What scares you?

So what really scares you? Not BOOGA-BOOGA pants-crapping scared, where your skin crinkles up and makes little screeching noises with sparklers on the ends.  More like what are you AFRAID of … that fundamental sense of dread that a cog will drop into a random sprocket somewhere and life will change.  Fear of loss is a keen motivator — what else drives us with that same force?

But what if life changed and you lived through that?  And what if it happened over and over ’til you realized how brave you were and then you just started doing things and saying things you didn’t know you could do and say?  What if people didn’t get any of that and you didn’t care?  What if you just started kicking ass, including your own, and life really did change and you wouldn’t change it back if you had the chance?  WHAT IF?  Not the question I want to be asking myself when I’m gowning up for the choir eternal.  What if I’d done all those things I knew I could do?  What if I’d let myself be who I knew I was?  And to quote Captain Obvious, what if I’d just been nicer?  Regret, let’s not have to go there.

Holy balls, I’ve survived too long to let fear force me back into the box, and by now he’s like an old friend anyway, sort of.  You know, keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your powder dry.

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.”  ~Dawna Markova

*A previously published piece, lightly edited for re-post.

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Actual Self-Care in 2020

Does the impending arrival of a new year make you introspective? Do you think about past years, what they held, and what you hope to do differently in the new one? Are there things you’re still trying to sort out in order to avoid future train wrecks?

No? Just me, huh. Well, this week as 2020 bears down on us I’ve been trying again to make sense out of the whole idea of friendship. You’d think I’d have that down by now, but the script got flipped a while back in a way that’s made me examine the parameters ever since. An introvert will survive!

I had a friend who was a few years older, half a dozen I think, an intriguing woman, large and in charge, very generous, well traveled, had a million stories to tell. She could be a little overwhelming, liked her own house and parties best, her own food, which was always creative and distinctive, her own stories, her own family, her own interesting life. She genuinely cared about yours too, she just had a hard time staying with any of it for too many minutes at a time, she had so much to tell you. There were lots of parties, lunches, dinners, evenings, game nights, gatherings of every sort in her place, where she was always the pivot, cooking, pouring wine, hostessing, keeping the vibe going.

She loved Kim – he could do no wrong, which I think was her take on beautiful men in general. He got her, far better than she ever knew, so they danced that dance. She emailed me from time to time with little things she needed him to do and he always showed up, then stayed for a bit to hear her worries and put them to rest if he could. We called an ambulance for her more than once, and through the ups and downs over the years a sort of easy relationship grew up among the three of us, although never completely on an even playing field. She somehow came from another time and a different world.

Our friend had health problems that started infringing on her social life in ways that frustrated her and made her feel isolated and lonely, although her days were still a social whirl compared to my chosen solitude. She began to urge me to spend a couple of mornings a week in her place, drinking coffee and talking, just girl stuff. She knew about the fibromyalgia and the back pain, et.al., and that I didn’t really “do” mornings, but I could come in my PJs if I wanted and it was just down the hall, and I’d be drinking coffee no matter what anyway, right?

There came a morning when it was an insult to my body to ask it to put one foot in front of the other, so I sat down and wrote her a cheery email full of girl stuff and all the news I could think of, and after touching on how I was feeling I said that my letter would have to take the place of a visit for that day, maybe for the week. But I didn’t apologize, the facts being what they were – it didn’t occur to me that I might need to.

Neither of us ever heard from her again.

When she moved away the following year, she found Kim to say goodbye. Nothing personal, just so long, be well.

A study in human nature?

I’ll have to look elsewhere to study friendship I think. Many months have passed but my sense of sadness hasn’t – it’s hard to reconcile the before with the after and make it all mean something. I can’t die for a very long time – I still have way too much to learn.

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Waiting for the Wise Men

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Wait! Breathe…

 

One by one

dig the clods

from your throat

and recall what breathing felt like

 

Leave the answers

to people who have them

what you don’t know

hurts less than what stands in for real

 

Tell yourself you

don’t care that might makes right

that right doesn’t matter

that upside down is how we do things now

 

You don’t care

it doesn’t matter make a note

it’s what saves you until they turn the lights back on

and the night-critters scatter until next hoedown

 

Not to care

makes the days fruitless

and the nights frightening

but no other armor has been provided to the rank and file

 

So wait here in limbo stasis

until the rules change for better

to something your heart will see when right counts again

you know it always did no matter what the storytellers say 

 

JSmith 11/22/2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday blues time…

Oh shoot, a Sunday when the blues come down with the rain, so ya’ roll with it, because what else. They’re just the ol’ familiar “Vacation’s Over, I Miss the Highway, Winter’s Comin’ Blues,” and they’re nothing a pot of Kim’s coffee, some introspection, a few tears, and my keyboard won’t play like a sad harmonica simply because that’s how I deal.

