Good for the Soul

We took ourselves a mini-break to Colorado this past weekend. Unbeknownst to us it would land on the playoff game between Denver and New England. It didn’t really hinder us in any way, we spent our downtown day on Saturday, before the mayhem.

Everyone kept asking why we were there and our answer was as vague as we could be.

Because really, there wasn’t much purpose. We just wanted to get away. The flights were too cheap not to go. We have friends and nephews in that area and I’ve never been on a winter vacation before. Nor have I been to Colorado and stayed in a hotel before.

It was quite lovely, to have no set agenda. We sat across tables from the likes of Haley and Whitney and saw our nephew Jordan. We made new friends in Joe and laughed and laughed and told stories and laughed more. We saw the sights. We spent time in Boulder, finding delicious breakfasts and coffees. We walked around neighborhoods. We drove up through the mountains to Estes and over to Loveland and Ft. Collins and Longmont. We went to some breweries and had delicious beers.

I had been dry since January 1, and lordahmercy it tasted good! But we didn’t go nuts.

It was the first time Mark and I have ever flown together, and I loved it. We travel so well together, very in sync. He read a book, I watched The Intern on the flight there and The Spy on the way back. EasyPeezy. He really is my favorite person in the world.

It made all the difference knowing our livestock and home were in the care of Alex. Knowing that she would take great care and love all of it as if it were her own, I can’t even tell you what peace of mind that gives us.

I didn’t do too horribly counting my points either. I went back to Weight Watchers this month and got off to a really great start, but I have little faith to see a loss at weigh in tomorrow. I’m ok with that. This whole Beyond The Scale thing is working for me. #NSV non scale victories are something I’m paying attention to and whatever weigh in looks like tomorrow, it’ll be better next week. Flying makes the body do crazy things, so I’m going in with a clear head. But it was nice to be able to do a vacation and pay attention without it making me crazy, or feeling like I was missing out on the fun food adventures. That in itself was a giant #nsv.

Our flight was delayed a bit this afternoon but we still got home in time for me to get the groceries purchases and meal plans for the week, fresh sheets on the bed and a really good walk with Winnie in the cold. Getting those steps in no matter what! I can feel my brain trying to go to work, cookies are around the corner and there is much to be done…and I’m pulling it back…savoring the final moments of this trip. This was our last reprieve before Cookie Season  for me, a busy February with him hitting Folk Alliance in KCMO, and our anniversary to boot. Before we know it we’ll be boarding a plane and heading to DC in April.

It’s a full life, but a happy one. I made so many mental notes of #NSV moments as well as those really quality “this is our life” moments on this trip…it’s so easy to get so damn busy that we forget about it. We turn another page in the calendar and just zoom through it all.

It’s important to make it count. Make it all count.

That’s exactly what we did this weekend.

 

 

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Failure to Launch

Our kickoff to 2016 was a dud.

Not NYE, because we were surrounded by friends and games and laughter and booze and spinach dip that would make you cry.

And not NY Day because we are DINKs (dual income no kids) and we stayed in sloth mode most of the day.

But sometime Sunday evening, I began to feel the funk of a wretched cold. Wretched, I’m telling ya. Someone gave me a germ. And I was around a lot of croupy-coughy people, but we also sat in many a movie theatre surrounded by masses, and I had loaned out my cold-warding-off essential oils to a friend, and it just happened.

I tried to go to work on Monday. I did. I was excited to get started, to launch our marketing plans and social media plans and hit the ground running. I got there and found a corrupted computer that needed work and really, made it till noon.

The only thing running was my fever. I got home as soon as I could so as not to spread the germ to my office and worked from the bed for the next two days. Coughing, sweating, chills, snot…it was ugly.

Wretched.

But I believe in medicating all of the ways with all of the things and by Wednesday I was back at the office with my Outlander A Day Calendar and my friends and here we are the first full week of 2016 finds me happy to be feeling well, looking forward to getting some groceries (we are even out of foil and handsoap ya’ll) taking down the final Christmas decor (Mark took down the tree this week thank God) and generally doing the things I normally would have already done.

All things considered, 2016 has made me really happy.

I have been very aware of how lucky I am, how good life is, this week. I had an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and joy to be back at work among my people, working on a plan. I have tried to take those moments and let them soak in.

