Folding towels, hot dogs, and control.

Good morning, dear Reader. After about four hours of excellent sleep, I’m wide awake this morning. The rain that really isn’t rain – kinda sad little drizzle – is a tad bit disappointing. I’m a huge fan of thunderstorms, so I’m disenchanted by this so-called rain Weatherman Ron put so much faith in. Nonetheless, it’s supposed to also end up cold, so whatever the rain lacks in fierceness today will possibly result in nature’s last laugh: Ice. Blech.

Anyway, as February comes to an end, we are closing out our little look into letting go of the illusion of control. I hope I have given you some insight this month into how dangerous the illusion of control can be for some of us. I’ve certainly taken on a new perspective which is: None us have any control over much of anything.

{Shrug}. Sure. We can plan, manage projects and tasks, and attempt to do all the things right…and yet…life still happens despite our best efforts. I guess it really is up to each individual to determine if life is happening to you…or for you. Hmmm. I’ve often heard “If you want to make God laugh…just make a plan.” I’ve also heard “Life can be summed up like this: Not what I fucking planned.” Both true. I think it’s okay to make a plan…and it’s okay to not be attached to the outcome. You can hope for the best and plan for the worse at the same time. In other words…Fate favors the prepared, but Fate reserves the right to do whatever she wants. Amiright?

There’s a big difference, though, between planning and controlling. Controlling anything – an outcome, a person, a situation – most likely will not end well. So. Shall we discuss this a bit?

Grab a drink. Settle in. My mind is whirling with examples of how we all try to subtly – or not so much – try to control others. But if I can offer you anything today it is this simple rule of thumb: You do you…and I’ll do me.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who asked me what I thought about the transgender movement. I thought about that for a minute and responded, “I don’t I have enough information about it to have an opinion one way or another.” I mean…it’s not like I don’t careI just don’t know. I, personally, wouldn’t want to be a man (gross), and I have no reference as to what led up to the decision to change gender. But I also know that the decision is probably a difficult one; one that may result in a loss of employment, relationships, and at times, a sense of self. That can’t be easy to go through, I suppose, even to satisfy one’s heart. So while I don’t ‘get it’…I don’t have to. It’s not my decision. I can certainly be empathetic, though. And, let’s admit it, empathy is probably the most underutilized emotion on the planet.

I think many of us would be a lot more relaxed if we just left other people the hell alone. I mean, sure, if someone is threatening your way of life – for real, not the make-believe stuff in your head – then I suppose it’s essential to take a stand. But, let me ask you this…what harm does it do to any of us if…I don’t know…we pay black women the same amount we pay white men when they hold the same position and have the same qualifications? Is it hurting anyone to just let that happen? Most wars – big country-wide ones and the ones within ourselves – start over someone else trying to control us.

I once found myself in the middle of an argument over the best brand of hot dogs. This conversation was so ridiculous that I looked around for cameras. I seriously thought I was being punked. But I wasn’t. And ultimately, this ‘discussion’ was the catalyst that ended a thirty-plus-year friendship. Yup. All over a hot dog. (Mustard only. Ahem.)

But you know what? It wasn’t about the hot dogs at all.

It was about control.

And we all do itall the time. We just might not realize we do it. I’ll publicly admit to you that I am guilty on all counts of trying to control the outcome of a situation. Who among us hasn’t told others there is a ‘right’ way to…I don’t know…fold towels…put toilet paper on the roller…manage money…apply make up…display tattoos…tie shoes…wash dishes. Sure, everyone has preferences and pet peeves. I know I do (Ahem. Being told how to do something I’ve been doing sufficiently for fifty years is one of them).

But…newsflash: There is more than one way to Philadelphia.

I used to say this all the time when I was teaching. It started because I said, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” which grossed out one of my students, who had clearly never sat in the same room with a Southerner. So, in order to be socially correct (But…does anyone actually skins cats??? Maybe…in Webster County.) Anyway. That statement turned into…

There is more than one way to Philadelphia.

There is the longest route, the shortest, and the most scenic…you can drive, take a plane, walk…you get my drift. If the END GOAL is to get to Philadelphia by 8 a.m. on Monday morning, then who the fuck cares how you get there? Right? Some of you still may choose to take the scenic route and drive…and you will need to leave a bit earlier than those of you who decide to take the more direct way courtesy of American Airlines. With this silly metaphor, my point is, why do you care so damn much how I get to Philly as long as I get there on time and we can get a cheesesteak? How, for example, does the tattoo on my back or my ill-directed love for Taylor Swift’s music threaten your way of life? It doesn’t. And neither does my preference for Nathan’s hot dogs. (A great opportunity to give you a bonus song!)

