner hopeful writer alive. history really is the best teacher, and as much as i've grown and changed, i don't ever want to leave all this behind. i have so much more to learn.

Today's prompt: Why blog? Why do you or why do you like to blog (recognizing that these are not always the same thing)?—courtesy of Kristen

rewind to day 5: a bit of a downer, i'll admit

i'm going out of order, but here's my catch-up post from day 5.

so the question is: what is the one thing you finally did this year that you always wanted or said you were going to do, but in your heart of hearts never thought you would actually do?—courtesy of Amy

here's the God's honest:

nothing.

this year has been ALL about plodding and trying to keep my head above water. about dealing with the psychological fallout of getting bedbugs on a business trip last winter and having my entire mind, body, and soul consumed [read: obsessed] with their good riddance (and they were) and subsequent obsession about their return (and they have not). seriously, for someone who already has a smidge of OCD, that does NOT do a body good.

so in the midst of all of that mess [read: sleeplessness, anxiety, paranoid fixations on other people's stuff and whether it had bugs], i gained weight back that i had worked my ass off (literally) to lose, i retreated more into a social hole, and i lost my creative sensibilities almost entirely. living in triage mode every day does NOT make for an interesting existence.

and here we are nearly a year later and i'm feeling ready for a shift in the wind more than ever. because frankly, when this blog endeavor comes around next year, i'd like to be able to say that i did something truly kick-ass.

like write that great american novel once and for all!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

sisters are doing it for themselves

okay, so you know those people who giggle at everything? you know, the ones who are always laughing loudly in movies...who could make up their own personal laugh track because everything to them is just that funny?

okay, well, that's not me.

not that i don't find things funny. because believe me, i do. but most of what strikes me as hilarious are random moments, a turn of phrase, a bit of witty repartee, you get the drill. well, at least that's the case until i get in a room with my bff and her two sisters (who i love like they were my own—and really, they are). if there are things that will get me laughing in a HOT minute, it's time spent with those three. it's not PC. it usually involves made-up words. there are often cocktails involved and tales of conquests and random foolhardy behavior. but oh, do my abs get a workout from all the cackling. seriously, people, the shenanigans? legendary.

now if i were feeling particularly inclined, i could post a number of home-shot videos from my camera of african dance routines; weird talking in random accents; skits made up almost on the spot; games of taboo; the adventures of kim jong il, pocahontas, and captain john smith (this was thanksgiving 2010); our easter 'pageant'; and the list goes on and on....

oh, and then there's the first time that the younger sister met my ex-boyfriend. she proceeded to have a laughing fit (and once c. is laughing, there's no turning back for anyone else in the room), began snorting, threw herself on the floor, and started convulsing while yelling 'i can't feel my legs! i can't feel my legs!'

and then there's the situation commonly known as 'THE' trip to mcdonald's that involved the phrase 'we ain't got no quarter meat' and had the same younger sister howling and wheezing in the back seat, snorting and carrying on so loudly that i could barely keep it together at the window. i mean, let's just say you had to be there, but i'm telling you...you will NOT be able to keep a straight face when two or more of us are gathered in one place.

did i mention? shenanigans.

but the best part about the four of us when we're together is that we all just get to be ourselves and say what's on our minds. and i'm sorry, but the stuff coming out of our mouths is just FUNNY. and i can't find a thing wrong with that any day of the week:).

and girls? if any of you are reading this, y'all are my favorite silly hearts. thanks for adopting me into your brood.

love,
s.

Who or what makes you laugh so hard that milk shoots out of your nose and why? Slapstick, dry witty comedy, your kids, Monty Python?—courtesy of Kassie

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

"...but i won't do that" (x 10)

what i've realized is that, in life, there are very few things people won't do, given a certain level of desperation. for the purposes of this exercise, i'm going to assume that, all things being equal (and that equality involves a lack of said desperation), i would never do the following:

1. shop at walmart if i absolutely didn't HAVE to (i.e., no other store in all of creation within a reasonable radius). i abhor their business practices and am proud to say i haven't been there in more than 10 years.

2. reconnect with a couple of past first dates. but if i did—and it would be by accident—someone would be getting kicked or at the very least told a thing or two. and that someone would NOT be me.

3. give up my american citizenship. i love this country. i could possibly live elsewhere at some point in my life, but i don't ever see myself cutting ties on that 'official' level.

4. shave my head (unless i really had to). i feel that i would not rock the bald look.

5. betray my best friend or let anything happen to her, if i could prevent it. we have been through too much together. she's true family to me. john 3:16, ya dig?

6. go a day without missing my grandfather. he's been gone for 15 years, and my heart still aches to see him again.

7. intentionally travel to certain places in this world. to be quite honest, i don't have a wanderlust that would take me much beyond western europe. and in general, i'd prefer to avoid countries and cultures where women can't speak their mind, walk beside a man, or show their face/hair/skin/etc. that wouldn't work so well for me.