The calendar speeds up after this weekend. I work the next weekend, we are in Denver the next and I work the last. That brings us to February. Cookie Sale! Mark is gone to KCMO for a music thing, our 1 year anniversary is at the end of the month HOLY CRAP ONE YEAR, and then is March. You see how the year is going already, right?

So this weekend, among all of the chores I’m happily doing, I will be taking time to savor the moment. I’ll be happy that I have time to clean and change the sheets and stock the shelves and meal plan.

Because while it may have taken a day or two to actually launch, this year is already on the track to be the fastest one yet.

Buckle up!

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Happy House

 

My Timehop app tells me that Mark and I have put up our tree on this same day for the last three years. Last year was my ring selfie. Two years ago we got snow.

This is the first year we haven’t gone at night, in the bitter cold. It was a gloriously sunny day, we went, we looked for a few minutes, and we selected. Perhaps the fastest turn around in our history of tree buying. We have our tree. The outdoor decor will happen tomorrow. Mark is in the floor right now doing lights, dutifully checking for burnt out bulbs and explaining “series-wired-lights” to me,  replacing the bad ones so that I can have all the twinkle lights I want.

There are so many things about that man that I love, so many times he says, “I can fix that.”  Not once has he ever gotten out of sorts when it comes to holiday decorating. Not when we go buy a tree. Not when I need help hanging garland. Not when I want to add just a “few more” somethings to our scheme.

We’ve listened to The Sibley’s Christmas album, some Elvis Christmas, the Relevent Magazine free Christmas albums…it’s been quite lovely.

In a bit, I’ll decorate the tree, look at all of the ornaments and swim through the memories that come with each one. MeMe Lois’s elves are dancing on our antique radio. MeMe Mid’s nativity is set up, aglow with lights and love. I’ve got a pot of apple, orange, clove and cinnamon simmering on the stove and between that and the 8 foot Noble Fir in my living room…this house smells warm and safe and inviting and lovely.

Happy lives here.

I urge you to step away from the internet. Step away from the news. Step away from the vitriolic conversations.

Go get some free music. Pour a glass of wine, or grab a cup of cider.

Enjoy.

Cheers to a glorious Saturday night!

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Living Well

This has been my week for health and wellness. Monday was a follow up with my new GP and I was down a handful or more lbs, my blood pressure was down and the medication I have been on for a month is working wonders. I also got my flu shot.

So grownup.

Mark was out of town in DC for a training and Winnie and I took it pretty hard. Sammy however, was really glad to be back to just us in the queen size bed.

Thursday morning, as I just prayed for safe travels for my husband and to see him home safely, I went back to my dermatologist. I had 9 places frozen/burnt off. NINE. One, on my back, caused the Dr to change her tone of voice.

It was pre-cancerous. She gave me straight talk, and said not to worry that when I go back in four months she fully expected it to be gone. The other places on my left arm (the same arm my flu shot went into) are giant blisters. Let me repeat again.

They are giant blisters.

It hurts, it’s gross. I feel like a braille book.

It is all worth it however. I have a major amount of sun damage/skin damage. This is my normal now.

And as I said all day yesterday, it’s better than the alternative.

Today I will go buy my wish lists for my foster kids. A boy and a girl, both 1 year olds, and in the system. I pray that they will feel loved, and feel joy this season and everyday.

Our family still needs your prayers for our brother Tim who is battling cancer.

My sweet Mandrea lost her daddy so suddenly last weekend. They could use some prayers too, as she has lost both her daddy and her Bonus Dad in the same year.

This time of year, the holiday cards and decorations and lights and general wish for peace…it seems that the bad is just exacerbated, and multiplying.

Hold on to the good.

Live well.

Take care of yourself.

This life, even with all of it’s petty Facebook squabbles, is worth the living.

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Spectacular Spectacular

I’ve been fearful this week, deep into my gut.

Fearful of what I’m witnessing, the terror and rage and hate and destruction.

And that’s just on social media.

I’ve been fearful for our world as we know it, fearful of our lives and thinking about the way they can be devastated in a moments notice. I’ve been fearful of the next shoe to drop. Locally. Nationally. Globally.  I’ve been fearful of what fear is doing to us as a society, moving us so far away from our humanity that it is difficult if not impossible to recognize ourselves anymore.

