What Makes You Laugh? Also, Ouch.

So my neck was a little sore. Why not go clam digging? Why not muck stalls at horse stables?

Idiot.

So my choices are not always perfect. Days later I woke up in so much pain I could hardly move. 

Now my neck has been injured for a month. It’s getting better, but just a week ago it was so bad I couldn’t move without screaming a little. It goes without saying I couldn’t drive and couldn’t help out around the house. Jon did everything, aside from carrying me to bed like a toddler. 

I was broken.

You spend your whole life trying not to be broken. Look how whole and complete I am!

I’m now aware of how often I look left and right. A lifetime of looking sideways, trying to see what might be coming.

Now I can only look ahead. Literally.

Maybe I haven’t been broken all along. But I feel more broken than usual. And I thought of the people I know who are in constant pain–physical, emotional, whatever. How they’re not heroes but just people out their doing their best to get by and maybe even excel a little.

Good for them. But today I’m not them. Honestly I don’t even know that I’m trying my best today.

This morning I’m just happy I can laugh without pain. Because, for a week, it hurt like hell when I laughed. So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll read Mark Twain. I’ll watch Family Guy–because yes, that show makes me guffaw like a nut. Or I’ll just listen to Jon making puns.

Today I’ll laugh out loud. Because I can. And maybe you will too.

What makes you laugh? I’m an easy laugher, I’ve been told. Lately I’ve been snort laughing. An embarrassing addition to my geekhood. But life is just so messed up and hilarious a person might go crazy if they don’t laugh. Ha. Snort.

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I’m the Queen of Oatmeal

When you wake in the morning, how do you feel? Do you hate the day, are you blessed, are you tired?

I woke feeling sluggish, alive, messy. Sometimes I’m a morning lizard, scaly and bad-breathed. Fine. Let’s start with that.

It’s Thursday. This morning I crept out of bed, in underwear and bra, and made dark chocolate oatmeal. Because it makes you believe you deserve to be both rich and healthy. Like one of the celebrities. Cameron Diaz. A lizard too, but a Hollywood one.

Do it. Go make yourself a breakfast you enjoy. I dare you! Eat it in bed, as I did. Actually enjoy it.

You know, this is your life. You’re in it right now. Even before the coffee. So start appreciating it before you’re dead. Just sayin’.

For a few moments this morning I felt like the Queen. The Queen of Oatmeal.

Do I deserve to be the queen?

When was the last time you did something nice for yourself? Or allowed yourself to recognize that what you’re doing IS nice and not sluggish or wasteful or self-indulgent. Like, never. Amiright?

So maybe it’s self-indulgent. Sometimes that’s OK. If I could I would feed my dark chocolate oatmeal to everyone. I would spoon feed it to you, even. Open your mouths, my baby lizards.

But not this morning. This morning I’m taking a moment for myself.

Other mornings? Oh Lord don’t get me started. Other mornings, those assholes:

-Waking up at 6:00am, rushing, a whirlwind. Out the door. So many obligations. No food. A water bottle.

-Waking at 10:00am, hungover, a Saturday or–wait, what? A Tuesday! How did that happen? For shame. Orange juice. Greasy potatoes. Where’d my other sock go?

Pay attention to how you feel in the morning. Did the night before change the outcome of your morning? Was it worth it? Hopefully. Not every morning can be great, or even nice. Some mornings are jerks. I hate those guys.

But when you get a nice morning, a pleasant moment, remember it. The Queen of Oatmeal says so. And she knows. Or is trying. Which is often the best we can do.

Yes, even for a queen.

 

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You’re OK. Your House is OK. Your Face is OK. Breathe.

I woke this morning and looked around. Guitar. Messy laundry. Sun shining in through the curtains. Even the dust on the nightstand is yelling at me, being abusive. DUST ME YOU LAZY SAD PERSON. And I had a thought.

This is it. Life.

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For years you wonder when you’ll become that better, happier, squeaky clean version of yourself. But the laundry never gets done fast enough. You’re always aging a little, your skin a little more tired than taut. Look at you, always saying you’re dieting and then buying Doritos, eating them in bed, orange stains on white sheets.

Shameful. And yet it’s kinda cute too. Maybe? You hope it’s a little cute.

