challenges, perspective

A Life Cut Short

Recently, someone in my daughter’s close friend group experienced a great loss. A tragic accident. A death, completely unexpected. Not his fault. A shock out of the blue.

I had met this young man a couple of times. I have photos of him, since he was in the group for my daughter’s high school dances. I had been introduced to him once. Still, such a sudden loss makes every parent in the community shudder.

My kids laugh at them when I tell them to be safe. Don’t drink (and if you do, don’t drive). Don’t do drugs. Stay alert. Make good choices. Check in when you get there. Leave early. Slow down. Assume everyone else is drunk or not paying attention. This young man probably followed every single one of these rules and still, he is gone.

In most cases, you may not know the last words you’ll say to a person. A loved one. A friend. Every time they leave you, every time you hang up, every time you text it could be the last time. Stop and think of the people who mean the most to you. How have you left it with them? Yes, right now. Today. Sure, saying “I love you” to a friend all the time may seem foolish. Maybe you just aren’t that way. But how can you leave things so that you’d be content with those being your last words with them? Think about it. Do they know how you feel? Do they know what they mean to you?

Memento Mori. One of the tenets of stoicism. Remember your death. To some this might seem morbid. Too heavy. Honestly, it is useful for me. It means pay attention to what matters. Keep your shit in order. Don’t drown in the trifling details. Don’t waste time on petty arguments or people who are just not meant for you. Invest in what is meaningful. All you have is now. Don’t waste it.

I watched the beautiful slide show for this 20 year old young man. I saw his smiles. His family vacations. Trips to the university his family loved. The dinners with friends. The light in his eyes when he looked at my daughter’s friend. I wept for him and what everyone who loved him lost. All the dreams that would go unfulfilled. The awful anniversaries that would come over and over and over again. I wept for the life cut short.

Do the important things now. Make a list. Start checking it off. Do them with the people who matter to you. Time is ticking and we don’t get it back. Not fun to think about. But let that motivate you to embrace life NOW. Not next year. Not when you have more time. NOW. Live big. Love well. Embrace life.

Now.

perspective

The Rumor Mill

Recently, my name was put through the wringer. I was the subject of the rumor mill. Three different conversations on the same day and they all got back to me.

#1: came in an email “…a group of us were talking about this and…”

It was an unpopular decision I had made. A decision people had known about for weeks that came along with a deadline. Finally, on deadline day, someone decides to let me know that they didn’t like or understand the decision. And, they were speaking on behalf of some unknown group of people as well. Great timing, long after anything can be done about it.

#2 came a couple of hours later…same decision, different group chat, more complaints. Again, I hear about confusion, “I don’t wannas” and so on. Of course, it is all just second hand, so really there’s nothing I can do about it. After the initial complaint, other people in the group chat piled on with things that actually weren’t true. I did go to the adults involved and got an update so I knew what was said. But if a friend hadn’t clued me in in the first place I’d never have known.

Finally, #3… yet another decision I made ruffled some people’s feathers. Feelings got hurt. Actions got misinterpreted. People made assumptions that were wholly untrue. My name kinda got dragged through the mud on this one.

All of these on one day eventually brought me to tears. Most days I can ignore what people think of me. If I find out and it’s negative, I just blow it off it for the most part. I can’t do anything about it.

This day was different. All of these were decisions I made with reasons. I made them with doing the right thing in mind. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone or take advantage.

I am glad I have friends who look out for me. Who keep an ear open for how my name is being used or misused. And who take the time to tell me if it is important.

I’m also thankful for person number one, even if they did speak on behalf of a bunch of people who did not share her courage. I was able to explain myself and my reasons, which then helped her understand. We happened to run into each other later that night, and she thanked me for taking the time to explain. Overall, a win.

As for the others, since I technically didn’t know about either of these conversations I didn’t have the chance to respond. It makes me sort of sad, but what can I do?

Back to not being bothered by what people think or say.

perspective

I’m Back

I took a writing hiatus. It was just a couple of weeks but that means my funnel is thin. Things could be worse I suppose.

While I was away I was doing a bunch of this, that, the other, and then dealing with some unneeded bullshit. It happens but it sucks when it’s from sources who should just keep their ugliness to themselves.

