Category Archives: more than meets the eye

Bravery by any other name.

Last week I posted a video of me face-planting into the water.  I thought I’d dip my toe in but then I realized how cold it was so I tried to back out but the water was not cooperating because it was all “I’m a not solid, idiot.  You can’t push off of me” and I was like “JESUS LIED TO ME”.   (Turns out I just wasn’t reading that part of the Bible well enough and I guess only Moses and Jesus could keep from falling into pools.)

Hailey recorded my ridiculous plunge and insisted I share the video online, and since she’s always letting me post pictures of her it seemed only fair.

I tried to embed it here but it doesn’t work so you have watch it here.  Or here’s a series of stills if you can’t watch videos of children laughing at their parents:

faceplant

But what was weird was that someone called me “brave” for posting a video of me in a bathing suit.  First I thought they were just trying to insult me but then I realized that they weren’t.  I asked twitter, “Did we change the word ‘brave’ when I wasn’t looking?  ‘Brave’ is for saving orphans from a burning building made of bees.  Wearing a bathing suit to swim is ‘normal’.

Most of twitter agreed.  My friend Popehat added, “Honestly I think it was questionable judgement to house the orphans in the bee building in the first place.”

Other’s disagreed.  Like Justin Gibbs who countered, “Please use more realistic metaphors.  Everyone knows buildings made with bees are fire resistant.”

And then I went on to talk about diseased popsicles (later renamed Poxiclespatent pending) but later I was dragged back into the conversation by a few women who pointed out that to some, posting a video of themselves in a bathing suit would be much less frightening than running into a burning bee building.  This sounds a bit insane.

But they were absolutely right.

We all have weird fears.  Some of them are universal.  Some of them are odd.  All of them are valid as emotions even if they are irrational.  I don’t have a problem with a video of me in a bathing suit because I’m old enough to not care anymore…but I have an anxiety disorder sometimes makes me terrified to leave the house.  It’s completely irrational, but it’s me.  But sometimes the thing that gets me out of the house is seeing how easily everyone else does it.  They leave their room.  They talk to people.  They come home.  No one laughs at them.  They don’t think what they do is brave, but to me it’s inspiring.

So maybe that’s the way it is for some women in bathing suits.  I could tut-tut at them but being afraid of having your flaws exposed isn’t nearly as crazy as being afraid you might have to make small talk with the mailman, so I think we’re probably even.  We’re all a little crazy.  We’re all irrationally afraid of something.  We all project our own fears onto others sometimes.

So I’ll keep wearing my bathing suit if you keep leaving the house.  And maybe with time you’ll realize that posting an awkward faceplant into the water while your child video-tapes it and laughs hysterically at you is way more embarrassing than being an imperfect woman wearing appropriate swimming attire.  And maybe in time I’ll realize that strangers aren’t going to eat me, and that leaving the house is fun and good for me even when every molecule in my body screams otherwise.

Let’s go outside.  And talk to the mailman.  In our bathing suits.  And set bees on fire so we can rescue orphans from them.  Pick one.

We can work up to the scary ones together.

Looking for happiness

Yesterday I had a shitty night and I was starting to fall into the darkness.

This morning I woke up to see slightly more positive and happy news on my Facebook thread than bad news and it reminded me that things are not as bleak as my head sometimes says they are.

Thank you for sharing your lovely, happy moments as well as your hard ones.

I often see an apology that’s added with the happy or proud announcements – as if we’re embarrassed to admit good things have happened to us or that we’ve accomplished something or that we’re proud of ourselves or our family.  I do it myself.  It seems like tempting fate or bragging to share those happy moments.  But it’s that good and positive news that adds up and makes such a profound impact to battle back the negative and the scary and statuses that remind us how fragile and broken we sometimes are.

It would be easier for me to write the things that I feel are wrong right now, but instead I’m going to write the good, because that’s the best way I can practice self-care right now.

  • Dorothy Barker is finally going to the bathroom outside slightly more than inside.  If you don’t recognize how awesome this is, you’ve probably never had a puppy.
  • Last week when I was sick my daughter insisted on putting me to bed.  Then she brought in a book and read me a bedtime story.
  • Your amazing response to my new book turned me into a puddle.
  • We’re working on surprising Hailey with tickets to see Matilda this summer.  She’s wanted to see it for years and we know all of the songs by heart.

Your turn.  Tell me something good.  Something you’re proud of.  Something that makes you happy.

No apologies.  Just goodness.

I was considering teaching this dog to dance but she already dances better than I do.

I was considering teaching this dog to dance but she already dances better than I do.

Shitshitshit

I’m overwhelmed.  By the end of the week I’ll be fine but right now I’m dealing with massive deadlines, and Victor is out of the country, and Hailey has been really sick, and I feel like I’m stuck in quicksand.