When the skies go all gray and weepy, my psyche does inventory to see what we haven’t felt bad about lately, haven’t cried bitter tears due to the rank injustice of, and we let those bad kids out to dance a fugue or two. The pathos is so satisfying – we were wronged, yes we were, there it is, so clear anyone could see it…

And from that silly exercise this rainy morning, an insight: being a farm kid carries with it an inherent amount of social isolation, especially for girls, in key ways. Because I rarely got to hang around in town after school, by the time I started high school I didn’t know the code, and my whole life has subsequently felt that way, like trying to catch up to a world the insiders knew about but I didn’t. 💡 This thought is multi-faceted and I still need to flesh it out, but I did promise you I’d keep working on this knot of letting go…

I grasp at my core that the base knowledge of belonging is seminal – it informs everything else. But in the end, we give ourselves permission to be – no one else holds that power, so we can be bold and SAY who we are and where we belong, if we decide to. However, the flip side is that it doesn’t matter who you decide your community is, it’s made up of individuals and those individuals can turn on you, or fail to support you, or leave you out of the loop at any time and it will no longer feel like your place in the world. So if you unexpectedly found yourself on the outside looking in, would you have a place to go, another community that might not only take you in but where you would want to go and would at some point fit in and feel at ease? Or would you care?

Would you maybe be old and settled and formed enough by then to decide your family and your books and your online friends were all the comfort and companionship you really wanted – and trusted? Would that be sad or wise? If it were informed by experience would it be logical? If it were, by that point, based on available energy of all the varieties there are, it would have to be acceptable, and finally, forgivable, am I right?

Different strokes for differently-wired folks, and I’ve written myself unblue. There’s even a bit of sun glowing through the clouds.

Gloriously, at last, we belong only to ourselves, which answers so many questions no one else can even name for us. They’re ours to think about. Namasté.

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REALITY = a full-time job

My Muse has been kind this summer, and attentive. I no more think of something and BOOM, like somebody has ESPN, there’s a reference on a timeline or in an article I’m reading. In reflecting again lately on letting the past be the past, and having been marinated in Midwestern guilt from birth until the West Coast Wild Man (according to the locals) strolled in and stopped that shiz right in its Ropers, I’m well-versed in the dilemma represented up there in the meme. Baby Boomer girls make nice, talk nice, say everything but what we really think, if we know what’s best for us and want nice things said about us.

But if we ever once start saying what we really think, all bets are off. Because sometimes people see what looks like an opportunity to dig a little, and feelings get hurt, peace gets wrecked, doors get closed. It never feels good but you finally have to use what’s been percolating in your Boomer self since shortly after WWII and just stop the bleeding once and for all, say No, I’m not up for this, buh-bye, whatever we were we’re not that now, and memories don’t give you carte blanche to my life. But then, Midwestern guilt would tell us, it’s our responsibility to open that door again and make peace face-to-face, all nice, and start over.

You know what, no. That’s phony and it isn’t peace. I’ve tried it repeatedly and what I got was what most peacemakers get, which is taken advantage of. I’m not whining, I’m stating a fact. If you cut people slack they use it all. They decide you really are a good person who wants them to have it their way. And then they hit you again. From a different angle out of the blue when you’re weak and vulnerable but they didn’t know that, no, they just have great instincts.

I like things real and I subscribe to the knowledge that it isn’t on me to try to build a relationship with people who don’t even like who I am. It’s shocking and absurd that the exact things I was trying to figure out in eighth grade to keep friendships in balance are the same sorts of things that are still canceling the potential for genuine friendship in my eighth decade of living. It makes me despair just a little for human nature, but only a little, because I think of so many friends with their wide, wide hearts and their beautiful minds and their nonstop belief in truth and lovingkindness in the world, and I know arrested development didn’t claim everyone across the board, so sometimes it really is safe to trust. Whew!

Welcome back to Blogging as Therapy this morning, and thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

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That fragile balance…

Trading anxiety for peace is no small beans. It takes constant focused attention and intention. Attention to the little things, the small ingrained habits that carry us through our days, the attitudes that are dear to us, that come to define us despite our best intentions, and there it is, the second word. As a lover of words, sarcasm is dear to my heart and often shapes and moves my intentions far more than I’m aware, coloring my attitudes and leading me down rabbit trails that don’t look or feel all that peace-laden.