We forget what drew us to an individual, even in our closest relationships. We start trying to make them into an extended version of ourselves. We do this with our kids, we do it with our significant others, we do it to the people we work with. And by ‘we’ I am not excluding myself from this scenario.

So, to close today, how about this….how about you take a peek at where you are trying to control someone else – even unintentionally – and I’ll do the same. How about, instead of implying that they do it your way, you ask why they do it their way to better understand them? You might learn something about them…or learn a better way of doing things. I recently asked my fella why he always puts the lid down on the toilet when it is not in use. This is just something that we don’t do in my home – currently. His answer was valid. Totally made sense to me. Never thought of it like that at all before. Like me most of the time, you may simply shrug and say, “Hmmm. Ok.” and continue doing it the way you like to do it. Or you might learn something and adapt to a new or better way of doing things. My friend, Bonnie, taught me how to wash produce, dry said produce, and store it in large jars in my refrigerator. Never even occurred to me to do this. Did she control me? No, it was a teachable moment. Now, if she had said her way was the best way and that I’m doing it all wrong and always had…that’s control. It’s subtle. But it is.

Here’s your song today, Friends. I encourage you to take an opportunity to just let something slide today. I encourage you to just let people be – and wish them well even if you don’t understand them. I also encourage you to stand up for yourself when someone tries to tell you that the way you fold underwear is not up to their standards. In fact, at that moment, I encourage you to invite them to fold ALL the underwear from today until the last day of their life. That might stop the whole ‘you fold underwear wrong’ conversation, right?

PS…I’m taking a little break from these types of posts to embark on something new called “Flash Fiction”. I will most likely post on Friday’s (Flash Fiction Friday – catchy, huh?) so that I can get in the ‘finishing my novel mindset’. So, watch for those.

PSS…If you liked this post and thought others might, too, then feel free to share on social media. Please and thank you!

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Fear, Faith, and Letting Go – Part 2

Good morning, dear Reader. I have to say, it is a lovely day here in the Ozarks. Weatherman Ron promises temps in the 60s today, Kids. I’m on Cloud 9. I won’t go into much detail, but have you ever just been in a place where you feel the stars are aligning just right? Yes? Then you understand.

I want to just jump right in here today. We are closing out our time together this month pondering how to let go of the illusion of control. In this post at the first of the year, I introduced the ten things we need to let go of in 2022. Today’s post follows up a few others, such as this one that kicked off February and this one a few days ago.

So, if you don’t mind, may I suggest that you grab a drink and settle in? I’m launching right into five more tools I use when I need to let go of the illusion of control. (Psffft…you can read about the first five here.) Ready? Let’s do this.

  1. Use affirmations. Affirmations are helpful, but I tend to be a bit pragmatic. I can’t will myself to believe something if it isn’t true at the moment, which is what I feel most affirmations attempt to do. So instead of saying, “Everything is perfect and right,” I affirm, “I trust that everything will happen as it is intended to.” I wouldn’t lie to you, so why would I lie to myself? Here are some great affirmations to get started: I honor and love myself. | There is no need to control. | I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given thus far. | Everything is working for my highest good with perfect timing. | I am supported and loved.
  2. Do esteemable acts. What are those? “Esteemable acts” are acts that help us gain self-esteem. For example, I am learning to use a firearm. The first time I picked up a 9 mm Glock, I fired one shot and placed it back down. I refused to shoot with it again that day (It was too loud. I was too jumpy). My partner encouraged me to use it again the next time we went. Turns out I’m better with it than I am a 380. You don’t have to be perfect at any esteemable act; just choose something that lends to your sense of accomplishment. Sometimes my ‘esteemable acts’ are simply making a delicious soup to share with others or cleaning out a closet. Maybe for you, those acts include washing the truck, reading to a child, or journaling.
  3. Reach out for support. Long before this pandemic hit, we were starting to isolate. I felt lonely months before any shutdowns occurred, and I’m an introvert. I, by nature, hate people. But, we are not on this planet to be or feel alone. The more we feel stuck in a vacuum, the more the need to control takes over. It goes back to that “fear breeds anxiety” thing I mentioned last week. Before that happens to you, reach out to someone you value and trust. Talk about how you’re feeling. Get a therapist. Or hey…here’s a thought: I’m here. I love free coffee.
  4. Remember that you are not alone. This ties into asking for support. Repeat after me: I am not alone. Trust and accept this and practice saying it to yourself. There are eight billion other people in the world. Trust me, someone out there loves you. Everything happens just the way it is intended. You might be surprised just how much in common you have with other people. I just connected via Ancestory with my 4th cousin in Norway. We share so much more than DNA – it’s almost freaky how similar we are. You have people out there, whether related or not, who enjoy doing the things you enjoy doing. I found great connections about spiritual topics and hiking groups on Meet Up. My fella and I knew each other in high school, so we connected with that piece of shared experience. Look for the good, and you will find it.
  5. Make a freedom list. (This is my favorite!) Freedom means surrendering. It means you are at peace with yourself and trust that everything is unfolding exactly how it is supposed to for you. So, what does freedom mean for you? Is it being free of debt? Because if you are free of debt, you aren’t so tied to that job you hate, right? Is it the freedom to just let others ‘be’? Because if you just let others ‘be’ then you are no longer responsible for the decisions they make – which in turn allows you to stop attempting to control every outcome (Hello fellow Co-Dependents…I see you.) So, create a freedom list and remember the need to control minimizes everything on this list.

