Perception

You didn’t get voted prom queen. You didn’t get the scholarship. The boy didn’t call you back. Your friends have all dismissed you. You can’t help but think that there is something wrong with you, but what if there wasn’t? I mean, what if you fabricated this illusion that you weren’t worthy? What if all the shit you told yourself was bullshit? Of course it is. We are our own worst critics. I mean, there are certainly an outrageous number of narcissists and sociopaths out there, but most of us save the heaviest judgement for ourselves.

What if the other girl lost her father that year and everyone wanted to make someone else feel special for a night? What if there is another person that experienced one more hardship than you and received the scholarship that was meant for you? What if there is nothing wrong with you at all? What if you have experienced enough assholes in your life that helped persuade you into believing you aren’t shit?

Let’s think for a moment about that? How many times have you felt something so sincerely that you thought it was true only to be blind-sided by something that has absolutely NOTHING to do with YOU?

We do this shit to ourselves all the time. Worry. Stress. Fret. Overthink it all. We always think we have shit figured out and sometimes we do. Sometimes, our experiences help us recognize toxic people quickly and we dodge many bullets. Other times, we struggle with giving people enough room to prove our deepest fears wrong.

Where’s the balance in the freedom of new experiences, blazingly providing the space for creativity and growth, free from years of repeated failures and attempted repairs?

That guy that you felt sure was just as much in love with you as you were with him? Oh, he didn’t call you? You saw him with another girl? So. The. Fuck. What?! You didn’t get the scholarship? So. The. Fuck. What. Whatever the reason, there is a very good chance that it has nothing to do with you.

We live in our own heads, so it’s natural to think the world revolves around ourself. But, if your world revolves around you and his life revolves around him and her life revolves around her, then each experience will be perceived differently. We all have experiences that shape our perception of life. I mean, you can share an experience with another individual and the two of you experience and learn something entirely different.

Perception is a bitch. It’s like we take the sum of our experiences and then make these ridiculous assumptions about the future based on the past. But none of that is living in the moment. None of that is considerate of what is actually happening right NOW, in the present. Perception of how you’re treated by others seems to be more of a reflection of how we view ourselves and less about the reality of the situation.

So, maybe we should try to be easier on ourselves and leave room for an “alternate” ending because our own perceptions can interfere with reality. Perception is the cousin to “assumption” and you know what they say about assuming, “To assume is to make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.

Get out of your head. Listen to understand. Be kind to yourself.

Writing is hard

I am a storyteller. I like to make people laugh. As an Aquarius, I can be wild and spirited, and sometimes pretty impulsive. My friends often tell me that I am the best person to go on an adventure with, whether that adventure is to the zen garden for a hammock, joint, and a nap, or traveling to Aruba for parasailing and exotic drinks on the beach. I am the person who is always doing 101 things and trying something new every time you see me. It actually looks weird- typing those words- because I don’t find myself very interesting- I just know I am never bored.

Someone told me that I should write a memoir- I thought that was funny because I have wanted to do this for many years- I just don’t think people give a shit enough to read about my emotional rollercoaster of a life. Who’s life isn’t interesting and tumultuous? We all have some kind of issues and some trauma that has shaped our lives. I am not special in this fact. I am not sure that my story will be exciting or anyone will care, but as my friend suggests- this may be a cool piece of yourself that you can share with the children someday. So, fuck it. Let’s write.

I am going to release several short stories about my life. Some of the names have been changed but all of the content is from experience. Please follow my journey!

Being Born

I guess we should start from the beginning, huh? Being born. I don’t remember much about it, but I know I was there.

My father ran into my mother, literally. Ran into her in an elevator. He was drunk and she had just moved back to Seattle after leaving a “Dear John” letter for the man she was supposed to marry in California. She was starting a new life- she had no job, no money, and her future ex-husband had just mowed her down in the elevator of the apartment she had just moved into. And that’s how my mom met my father.

