Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Stop this Train"

One day, I woke up and I wasn't 22 years old any more. twenty-two, in fact, was quite a while ago. Some days, I think I'd like to go back. Other days, I wonder if it would be any different anyway. Maybe... It all flies by so fast. And one day, you wake up and so much of it is gone. And the future is staring you dead in the eye. And it's scary!

Anyway, sometimes my own words don't sum up quite how I am feeling in a particular moment. Others say it better. When I think about all of this, I hear John Mayer singing "Stop this Train." And so it goes...

Stop This Train
No I'm not color blind
I know the world is black and white
Try to keep an opened mind
I just can't sleep on this tonight

Stop this train
I want to get out and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can
But honestly will someone stop this train

Don't know how else to say it, don't want to see my parents go
One generation's length away
From fighting life out on my own

Come on stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can but honestly won't someone stop this train

So afraid of getting older
I'm only good at being young
So I play the numbers game to find away to say that life has just begun
Had a talk with my old man
Said help me understand
You sit down 68 you'll renegotiate

Don't stop this train
Don't follow it moves the place you're in
I don't think I could ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly we'll never stop this train

See once in a while when it's good
It'll feel like it should
When you're all still around
And you're still safe and sound
And you don't miss a thing so you cry when you're driving away in the dark.

Singing stop this train
I want to get out and go home again
I can't take this speed it's moving in
I know I can
Cause now I see
I'll never stop this train
(think I got 'em now)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hug it out

Hugs are healthy.

It has been proven that a hug can be as vital to human life as food and water. Studies have shown that a simple ten second hug can lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease, relieve tension, restore emotional health and just make you feel good. And it's been said (by "THEY"... you know who "THEY" are) that the average person needs four hugs a day just to survive and eight hugs a day to maintain. The person who gets 12 hugs a day will thrive.

In today's world, hugging is not always acceptable but it is the ultimate antidepressant, a sincere form of appreciation for others and a healthy expression of kindness.

I am a huge fan of hugging. I don't know why. My family doesn't hug. Well, not unless one of us is about to board a plane... Then we hug, just in case. But I am all about it. My inclination upon meeting people for the first time, honestly, is to hug them. I know that's weird. I don't want to hug EVERYONE. But most people, upon first impression, are worthy of a hug. Or at least an arm draped around the shoulders and a nice squeeze.

Maybe if we tried to hug it out more often, there'd be less war. Or less crime. Or at least less stress.

I read another blog that included hugging instructions. The writer said, "become fully present with someone you trust (perhaps by taking a deep centering breath or three), ask for a hug, then melt into it with another deep breath. Go ahead and try it right now. Find someone to hug."

(Well, go ahead... I'll wait my turn. But I'm next.)

Playing the Lottery

Well, I didn't win the lottery again. Yes, I just checked my numbers from the Saturday drawing and yes, I realize it's Monday already. Very telling, in a way, isn't it? Maybe I don't really believe I am going to win. That MUST be the problem.

Although, I'm not really giving it my all. I'm not a dedicated player; I don't buy tickets for every drawing or even on a weekly basis. I buy when it comes to mind or when the winnings reach over 200 million. I mean... then it's actually worth it to spend the dollar.

That's right... I only buy one. Why would you buy more? Either you are going to have the numbers or your not. It's not as if you can mix and match the numbers from various tickets until you come up with the six winners. It's funny to me... Every time I buy a ticket, the clerk always asks, "only one?" And I always respond, "You only need one to win, right?" The seller does not find that funny at all. Neither does the guy beside me who just spent a hundred bucks on his tickets. I don't have $100 to spare. That's why I am playing the lottery.

I'm still not a winner though. Not a big winner anyway. I have a $4 winning ticket hanging on the refrigerator. I am keeping it. It's only worth four dollars afterall and I can't spend it over four weeks time. I'd have to spend it all at once. And that would mess up my game plan.

I buy at the same place every time. The Jumpstop gas station by my house gets all my lottery business. As far as I know, they haven't had a winner yet and I am hoping to be their first. I am loyal to the Jumpstop. Unless of course I am on some sort of road trip through the rural Midwest. People in small towns always win the lottery. So I stop along the way, in tiny towns, and buy lottery tickets. Perhaps it's not fair of me to steal the chances of winning from the small town folks. But I'd go back if I won. And buy a t-shirt or I don't know... build a school, like Oprah. The point is, I'd go back and share the spoils.

Maybe that is why I don't win though... I can't stop thinking about giving away all that money. Ridiculous, huh? It would be fun to buy a big house and a new car and hire a pool boy. And maybe I would even get a pool... But it would be so much more fun to pay off the debt of others and buy cars for strangers. That's probably the biggest reason I don't win. God thinks I am financially irresponsible. And He's right. I am. It's probably best to give $200 million to some 80 year old guy in a small town in rural Missouri who's got 2 dogs, 10 cats and no family. Because that makes sense.