Finally, I feel the need to remind you: I don’t have my shit 100% together. I’m just a blogger who journals publicly and enjoys feedback while sharing the results of many hours (and dollars) spent on therapy (Welcome to my Creepy Online Diary!). But I will say this: A lot of soul-searching and personal growth have gone into this work I’ve been sharing with you over the last two years. What once started (on Feb. 5, 2011!) as a blog about living the simple life has morphed into much more in terms of self-discovery.

This journey has unveiled that living in simplicity isn’t always about getting rid of material things (although that’s a good start) but more often about ridding yourself of limiting beliefs. In the animal world, there’s a shedding that takes place so new growth and/or freedom can occur. I invite you to start your own shedding process – whatever that looks like for you.

Nothing too terribly funny or earth-shattering today, dear Reader, but I can’t close out without your song. Here you go. Surrender to whatever weather Mother Nature has provided to you. Enjoy your day. Take a nap. Go for a hike. Read a book. Paint a picture. Watch a dirty movie. Whatever you do, don’t apologize for it (Unless you are mean to your kid. Then, yes, Asshole. Apologize for that).

Oh, and, if you liked this post and thought others might, too, I shamelessly ask you to share on social media. Please and thank you.

Fear, Faith, and Letting Go – Part 1

Good morning, dear Reader. I’ve been lying here for a good 45 minutes wondering where this so-called thunderstorm is that Weatherman Ron promised me. I’m one of those weird girls who loves me some good thunder and lightning, and this drizzle crap just isn’t gonna cut it. 

My need to control the weather is a great little segue into today’s post. We are just a few short weeks from ending February and wrapping up the topic of letting go of the need to control everything. I, the good little INTJ/Virgo combo, like order and structure, so you can probably imagine just how hard it is for me to practice what I preach when it comes to ‘trusting the process’. Letting go of the idea that I must control everything isn’t easy; I work at it daily. Just yesterday at work there was a big ol’ mess. It was incredibly frustrating because I didn’t create it, but I am responsible for fixing it. I wanted to wring the necks of the two parties pointing fingers at each other (It’s her fault; it’s his fault). It took every ounce of energy I had to not scream, “It’s both your fucking faults because you are both fucking idiots.” But, alas, I don’t think that displays much leadership, and two, I’m afraid if I continue to point out their incompetence, I’ll end up doing their jobs, too. So, I zipped my mouth and just trusted that the path to rectifying this entire mess would be the best route for me.

If you, like me, hold onto control for dear life and attach yourself to outcomes, then today’s post is for you. So, grab a drink and settle in. Let’s go into that a bit deeper. 

Like this mess at work, I would always push for things to happen the way I wanted them to go. I very much like to run the show. I know, in my heart, that things go much more smoothly when I allow everything to unfold naturally rather than forcing the outcome. I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan. I’m just saying maybe being attached to the outcome is really what is stirring the shit pot. You know?

To open ourselves up to many possibilities, we have to trust that we are okay no matter the circumstances. When we attach ourselves to what we deemed was the “right” path, these possibilities aren’t easy to see. Often, the direction we so desperately want to go is not the most valuable or productive one.

So why let go of the need to control everything? Well, for one, high blood pressure can lead to a stroke – so, there is that. But that’s a bit extreme. How about this: Letting go of control means more joy, freedom, peace, connection, and support.