Twitter, one of my habits, is a bizarre world of its own, but it’s good for speaking unvarnished truth with an economy of words. I don’t advise hanging out there if a sense of humor isn’t your strong suit, and even then it takes a toll on us softies. Jeez, the viciousness is truly unbelievable, the worst of it emanating from equally incredible stupidity and thus fairly easily rolled off. When it issues forth from people who I know are educated and who should therefore know better, I have to bail out for a while and remind myself what the thinking, feeling, caring world looks and sounds like, wrap myself up in that, and consciously choose PEACE. Again. On purpose. Until I get it right and it becomes my new habit, and the state of my psyche rightly reflects the life I actually live instead of the insanity of a percentage of the population I don’t even recognize.

No matter how passionately we might involve ourselves in knowing what’s going on at the various levels of government and society, we ultimately understand the infinitesimal effect we personally have on any of it, and yet some of us can’t refrain from adding our words to the mix in the hope of either connecting with one other soul or ridding our own soul of a tiny portion of the burden we bear because maybe we care too much. It does help a little, especially the connection part, and so we persist, we feelers. We seek a place of workable peace while trying not to shirk our responsibility for our fellow humans and other creatures.

It’s a balance not easily won, and why would we expect it to be? This is the stuff life is made of, the big questions, the literal life and death choices. So it’s okay to spend a little time weighing the options, even when we annoy the partial life out of people around us. The ones who love us finally get it, cut us the slack we need, and try to roll with us, which is so cool. Because this (waves hands around) just goes on and on and nobody knows the endgame so here we are, and loving each other and being real are all that count. Life really is so fragile.

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It’s personal…

Peace. It’s a GOOD thing, as Martha Stewart (remember her?) likes to say. It isn’t easily come by, therefore of great value. Once chosen it requires a moment by moment conscious choosing until it settles into a fixed attitude. The world, of course, doesn’t magically change just because we wake up one morning and decide we’re going to wrap ourself in peace instead of constant angst…but it feels a little like it does, because the perspective shifts. A thought comes and the next one behind it is “But wait, is that my job? Is it worth my mood? Is it fair to affect Kim’s day and the life we’ve been given, this amazing second chance after all the loss we both slogged through to get here?” Reality doesn’t change a bit, but my place in it starts to take on an altered significance – and this is okay. I can get used to this. After all, nobody died recently and left me in charge again, I can probably lay down some of this heavy-duty responsibility for a while.

If you noticed, my last post wasn’t titled “Finding Peace,” but rather “Making Peace.” Most intangible things we go looking for we never really find – it works best to make them out of the raw materials we have available to us and go from there, otherwise we’re off on an endless goose chase, we get distracted, forget what the goal was, and end up frustrated and discouraged. The good things and the beautiful people have a way of finding us when we’re chill and receptive instead of tied in knots – the past week has shown me the truth of that again and I’m glad I didn’t miss it by being all wound up.

This year since March has been about tracking down some elusive health issues, and tomorrow is D-Day for a twice-postponed endoscopy/colonoscopy that for some reason has filled me with dread when it’s a rodeo I’ve been to before and know is routine. I’ve done all the self-talk and for all of Saturday and Sunday I restricted myself to liquids and soft foods in order to make the prep as benign as possible, so it’s just me being a basket case. Pretty sure it’s because last time we tried this I had that super-scary totally unrelated sulfa-drug reaction in the middle of everything that landed me in the ER, so you see what we’re up against here – it’s never easy, kids, jeez. How will I ever convince you I’m not simply crazy? Never mind.

So… I’m “starving,” but there’s no food in sight for me until late tomorrow morning after the propofol wears off, when Kim’s promised me a salted-caramel malt, but at least for now black coffee is considered a clear liquid, how cool is that? This whole process is much improved from when I did it ten years ago, so see, it doesn’t pay to worry and fret. Far better to let yourself be at peace.

You heard it here first.

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A disclaimer?

Something you discover when you start scooping sand into boxes as raw material for sand castles, aka readable pieces of writing, is that if you’re writing for yourself the content can get rough for others to wade through at times. Therapy is rarely pretty or pleasant, but instead of locking the door and writing alone in the dark I leave the choice to my readers who’ve signed on – stay or go, read or skip, understand or drop by the wayside – because it helps me to think I’m bouncing those thoughts and feelings off someone who might be persuaded to care.

