thankful for

 

20170118_182019-1Do more, achieve more, do better, be a better you. This has been the mind set for a while now. If you spend any time on Facebook, you know your feed is filled with articles about “5 ways to be more organized” or the “4 things you need to do for a better nights sleep.” But this causes us to be in this constant state of be better, get happier, do more.

But why do we find the need to live in this constant state of bettering ourselves?

I understand the need to stay healthy and fit and happy. But what if we instead start to try and figure out how to be happy with ourselves as we already are? So how do we figure out how to avoid this constant thought of “if I could just do this one thing, things would be better”?

I have decided to set myself a challenge of reporting each day on something that makes me happy or thankful. I think it’s even more interesting if I can express these things through imagery, so I will be posting these moments of my daily happy on Instagram.

So many times all we need is right where we are. As we push into a 4 year period of uncertainty and negativity, now, more than ever, we need to figure out how to be content with what we already have.

So today I start with the included photo. I am super thankful that I live in a community with such a great library. I got this sweet swag for reading 3 book in December and January.

 

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I attended my first spin class this morning. You know the classes in the movies that look like this?

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I couldn’t convince myself that the classes weren’t really like that and was terrified to try one out. But my sister recently started taking classes, and I decided to tag along this morning all the while convincing myself things would be fine.

I’m a runner. I can hang through 90 minutes of yoga. I’ll be fine.

Come to find out though, the classes are EXACTLY like you see in movies.

My first mistake is that the class is on a Sunday morning. At 8:00 AM. 30 minutes away from my house. This puts a major cramp in my Saturday night drinking. It proceeds to cramp my weekend when my alarm goes off at 6:30, and I realize I don’t get to HANG around in bed all morning. But I committed by paying in advance, so spin class here I come.

We are 15 minutes early to class…I’m new and obviously need the instructor to help me with bike adjustments. As we head into class there are girls there already, on bikes, spinning away. It is similar to the runners who arrive early to 5Ks and runs circles in the streets before the run starts. You know because running 3 miles just isn’t quite enough. I mutter “overachievers” as I drag my tired ass past them to find a bike.

My next obstacle is getting on the damn bike. There are straps that you have to shove your feet in to hold them in place. But you have to figure out how to swing your leg over the bike while your other foot is still on the floor then get your foot in the harness while pushing off the floor from the other side. You are momentarily in mid air, suspended over the bike and literally have just seconds to get a good foot hold before slamming down on the seat.

After managing to get on the bike without smashing my face into it, the instructor starts up the music and dims the lights and I suddenly realize that yes, yes the class is going to be EXACTLY like in the movies.

My next hour looks something like this:

I rock the first 10 minutes and am super proud of myself until the instructor says “good warm up,” and I realize I may be in trouble.

I try to keep up with various speeds and resistance levels but decide after 15 minutes that my new goal needs to be to just figure out how to keep my legs moving for an hour.

After 20 minutes I suddenly think I might pass out.

Then we do jumps. This involves standing while pedaling for 5 seconds, then sitting for 5 seconds. This went on forever.

At some point I just had to stop standing and pedaling.

But then my ass goes numb.

At the 30 minute mark I thought to myself “you are 42 years old…how did you think this was a good idea?”

The instructor asks why we aren’t you pedaling harder, and I want to tell her it’s because I can no longer feel my legs.

Somewhere between 30 minutes and 40 minutes I may have blacked out.

At the 40 minute mark I get a second wind.

At the 42 minute mark I lose said second wind.

45 minutes in I think I may just die, and I look over at the girl two bikes down. While I am just trying to keep my legs rotating, she is STANDING while pedaling. And not even sweating. And smiling. Meh….look at me all cute and pedaling in rhythm.

At the 50 minute mark when I think we are almost done, we instead do arm work. This is when I realize I now have to do weight work while not falling off the bike. Some of the riders can actually stand and pedal while holding the handles with one hand and lifting a weight with the other. I would literally have fallen off the bike if I had even considered this.

At some point 60 minutes eventually pass and we are told we can stop pedaling. I may or may not have stopped before then. I’m not sure how I get off the bike. I do know I have to hold the wall as I climb the stairs down out of the place. And I’m pretty sure I tell the girl at the coffee place next door my order twice because I can’t remember if I told her everything.

It’s now 8 hours after the class and I am having to use my arms to get up off the toilet, but hey, I made it through a spin class, right?

 

 

her name was debbie

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My good friend, Leann, lost her mom this week. I had followed the journey for months through the Facebook page set up to keep friends and family updated on prognosis, treatments, surgeries, up, downs and the everythings in between. And then last Sunday, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw the news.

I stood in my hallway and sobbed.