Even though the deck seems to be stacked against me, I'm not going to stop playing the lottery. I am going to pick up a ticket every now and then at the Jumpstop and I'll stop in Auxvasse on my way to Kansas City in December and pick up a Powerball and a few scratchoff tickets. I'm going to keep playing because it makes me giddy to think "what if?" And a moment of giddiness every now and then, is worth a dollar. At least.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


As I pulled the covers up over my nephew and turned off the lights, he grabbed my arm. "Are you still there, Aunt Michele?" he whispered. "Yes," I said. "Don't be afraid." He tried to convince me that he wasn't afraid, he just wanted to make sure I was ok. His timing is amazing because the truth is I'm not ok right now. And while I was making sure he was not afraid, it is me who really is.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have always maintained that I am afraid of nothing. Except for being alone for the rest of my life... But I am starting to realize that is just a story that I have been telling myself and the world around me.

Over the last two years, my whole life has changed. Relationships have ended. The roster of people in my life has been cut back dramatically. I've been abandoned on one hand and on the other, I've given up on people that have been in my life for half of it. I've moved. I've changed jobs. I've been stalked. I've been robbed and I've felt violated.

It hasn't all been bad because I know that I've been loved and cared for by my family and my closest friends. But I let them in a long time ago and there's no going back now. Yet I haven't exactly been honest with them. I've kept my head up and just kept going.

The truth is, I am so afraid right now. More than I ever have been...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Believe Them

"When somebody shows you who they are, believe them."
-Maya Angelou

Daily, people reveal themselves to one another. Sometimes in slight, subtle ways. Sometimes boldly and proudly. Disclosing our qualities and differences, our quirks and similarities, outwardly demonstrating our inner beliefs is the natural process of allowing others to get to know us.

Defying the truths that life has taught me and ignoring the wisdom of my years, I hold fast to my innate desire to see and to believe in the best of those around me. Even when it's they, themselves, who have given me reason to doubt them, I dig deep to find their goodness.

I want to believe in others. And no matter the circumstance or the situation, I believe there is good in everyone. It may be buried beneath sorrow and anger. It may be hindered by ignorance or hatred. But I believe it's there. Unexpectedly discovering the good in someone else can be a humbling but gratifying experience.

Equally as humbling though is the realization that the faith you've put in the goodness of others may have been wasted. The trust you've assigned has been squandered.I believe what Maya Angelou says, in spite of my need to believe that the people with whom I associate are all things good. Needing to believe that the people around you are everything you hope is normal. At least I'd like to think so... And until you're given a reason to think otherwise, why would you? But we must give ourselves permission to recognize the truth when it is presented. Good or bad.

When someone shows you who they are... you really should believe them.

My Normal

Recovery from any sort of adverse emotion is dictated by an individual's ability to process truths within herself, to accept those truths and to make peace with them. Whatever those truths might be...

The adverse emotion could be anger, grief, helplessness, guilt, fear, anything opposite of that which is traditionally seen as good or healthy. The truth could be very personal or it could be about another person or a situation or an experience.

The time it takes to work through adversity should not be determined by outside factors such as work or responsibilities or other people. Healing is a process. It is not something that can be scheduled or managed by the calendar. The process and the time it takes is very personal. It is not for us to look at others and decide when they should be done with it all and "back to normal."

Sometimes the adverse emotion never goes away. Sometimes you settle back into life and it lingers in the background, only coming to the forefront on certain days of the year or when something brings it to mind again. And it becomes part of your normal.

Sometimes in spite of the efforts of others to help you let it go or get past it, you hold onto your adverse emotion. In some sort of twisted way, you find comfort in it. You don't want to forget it or let it go. And it becomes part of your normal.

Sometimes you don't want to go back to whatever you had before you experienced the anger or the grief or the fear or the guilt because who you are now is all you know. So all that adverse emotion becomes part of your normal.

Tonight, for a moment, I came face to face with a piece of my "normal." For eight years, I have carried my grief around. And while they say time heals all wounds, the years do not seem to diminish this grief. I live with it. A day does not pass by that I am not mindful of it. There's a part of me that is actually grateful for it... as odd as that sounds.

I'm ok with keeping it in my back pocket, so to speak. But an unexpected moment like tonight's is slightly overwhelming. Another adverse emotion I guess I'll have to deal with...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Save me!" she cried.

Domineering man. Damsel in distress. The things that movies and romance novels and fairy tales are made of...

In many cases, the role of the damsel is played by doe-eyed, highly feminine, coy but secretly frisky women in pumps. That's my experience anyway. She receives constant affirmation by getting men to do things for her. Opening a jar, for example, or carrying her bags or telling her that she doesn't look fat in her slutty, little, black dress. This version of the damsel is a tragic injustice to the woman who truly is in need of rescuing.

For the true damsel, femininity is not a weapon. It is merely her nature. Her coyness is genuine and her big doe eyes... well, they are big and weepy for a reason, not just for attention. Vulnerability, on her part, is more than just a hypnotic tool. It is sincere.

I do not have a problem with the true damsel in distress. Every woman, whether she admits it or not, experiences a time in life when her efforts alone seem to get her nowhere. She needs a little help. And for most, that help comes in the form of a man. He swoops in, sweeps her up and when the dust settles, all is well. At least for a while...