I’ve drafted up ten ways to let go and surrender, but we are only gonna cover five here today. I’ll create a second post with the other five…you know…to keep you hanging. Let’s get started: 

1. Use imagery. When I start to notice my jaw clenching and my energy swept up into the vortex known to me as ‘the perfect outcome’, I start imagining other possible optimistic scenarios. In other words, using imagery can be the proverbial ‘Plan B’. I could quickly think of all the negative ones, too, but that’s not always helpful. If you think it might be then read on… 

2. Make a ‘fear’ list. The need to control the outcome is a huge source of anxiety for many of us, and most anxiety is rooted in fear. So, using the technique opposite of my first point, I ask myself, “What am I most afraid will happen?” We try to control things because we are scared about what might happen if we don’t. I once read that 90% of the things we worry about never come to fruition. That’s a ton of wasted energy, don’t you think?

3. Be present in the moment. The need to control (and the anxiety it brings with it) is all future-based. And, newsflash, ain’t none of us able to control the future. So, repeat after me: Presence conquers all. With presence, you can embrace gratitude. There is trust and faith that you will be taken care of by something more significant than you if you assume gratitude and live in the present moment. 

4. Get grounded. I know this is a very ‘hippie’ thing for me to say. Still, if you feel the need to control your environment, you live in a space that has yet to happen (i.e. “the future”). You have already attached yourself to expectations and set yourself up for disappointments. Focus on grounding yourself. Instead of sitting in front of your television, your phone, or computer try taking a walk in nature, calling a friend, or getting out of your home or office. I simply like to sit outside and listen to the birds and wind. The full moon last night offered a great backdrop for this grounding exercise. No birds, but definitely a few bats, and a lot of peace and quiet.

5. Embrace trust. Trust means belief. And belief means you honor and respect yourself. This is where your self-worth comes in, and you can let go of the need to control. I can tell you a million times to ‘trust the process,’ but it takes one brave muthafucka to actually do it. Are you willing to be brave?

I have more to share, but I need to close out this post today, so we’ll continue this over a drink in my next post. As always, I’m leaving you with a song – even though, clearly, only one of you ever listens to these things (#stats), but whatever. I’ve never been much of a Pearl Jam fan, but maybe that’s because I never heard this song until I searched for one to share with you today. I see another playlist in my future. So, yeah…Enjoy!

PS…If you loved this post and thought others might, too, then I’m shamelessly gonna ask you to share it on social media. Thank you!

The Anti-Valentine’s Day Post

Greetings, dear Reader! What a glorious Sunday. I’m awake early and ready for a quick little road trip down to northwest Arkansas to see two of my favorite people. But, I wanted to get my day started with a cup of coffee and a little post. So, what do you say? Shall we just dive straight in?

Great! Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s talk about romance. After all, tomorrow is the day where all the slackers show up, make a splash and then miss the mark the rest of the year. So, let’s talk about that a little. But first, a story to set the stage:

I took my little boy on a walk a few days ago, and the topic of Valentine’s Day came up. I was quizzing him about some fundraising thingy they had at school where the kids could buy a Valentine for someone for fifty cents, and it would be hand-delivered. I wouldn’t say I liked the thought of any child being left out, so I purchased a card for every child in the third grade. But, let’s get one thing straight: I didn’t do it to be nice. I did it to be kind. I think this sort of thing is stupid and could end up with some kids getting their feelings hurt. While I’m no fan of Valentine’s Day, I am most certainly not a fan of seeing popular kids get things that the unpopular ones don’t get just because their dad sits on the school board and stuff. So, yeah. Hopefully one or two of them smiled.

Anywhoo…while discussing Valentine’s Day, my son surprised me with this statement:

“I hate Valentine’s Day. It is just designed to make people spend money on stupid stuff they will just forget about in a month.

Dang. That’s my boy.

As I mentioned, I’m not too fond of Valentine’s Day – or any holiday – for the very same reason as he. But I don’t remember telling him this. He concluded it on his own with his extremely intelligent nine-year-old brain. Or, possibly, with the help of some cynical YouTuber. But who cares where he got the idea?!? I’m so proud of him.

I haven’t always hated Valentine’s Day. I think it all started when I realized any fool with some common sense could get that holiday right. A box of Milk Duds, a bottle of mid-shelf Chardonnay, suffer through a romantic comedy. I mean…Valentine’s Day isn’t rocket science. Anyone can make Valentine’s Day romantic with little to no effort at all. The Valentine’s Day kind of romance is easy. You want to really do ‘romance right’? Then show up on a regular basis doing regular things that mean a heck of a lot on days that have been really hard or you know…just be vulnerable and stuff. In other words…being an epic romantic isn’t hard…but does take work. It’s practically a daily thing. Yep…

Every. Darn. Day.