I’ve never had fear reside in my life like this. Mom always said, “Misti, you’d dance with the Devil if he could two-step. That’s why I worry.”

So this is a new kind of ick, and I don’t want it to settle in, pitch a tent and live inside of me.

I know that many out there, friends, family, acquaintances must be dealing with the same thing. We are all trying to navigate it, and while some are doing that quietly, some are putting on a show that compares to “Spectacular! Spectacular!” 

I know some of the things I’ve read this week make me stop and double check who I’m reading, because oh my Lord, the anger and the hate…that doesn’t live naturally in these people. It’s been perhaps the most polarizing time, the most polarizing topic I remember witnessing. I see loving, generous, and Godly people who are baring their teeth and behaving like barbarians. In the name of God.

That breaks my heart.

It seems to me, that when we feel passionately about something…that is a good thing.

It’s when we lose sight of the ability to understand and communicate with those that feel just as passionately about the other side, that we begin to erode.

And hey, I don’t hang out with people and talk non-stop with those who think that people I love are abominations and shouldn’t have their civil rights. I’m not suggesting that.

The danger comes when we begin to disregard civil thought, logical and critical thinking and dialogue that includes all sides, and only focus on our own.

We have history that shows us what destruction comes from thinking like that.

I think we’re all reacting, living in this fear.

It seems to me, that’s what the bad guys want.

Turn on each other.

Fight each other.

Hate each other.

Destroy friendships and cut ties with those that you once loved.

Set it all on fire as you walk away.

Nurture and feed your anger.

Participate in social media with the intention of degrading those that have a different thought.

You either believe exactly like me or your are the enemy.

Behave that way. Break each other down.

 

I don’t think anyone wants to open the doors to terror in our world. Come on in! Blow us up! Have a great day! I think we can all agree that we do not want that. Right?

I don’t think that we are all so inhumane as to not see the need, the desperate need to help our brothers and sisters on this planet. From our homeless, to our addicted, to our children, to our veterans, to our elderly, to our hungry, to those seeking a better world in our country. Right?

There’s a middle conversation here, that no one is having. I’m only seeing one side or another, tearing the other side down in a bloody, hate driven war.

And that might be what scares me the most.

We don’t really even need the bad guys.

We’re doing their work for them.

 

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Remember

All week I’ve been thinking about writing, thinking about telling you about my crazy last week(end), and my launch into my 45th year.

It was one of the craziest, break-neck speed weeks I’ve had in awhile, and I actually did try to come down with a little cold because of being so worn out. It was Homecoming at my university, and as an alumni board member, I had work to do. There is a certain expectation of activities that a board member must participate in, but last weekend, many of us in this particular group really showed up. Our executive director made mention that he’s never seen a board so active in a homecoming weekend before. That made me really happy.

We were there, we were laughing and smiling and soaking it all up. We sat with young scholarship recipients at a dinner on Friday night and talked to them about their campus experience. We sat through the Hall of Fame and Young Alumni recipient luncheon on Saturday, and I got to do the introductions for these amazing alumni. More laughing and soaking up the sunshine.

Honestly, this was the first homecoming I’ve ever attended. I never wanted to go, because my USAO friends weren’t going to be there. The majority of attendees for homecoming are the OCW ladies, and while I enjoy spending time and learning their stories, I missed my community of USAO people.

I missed Talaura and Cindy and Kirk and Carsten and Lorianna and Roger and Ma.

I missed John. and Chris.

I missed that group of friends I knew when I was with my first husband.

Greg, Hucks, Joe.

My wish for next year is to see John’s memorial scholarship funded and awarded. I give what I can everytime we have a board meeting. All gifts are valid and appreciated, right? We only have a little over $1000 left on it so I believe it can happen in time to award.

My wish for next year is to work to reconnect that community back to the place that connected us first.

These were the things swirling around my heart as the festivities ended and I came home to collapse. I slept most of Sunday, and went to see Milk Drive on Sunday night at the Depot. I went to the Sarkey’s Leadership Conference on Monday and Tuesday, fighting off a cold that came upon me Saturday on the drive home.

I turned 45 on Tuesday.

That number gave me a start.

How in the hell am I forty five years old?