It’s not. Nobody cares. That’s fine too.

But look at that guitar! The gleaming light of you wants to sing. Or write. Or garden. To make something with your hands, even if it’s just love. Just love! Imagine. No matter the age. No matter the messy house. Let it rest. Go toward the light of you.

I’ll dust. I’ll do my laundry. I don’t advocate for laziness. I advocate for not beating yourself up when the house looks likes a herd of wild guinea pigs came through it. And that’s just it, right? Creatures as small as that messing up your life, scurrying around like assholes (I’m not even talking children, but if you them, then woah).

I’m playing guitar first. I’m singing to the creatures. Fa la la and kumbaya.

And the creatures might not leave. The lazy sad part of you might just be a part of you. Can you accept that?

Accept it or work to change it. Big change doesn’t usually happen in one giant orgasmic easy AHA. It’s more plodding. Drama-less. Like watching a garden grow. Green. Green. TOMATO.

It will happen, if you give it light and water. But it takes time. Drink some water. You’ll feel better.

I’m living this. I checked my work email halfway through writing this. Because my spirit is not all peace and harmony (that would be gross anyway and would repel most of my friends). My spirit is often anxious. It wonders if I’m doing enough. Maybe my boss wrote to me. Did she? Does she need my help? Is there more I can do to prove my worth? Feed me, feed me! Hold on, let me get my cape and sword.

Oh, she didn’t. Okay, back to the page. Put a few more words down.

I’m a green, green garden. Beautiful, still growing.

So are you. What will you do about it?

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Filed under Letting Go, Loving Yourself

We Live in Stuffy Rooms (And How to Breathe)

Sometimes we live in stuffy rooms. Places where the air is stale and old, where it feels hard to breathe but you try anyway. You end up wheezing. Heeee-hawww. Donkey breath. You have it.

But sometimes you get what you need. A good conversation with a friend. A change in circumstance. A piece of writing or music or art that changes the way you breathe, at least for a moment. It feels like new oxygen is being pumped into your room, your life, your lungs. It’s a gift. Remember that.

I felt like that reading this quote. Not like I’m out of the stuffy room entirely. Just like I can breathe a little easier:

“The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.” – Thomas Merton, “The Seven Storey Mountain”

Doesn’t that feel right? I think, for me, my anxiety is my stuffy room. It’s the place where I sit and try to breathe. But I can never really take a deep breath. Not really. It’s always choked.

Here’s one thing I know. Much of my anxiety stems from fear of suffering. And guess what? I suffer from it. Do you do this too? Try everything to avoid feeling even the smallest bit of pain? We do it in all sorts of ways. Numbing out is a popular choice. I do that too sometimes. But I mostly obsess over small details. I do that a lot. I put my mind on repeat until I can no longer hear my own clear thoughts.

And sometimes my thoughts sound just like this “PANIC PANIC PANIC.”

We can’t avoid suffering. That’s the damn truth. But we can have faith we’ll survive it. We can be in the moment, letting ourselves breathe. We can stop the PANIC PANIC and instead tell ourselves peace.

I mean that literally. It’s not any more complicated than that. Now when my mind goes PANIC PANIC I pay attention to it. I hear it. And then I tell it, calmly and sweetly, no mind, peace.  

I don’t think that solves everything. Sometimes I’m still trapped in my stuffy anxiety panic-ridden dungeon. But I know this too:

I’m breathing a little easier already.

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How to Put Yourself Out There

Last week, when I found out I was being published my first thought was OMG YES. Approximately 1/3  of a second after that I thought OH HELL NO. Yes because it was a dream of mine to be published. Yes because I’ve worked hard. Yes because it meant people would finally read my stuff.

Oh no because…people would finally read my stuff! It freaked me out. I feared being judged. I feared, you know, my dad reading the essay. It’s very personal. It’s embarrassing. And now it’s out there. For the harsh, cold world to see.

Only it wasn’t so harsh. It was actually pretty warm and fuzzy.

I haven’t always been someone who puts myself out there. I can be shy and anxious. I can have a tendency to hide out. And yet this–this was worth it. It was important enough to me. Important enough for me to risk embarrassment and judgement.

So that’s my first piece of advice:

Find the thing that’s important enough to risk putting yourself out there.