Have no fear. I have some tips for the romantically challenged of you. You still have one day to get your ass to Wal-Greens to purchase what’s left of the Valentine’s Day carnage. Or…you can regroup, attempt to be a darn good human and make 2022 the best year ever. Ready? Here are my favorite ways to express romance:

1) Write a letter. Not a card. Not an email. Not a text. A real-life bonafide letter – with spelling errors and Googled words just to make it more memorable. I got one of these recently. In the actual mail – with a stamp – delivered by a postal worker. It could have just been handed to me as he walked me to the door after a date. But it wasn’t. This letter was mailed. And this letter was honest. And this letter was perfect. And it was super romantic. Swoon.

2) Do something just because. Make it, buy it, rent it for the night…just do it on any other day or night not marketed by Hallmark. Tuesday after the Superbowl? Okay. Whatever. I got tired of my fella eating Stouffer’s Lasagna. He deserves better. So I made him this – on a Saturday in January – after he worked all day in the snow. He seemed happy, and he’s still alive, so that’s a win.

3) Shut up and really listen. All of us are looking for more robust connections – even me, the introvert of all introverts. When someone allows themself to be vulnerable in your presence, then hold space for them and keep your comments to the minimum. A simple “I’m so sorry that happened to you” is better than any thing else you can offer. Just shut your word hole for a minute and be in the moment with them.

4) Say it often. The words “I love you” are so important when they are true. If they aren’t true…keep that shit to yourself. But people need to be reminded that someone cares about them. So tell them. And for those of you who are whining ‘he never says he loves me…’ – “I love you” can be ‘said’ in so many different ways. Are you listening hard enough? I love you often sounds like…

-Text me when you get home, so I know you are safe.
-I’m here for you when you are ready to talk about that.
-Your body fits my demographic.
-Is your car locked?
-I made your favorite cookies – the ones I don’t even like.
-I made extra dinner and brought you some.
-I was in town and wanted to know if I could bring you some lunch.
-I saw this sticker and thought it would be perfect on your water bottle.
-Can you stop by for a quick kiss after you get off work before you go home?
-I bought you a house (I’m kidding. That’s creepy.)

Anyway. These might not help you at all, but hopefully, I saved you from making a fool of yourself and spending $200 on dinner. I remember telling someone who had been married 39 years that my then-husband had done something really romantic on Valentine’s Day. She replied “He’s suppose to do something romantic on Valentine’s Day. That’s a no brainer. It’s the other 364 days you should wonder about.” Hmmm. There’s that.

Also, here’s your song – a reminder that the simple things are the important things. If they only want you to lavish them with gifts, they aren’t really all that deep of an individual and I question their integrity. In fact, I’d start taking notes and keeping all the receipts right now if that’s the case. You’ll need that documentation later in court.

It’s Relatively Easy These Days

Goodness, dear Reader, it is already Wednesday. I feel like I just posted, and I suppose I did. I was MIA on Sunday and had to catch up on Monday. I remember when I was blogging so far in advance that I had weeks worth of posts prepared and scheduled. Now? Ha. That’s silly talk.

We are covering The Illusion of Control this month, or rather, how to release or let go of such a thing. I have to be transparent and tell you that I’ve always seemed to do a pretty good job of looking like I had my shit together. I was the ‘go to person’ for many. I held several leadership positions at once. I owned companies and managed teams. I was an ‘influencer.’ Annnnndddd thheeennnn…my divorce happened. It wasn’t even really my divorce. That was the easy part. All that led up to it and all that followed seemed to be the kicker, ya know?

Last year I started working with a physician who specializes in functional medicine. I was feeling just…I don’t know…a bit off. So she ran a crap ton of tests, and one of the things we learned is that my cortisol levels were sky high – even though I had been out of the relationship for nearly two years. For those of you who are unaware of just how important – and disastrous – cortisol can be, here’s a quick read. In short doses, it can save you from that idiot who ran the red at Walnut Lawn and Campbell. But, I had been living, basically, with an invisible Cortisol-filled IV bag attached to my body for nearly six years. Cortisol…just there…dripping into my bloodstream every hour of every day. Drip. Drip. Drip.

I’m happy to report to you, dear Reader, that my cortisol levels were back to normal as of this week, and that’s a relief. As a massage therapist, I always felt it was my duty to tell people, “Stress will kill you,” and it will. Okay. Stress, literally, will not kill you but reducing it matters a lot. Over 90% of illnesses are associated with too much stress. (Read this if you don’t believe me!) So I’m glad this thing is under control.

The tips I plan to share with you seem relatively easy. And, as suggestions, they are easy. In practice, not so much. You must be diligent. You must be committed. There will be carnage.

Okay. A bit dramatic. But you get it.

Anywho. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s talk about reducing stress, shall we? These are the steps I took to hit the road to recovery, and most of it centered on giving up the illusion that I had everything under control.