I don’t know how to process the news or console a friend that is now missing a parent. I have not yet been through the loss of a parental unit, and so I can’t even imagine what it feels like to suddenly just NOT have a person in your life who has been there since day one.

Everything seems contrite and trivial. It puts things in perspective.

Debbie was a super cool lady.

She was a woman of faith who cared about and accepted everyone. Regardless of religious beliefs, race or sexuality she treated you like family.

She lived simply in the same house she had raised her kids in. I ate dinner one night in the kitchen where the family had managed nightly dinners. The kitchen wasn’t made to hold a table. They told me how, if there were enough people sitting around the table, the easiest way to get through to the living room was to actually go out the back door and come back in the front. Just think of how close families would still be if we all lived that closely with each other!

She always gave back to the community. She was involved with community food banks and church groups making sure those in need had food and other needed resources.

She was always up for the weird and absurd even it was beyond her comfort zone. My friend was relentless in dragging her mom to local performances and concerts and city trips. She saw burlesque shows and weird circus freak shows and visited creepy puppet stores. And while she sat out the puppet store, she really loved it all!

She was a strong woman who subsequently raised strong girls. My friend is one of the most fearless women I know. There are times in my life when I literally remind myself that Leann wouldn’t hesitate to do something or Leann would figure out what to do…and I forge ahead. Thank you Debbie for raising that kind of woman!

Maybe in the end, it’s okay that these moments always make things seem contrite and trivial. Maybe as we figure out how to live with a loss of this magnitude, a loss that will always stay with us, it will always make the “big deals” and “end of the world” events seem less important.

Maybe in the end, we always need a little bit of perspective.

hatred and fear in america

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It’s been a rough week in America. After the first death, I accidentally landed on a CNN page where the video just autoplayed and before I could stop it I was watching Alton Sterling on the ground dying. So I stopped going to the CNN site. After the second killing in Minnesota, I even had to stop browsing Facebook. I couldn’t read anything without sitting at my computer and sobbing.

Now there are Dallas officers dead, hundreds arrested at protests, and U.S. travel advisories issued by other countries warning travelers to stay safe and cooperate with law enforcement as they travel to the states.

I don’t know how to process all the hatred that sits behind all these violent acts. I also don’t understand how we live in a time where anyone online can watch while these men lie on the ground dying.

While I grew up in one of the whitest cities in America, in the bible belt no less, somewhere along the way, I became part of a family that is now bi-racial, have good friends with bi-racial families and have fostered two African American boys who continue to live in one of the poorest areas in the city. So I know the struggles that come along with the color of your skin being dark. The stares, the way people walk farther out as a black man walks by them, the way women hold their purses as they see black men walking toward them.

What I don’t (and will never) understand is why the color of anyone’s skin dictates what people think about them or act around them. Why on earth does the color of someone’s skin mean that they are different or more violent or less worthy than those with lighter skin? There are ivy league, WHITE boys acting more violently than these two men who were just killed and they aren’t being shot by the cops. Shit, they aren’t even going to jail for what they did.

I know it’s hard (or probably impossible) to know whether this is all police brutality against blacks or just police brutality in general. But I do know that we see a lot more of these incidents involving black men. And maybe it’s just because what we see on the news and social media is skewed. But maybe it’s not. How about maybe we just agree that its violent and it’s violence based on hatred and it’s violence that just needs to stop.

Be good to each other.

the boys club

 

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In 1985, I was 11. Sometime during that year a movie came out called ‘Just One of the Guys.’  It was about this girl who lost a summer internship at the local paper to a couple of guys. She was convinced her submission article was passed over due to sexism. To prove her point and get her article accepted, she decided to resubmit the article while posing as a guy.

I don’t know why I loved this movie so much, but it became one of those movies I would watch over and over. Looking back, I think it probably spoke to me on levels I didn’t understand at the time. I’m sure I already inherently knew that simply being a boy meant something entirely different than being a girl. It inadvertently got you different things, built you a separate path and opened additional doors that might not exist for girls. Simply put, there was, and always has been, a boys club.

As I got older, I realized that this boys club had more of what interested me than what all the girls had going on. I developed more male than female friends, my personal interests became more ‘boy like’ as I became interested in sci-fi and sports and outdoorsy type things.

But the older I got, the more I realized my challenge would be that the boys club didn’t always admit girls.

This realization became even more of a truth as I graduated college and started my career. Going into it, I didn’t necessarily think advertising was a male dominated world. It was a new age, and most jobs I landed were actually in departments that skewed heavily female. Most of the departments or companies were often even headed by females. But interestingly enough, the few men who did exist within these same walls were the ones running the shows.