8. order any dish at a restaurant that contained eyeballs, testicles, or other weird and random body parts that probably shouldn't be consumed. i have nothing more to say about that.

9. miss a chance to go to the beach or the mountains. i just love the majesty of God's creation and how small and insignificant i feel standing at the edge of the sea or in the midst of those huge, rocky structures. it puts things in perspective a bit, you know?

10. stop loving peanut butter. people, it's like the elixir of life. 'nuff said.

today's prompt, list 10 things you would never do, brought to you courtesy of katrina.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

me on the big screen

i've been asked before who should play me if someone were ever to make a movie of my life. in truth, i've never answered that question, because i never looked to find a mirror of myself somewhere in hollywood. much of that industry is made of 'the beautiful ones,' and since i don't fit into that physical mold, by most people's standards, the answer has always eluded me.

but today, and only for the reverb broads, i'm asking myself this question, and i gotta say...it's making me think some thoughts.

if i chose someone of a certain type (i.e., thin), people might wonder why i selected an actress who didn't resemble me physically. but if i tried to find someone who looked like me, i knew that, just as off the silver screen, people would tend to focus more on my character's outward appearance than on anything else. because let's be honest: if a movie features an overweight actress, most people discuss that FIRST, even more than the plot or significant themes.

perfect example in the recent past: precious, starring gabourey sidibe. now, this woman played a character who had endured severe trauma at the hands of many abusers, ranging from sexual to emotional abuse, poverty, neglect, etc. and instead of allowing this film to raise their level of consciousness as to the scars that such events leave behind on someone's heart or psyche, many people chose, instead, to comment simply on how fat this woman is. (i'm not even going to go into howard stern and his verbal antics. that man needs to be quiet more often than he speaks. but i digress....)

on a smaller scale, i faced much of this same type of assessment from some of my peers in school. to many, it didn't matter that i was involved in service activities, or that i sang, or that i was nice to others and tried to be a good friend, or that i achieved academically. i was the fat girl. plain and simple. and don't think for a moment that others let even one day go by without letting me know it. one of my crowning moments of awesomeness was during a high school honor roll assembly when a small group of guys in the audience shouted insults at me while i walked across the stage to receive my certificate. my mother was there to celebrate my accomplishments. in the eyes of those assailants—and all those who joined the chorus of laughter—it was simply an opportunity to showcase and ridicule the only thing about me that they ever noticed: my weight.

so, at the end of the day, i would rather people focus on who i really am on the inside if they were to see my story. and i wouldn't want them to be distracted by anything in the main character's physical presence, because my film would be equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. and i would need someone good, who could really pull it off. i'm thinking a kate winslet type. someone who's smart and funny yet can show her vulnerability. someone who understands pain. someone who won't shy away from a little drama. (she made titanic, so i think she could probably handle me.)

and in the end, my movie would be about hope in the face of despair. about falling down, yes, but about getting up again, and again, and again. about learning to laugh at the absurdity of life, because sometimes that's all there is. about loving who you are, despite those jerks in school. about knowing that just as the darkness is covering today, light will come to bring the truth of tomorrow. and fat or thin, pretty or plain, the main character would be beautiful. because she is.

In the movie version of your life, which actor/actress would play you and the significant players in your life? What kind of movie is it (e.g., made-for-TV, action, emo/indie, etc.)? What would be the major plot points, and how will it end?—from Emily

Saturday, December 03, 2011

reverb broads to the rescue?!

a couple of days ago, i learned about this 'writing challenge,' of sorts, through a dear woman i know. it was just the reminder i needed that i have words inside me that need to come out. i can't promise that they'll all be amazing...or make any sense at all...but i vow to myself that i will let them loose anyway. to let the chips fall where they may and see where i am when the book closes on this year's trip around the sun.

the challenge for today was to talk about whether i've grown up this year or become more of a peter pan type. to be honest, i feel like i've taken one step forward and two steps back, and i'm not sure that much 'growth' was involved. what i have learned, however, is a lesson i feel like i already understood at a young age while watching my mother work herself to the bone: you cannot live to work. you must work so that you can create the life you want for yourself.

(as an aside, now that i think about it, if becoming a peter pan is about avoidance, i can say that it's been ages since i've given my apartment a thorough down-to-the-baseboards cleaning. where is tinkerbell when you need her? i could use a little fairy dust right about now!)

but i digress....

so, to sum up: this year i have allowed dust to gather (literally and figuratively) while focusing on my 'career,' stopped cooking on a regular basis, slept very little (i'm amazed that i'm still functioning), corroded my brain with too much mindless tv, and allowed my creativity to be stifled by exhaustion. in short, i've given the reins to someone (or something) else. and i'm done with that. 2012 is the year of taking things back.

and maybe this little endeavor is step #1 in the right direction....

(December 3 Reverb Broads Prompt: How did you become more of a grown-up this year? Or did you pull a Peter Pan and stubbornly remain childlike?—from Bethany)