I know that I generally experience a crisis of some sort on the 5’s.

If John were around he could tell you all about the one I went through at 25. He was mostly laughing at me, but also was a source of strength.

At 35…well that one was particularly ugly as I was in a relationship with a cheating alcoholic and felt as if I were stuck, trapped, and couldn’t find my way out. I was watching my breeding years fly past as I stood frozen in a life that at first appeared wonderful, but quickly turned toxic.

And here at 45, my life is really really beautiful. I am seen. I am heard. I am loved. In return, I too see, hear and love.

But fucking hell…FORTY FIVE????? woof.

So this week, I’ve been contemplating the things. I think of those that I love and miss on this plane of existence, John’s scholarship funding, my happiness in getting a weekend that includes very few things but a Patty Griffin concert and green chile stew…

Paris happened.

It reinforces the need for community, and to tell you how I love you. To profess publicly that you are not forgotten. To spend my days on work that is important, that moves the dial further to the good side of things. To be less judgmental on myself for my dirty floors and piles of laundry, and to embrace the colors on the trees and my crazy ass dog who wants everyone to just wake the hell up because we are wasting daylight.

I pray for this world, for some ease to the pain we are all in on some level.

Let us not ever forget what a gift this day truly is.

 

 

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The Curious Thing

Yesterday Trish and I took off for a mini road trop to Tulsa and caught a show at Cains.

There was a time when this was actually the norm for us, but since she moved back from Florida, our lives aren’t as conducive to a Monday night out as they used to be.

When she asked me if I could manage it, my first instinct was to say, “Absolutely not. No way. Impossible. It’s a Monday night. It’s in Tulsa. Nope.”

I’m so glad I got past those initial reactions and thought it through. The timing was right for some flex time at work since I was there all day Saturday. We hadn’t had a little trip up the turnpike in eons. It was a show I was excited to see.

Oh hell yes, why not!

Saying YES used to come easier for me. I had nothing to be responsible for really. I made my own work schedule. I had animals who came and went on their own. Hop in the car and go at a moments notice? SURE. No problem!

These days though, the jobs aren’t quite as flex, there are other people to consider in my life, and as we are all want to do…we just say no. We get into our routines (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can become the *only thing)

We quit saying YES to the curiosity of life.

I’ve been listening to some podcasts lately, doing some soul-work of my own and one of the connecting threads that is jumping out at me is Curiosity. It’s coming at all angles. From the comedic episodes, to the straight up interviews, to the deeper, creativity fueled eps the word Curiosity is the anchor.

Since our wedding my motto has been “say NO to everything but happy hour and camping”

And I stand by that. The first of the year was a manic time for both of us and we just needed some time to be. We didn’t socialize much, we holed up in the house and rested. The issue with that is it can stick. Home. Dinner. Couch. Tv/read. Bed.

I’m not curious about any of those things. I’m ready to feed my Curiosity.

Sometimes you just need a car, a full tank of gas and a best good friend to shake things up.

Cheers to all of those things.

Cheers to shaking up the routine a bit this week.

Cheers to being curious.

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And Just Like That…

It’s October.

Behind us are the months and days of turmoil. So many around us suffering a loss of some kind. My step-brother navigating around FuckingCancer. Julie redefining what her life and work looks like. Audra managing the loss of her sweet pup Wylie Coyote. The grieving over lost loved ones like MRM, the grieving over relationships and marriages that have dissolved. It seems that this summer was chock full of challenges for us all on some level.

I’m not suggesting that with a fresh calendar page all of everything is automatically wiped clean and now sparkles.

But there *is something nice about October.

It’s always been the beginning of my Magic Time. Audra’s birthday, so many friends’ birthday’s actually (hey Libras!) Halloween, then my birthday and the holidays…the shift in the weather, all of it wraps up into a magical powerful time for me. I look forward to it, refueling my soul from the break-neck summer.

Did I tell you I’m taking a life writing/memoir class? I am. Online, for 6 weeks. So far I’m really liking it. It works for my schedule, I have committed time during the week to write, though I would love to have more, that sanctuary “room of one’s own” space, I haven’t taken the time to create that so here I sit at the kitchen table. Typing away on my sweet old machine. It’s been interesting. Difficult at times. But I am enjoying the process. It fits with this time for me, the creative months.

