challenges, change

Stand Back

Hands off.

Stand back.

Let things take their course.

This is hard for many of us when we are watching what could be a slow motion tragedy unfolding. It’s especially hard for helpers (see my enneagram for more). I want to help. I want to fix. I want to make it all better for the people I care about.

I have been a helper for as long as I can remember. Being a helper is alive in my profession. It’s alive in my volunteer positions. It’s key to how I shape my days. So telling me not to help is like telling me to not be myself.

I have grown to understand that I have to fill my own cup first. This was a big step for me. I can’t help others if I am empty myself. But this is different…In the past few years, I’ve heard the cries of friends telling me that sometimes doing for others really isn’t a help. It robs them of the chance to gain their own power, self-esteem, self-worth. Still, I had a hard time stepping away when people asked for my help. Heck, I even offered help when it wasn’t even asked for.

Push finally came to shove in a situation and I had to step back. The bridge to help was too wide to cross, so I somehow let it go. I worked through the guilt. The shame. The pain. And just let others take the reins of their troubles and their successes.

This enabling isn’t always an easy pattern to break, especially in the beginning. There is time and energy to redirect. All the feelings and urges have to be tamped down. It may sound a little self-serving to say it hurts not to help, but it’s true.

It has taken time. What has surprised me is hearing from loved ones that they don’t hate me or disapprove of me standing back. That secret worry has not come to pass, at least not to my face. If there are people out there who are disappointed in me, close up, far away, or even not with us anymore, they have not shared with me.

And after some time and restraint, it has been rewarding to watch people begin to take control of their lives. Is it an immediate success? No. There are bumps and setbacks and disappointments. I can try to be there to support during these times and listen. I can think about what is truly necessary and try to provide some of that. But I really default to staying back and letting the person sort it out themselves. They are strengthening their own muscles whether they like it or not.

I find myself becoming more self-reliant and independent in the wake of these decisions. I also feel a little less me, but I am living with that. I am learning what boundaries work for me and my resources…time, emotion, financial, and more.

adventure

Rocky Top

The road trip destination was programmed for the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee on this beautiful weekend. An uneventful drive north from point A to point B. Nestled just outside of Knoxville and close to Dollywood. Another state to add to the list of 2022 RV visits. Documented of course via a sticker on the trusty RV map tucked just inside the RV door.

A big Georgia vs. Tennessee football game on Saturday was a funny coincidence making the camping resort a little bit of a rivalry zone for home fans and visitors from nearby Georgia. Friday night was set for settling into the site. Sitting by the fire. Toasting marshmallows and making big plans for the days ahead. The smell of fire in the air was so peaceful. The chatter amongst the travelers was so much fun. Everyone toasted their marshmallows just a bit differently. Some dark charcoal. Some light. Some full blown s’mores. It was a great first night for many.

We met a few new friends. Saw some cool vehicles that were in tow or for show. A vintage 1950 Chevy truck to a 2010 Stallion trike. Those were the standouts among the normal golf carts, motorcycles, sling shots, electric bikes, scooters, among others. Off to bed to rise early for a hike to Grotto Falls.

This hike was amazing from start to finish. First we had to rise early to guarantee a parking space. A hint we received from locals. Once we began the climb I first noticed the many step formations along the way. Some wood. Some rock. Some sand and leaves. Some water spots with little rocks to step across. It was a good mix with the trail.

Some of the trail was along the water’s edge. Some of the trail we just heard the water rushing in the distance. Another benefit of the early rise was the possibility of seeing the sun rise. It’s was peaking through the clouds and trees. Not enough to say we saw a fantastic sunrise but we did enjoy the chase.

So many picture opportunities along the way. The rock wall formations of varying colors. The large rocks in the water. The falls and everything in between. After we got our fitness in we headed to the town of Gatlinburg to enjoy being tourists.

As we tackled the city a trend arose. We liked to sample things. Alcohol tasting seemed like the midday activity. We tasted flights of local wines. We sampled local moonshine. We even taste tested the local ciders. All was so good. None of us were big drinkers per se but we all purchased our favorites from the samplings. This led to our second fitness journey. Hiking back to the car with gift boxes full of cider, wine and moonshine by the box. Three bottles in each hand was the equivalent of a small kettle bell in each hand for miles. Functional fitness I suppose.