1) Live in the moment. You can’t predict the future. You can’t change the past. A piece of advice I received was always to remember this phrase: “I made the best decision I could, based on the information I had at the time.” Anytime I’d spiral into the land of self-judgment, I’d take a breath and say that. Anytime anyone else tried to blame me for a past decision, I’d take a breath and say that. Try it. I think you’ll like it.

2) Breathwork. I shit you not. This was the number one thing that helped me control my anxiety and stress. I started going to Yin Yoga, and the lessons in breathwork were the most vital. Here’s a great video on breathwork. Oh, wait! Here’s another one worth 18 minutes of your life.

3) Avoid toxic relationships. I’ve covered this a million times, so I will not even go there today. We have an entire month dedicated to this very subject coming up. Another great piece of advice I received was “Stop asking why a clown acts like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.” Dang, right? But let it be known…you will lose friends. But…were they really friends, to begin with? Hmm? Having just heard my nine-year-old son say “Go fuck yourself” last night, I decided maybe I use that phrase a bit too much…but really. Tell them to do just that.

4) Prioritize sleep. My insomnia is still around. It struck just two nights ago when my eyes popped open at 2 a.m., and I couldn’t get back to sleep. But it doesn’t happen as often. Nighttime routines, low lights, a little bit of self-pleasure (Wha? It had to be said. Come on. Someone had to say it.) All of these things help you to get to sleep. And Xanax, at times, helps too. {Ahem} My point is it will take a while for your body to adjust to a nighttime routine, but do engage in one anyway.

5) Exercise. For those of you who hate the gym, you are in luck. I, myself, am not too fond of the gym. But the good news? If you exercise longer than 20 minutes and get your heart rate over 85%, you are actually doing more damage to your body and increasing cortisol levels if you are already in the fight/flight response. So yay! Short, brisk walks for 20 minutes five times a week is all you need. You’re welcome.

That’s it for today, dear Reader. I hope these tips help and I wish you the best. I forgot to mention that I get regular massages, so if that’s in the budget, I recommend that. At least a sixty-minute massage once a month and you’ll want to ask for “A relaxation (Swedish) massage with medium to firm pressure” when you book. Just enough to know you got a massage, but not so much that you really can’t relax. Also, if you aren’t prone to motion sickness, ask the therapist for some light ‘rocking’. The goal is to snore.

Here’s your song today. I love this song and always have. And the words ring true. While I’m not a fan of “Chin up, it could be worse” because that kinda invalidates what you are going through, this song kinda nails it in a way that the asshole friend with bad advice ever really can. Amiright?

Life Revised

Well, Dear Reader, it happened. We did, indeed, receive snow here in the Ozarks. But, even with six inches on the ground, I was able to get out yesterday – which is why there was no post.

But don’t worry your little soul. Even in my absence, I pondered the topic and found that thoughts swirled in my mind most of the day Sunday. So here we are today, a Monday with coffee in hand, united by a single keyboard. I’d tell you today to grab that drink and settle in, but I’m not sure I should be encouraging you to day drink on a Monday. But, you know, you do you.

I got my coffee. I got my thoughts. I got you, Dear Reader. Let’s do this. But first…

Never forget that you are fucking magic. Yes, you are. I am picking up a collective vibe that some of you may need to hear that today. So there. You heard it. Now all you got to do is absorb that shit and believe it in your core. Now, on with today’s topic.

Do you know who’s going through a lot right now? Literally, fucking everyone. So, with that in mind, why is it so hard to be kind to each other these days? And I don’t even want your finger-pointing COVID-based explanations on this, People. Really. I do not. This started waaaaayyyyyy before March 2020, and you know it. There’s a sense of entitlement in the air. Is it Mercury’s latest retrograde? I mean, Mercury does some pretty shady shit when she’s in retrograde. Still, I don’t remember reading that she turns people into assholes while cruising backwards through the Universe, ya know?

After the defeating scene at the recycling center that will forever be known as The Glass Bottle Episode, I touched on this. I mean, a dude from Canada had to show three dozen people who live in a city where the church to people ratio is about 1:13 how to be kind, for fuck’s sake. I would have thought a bunch of eco-friendly AWD-vehicle-driving hippies out recycling their fancy IPA and organic wine bottles could have been a bit more aware of the humiliation of others. Still, I guess even liberals can be assholes. Right? I mean…even I have my moments.

So, I wonder if – just for today – we could just take a moment to NOT talk about how unkind the world is and simply go over a few ideas on how to teach yourself to be a bit more kind. Shall we? Okay. Let’s do that.