I finished reading Brene Brown’s Rising Strong and so much has stayed with me. Several tenants of the theory, and when I give myself a little more time I’m going back to work fully on the entire process. The one that I’ve taken to heart though, is the one that says:

When we combine the courage to make clear what works for us and what doesn’t, with the compassion to assume that people are doing their best, our lives change. 

I can’t tell you how often I mutter to myself, “she’s doing her best. She’s doing her best” while I’m at work. Or really giving thought to what works for me, and what doesn’t. Am I saying yes but screaming NO inside? Am I holding a grudge or standing in self righteousness about this? why?

am I doing the best I can? 

And it’s kind of amazing the way it’s working for me.

If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. She speaks some solid truths, that Brene’ Brown.

So today, as we begin a fresh month, and look forward to fires on the porch decorated with mums and pumpkins (got mine last weekend–and seriously if you have an Aldi store near you get your pumpkins there. SO cheap!) I also look forward to the magic of the season. I hope some of it flows your way, too.

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Swimming in the Memories; or Time is Bullshit.

Yesterday I went back to my hometown. The place that grew me, to bid farewell to a man who knew me my whole life.

Marvin R. Marquardt was a very real, very steadfast man in my life. And though these last handful of years we weren’t in so much of a daily touch, we were connected online. And like so many of us, we were good with that.

MRM…sound it out..mmmmrrrrrmmmm…was what we called him. He was our first computer teacher. For those of us that were super smart (onetwothreenotme) he taught scary things like physics and calculus and subjects that give me the runny poops just thinking about. He was formidable in those high school halls. He was funny, too. So dry. Good lord the man had some dry wit. So you know, when you got him to smile and God forbid giggle out loud at one of your ridiculous teenage quips? You felt like you were the smartest, most adult of students.

Yes, I’ll go have a smoke with you in the teacher’s lounge. I’m that grown.

I knew MRM before I ever stepped foot in his class at EHS. He and his family were the best friends with my parents and our families. I remember when their daughter Lisa Diane was born. She wasn’t too much younger than my own real life baby doll, my sister and I remember one night in particular, while the parents were playing cards in the other room, I was there with Taryn and Lisa Diane and thought..now I have TWO babies!~

Marvin and Dad were both on crutches at the same time, for some dumbass reason. I’m betting it was softball. They were ridiculous. They fished together, we had those awesome family fish fries with homemade hush puppies. All of the fathers who fished would bring in their catch, and the women folk would prepare and fry. My MeMe Mid would be the one to clean them, I don’t remember our mom’s doing that. MeMe was fierce that way. But we would all gather and that was the lovely part of it.

The summer sun would just be setting, the hot July air would be thick with the smell of grease and fried cornmeal and fish, the scent of fresh lemon for the tarter sauce would tingle your nose, the kids in their shorty shorts and dirty feet would be running around begging for “WE ARE HUNGRY WHEN WILL IT BE READY?!?!?!”

When my dad and mom divorced, MRM was this quiet, constant source of support. He and I didn’t do much talking about it at school, but he would see me upset in the hall and give me a pat on the shoulder and a nod of the head. “You’re going to be ok,” he didn’t say the words but they were there. He had a friendship with mom, they taught down the hall from each other, he was just there.

My senior prom (or was it my junior year–time is bullshit) as I slid down the wall drunk as hell on Boone’s Strawberry Hill, he didn’t judge. Just kind of helped me up. He knew the shitstorm I was navigating at home and while he never condoned underage drinking and acting a fool, I didn’t feel shamed from him that night either.

When dad remarried, there was a moment after the ceremony when the pews were filing out, and I didn’t know if it was my turn to go, and I froze. So it became an empty sanctuary and me, sitting there. My sister was off on a mission trip and while it was a beautiful ceremony, those were hard years for me. There I sat. I didn’t know, do I wait for pictures, am I supposed to go somewhere else? All of a sudden, a hand appeared in front of me and when I put mine in his, he helped me up and hugged me as I had a mini-meltdown. He just said, you’re fine. You’ve got this. Then he cracked wise and we both laughed and he handed me either a kleenex or a hanky (men carried hankies in those days) and I got myself together and rejoined the party.