I know it’s been increasingly dicey here on Playing for Time over the past couple of years as I’ve clawed my way through a mountain of shock and disbelief at the changes in the country I’ve always called home and tried to reconcile what I know with what I see happening out there. I’ve undoubtedly stepped on toes and caused offense, as haven’t we all, in trying to feel our way through a labyrinth we don’t recognize as familiar territory anymore. In a gene pool rife with bipolarism I’ve experienced for the first (or maybe worst) time the heavy hand of actual depression, not to the point of requiring extra meds, but a far streak past The Blues. 

That glow out there on the horizon this week – I want to think that’s end-of-the-tunnel-quality light, but I’ve finally earned my Cynic’s stripes so I’m not holding my breath. I do think democracy is going to win this one and that we’re eventually going to heal. I believe important things will have been won – and a few crucial ones will have been lost – by the time the smoke clears. We have risked much in being so willing to square off and choose sides – things we may miss as a semblance of normalcy returns – but we’ll survive this, I believe that now; whereas, there’ve been moments when I was none too sure.

If you’ve been here since early on, that’s cool and I thank you. If you’re a newbie, that’s cool too. If you take a quick romp back through the archives you’ll see that I’ve written about the most eclectic of subjects, so I could hit yours eventually. 

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Studies in human nature…

Solitude_IAC

 

“I vant to be alone.” ~ Greta Garbo

Except, according to Ms. Garbo, “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”

There is all the difference.

You can’t do much writing, unless you’re journaling about one of the dustier sciences, without becoming a student of human nature, an endlessly intriguing and confusing subject. Who could ever comprehend humans? And having somehow done so, how would we ever live with what we’d learned about each other?

Once in a while the undercurrent of low-grade depression that accompanies my existence gets to be a bit much and I’m forced to acknowledge its existence to the point of taking a break from whatever seems to be the main problem. This time, Facebook was clearly leaving me in a state, so a Fall Sabbatical was an easy decision, and I’d no sooner closed the door than my normal sunny personality started breaking through again. Full disclosure, I also activated my sleepy Twitter account around that same time and started finding *inner healing* through shooting my mouth off.  To each her own poison.

Yesterday iMessage, which I can get to on my desktop now only through Facebook (I need a teenager, STAT), contained an odd and off-putting message that still has me in a mood. It was a clip of a skit enacted by young black students, male & female, dressed in scrubs, shooting police officers with automatic weapons, along with a personal message that said in part: “I have felt that you lean towards only seeing one side. I know you have taken a recess from FB and I just wanted you to see this. Are the youth in our schools being given permission to have such disregard for authority? This will only lead to more serious problems.”

Why now? Why purposely back me into a corner when I’ve said I need the exact opposite of that for a while?  I can wish mightily that I had answers, but I don’t. I’m tired. My head is tired, my heart is tired, I just need to go in a different direction for a few weeks and let some of the nastiness of recent battles filter out a little. I’m angry. Angrier than I’ve ever been in my life that lizardy old men think it’s just fine that other men assault and take advantage of young girls like I once was, and they laugh about it and celebrate it and elevate each other to the highest offices in the land. So angry. For the first time in my life there are people I hate.

It would have been an excellent time to let me alone. I asked nicely, after all, like any good little American girl would do. And we see, over and over and over again, how that works out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Try a little happiness…

field of summer flowers

Hello blogging buddies. A thought hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks this morning – I used to be the also-proverbial ray of sunshine. A daisy. A Pollyanna, a fixer-upper, a this-is-not-so-bad girl, a “we just need to sit down and talk this out” person who was always about the positives and the possibilities. You too?

Have we disappeared for good, we thoroughly optimistic, cheerful souls who kept the world afloat through sheer determination and plucky grit? We haven’t, right? Not for good? We’re just biding our time until it’s safe to stick our heads out again, right? Because if we’re really over and done, that would be too sad, and I guarantee the world would miss us. They think they wouldn’t, because we’re annoying and always underfoot, but they definitely would, and it wouldn’t take long because life is no good without hope and optimism. People get irritable and touchy, including us feel-goods, and it’s not fit for man nor beast out there, which is right about where I find my happy lil’ ass this morning, so it’s past time for a major attitude adjustment. (I’m starting to sound like a broken record, I’m keenly aware of this.)