Back to the site we go to chill by the fire again but this time during the prime football games. First up was the big rivalry of Georgia vs Tennessee. That was fun to spectate. The Rocky Flop Tennesee chant was all the buzz by the end of that game. Then we shifted to Alabama vss LSU game. The sole LSU fan was dancing and cheering for her home team. This was amazing in itself. While others not so interested in football gazed at the stars. I learned about a cool app called starwalk where you can use your phone to see what’s lurking up above. Another fun treat by the campsite to mix in with football and marshmallows.

Time to sign off to mingle and eat marshmallows. A solo trip in the books for this RV girl. 

mental health

Just a Giggle

I had a moment in bed at the end of the night that caused me to smile and giggle out loud. It was a great reminder about laughter. I might have been alone at the time but I had my own party of one giggle session. 

Even when life sucks, you can laugh about it. Laughter is a form of joy and it in itself can have a rippling effect. For me the evening I had a random giggle, I was mad. The anger somehow shifted away in the moment as the laughter overpowered the frown. A funny reality.

As I think about my life, the life of my close friends and others, I see challenges. My close friend is mourning the loss of her family pet of years. The loss is draining. A little laughter or smiles can help her over the hump of the initial loss. A distraction of sorts. Not a cure but a moment in time to readjust. 

A loved one is battling health concerns. Sudden weight loss. Long term effects from potentially life threatening diagnosis. So much burden weighing on one’s life. A smile. A giggle. A softer side here and there can improve one’s outlook. If even for a day. A half of day. An hour. A moment of pleasure vs the constant of pain or displeasure.

The shitty workplace. The boss who takes and takes. And takes again. Look in the mirror. It’s not you. It’s them. Laugh it off. If you are still tasked to enter data in a computer all day, giggle about their stupidity. If somebody insists you copy, collate or laminate, just sing you a song. I think I can. I think I can. And laugh it off. Over paid data entry clerk. Over paid girl Friday copy clerk. 

Celebrate the moment in time where you did minuscule tasks to get by. Laugh a little. The insult or pain of the tasks are just temporary. You know your worth. Don’t fret about the now. The future is bright. We are all capable of adjusting our environmental distractions or displeasures.

Laugh it off. Shake your head. Giggle. Grab a coffee with a friend or two and reminisce about old times. Laugh some more. I’m sure you will be rejuvenated to the point you can endure more pain. More copy clerk duties. More medical tests. More grief. And when life smacks you in the face again with an obstacle. Laugh some more.

I had a buddy in my life for many years. He laughed a lot. He laughed loud and hearty when he farted for example. The big belly laugh. The shitty grin. The laugh again. A fart created such laughter. Not a care in the world at that moment. We should all have buddy moments to spark the giggles needed to reset the shittyness (no pun intended) of what life has in front of us at that moment.

This post is dedicated to Shadow. The best doggo who crossed the rainbow bridge this week. Although it’s not my sad story, the sadness my friend is feeling has caused me to reflect a little this morning. The outcome was this post about the softer side of life while giving a nod to my buddy who has been gone some time now. May he be reading this post with a hearty laugh of his own.

I feel fortunate to be here today writing. May may giggles today spill over to others in my life that are struggling to find the giggles due to their grief or stress at the moment.

adventure

Yes Day

The first I heard of “yes day” was from my students. Many of them have a yes day on their birthdays or another special occasion. Heck, there was even a kids movie about it.

But in case you live under a rock or just don’t have kids in that age group, you may still be wondering what a “yes day” is. In my little world, it’s a day when kids get to ask for whatever that want, and the parents say yes. Pizza for breakfast? You got it. Last minute tickets to a professional baseball game? Sure. Movie matinee just because, with popcorn, candy, soda…the works? Sure. All the video game screen time you can stand? Have at it. Staying up past your usual bedtime? Squeeze every minute of yes day for all it’s worth.

I suppose there are rules and things that are off-limits, but in a world or a family filled with routines, have-tos and compromises, a day full of following your bliss sounds wonderful. Which led me to think, why should kids have all the fun?