That statement in itself can be all encompassing.  Unfortunately it’s life. Life has ups and downs. For instance I’ve had some moochers in my life. They have been around for a couple of years now. I’ve exercised patience. I’ve trimmed back on kindness. No matter what olive branch is offered the mooch status remains the same. Take take take. I’m sure after the holidays my patience for ignorance will expire. I can only hope the moochers have a plan. A plan of being self-reliant. Fingers crossed for the moochers.

While I noted moochers above I also deal with a stalker. Not just any stalker. One who creeps. Persistently puts their presence in my path. The sole reason for the stalking is ludicrous at best but I guess I’m that person’s entertainment or fascination. Out of an abundance of caution I change the vehicles I drive. I change my arrival times and locations. I avoid certain places. Hopefully the stalker enjoys my life show but I have no idea why one would be continuing to follow me for so long. It’s a shit show most days but any individual stalking me should know I am well aware of their presence. It’s clear my life is far more interesting than theirs. I’m sure they even read this blog. Oh wait I know they do. Funny, right? Maybe this is a hint to move on. Or more like a subtle nudging to move along.

Oh, my fall travel spots. I’ve hit the cold up north more than once. I headed out west and lived my best ranch girl life. The airports. The car rentals. The hotels. The people in my path. The experiences as a whole were remarkable. I learned. I grew. I laughed. I smiled. I ate way too much. I even shopped til I dropped. No regrets despite being a roadie for many weeks.

Thank goodness for FaceTime. I had many strategic calls but also many puppy chats with my two main ladies. Teddie and Bear were always treated like royalty while I was away and the pet sitters always made times for FaceTime chats. As I sit at the airport waiting on a holiday flight delay I know my girls know I’m on the final leg of my travels and will greet me as soon as I open the door at home. The excitement they will have will be beyond description here. 

Until my next post I will leave you with this tidbit. 2022 is on the horizon. A new year. The pandemic has begun to fade. As the new year rings in I will be shifting my online post writing to pen and paper for my next book series. The muck and crud had us focus more online since early 2020 but as the world shifts so will our brand. Back to the basics. Back to writing. You will still catch a rant here and there online but the bulk will shift to secrecy until you can flip the pages of the next book.

Now the big question is what’s next up? That’s hard to say. Many projects were mid- stream but some sit on the cutting room floor just because they seem so yesterday or pre-pandemic. Or better yet the time before I am the me I am now. 

The me I am today may choose a different creative path than I would have in 2019. A little older.  A little wiser. I little more fascinated about writing for different audiences. Kids books will always hold a sweet spot in my life but so do many other projects. Guess you will have to see what’s next up. Whatever it is it has to fit in with my crazy life that runs on warp speed most days.

perspective

The Middle Seat

I was on a flight squished in the middle of two strangers. Like sardine in a can. It was an evening flight making the cabin dark. The exception to the darkness was the glow of phones instead of reading lights. This kind of made me a giggle a bit.

I closed my eyes briefly and reflected on my day. My week. My past few months. It’s been a whirlwind but I didn’t expect anything less as I’m on the road to the big 5-0! Today I woke up to the chilly fall air. I had a tennis match with a new partner: I had no expectation other than don’t freeze to death. 

I layered up my clothes before heading out into the tundra. I mean it was 40 degrees which is cold for me. My new partner was nervous. I was cold. It took us a few volleys to get in unison. The gelling is what I like to master. I’ve been told I need to lead on the court but normally I don’t. For me tennis has been about relaxing. Changing up my routine. Meeting new people. Having fun. What I didn’t realize is others were expecting me to lead. Somehow I missed all the cues.

I scratched my head until my team coach chimed in with, you are strong and lead in every other aspect of your life and the partners you are paired with expect nothing else than the same on the court. I scratch my head again. Can I still do all the things I mentioned above and lead? Why yes I can. Once I modified my attitude we began to play better. Communicate more clearly. Win or in some cases or battle to deuce, deuce, deuce and so on. We hung in there for hours. Ultimately losing in the end but that’s okay because we get mimosas at the end. It’s always a happy ending if you look at it that way!

This little tennis match got me thinking when I sat in the middle seat. How much have I led this week? This month. This year. What is still left for me to conquer before 12/31. I love when I get a chance to shake things up and sit in a middle seat. A chance to be idle and drift into that creative space of thought.