Is it dancing? Is it blogging? Is it a sport? What really, really matters to you? Identify the thing that makes your insides dance (in a good way–not in a diarrhea sort of way) and pursue it. The first step is being brave enough to admit that you care.

When my dad read my essay, he called me and he cried. Not because he was upset and embarrassed but because he was so proud.

When I talked to my mom, I expressed my fears. I told her I was afraid of how other people would react.

“It’s your truth,” she said. “Never apologize for your truth.”

So that’s my second piece of advice:

Never apologize for your truth

Putting yourself out there is tough, sure. But it’s mostly tough because we’re freaked out by other people–you know, those other people with their big judgmental eyes and mean hearts.

Remember that most of the world is kind, though not everyone will be. Not everyone will get you. There will be rejection. There will be negative, shitty people who want to bring you down. But if it’s your truth, then it’s yours. And you need to own it.

*One addendum to this is if your truth hurts others in some way. I’ve accidentally hurt someone before. Yeah, it’s happened. And when it happens, I apologize like a grown-up. Don’t use “this is my truth” as an excuse to be selfish or to hurt others.

I’m still working on it. Every blog post is an opportunity to put myself out there. How much will I share? How deep will I go? I’m not sure. But I can tell you one thing.

I’m not going to apologize.

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I’ve Been Published!

0916131914_0001I’m so excited, guys. See, this is my excited face. It’s very eyes closed, fist by my head…it’s a bit fetal, really. But it seems this is what I do when I’m pumped.

One of my essays Grown-up Words has been published at The Nervous Breakdown. I’m a huge fan of Brad Listi’s work, the website and his podcast Other People. You should spend hours (really, waste the rest of this day) checking out all of his  stuff. From where I’m sitting right now I can see his novel on my bookshelf…I couldn’t have dreamt of a better place for this essay to find a home.

Also, you can read my essay. Here.

xo,

Bethany

 

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Filed under Setting Goals, Taking Risks, Uncategorized

On Focus…And Why My Pants Have Chocolate on Them

Lately, I’ve been having a hard time focusing…wait, what was I blogging about? Oh yeah, chocolate. I mean, focus.

It keeps happening. My mind jumps from one project to the next. Like right now: I’m blogging but one small part of my mind is on the book next to me, thinking I should read it. Another part of my mind is on work. And the biggest part of my brain, scientifically known as the chocolorgasmus, is seriously contemplating the chocolate macaroon I just ate. I mean, it tasted like chocolate orange magic. Magic and joy. Like elves made it.

There’s a part of me that wishes I could just eat chocolate macaroons all day long. I want to indulge. I want to eat crap and drink martinis and call it good. There’s a place for that, sure. But the bigger part of me wants something more than chocolate and vodka.

Do you want more than that? Is there more? I think there must be. Right? I mean, if not, what the hell are we doing here? 

Focus. Determination. Courage to see a project through. Courage to see where I want to go and to take the steps to get there.

The other day Jon said something to me that really stuck.

“I think one difference between us,” he said, “is that you’re more focused on the now whereas I’m more focused on the future.”

I thought, yes! And also, crap. Because there’s something beautiful about being in the moment. But there’s also something detrimental. Also, let’s face it: I’m not really in the moment when I’m thinking of the billion things I should be doing and I’m not doing them because instead I’m eating chocolate.

I don’t want to use being in the moment as an excuse to indulge, to be lazy, or to live without striving.

I should probably mention that we had this conversation when we got home from vacation and I was like, “Ehhh…I think I’ll do my laundry tomorrow…maybe.”

This was 3 days ago, folks, and I still haven’t done my laundry. But I am writing this blog post. So, there. That’s something. I’ll give myself credit for that.

Now about focus…

I mean, chocolate. No, I’m serious. I just took a bathroom break and noticed that I sat in a piece of my chocolate macaroon. My pants have chocolate on them, guys. This entire entry was written with chocolate on my pants. Now if that’s not a big, glaring, evil chocolate sign then I don’t know what is…

So guess what? That’s right friends, I’ll be doing laundry. I’ll be doing laundry with all my heart and soul. I’ll be focusing and washing and drying.

And,  damn it, I’ll be paying attention.

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