As you can imagine children are born, I came into the world on in February 11, 1982. That makes me an Aquarius- creative, impulsive, over-thinking goal-getter, often found trying new experiences to see which ones fit best. On the flip side, I am also stubborn, direct to a fault, and an introverted extrovert and am royally skilled at attending social functions if only to master the “Irish Goodbye” and escaping from events without saying goodbye. My friends who know me, understand and those that don’t, can…well…who cares?

My parents marriage lasted for 10 years, five of which I existed for. I don’t remember too much about my father and the stuff that I remember was not pleasant. I remember going out to the car to find that out tires were slashed by police because my drunk father did something stupid. We ended up visiting him in jail once. He had been driving me and my brother around while he was wasted and was involved in a hit-and-run.

There was another time, when I was very young, he was upset with me for some reason trivial, he picked me up and launched me across the room. I hit the wall and slumped down beside the bed as he left me there to go to the liquor store.

We left Seattle because my father had pissed off someone and that someone decided to try to finish him by starting a fire outside their apartment door. Guess it was time to go. We were living in Colorado when my parents divorced. My mom always said my father was a nice man when he was sober. He just was never sober. So, my mom moved us to Minneapolis to be closer to family. She was born in Austin, MN and we needed to start over again.

I visited my father once when he was still in Colorado. I was nine. He was an asshole. He stored bottles of beer under the driver’s seat and didn’t see an issue with having my brother and me in tow. He had a friend that would come over and stare at me, 9-year old me, and blow kisses at me, like I was a woman sitting alone at the bar. I was scared to ever visit him again.

My father moved back to Seattle and I never saw him again. I had one more opportunity to visit him when I was 15. My brother was going to go and bring a friend and then I was supposed to bring a friend and visit later that summer. I chose not to go. Truth be told, my father terrified me and I didn’t trust him or his friends.

He died two months later. Cirrhosis. Literally drank himself to death. He died the day after my mom’s birthday. He always drank more around her birthday. He never stopped loving her. But he was sick. And so were the people he surrounded himself with.

My father’s good friend in Seattle used to call me late at night, drunk, and blame me for my father passing. This “friend” said I broke my father’s heart when I didn’t go to visit him and I was the reason he drank. Sad. Sick. True.

I never once, believed any accusation the strange man would spew into my ears. I knew, even at 15, he was bat-shit crazy to blame me for anything. But a part of it did hurt. I stopped answering those calls. Who the fuck does that? Warped motherfuckers, that’s who.

I have had a wide range of emotions over the years about the lack of family ties I hold with my father’s side of the family. Sometimes, I am very sad that I am missing an entire half of me that I will never get back. Other times, I am thankful and feel that I am missing nothing at all and I have everything I need from my friends and family surrounding me. Over the years, I did find my family. I don’t speak with any of them and those stories will come later.

Trust in the process

A couple years ago, I was working for in IT making more money than I have ever made in my life, well over six figures until one day, I was let go. I was told it was not a performance concern, but financial. The reality was it was nepotism. The reason is no longer significant – Regardless of why it happened, it did. And I was a widowed, single mother of two daughters that needed to figure out her next move.

I had enough money saved to make it a few months before I needed to worry, but trying to find a job in fourth quarter in IT is not an easy task. With the frustration of looking for work, I began to question why I really wanted these jobs? I didn’t particularly care for Information technology. I mean, certain aspects are really intriguing, but many of the roles I was working in didn’t fulfill me intrinsically. My last role drained me emotionally. Workplace drama, business inefficiencies and divided teams made every day feel like an uphill battle and for what?

It felt like I was coming home and drinking wine just to unwind from my day more frequently than I should. I was always stressed out and it was taking it’s toll on my entire life. How could I not see that before?

Being unemployed provided me the time to be home and around more for my children. It was a blessing and felt really satisfying to be around and prepare home cooked meals and not be rushed to exhaustion and defeat. I realized that staying in an unfulfilling job wasn’t worth it, even if it paid really well. I needed to make a bigger change.

Before I worked in Information Technology, I was a massage therapist. (Totally different, right?). And I didn’t want to go back to massage. I felt like I had moved onward and upward from my days in massage, having completed my Bachelor’s in Business Management and Leadership and even taken several Master’s level classes, but I didn’t know what else I could do. So, I took a job practicing massage for a local fitness center. This would afford me a free gym membership to get back in shape, a revenue stream, more time with my kids, and some time to figure out my next move. The catch, I am broke. But, you have to start somewhere, right?