I opted to take out my phone and glow. I figured I already had a night light to my left from a laptop and decided a little glow from my iPhone would be a fine accent. Off I went to type away on my teeny tiny keyboard.

It’s a million dollar year for me. It’s been a bunch of firsts. It’s many many new adventures and beginnings. It’s milestones. It’s new friends mixed with old. It’s another year winding down. Just like that. In the blink of eye, 2021 rolled in and began to fade. 
as I pause my writing in my middle seat, I closed my eyes and focused on some deep breathing. Something I enjoy at the gym but find ways to mix it into my days as well. During those calm moments a weightlessness feeling appears. It allows my mind to relax.

Signing off from my middle seat. The squishy uncomfortable spot that nobody wants to pick. The fear of who you are stuck with as neighbors. Today I had the courage to greet others. A new perspective of flying that you may never experience. Eew! Yuck! Nasty! Who in the world thought that was okay?

I am also thankful for my mask on this flight as it’s somewhat masking the stink of the putrid lingering fart. A nearby passenger just fully unloaded something and they might have left a skid mark in their pants. I am so very thankful I was finishing this note instead of doing deep breathing when he/she chose to glow or blow in their own special way way up high in the sky where fresh air space is so limited. No manners!

perspective

You Can’t Make Me

Parenting and life lessons. My youngest is a senior in high school. With two twenty-somethings, I have had some practice letting go of the reins with my kids. I might be a little more chill about their decisions these days, but that hasn’t come without a lot of years of frustration.

I remember when one of my kids was talking to someone on social media that they shouldn’t be. Waking up at all hours, endlessly glued to the screen. This was many years ago, when it wasn’t quite so usual for everyone to be attached to their screens all the time. After trying so many things, taking away the phone, taking away other privileges, and talking until I was out of talk, I still caught that child up at 3 am, on an old “lost” device, talking to this person they shouldn’t be. Again.

I remember my rage and frustration so clearly, in the middle of that night, and the wide eyes of my kid, completely unmoved by my temper. The look said “you can’t make me.”

There may be few things as frustrating to a parent than the realization that no, you really can’t make them do anything. Not without mental / physical injury or breaking the law. Oh, I wanted to wring that child’s neck that day, but I didn’t. And I remember that “you can’t make me” moment so well.

I remember the time I gave it to my own parents, too. I was running around with a much older crowd, lying about where I was. They went to the place where I said I was one night, I wasn’t there, and then confronted me when I arrived home. I got the lecture, and the “promise you won’t do that again” ultimatum. But I looked straight at my father and told him I couldn’t promise him that. And I am sure, in that moment, when I was supposed to promise, whether or not I meant it, he must have wanted to wring my sassy teenage neck as well. (Sorry, Mom and Dad! Wish you were here so I could apologize to your faces.)

In my adult life, this lesson has smacked me in the face many times. No matter what, you really can’t make people do anything. When you’re left out of a social gathering. When people make decisions that you disagree with or take you further from each other. So many little daily things that happen that may seem puzzling or even hurtful. Here’s what I’ve come to realize:

You can’t make people spend time with you. You can’t even make them want to. People are fickle and messy and unpredictable. You can’t make people thoughtful or considerate. They are or they aren’t, and this changes from one day to the next. Most people aren’t sitting around thinking about how they can make me feel left out or unwanted. Most people are too self-centered to even have that thought. (Or maybe they do, but I’ve realized it’s not productive for me to obsess over other people’s hurtful actions.)

If you have someone who cares about you and thinks of you, cherish that in the moment it happens. Thoughtful moments are rare and to be treasured. If someone thinks of you repeatedly, that is truly special. Enjoy it. Relish it.

In the end it is all just data. I just know what I’ve learned from what I observe.

Everything and everyone is optional. Most people and things will eventually move on. When you change your circumstances, it’s inevitable that things and people change. That probably sounds callous. Maybe it’s the stoic reading I’ve done that makes it a little less personal.

Change doesn’t make the people you’ve moved on from less important. Life takes us all kinds of places and there are only so many hours in a day, a month, a year, a lifetime. It just makes every present moment more special. Time and attention are finite resources for each of us. If we can’t make anyone do anything, how are we spending those precious fleeting moments?