Somewhere between the settling and the next dust storm, some women realize that they are stronger and smarter and more capable of doing it alone on the next go 'round. Others are content with being the damsel in distress. For the latter, it becomes a way of life and a cycle of being rescued over and over by one man after another.

Most men are rescuers. When you tell a man a problem, he immediately racks his brain for solutions. Guys fix things. So, a woman in need is appealing to a man. It is easy for him to see where he fits into her life. He knows his role.

That leaves a lot of women, like me, out in the cold. "I can take care of myself" and "I don't need a man" are two completely different statements.

I have never been a damsel in distress. I don't know that I could even fake my way through that role. My parents taught me to be self-sufficient, which I believe is every parent's job. I can cook and change a tire, if I have to. I can open my own jars and, if I have to, I can decided where to eat for dinner. I can take care of myself.

"Want" and "need" are two different words as well. I guess the statement "I don't need a man" is true. I don't need a lot of things outside of water, food, shelter and clothing. I want a man. I just don't want him to open stuff or fix stuff or fix me for that matter. I want him to laugh with me and enjoy life with me. It's really that simple with a girl who doesn't need saving.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oh to be a Daddy's Girl again...

There's nothing like the love between a dad and his daughter.

Rocking in a big blue chair in our living room is my earliest memory of me and my dad. I couldn't have been more than 2 or 3 years old. As we rocked night after night, I learned to trust him. My safety and security rested in his hands. I found comfort in his arms. And before long, I looked forward to our time together every evening.

I know a lot of women who don't have relationships with their fathers. And I know a lot of young girls who are growing up without their daddies. I know men who are neglecting their responsibility to their daughters and I know men who are fighting to make a connection with their little girls. There are some who would say that society makes too much of the daddy/daughter relationship. But I disagree completely.

Dads are supposed to teach us to trust. They are supposed to teach us to feel safe and secure with people who care for us and treat us well. It's our fathers who teach us how to relate to men and what to expect from them.

There was a stretch of time in my life when I didn't make any good decisions, especially with regard to men. My family took it very hard. They felt it was a poor reflection on them. During that time, I ruined my relationship with my dad. Our falling out was not the result of a loud argument or angry words. It was a gradual process in which he stopped having conversations with me. When I called on the phone, he'd pass it quickly to my mom so he didn't have to talk. I would ask him to go to a game with me and he would decline. And so it was... I was no longer daddy's girl.

In the years since then, I have taken responsibility for my past and worked very hard to pull myself up and rebuild my life. And I think my dad has seen that. And we're talking again. And it's nice.

I think they key is to never stop trying. Dads should persistently love their little girls, without fail, without end, unconditionally. And daughters should accept nothing less than that from life and in love. And when we fail, we have to do whatever it takes to get back to the place of safety and security and comfort. A place where we can just be daddy's girl again... Until we can get it right on our own.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Trust me

Trust is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. When you trust someone, you place confidence in his or her character, ability, strength or in who you know that person to be (“the truth of someone”).

Text books say that the inability to trust is not innate. The inability to trust is developed over time. It is fostered by various life experiences including neglect, abuse, pain at the hands of others, unhealthy relationships, etc. But low self-esteem and the belief that one is undeserving of attention, care or concern also feed it.

I find it very easy to command the trust of others. People seem to feel very comfortable sharing their feelings with me and placing confidence in me. I suppose there is an openness that I project along with a non-judgmental disposition. I love people and enjoy getting to know them. The challenge of breaking down the walls that others put up excites me.

But I don’t trust anyone.

I don’t remember when I realized I don’t trust. It had to be in the last ten years because until I turned 30, I didn’t really know very much about myself. I had spent the bulk of my life doing things for other people, keeping busy and partying a lot. So I didn’t have time to get to know me. When I took a moment to get acquainted with myself, I realized that I don’t trust anyone. And, honestly, it makes me a little sad.

There are things I don’t want other people to know. There are feelings I can’t share. There is a fear of rejection that nearly suffocates me on a daily basis. And deep down, there must be a belief that I am less important, not worthy. That makes me a little sad too because it is so contrary to the confidence painted on the surface of me.

The root of my trust issue comes in the last piece of the definition: “the truth of someone.” Intuition often leads me away from those who do not present themselves in a truthful light. But sometimes intuition is silenced by a greater desire to figure someone out, a need to put some energy into someone. Nine times out of ten that’s because I see something of myself in that person and can’t resist the urge to change that person before he or she makes the same mistakes I made. Or I feel spiritually connected to someone in some way so even though my head is telling me to steer clear, I give in to the spirit of that person. And sooner or later, reality bites. The truth of someone becomes clear and it is not the truth that I assigned but the real truth of someone.

Disappointment. Pain. Emotional torture. The realization that you cannot put confidence in the character of someone destroys the heart.

I want to know what it’s like to trust someone. It seems to me that trusting would provide me some relief mentally, emotionally and maybe even physically. But how do you recover from the past (or the present) and start over?