Very quickly, I realized that I was going to be worked to death for a fraction of the income I was bringing in. But practicing massage also helped me remember how gratifying is it to help people manage their stress and physical and emotional obstacles. I thought to myself, “I can do this better”. So, I started looking for a space to rent, obtained licensing, and started the road down entrepreneurship. The American Dream: owning your own business!

Of course, self-employment has it’s perks- you choose your schedule and answer to no one. But the obstacles are grand as well. From licensing, zoning, and construction, to battling the world of marketing and SEO, self-employment is definitely for those with grit.

It’s been over a year and my business is not yet booming. Some weeks are fairly busy, some weeks I make nothing. It is stressful, but the stress isn’t the same as before. Maybe because I chose this stress- it’s different. This is the least amount of money I have ever brought in, but my mortgage is paid and my children eat well, so what more do we need? Money will come. And money will go.

Yesterday, I surprised a good friend with a coffee at work and she called me this morning to thank me while I was driving to volunteer at the Children’s Hospital, donating massages for the nurses that work the ER. My friend asks me, ‘Why would you do that? You’re giving your time and you’re making no money.’ I reminded her to trust in the process. If I don’t make money today, I can give my time to others. I believe it will come back to me.

I thought about my conversation with my friend as I was leaving the hospital. Even if I don’t gain new clients from my visit, those nurses needed massage today. The weekend brought several tragedies and some children did not return home with their families. It was more gratifying to provide some relief for people that put everything in to protecting and providing care for the human race.

I don’t know what direction to go most days but I do know I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

My daughter misses the bus almost every single day.

I used to be one of those moms who would try to get her kids to bed at 8:30 every night so they would be well rested and exuberant children in morning, ready to attack the day with a smile (insert sarcastic laugh here), but between the push-and-pull and frustration of kids that simply didn’t want to sleep, somewhere along the line, I gave up. I conceded. I donated my proverbial “Mom of the Year” trophy to all of the judgmental moms that wanted a grab at it or to throw it at my head.

The progression of parenting is an interesting one: the first child will often have first-time parents reading all of the preparing for baby books, filling in all of the blanks for keepsake books, planning and preparing schedules, meals, and naps with such precision that you could practically plan the royal wedding in your sleep.

By the time you have a second child, you find yourself relying less on the books and more on survival. You eat when you can. You sleep when you can. Your perfectly managed scheduled will now be an indefinite status of “tentative”.

At some point, you start to lose your sanity due to sleep deprivation and haven’t showered in days when you start to question what’s really important? If you child eats a snack before dinner, will it matter? Will this snack be THE snack that destroys all of the healthy eating habits you have been working to instill? If you ignore your baby’s cries so you can take five minutes for a hot shower, will it matter? Will your child grow up feeling unloved and rejected? Sounds pretty dramatic, right?

When I was pregnant, my body literally provided all the protection to my children’s environment. As they came into the world, I had to give up the idea that I could protect them and understand not everything is meant to be controlled. My peace-of-mind was more important than being upset daily. I found more value in letting them stay up and read than I did arguing for them stop intentionally prolonging their bedtime ritual. Instead of going to bed frustrated and disconnected, some nights are bursting with laughter and dance sessions and we go to bed with smiles and feel loved.

So, my kids don’t go to bed at a reasonable hour. It took me NINE years to get my youngest daughter to sleep in her own bed. NINE YEARS of getting throat-kicked and bitch-slapped. But for the past couple years, every morning, if she’s not already crawled into my bed throughout the night, I will call her back in for our morning “huggle”, which is simply a five minute super hug cuddle as I slap the snooze button three more times. This is how my daughter misses the bus. We miss the bus almost every day and I have to drive her to school. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

At the point when I gave up trying to mold my children into what is deemed by societal norms to be “appropriate behavior”, the guilt and shame of not being perfect was washed away with it.