I’ve Twittered and Facebooked and coffee’d to the max so far, written a couple of “sorry for that thing I said when I was tired” notes (oh yes, until my dying day), made a mental list of “Miles to Go Before I Sleep” tasks, and thought about a nap at 9am but opted for a little more coffee instead. It’s Monday and the slate is clean so I might tread lightly through my life for a bit just for grins…

Go out there and be happy campers, my fellow believers in the good stuff – the world isn’t expecting you so it’ll be a nice surprise all around. x0x0x0x

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Bye…please write…

14663.original-9456

JUNE

HOT

GOT DISCOURAGED

GOT THE BLUES

DIDN’T WRITE

JULY GOT HERE TODAY

HEAT BROKE

TIRED OF FEELING BROKEN

MIGHT WRITE SOON

“Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.” – Albert Camus

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Catharsis is not pretty…

18-heart-breaking

Dammit, life in the end is a cruel mysterious bitch because it’s so beautiful and so brief. I stand in the shower and cry wracking sobs that leave my ribs sore because we’re getting into our 70’s now and some of my most brilliant friends are falling to Alzheimer’s and I can’t make it stop and IT’S NOT FAIR. And I’m wrapped in a towel with my hair dripping water and running down with the tears and I’m trying to find words that mean anything at all when the world is ending and I’m mad as hell and nothing’s right anywhere except… a precious beautiful man loves my son and maybe I can stop crying in a little while… maybe… because when life seems like it has to end right this minute so we won’t die from the ache… there’s something so good we’d be really… pissed if we missed it.

And then we’re crying… softly now… from the grace and the sweetness and the peace and the yin and the yang.

The balance is always there if we can let the quiet find us…

… so pain is such a mixed bag that we don’t really dare wish it to be gone forever. That’s a much-needed revelation this morning and I’m glad for it.

Have a beautiful spring Sunday, friends. Because life is good. So good.

 

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Grief – a most peculiar thing…

Untitled

“The world breaks everyone, then some become strong

at the broken places.”

– Ernest Hemingway

So many kinds of grief for humans to deal with. So many humans dealing with so much hurt. Be kind. Let the candles speak.

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We’ll keep a light on for ya’…

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“Energy is wasted when you try to influence people who have already decided they’re not going to be happy or nice. Let them be as they are, and spend energy on the people who love and accept you, where you are and as you are. You’ll always attract more of the kind of people you focus your energy and attention on.”

**********

This ^^^ popped up today as a memory from 2012. I posted it originally sans quotation marks or accreditation, which isn’t how I do things unless they’re my own words, but I somehow don’t think I wrote it. Six years of wear and tear can take a toll on the memories, though, so who knows, and regardless, I agree with the sentiment despite the fact that it’s a hard lesson to own and remember. Thus…

…it took the current state of the union to finally show me that we genuinely are two very different countries here in these (loosely) United States. What turned the light on was seeing the news I get from The Guardian, Reuters, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal and a handful of others, contrasted head-to-head with news delivered by Fox Entertainment in the same time frames, and in no way did the two resemble each other. Different topics, different emphasis, different atmospheres entirely. I consider myself hard to shock these days, but that did it – the contrast couldn’t have been more stark, and I can’t even be cute or coy about it. Because…

…it told me that people in the world I occupy, and people who live in Fox World, don’t hear the same updates, see the same stories, know the same facts, embrace the same concepts – so how could we possibly hope to ever understand each other? No exaggeration on my part, it was a revelation, I don’t care how naive that makes me sound. I’ve held out hope that honest conversation and a give and take of ideas will someday heal the divide, without understanding how deep and wide it really is. I can’t imagine what it would take to bring us together as humans, which makes me very sad. And…

…it’s hard to bottle up the blues long term, so thank you to everyone out there who’s helping to keep the flame lit until it’s your turn in the barrel. I’m pretty sure the brokenness of the world is going to require everything we’ve got and then some, so a team effort is all that really matters right now and none of us can get through this without friends.

“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.” ~Amiel

 

 

 

 

 

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Previous Older Entries

Winnowing the Chaff

Phicklephilly

Stories, Thoughts, and Dating & Relationship advice from my life here in Philadelphia

Going Medieval

Medieval History, Pop Culture, Swearing

It Takes Two.

twinning with the Eichmans

Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

rarasaur

frightfully wondrous things happen here.

FranklyWrite

Live Life; Practice Writing

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Drinking Tips for Teens

Creative humour, satire and other bad ideas by Ross Murray, an author living in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Is it truth or fiction? Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

john pavlovitz

Stuff That Needs To Be Said

Drifting Through

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind

KenRobert.com

random thoughts and scattered poems

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

Musings of a Penpusher

A Taurean suffering from cacoethes scribendi - an incurable itch to write.

Ned's Blog

Humor at the Speed of Life

Funnier In Writing

A Humor Blog for Horrible People

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