Oh. I almost forgot. Grab a drink. Settle in. Here we go…

Behave like an inquisitive three-year-old. By that, I mean to ask more questions. When it comes to my personal relationships, I do my best not to jump to conclusions. I have started asking for clarification when I’m unsure how to take what was said. But I wasn’t always this way. When my ex and I started dating, he said something about my ‘thick thighs .’ I took that an entirely different way than it was intended – and was mad at him for days. Apparently, the man likes thick thighs, but I did not take it as a compliment. A lens marred by poor body image and the lack of follow-up questions significantly contributed to a miscommunication. In the book “The Four Agreements,” we are reminded to not take anything personally. So yeah. That. Don’t take anything personally and ask follow-up questions.

Say “no” more often. Look, People, can we just simplify this and declare 2022 the year of “Hell YES!”? I mean, there’s even a whole book about that very thing, but for those of you who like short reading assignments, here’s a Clif Notes thingy. The basics? If an activity doesn’t elicit a “HELL YES!!” out of you, then it is most likely “no” in some form. Worried about making someone mad if you say “no”? Well…first, get some therapy. That will help. Secondly, (Note this!) boundaried people are some of the kindest people on the planet, and they say “no” all the time. My friend, Jen, is one of them. That woman can deliver a “no” to an invitation faster than Patrick Mahomes can run to the end zone. And she does it with such intention and kindness that you almost want to thank her for turning you down. Really. I am not shitting you.

Stop being nice. Do you want to be a kinder person? Then stop being so fucking nice all the time. There’s a big ol’ fat difference between being nice and being kind. Nice people are not kind. Nice people are smarmy. I can say this because I am a recovering ‘nice’ person. Nice people ignore their needs and have poor boundaries. They are unsure of what they want so they are, most of the time, unsure of what they need. Stop that shit already. It isn’t working. I have been told all my life that I’m a ‘really helpful person’. That sounds like a compliment. I mean…helpful people are nice, right? Yes, they are. And they also sacrifice more in a relationship and don’t realize their needs aren’t met until one day they look up and know they have nothing left to give. And then they are really fucking angry. That’s a sad state of affairs, folks. So, here’s the deal: Takers will always find ways to take. Stop pushing their drug of choice on them (Their “drug of choice” is your inability to say ‘no’). I am warning you, though. It might get ugly. Drug addicts don’t like it when you stop dealing. Find your support system and stay strong.

That is it today. I thought about this post all day yesterday as I watched people stand in doorways as if they were the only people on the planet. I also realized I still struggle with each of these points when it occurred to me that I was too nice to ask them to move their fucking asses so I could buy yet another sticker for my water bottle. Thankfully I was with a really kind guy who watched all of this go down and said, “Make a path, folks, make a path.” Okay. He didn’t say that. It was more like, “Excuse us, Miss, we’re coming through” but nonetheless, I got my sticker because of him. Left up to me, we’d probably still be standing there.

So yeah. We are all a work in progress. Be kind. Love yourself. Eat dessert. And here’s your song. Like Ernest Hemingway (probably not him) always said: Write drunk. Edit sober. Life is a series of revisions. Follow your heart.

PS…if you liked this post, I would be absolutely giddy if you shared it on social media. One of these days, I plan to pay my rent with this writing gig, so, yeah, thanks.

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On.

Good evening, Dear Reader. We’ve been riding out “the winter storm that never was” for the last couple of days here in the Show-Me State. My WTForecast app has had fun telling me how cold it is, but other than wind, a little freezing drizzle, and cold little slivers of ice hitting my face, I’m still wondering where this thing is and if it is coming at all. I hope it doesn’t, but you know…Mother Nature doesn’t ask me. She’s kinda independent like that. And certainly more in control of the weather than I.

While I sit here wondering if we will see snow this week, I decided to forge ahead on a new series focused on the things we are letting go of this year, as outlined in this post from January. I’m going to spin the “Topic Wheel” (Kinda like the Pitch Perfect Riff Off scene) to see where we land today. While I’m doing that…

Grab a drink. Settle in. The topic for February is…

Songs about sex!

Kidding. Clearly, you didn’t see that scene. Anywho….

I’ve chosen to write about letting go of “The Illusion of Control”. I think this is going to get good and interesting because I’m thinking about me and my fella. He, the ISTJ, and I, the INTJ, think very much alike and we are also two individuals used to being in charge. To add to that mix…if you believe in this sort of thing…he’s a Leo and I’m a Virgo. In other words, we are both independent, determined, logical, and used to things going a particular way. I’m convinced, watching the two of us work through a decision about dinner or the next road trip, that the world is run by INTJs and ISTJs. We decide, we plan, we get going. Boom! How anyone else gets anything done without those two personality types is beyond me. But, as much as I like our similarity, there are times when one of us just simply has to yield to the other. You can have too many head chefs in the kitchen, right? Sometimes I’m right. And sometimes he’s right. The key is affirming that to the other.