I know this will pass.  I know my anxiety disorder is making me paralyzed and giving me a false idea of how bad things are.  I know that in a few days I’ll be back to normal.  But until then I have to just say that if you’re feeling overwhelmed and full of failure you are not alone.  Keep breathing.  Keep breathing.  Keep breathing.

I’ve been listening to angsty music that speaks to me, but honestly, today I need something to push me out of this, and pep-talk me into the sun and maybe you do to, so here you go:

PS.  If you hate being forcefully cheered up and instead you need to cry and feel like you’re not alone in being crazy then here are the angsty songs that have been my company this week:

Sending you love.  We’re in this together, y’all.

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

We’ve come far, but we have so much farther to go.

Sometimes I get mad about how far we are from equality, but I can’t recognize that truth without also recognizing that the ability to see racism, injustice and inequality is something learned…and that being able to see how far we are from true equality is a gift.  A terrible, but important gift…one that we’ve been given by past generations who struggled to create the history we now have the privilege and pain to learn from.

It’s hard to write about something as serious and difficult as injustice, and harder still to have conversations which often end with hurt and raw emotions so I’m not asking you to speak, or comment, or anything else.  Just to do one thing today.  Look at your life and think to yourself, “Could I do one thing better?  Could I do one thing today to help?”  And if so, do that one thing.

Maybe it’s forgiveness, maybe it’s listening to something that makes you uncomfortable but needs to be heard, maybe it’s just allowing yourself to realize that everyone in the world has prejudices but that we can’t truly grow until we see them and confront them.  Maybe it’s reading To Kill a Mockingbird or Brown Girl Dreaming to your child, as you try to find a way to show them life that exists beyond themselves.

Maybe it’s writing and rewriting a few awkward sentences on a blog that isn’t built for this sort of heaviness.

One step at a time.

 

thetimeis alwaysright

“We go together like teenagers and low self-esteem.” That about sums it up.

This is a follow-up to a post I wrote one month ago about my shy 15 year old niece who plays the ukelele and is full of stars.  I shared a few songs and you guys filled her tip jar and her mailbox with magic, and music, and access to instruments she wants to learn.

So today I’m sharing Gabi’s latest song (which she recorded with one of her new instruments) as a way to thank you for being so supportive.  And it’s especially lovely because so much of it is exactly how I feel today about you guys.   Full circle. Thank you for being my worm.  Or my dirt.  Your choice.

PS. She doesn’t sell her songs.  She just plays them for happiness.  You can download them for free.

Lovely ~ UPDATED

My niece Gabi is 15 years old and is sort of my hero.

gabibir

That sounds weird and I can’t really explain myself without telling stories that aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you that she’s so much like me it’s a bit eerie.  The difference is that instead of retreating from the world, Gabi reshapes the world to work for her. While I was writing dark, angsty poetry at her age, Gabi has skipped forward to look for the light.  I sang in my bathroom so much that it drove my family nuts.  Gabi taught herself the ukulele and performs original songs for strangers in parks.  She sews her own clothes and costumes, and constructs elaborate dragon wings, and makes zombie sock-puppets and is quietly and unapologetically herself.

A few weeks ago I heard a song she wrote and recorded herself and it made me cry…possibly because I’m an extraordinarily proud aunt, but also because the sweet words she said were what I needed to hear…what I needed to remember.  And I’m sharing her song here because maybe you need to remember too.

She didn’t have a video so she just clipped together footage from Skype sessions and homemade videos with her brother and sisters and friends, but it’s a bit perfect.  If you like it, you can check out the website she made this week.  I tried to convince her to sell her stuff on iTunes but she’s content to share it online for free and put out an online tip jar if you want to pitch in for ukulele strings or blank sheet music, or other musical instruments she hopes to buy and learn.

Thank you, Gabi, for reminding me of how lovely things can be.

UPDATED:  I fucking love you people.  Have I mentioned that?  Because it’s true.  Gabi was amazed at your wonderful responses.  She received over $1,000 in tips (which she’s earmarked to pay for a drum kit and actual music lessons) plus help and advice from other artists.   She just updated her site so you can download her music, and she’s currently in the park writing a song about this whole experience.  If you want to keep up with her progress you should follow her page on Facebook right here.  Thank you for being awesome.  All of you.

Compassion is painful. That’s how you know it’s working.

I’m sad about last night for a lot of reasons.  And if you are human, and allow yourself to be so, then you probably are too.  Maybe it’s the verdict that upset you, or the destruction afterwards, or the long and difficult path that has led us here and has shown us we have so much further to go before we get to the place where we want to be…a place where kindness and compassion and vulnerability are the things which can be lauded and seen and encouraged and felt.  Or maybe, like me, you’re upset about all of those things and you feel too defeated to want to care anymore.

