Thursday, January 29, 2009

Say What You Need to Say

"So just letting you know, if I die, love you..."

The message came across my phone in the middle of a quiet, snowy afternoon. It came from my friend Lori. She and I have known each other for 10 years, this year. We have had dramatic ups and downs in our relationship including a two year hiatus during which we missed each other desperately but were too stubborn to make up. Lori and I frequently exchange energetic and highly emotional text messages so my initial reaction to this one was, "oh god, what kind of crazy shit is she doing now?"

And then my stomach sank. Something didn't feel right.

I responded quickly and she came back almost as fast with, "Sitting on 44. Waiting for police to come. In fast lane watching traffic come at me."

Overwhelmed and on the brink of tears, I called her. No answer. I called another friend, hoping she had heard something. No answer. I texted Lori again to tell her I was getting dressed and would be on my way. Where? I had no idea. And what I was going to do when I got there didn't matter. I just needed to go. But before I could leave the house, Lori called. The police had arrived and she was safe.

Lori's car had spun out, hit a median and landed facing oncoming traffic in the fast lane. Cars and trucks sped toward her while she watched and waited for something to happen.

I can't imagine how she felt in that moment but I can still feel the rush of emotion that I felt hearing what she was going through. My heart pounded and I cried at the thought of losing my friend. And I count myself lucky to have received that message from her, just in case.

Too often, it takes a brush with death or some other life altering experience to get us to the point where we can say what we need to say to the people around us. And in reality, we are being given daily opportunities to do so. There are reminders all around us of how short life is and how quickly it can change. We receive constant messages telling us to just whole-heartedly say I LOVE YOU to the ones who need to hear it and I'M SORRY to those we need to say it to.

Maybe what we need to say is I QUIT or I TRIED BUT I JUST CAN'T or simply, NO. Maybe it's I REALLY LIKE YOU that is yearning to burst forth or I'M NOT THE ONE FOR YOU. How about I'M SO PROUD OF YOU, YOU LOOK GREAT IN THAT DRESS, I'VE ALWAYS ADMIRED YOU or I'M JUST GLAD TO HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE?

Last year when the "Bucket List" starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson came out, John Mayer wrote a song for it. It's called "Say What You Need to Say." The lyrics are redundant but the tune is catchy and somewhat calming. It causes this sentimental feeling to bubble up inside me. But there's one phrase that I think sums it all up for us (other than the chorus). It says:

"Have no fear for givin' in
Have no fear for givin' over
You better know that in the end
It's better to say to much
Then to never say what you need to say again."

Don't wait until you're watching your life flash before your eyes or until your on the receiving end of a last phone call to say what you need to say.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ask & You Shall Receive

The other day a friend of mine said, "if you don't A-S-K , you don't G-E-T." And she added that it proves to be true in both business and personal. This is a woman who seemingly gets what she wants and knows what she is talking about.

So for the last few days, I have been thinking about what I want, who I need to ask for it and how I will get it all. Although I realize that I'm probably a little behind schedule with doing something like this and I probably should have given this a little thought ten years ago (or more!), I suppose it's better late than never.

As I mull over the possibilities, I wonder is it really this simple? All I have to do is ask for something and I'll get it? If I want a date with a certain guy who already knows that I like him, do I just call him and ask or do I wait for him to call again? I mean I want to go out... There's a job I'd love to have and, in this economy, any job is hard to come by so should I just call the boss and ask for the job? While I'm at it, I'd like more money than I made at the last job so should I just ask for that too? I would also like for the kids across the alley to cut their band practices to under two hours, I want Reese's Peanut Butter Cups added to the "foods that are good for you" list, I'd like oil changes for life on my next car and I want a house with a yard and a garage AND a basement for a REALLY good price. So I just start asking?

Maybe I will refine the list and give this asking thing a try. In the meantime, what have you asked for AND gotten?

That's Some Weather Huh?

I don't want to be the person that talks about the weather with strangers in the elevator. I refuse to believe that talk about the snow or the heat or the third day of rain in a row is all the talk we can muster. I also don't want to be the person to bring up the new president or the old president or the war in Iraq because in spite of the open book policy I have on my life, I still think those are topics best had with people you know well.

On the flip side, I don't want to be the person staring at the numbers, impatiently waiting for my floor to light up and for the doors to open. I don't want to stand with my back to the rest of the crowd or lean on the opposite wall, taking up as little space as is possible for this big ol' body so I don't accidentally enter the personal space of the only other person in there. I don't want to wait uncomfortably in the back of an elevator that is packed full of strangers either. If you are going to graze my arm multiple times, we should have something to say to one another, I think.

So what is appropriate elevator behavior? Perhaps for some a half smile is enough sharing with a stranger. Maybe a nod of acknowledgement suffices. And even those gestures are better than completely ignoring those around you.

You'd think after all these years, someone would have written a handbook or a guide or something. Hmmm... do I smell an idea brewing? Perhaps... or maybe it's just this crazy weather getting to me.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Sometimes my impatience gets the best of me. Waiting for life to unfold in real time fills me with anxiety. It causes my shoulders to tighten to the point that they nearly touch my ears. And on the rare day when this life doesn't seem enough... when it falls short of the mark I've set... when it leaves a little bit to be desired... I just wish I could peer through the window to my tomorrow and find some solace in what I see there.

I want to know that the days ahead are filled with joy and that love is waiting just around the corner. I need to see that the efforts I am making at a job that isn't paying me are not for nothing and that my career will turn around just as quickly as it all came crashing down around me. I have to find a glimmer of hope on those days. I want to see a sign that I should keep believing in good.

ARRGH! If I could just remember where that damn window is!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A year in review

I've decided not to wait until my birthday to take inventory this year. I want to reserve my birthday for only good things. Admittedly, due to various factors, my blog suffered in 2008. It wasn't nearly as funny as years past and my life wasn't exciting enough in the last year to evoke dramatic revelations. In fact, if I could wipe August of 2007 through March of 2008 from my history, I would. No offense to those of you who found joy in those months or who spent good times with me in that span of life. It's just the truth. (God, let's go back to August of '07 and start over...)

So, rather than giving an inventory of my top ten favorites, I selected the blogs that best depict my last year of life. (If you want my top ten favorites of all time from last year, please visit the February '08 archives.)


Looking Ahead

Usually, as the new year rolls around, I muster up some renewed optimism and make grand plans to change my life for the better. Not this year. This year, it is what it is. I'm neither going to complain about the lack of movement or seeming lack of direction in my life nor am I going to project great things as I look ahead.

I could do both. I could talk about everything I've been through in the last year and how glad I am that it's over. I could express fear about my future and ponder on the dismal outlook for our nation's economy and, in turn my career. I could tell you that I believe, in spite of it all, I am better off. I could say I have a small excitement bubbling up in me that I can't explain or that the little things give me a twinge of hope.

But I won't.

I am going to complain because it's what I do and it's damn funny. But I'll do so silently. I am going to project but not openly. I will acknowledge my fears and ponder the worries but only in my conversations with my God.

For the record, though, I am better off. So much. And I'm looking up and looking ahead.

See you in my future.