There are a million stories about MRM in the ether this week. That’s what happens when we say goodbye to someone. We revert back to that role, to that culture of storytelling. Because the stories are, so was he, so were we all.

It’s those stories that were running through my head as I drove into El Reno yesterday afternoon. Mom and Burl were there. Dad and his girlfriend were there. My seat was saved and as I sat there, among the EHS core crew of friends I just lost it.

These people had no small part in making me who I am today.

Rosa sat behind me. She taught me to type. I still can average about 60 words per minute. LeAnn sat next to me. I remember when she became our PE teacher in elementary school and I felt so important because she was our friend, she came to our house and that was a pretty cool thing in grade school. Terry was behind me and I will never forget stomping into her office one afternoon and saying “get me out of this math class with *that woman. put me anywhere. I don’t care. I can’t take it.” Rather than march my ass right back to class, she listened. She nodded. She enrolled me into a different class with another woman more suited to my learning style. That woman, Joquita was walking in just as I was thinking of that story. Karen was there. Hers was the only math class I ever made higher than a C in. She was such a part of our life, Aunt Karen. My heart is broken for her. Bill was there, and while he and I have a current relationship, it did my heart good to see him among this group again. Sue was there, Sue who was my pseudo mom for so many years. I worked for her and her husband in their local restaurant downtown all through High School. Sue was my TAG teacher. Sue taught me how to count back change. She was the first person I ever saw with a real Coach purse and began my coveting for one. She taught me how to tie a scarf eleventy million ways that were all perfect. Krista was there. I was struck directly into my heart because the last time I was in that church for a funeral of one of this group…was her mom. So many years ago but I remember it, and I remember Pat, like it was yesterday. And now Marvin. He taught me 10-key. He taught me computer programming…the TRS-80s were quite the thing. We were just excited because his room was air-conditioned. But he taught us. He guided us. They all have. It struck me right then, just how much they have.

I saw Brooke and Tera and hugged and wept. After it was over, Mom, Burl, Dad, Jan and I went to eat an onion burger and Audra texted me. I started crying all over again telling her about it. My poor weepy burger.

I was knee deep in this pool of memory and emotion, no I was dog-paddling…just trying to keep my head above the water. I have been most of the weekend. Ya’ll…it is a wonder I made it out without the Beaches Ugly Cry. These people, and this man we were there for, they were truly witnesses to my life.

It’s so difficult to say goodbye. To wrap your heart around what it really means. But it’s part of this life, right? A stupid and shitty part, but nonetheless. . .

I am struggling this weekend with the passing of time, with the fleeting ridiculously fast pace of this life.  But I take solace in the stories. I wrap myself in the memories and know that just by thinking about them, by telling them, by writing them…they are.

So are we all.

You’re a good man, Marvin R Marquardt.

Even when you were a shithead.

Thank you for standing at the ready for me.

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Real Talk That Isn’t Mean

Last night I got to sit around a table with two of my favorite humans and have an evening of real talk. That real talk that you can only have with people that you trust and admire and love. That real talk that once you say the words, there is a weight lifted off of your shoulders or a pit that disappears from your stomach.

I’ve missed nights like that, and when I was driving home I realized that I had NO idea how much I needed it.

I’m so thankful to have those moments and those people in my life. So thankful that they love me, for me. No matter what. Just as I am.

Because the voices in our head…our self talk? Woof. They are so mean.

We discussed at length last night how we would post up and throw elbows at anyone who dared even speak to each other, to our daughters, our sisters, anyone the way we speak to ourselves. And we know this, right? We are smart, educated women who have some miles on our wagon, we aren’t doe-eyed girls who are looking for lessons to learn.

Know better, do better. Right?

So why is it so difficult to do better in THIS? Why is it so damned hard for me to get myself off of the downward spiral of ugly that marches in time in my head, and get it together? See? Even in that sentence, I start to get judgey and mean girl on myself.

None of us had the answer, by the way. Other than we must keep trying. Keep trying to out talk the bitches in our head and try to love and just as important, protect ourselves, the way we would love and protect each other.

Just the act of talking about it though? Ohmygosh. It was a holy thing. That is the feeling I want to carry with me all of the time.

Cheers to finding holy moments among people who love you this week.

Cheers to the effort and energy it takes to keep trying.

 

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