But if you’re like me, you can’t switch those emotions off.  It’s so much easier to turn those feelings of vulnerability and hurt into a shield of rage.  Rage feels powerful and strong.  It feels good.  And rage is important.  But not at the cost of compassion.  If, like me, today you woke up weary and wanting to become numb, or turn away, or lash out angrily at everyone involved then I feel you.  But I encourage you to keep compassion at the forefront.  Remember humanity.  Remember that your words and actions make a difference.  Remember that the majority of us are so much better than the worse things we see in the news, and that so many of us are leading a quiet revolution to be kind, and compassionate, and to listen to the hurt, and amplify the things that will make a positive difference in our world.  It’s a quiet revolution that will never be covered on CNN.  It’s a movement of people who redirect anger to kindness.  Who listen even when it’s painful.  Who take the hurt of others on ourselves and feel it so that we can become better people.  Who wade into horrible online threads and inject compassion and reason because we know that it can become contagious if done the right way.  Who hope that reason and empathy will somehow lead to a place which is safer for our children and grandchildren.

Yesterday someone sent me this photo and it’s stayed with me, and it helped.  If you’re like me, maybe it’ll help you too.

hope

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant? ~ Henry David Thoreau

I don’t usually write about serious things like this because I think of this blog as a place for us to get away from the crazy bullshit of the world.  A place to laugh and heal and be ridiculous.  But sometimes healing comes in different ways and I need to write this so I can let go of some of this angst and refocus on what positive things I can do next.  Like donating to the Ferguson Library, which has served as a quiet sanctuary for so many children and adults.

Tomorrow we’ll be back to ridiculous cat pictures and possibly a story about an alligator in my toilet.  And tomorrow we’ll still feel compassion for the people who are struggling, and will continue to do our best to enact positive changes in our own ways.

I hope to God both of those things are true.

It’s weird. But all the best things are.

I’ve been super sick for the past few days but I got my voice back today (much to Victor’s chagrin) and the steroids are kicking in but not really enough to write a real post so instead I’m posting this, which I started writing a long time ago but never finished.  It feels undone and not properly tied together, but in a way that makes sense because “unbalanced and disjointed” is a pretty fair description if we’re doing a realistic portrait of me anyway:

Remember a few months ago when I said I’d share the rest of the photos that my friend amazingly talented friend Brooke Shaden took of me, but then I promptly forgot?

Well, I remembered.  So here they are.

This the first, which I already wrote about here.

thebloggessandbrookeshaden

But here are two more:

small powder

And…

small red dress

I’ll always keep them because they’re ethereal and dark and magical, but really I love them most of all because I can’t look at the pictures without remembering walking barefoot in the swamp while wearing ripped dresses that wouldn’t zip up over my boobs. Or having Brooke douse me in baby powder while my daughter gleefully looked for fireflies and Victor set off smoke bombs.  Or literally falling off that log in the bottom picture while trying to adjust my antler as a baffled hiker walked by.  Also, I now know why people use the phrase “as easy as falling off a log” because it is very easy, if you don’t count the hassle of stitches afterward.

It’s weird.  But then, all the best things are.

Veterans Day

This morning I watched Hailey sing to the veterans being honored at her school and it was lovely.

veterans

If you’re a veteran, or a relative of one, I thank you.

And a special salute today to Hailey’s grandfather and great-grandfather.

My father

My father

Victor's grandfather.

Victor’s grandfather.

Today, there are almost 50,000 homeless veterans in America and over a million  considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty. Hundreds of thousands of veterans have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and there are an increasing number of military families who rely on food stamps.  For ways to help, click here.

I fixed it for you.

Yesterday I got an email from a very sweet girl who wanted to tell me how happy she was to have found “this tribe of bizarre stranglings” because she finally figured out she wasn’t alone and there were others out there like her.  And it was very lovely, although I did think it was odd that she was witnessing so many stranglings here, but then I realized that she meant “strangelings” (like “changelings” but stranger, and that spellcheck had probably changed it for her because spellcheck is an asshole who doesn’t understand the fluidity of language.)  She also included this quote from the Breakfast Club because she thought it fit our odd community so well:

we're all pretty bizarre

And I agree.

And I decided to write this post in case you needed to be reminded of how important you are to me, and to all the other strangelings and misfits out there who find themselves at this blog, and realize they aren’t alone, and get the support they need to be the dazzlingly odd person they are without apology.  You have no idea how important you are.

And I love the quote, but I did feel it needed a small tweak to reflect the us that we’ve become:

fixed

Never change, sweet strangelings.