For me, this yielding thing doesn’t come naturally. I’ve been operating under the Illusion of Control for so long, that it’s been hard to let go of that constant fear of losing it. And for those of you who think I just made that title up, The Illusion of Control is a real thing. It was named by psychologist Ellen Langer and, according to a highly credible source (Wikipedia), “The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events, for example, when someone feels a sense of control over outcomes that they demonstrably do not influence.” (Kinda like the character Marty Byrde in Netflix’s “Ozark”.)

The thing is, though, when it comes to my fella…I trust him. I mean, I’ve trusted him enough so far to say “okay” to a lot of things I wouldn’t have before. If you’ve been reading any of my stuff over the past few years, you know that trusting anyone is not easy for me. But there’s somethin’ ’bout this boy. Swoon. As independent and in control as I seem to be most of the time, it is refreshing to stand back and watch someone else run the show. And he does it so well…I just let him do it. I don’t think he’s going to steer me wrong, most of the time. Case in point, the way he asked me out on our first date went like this…

Him: “How do you feel about a real road trip with a semi stranger to go on a quest for whiskey?”
Me, in my head: “Girl. Don’t do it. It’s dangerous. You don’t even really know him. He used to be cop. You know cops are cray-cray.”
Me, out loud: “Um. That sounds terrifying. When do we leave?”

It’s been odd, trusting this guy, because unless my anxiety is yellow-level or higher, I have been able to just…breathe and let go. (Be all in, you know?)

So, we find ourselves here tonight, Loves. And I’ve got a few things that I can offer you as you take the step toward letting go of the Illusion of Control. One of my favorite bloggers, Leo Babauta, wrote his own take on this topic here which is a great read if you want something a bit more Zen. If you’re ready for a little spicier version, most likely sprinkled with cuss words, then please continue…

  1. Trust the process. I’ve said this for years. I’ve even said it to some of you. But it is absolutely true. The Universe only unveils your life’s plan in little segments at a time because It knows that if you knew the whole story upfront…you’d cash out your chips and never finish the game. As hard as it can be at times, I encourage you to have some faith that everything is working out exactly the way it is suppose to in the exact perfect timing for which it was meant to happen. That terrifying road trip guy? He asked me out four years ago. And we met for lunch. And that was that – for various reasons. Something just didn’t click then. And why does it click now? Who the fuck knows. It just does.
  2. Stop petting your peeves. Seriously…sometimes we can be our own worst enemies and we continue to do the same things over and over again expecting a different outcome. Some would say that’s the definition of insanity. And here’s the kicker: You are absolutely choosing to do that. So? Stop that shit already. I have a real life example of this nonsense for ya. There’s a perfectly good highway that takes me from my hometown to the next town over…except I absolutely hate merging onto that highway. I don’t like the drive. I don’t like the traffic. I don’t like seeing the two million square foot “church” on the side of the road…I just don’t like it. So, about mid-December, I started going a different route. I head out by the lake…around the bend…cut through the country…and arrive at my destination calm, cool, and collected. Sure, it takes me few minutes more but since I’ve stopped petting my own peeves, I am simply happier. You, too, can choose differently.
  3. Change the lens. I’ve recently taken up photography and I’m learning what different lenses do for a photograph. The same goes for your life. If you continue looking at your life through the lens of what you think it should look like, you won’t be able to recognize how it could actually look if you looked at it differently. My son believed he only liked cheeseburgers (Plain!) from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Sonic. I’ve told him over and over there are better burgers and he just would not buy it. Until someone else encouraged him to try one at Freddy’s this week. Someone, besides his mother, told him – and I quote – “I think these burgers are really great and I think you’ll like it, too“. He tried it because the lens (person suggesting it) was different.

So, in closing, here’s the deal, kids: You can’t control every aspect of your life. I think even the dumbest of folks understand this at their core. And you are not dumb. You are a fucking rockstar. In fact, you are so much a rockstar that all the members of Aerosmith wish they were you.

So…just take a breath. Inhale the good shit. Exhale the bad shit. Spin the bottle. Just like that fateful childhood game…the outcome may not have been what you thought you wanted but it might just be better than you ever expected.

Leaving you, as always, with a quiet and calm song by Jimmy Buffet. I personally think this song pairs well with a crisp Chardonnay with floral undertones, but alas, I’m on the wagon for a few more weeks. Enjoy the song and have a glass for me. 

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