Friday, October 22, 2010

She's Got the Funk

I’m in a funk. Again. I’m sure if I review my blog posts or journal or whatever, there must be some kind of cycle to this. All I know is I’ve been totally on edge all week, and all I want to do is crawl into a cave and hide out for awhile. Nothing happened, really. Nothing to warrant such a dramatic reaction on my part. Yet here I am. And as usual when I’m in this space I have no idea how to get out of it, and end up pulling deeper away into myself.

What do I think I need? Simultaneously I need a hike in the mountains, some flowers, and a hug. But I live in central Texas (no mountains) and I’ve sufficiently pissed off everyone around me this week so I’m pretty sure a hug and/or flowers are a no go. Well, my kid did give me some pretty awesome hugs and kisses this morning. He’s not pissed at me, no matter how wacko I get. Thank goodness. Of course, he is only 5.

So what now? Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn I’m taking a solo trip to New Jersey to visit mom and my sister. I’m excited to see them, for sure. There’s some drama going on up there, though, so we’ll see how relaxing it will be. Maybe its time for me to take another day off work soon and head somewhere remote. I would kill to be around VA right now – so many trails and mountains, its easy to spend an entire day without seeing another person, hiking around in the forest. And when I’m in this mode, that sounds perfect. Kind of at odds with my desire for a hug from someone, but….I think the isolation thing is my default self-caring mode. Perhaps not the best one, but it’s definitely the one that has been my steady habit. I get being alone. I’m good at it. Where I suck is letting people in when I’m like this.

How do you break a lifelong habit? Something that’s been key to self-preservation and self-care? I have no idea. But here’s hoping that I can figure it out at some point in the next decade or so. So much for a short learning curve. Wish me luck! And go hug someone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shopping, Schmopping

I HATE clothes shopping. In a real and passionate way. I sweat, I get tense, I have to gear up for spending the afternoon looking through racks and running into dressing rooms, navigating over-helpful salespeople and annoying women in the store, hoping that I can trust my judgment enough not to buy anything that makes me look horrible. I don’t like shopping with people because I’m miserable when I shop, and I don’t want anyone I like to have to suffer through that with me. So I go it alone and just pray I come out on the other side ok.

Enter my new favorite thing: online shopping! I know it’s not a revelation for most, but it’s a recent discovery for me. Things arrive quickly, they’re free to ship back from Zappos, and I can try them on in the privacy of my own home, complete with all my existing clothes and shoes to see how things match. The other thing I notice is that I’m more willing to try new things this way. I’m not sure why, but it makes me a little more adventurous. Yes, I still mostly have all black, grey and brown clothes, thank you. Whatever.

I think part of the drive here is that I’m realizing that at this age, I want to have some nice clothes. A veteran Goodwill shopper who rarely purges her closet – I just started to notice that its time. Time to get rid of some things that I’ve had for WAY too long, that I never wear, that don’t have a place in my life anymore. And time to check out some new stuff. I’m willing to spend a little more on something that’s good quality – something I used to just walk right past because of the cost (part of hating shopping is hating spending money on clothes).

I guess this is growing up? Or just changing? All I know is that I like feeling good in my skin, and part of that these days is liking what I’m wearing. For years I wore sandals, a ratty pair of cutoffs and an old white v-neck t-shirt, but that’s not working for me anymore. Who would have thought? I can hear my mom’s sigh of joy. It took 37 years, but her little hippie girl is growing up. ;-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Making a Choice

Though you’d never know it now, I used to be a pretty hard-core tennis player in my teen years. I played for the USTA, had a private coach, and spent 8 hours a day in the summer on the court.

The funny thing is, sometimes I totally forget that episode of my life. Like, completely blank out on it. Weird, right? I was pretty good at tennis, but not the best. And in sports like tennis that aren’t team sports, when you fail – YOU fail. And you can read it on everyone’s face. It sucked. I liked tennis but eventually it wasn’t fun, wasn’t something I looked forward to or enjoyed. Just something that I had to do - that other people expected me to do.

I was just remembering a couple incidents that in retrospect seem interesting to look back on. One was on a summer day a few hours after my mom had dropped me off at the courts for the day. I was probably about 15. My coach was running me through drills and I complained I didn’t feel good. She wouldn’t let me stop, telling me to buck up, stop being lazy and weak. I tried to push through but finally had to literally sit down on the court, I was so ill. She threw up her arms and told me to go call my mom and go home if I was going to just give up. I did, and when I got home it turned out I had a fever of 103. No wonder I blocked that out!

The other incident I thought was poignant is when one afternoon, while my coach was working with me on my forehand and backhand, she had a sudden thought and ran to her truck. She came back with a walkman (remember those?) and made me put it on while I was hitting. To her surprise, I hit markedly better. She determined that I was a better player when I was distracted and not concentrating so hard, so she worked with me to figure out how to get to that slightly removed place. Pretty ironic that now I sit here trying to figure out how to be present and aware, eh?

I’m not saying that these two incidents shaped my life and are to blame for anything wrong with my life, but I think its pretty interesting to look back. I do have many good memories on the court. But I had enough bad ones that eventually, at 17 years old, I was miserable but realized that I had a choice. And one afternoon I literally walked off the court and never looked back. Do I miss playing? A little. But really, I’m not sure I was ever doing it for me. And if you’re not doing something for the joy of it, to give something back to yourself, I think its OK to choose something else.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It Gets Better

You’ve heard me talk about my middle school years at the hands of bullies. And the book I’m working on that is informed by a lot of that. Well, I recently stumbled on a project on YouTube called “It Gets Better”. And its amazing.

The “It Gets Better” project is geared towards LGBT teens who are being bullied and considering suicide. It was driven by a couple of guys who are gay and who finally realized that they CAN do something to reach out to these kids. They started posting a video of their own and encouraging others to do the same. And its awesome. I think its not only awesome for LGBT kids, but for ANY kid who is bullied. The message is the same. Just make it through middle school and high school, and those of us who survived that stuff knows that it gets better. You just need to hang in there. Sadly, one of the stories that led me to this was about a college kid who killed himself after videos were posted of him with another guy. For so many kids, both LBGT and not, college symbolized freedom, a move away from bullying. In this case it wasn’t.

If you haven’t checked it out – I would watch a few of these. Its powerful stuff, and definitely the kind of thing that makes me overwhelmed by the goodness of people, especially when faced with such ugliness. People in these videos are telling painful stories, but with the pure, passionate hope that it will reach someone and help them. Pretty awesome stuff.

Hug someone today and spread some love. Gotta balance the scales.