With that in mind, I scheduled a “yes day” for myself. I invited friends to tag along if they had time and desire. I decided to look through my “want to do” list for the large city I live near (but rarely seem to go to.)

Planning may be even more fun than the actual doing. Scrolling through bookmarks, etc. What’s hard for me is actually not thinking of anyone else in the planning. I usually try hard to think of activities, places to eat, and ways to spend time that others will enjoy. It’s so rarely just about me (and when it is, I am usually by myself!)

My yes-day companions and I met up at a popular local place for brunch. Started with the tiktok-famous cinnamon roll. I enjoyed the tostada, loaded with veggies. Soaked in the ambiance. According to the house rules, we had to be in and out in an hour. No wonder, when we left there were dozens of people outside waiting to grab a table.

Then it was off on a hike. It turned out to be longer and harder than I thought it would be, but also much more beautiful. Lots of lovely water views. The leaves were beginning to change. And after lots of nearly-getting-lost moments, we made our way to the hidden treasure, the bamboo forest. Another tiktok famous spot, according to my daughter. A group was doing a futuristic photo shoot as well.

My friends headed back home, and I went on to treat myself to more insta-worthy treats: this time local ice cream. Soft serve salted honey with dark chocolate shell and cornflake streusel. It was way out of my way, but worth every extra mile.

Maybe that’s what a yes day is really all about in the end. Acknowledging that your whims and desires are worth pursuing…no matter how small or how fickle. I don’t have parents to spoil me with a yes day, so I’ll have to keep giving them to myself. Having friends along for the ride made it all the more memorable. Aren’t adventures even sweeter when shared?

challenges

The Review

The research was done. 4 stars with almost 800 reviews. Great written reviews at quick glance. The research revealed this restaurant as a viable option compared to the other area options. Everyone was hungry. The drive was 24 miles from the hotel, but 4 stars seemed worth it considering other options that hovered around 2.5 stars.

We took the drive. It wasn’t bad. We arrived to a decent wait of 35 minutes or so. No rush on our end, thus we waited. Observing the wait time grow due to low staff levels. Employees were strategizing at the hostess stand on how to cover the evening with such a limited staff. 

Many large groups left when the wait time reached 1.5 hours. The lobby began to dwindle. Those coming out seemed full and had leftovers. All of which leads me to think they all enjoyed their meal. The text came that the table was ready. Once inside we noticed the establishment was barely at capacity. Such a sad sight given the number of customers that left without buying or even sitting down. Then again the bar was buzzing with those who did wait which I suppose helps with the day’s profits.

The waitress was prompt and kind upon arrival to the table. The waitress offered suggestions as we were just visiting this area. Again all action led me to think we were in for a great experience. All three meals were ordered off the waitress suggestions. This is normally a smart choice. Unfortunately, today was not my day at this hot spot of a restaurant. There were a few red flags.

  • The first problem was a giggle and shriek. The shrimp pasta dish had one long hair interwoven in the fettuccine. Upon further inspection, there was a smaller kinky curled hair. So disgusting. The other person with the same dish couldn’t enjoy their meal thanks to this encounter.
  • Across the table from where the giggle was sat another person who might have indulged in the misfortune of her table mate. That was short lived. Her shrimp and grits dish came to the table with a very strong smell of garlic and onion. Just one bite. One small bite and it was over. It was as if she bit into a very strong onion. Upon further review it seemed there was minced/chopped garlic and onion instead of grits. Not sure who thought that was funny but the foul taste is still in her mouth hours later.

Our small group paid the check and left hungry. It was just one of those moments you shake your head at and move on. Then my text chirps asking me to fill out a survey and how five stars would help a small business. I ordinarily would jump at a chance to help a small business. Today, however, I couldn’t do that in clear conscience.

I decided to blog about this incident for a few reasons. Brushing of the teeth, tongue and using mouthwash still has not removed the onion flavor from her mouth even after several hours. The five star rating one asked for was definitely not worthy based on my experience. I also had some spare time in my hotel and felt a rant was warranted.

Have you ever had hair in your food at a restaurant? I know this restaurant was a big box design instead of a mom and pop place. I guess when you grow big, you may be willing to compromise quality. No business names are listed in this post intentionally. However, I would never return to this inferior establishment. A first impression is a lasting one in my mind.