From the start, I always knew the boys club was where I wanted to be. I think I had known that ever since high school when I dumped most of my female friends due to the drama. The boys had their hands in the pieces of business I wanted to be in. They had the positions I wanted. And they were the ones I wanted to hang out with. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t a boy. So the challenge for me quickly became about infiltrating this elusive boys club.

I think early in my career, I thought it might become easier as I went. I held strong in the fact that times were changing, and women were winning in more areas than we used to. But I’ve been at this for 16 years, and I find I’m still fighting the good fight. But here’s the thing…I don’t think the boys club always knows it exits. We all simply run in packs that we know and boys run with boys. So even when like minded, strong women who can do the same things as these boys come along, they don’t always recognize us.

What I have found is if you can figure out a way to break down the boys club tunnel vision, they often let you right in. And appreciate your smarts and drive and visions. Hell, many of these boys are married or in relationships with strong, smart, strong willed women. But for some reason, when it comes to doing business, they often forget we exist. The hardest part is just getting them to look up for a second.

At this point in my life, I know it’s one of the biggest challenges I face in any new position. I can’t even tell you how many boys clubs my husband has watched me maneuver. I have to be content in the fact that at least I know they exist. And I have to be thankful I am the type of person who has the drive and knows how to stand up to the tunnel vision that exists. I’m also happy that many of these boys eventually recognize the skills and strengths that may exist in someone who is NOT a boy.

 

how time flies when you’re having fun

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As I sit here on my last day of what was an actual Christmas vacation courtesy of my agency closing between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I realize it has been nearly a year since I started this new job. And over a year since I consistently posted much of anything word wise. So in theory, aside from work, I haven’t created anything of my own in quite some time. I suppose I need to do something about that.

I did a reading of my work sometime this summer and one of the things that came up as I discussed my piece with the group is what makes someone create. And how do you balance creating with everything else you have going on. What I do recognize about myself is that I write when I’m unhappy or unsettled. But when I’m happy, I stop writing.

Therefore, it’s no surprise I haven’t written or created anything lately since for the past year, I’ve been happy. I landed a sweet gig last February at a little agency in Lawrence and not only love what I do but also love many of my coworkers. I get to spend everyday with smart, witty, driven people who are creative and fun and happy. And I come home at night fulfilled and content…and I don’t write.

What’s funny is I’ve struggled with this my entire life. I write, and then I don’t write. If I’m being completely honest, I probably don’t write more often than I write. Oddly enough, I can figure out how to motivate myself to get up and run 3 miles multiple times a week, but I have never figured out how to consistently motivate myself to write.

So here it is again, another new year. Why not try and figure out how to get back at it again.

California Adventures – The Rape Hotel

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Hotel Lobby

I have owed someone this story for a very long time. And because it’s been too long since this story happened and since I have written for that matter…here it is.

At the end of last year, I traveled to California for work with 3 fellow co-workers. During the trip planning process, my female co-worker took on the task of booking the hotels. She had been in the area before so I trusted her judgement and knowledge.

Unfortunately, I realized this may have been a mistake as we neared the hotel in Garden Grove on night two of the trip. As the GPS told us to head through a very sketchy neighborhood to find our destination, I knew we were in trouble. No way is a hotel we want to stay at located that close to a residential area.

We emerged from the neighborhood to find a seedy strip mall that housed what I can only imagine were rat infested restaurants serving questionable meat and laundromats that were probably fronting gun shops and drug houses. As I made sure our doors were locked, I got a text from my other coworker, Video Guy. They had beat us to the hotel and all the text said was “this hotel is shit.”

We pulled up to what appeared to be a busy hotel until I realized the cars parked in front were there for the “lounge” where you could find dinner AND karaoke. As we drove around to the side where the hotel guests parked, there were only 4 cars. As we parked and got out, Video Guy was standing out on his balcony. He yells down, “it smells like cat pee in here.” Awesome. I tell myself at least it’s only for one night.

We walk into a lobby that looks right out of the 1970s. The motif along with the no wheelchair accessibility makes me think no one responsible for hotel codes is keeping track of this place. This is not going to end well.

We check in and the front desk attendant tells us we are free to park in the basement. I look at my female coworker and tell her we are NOT parking in the basement. Not that the dark, empty parking lot will better, but at least someone might hear us scream.

I make my way to my perspective floor and as soon as the elevator doors open, the smell hits me. Video Guy was right, cat pee. I cover my mouth and nose with my jacketed arm as I make my way down what can only be described as a hallway from The Shining. The lights flicker as I walk by each one and there is tinkly elevator music playing. I think I make out the piano version of Britney Spears ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time.’

I find my room at the farthest end of the hall (of course) and brace myself as I open the door.

It smells a whole lot better inside. I walk in and wait for the door to swing shut behind me. But it doesn’t. I have to actually shove it shut and then press my entire body weight against it in order to get it to lock. This can’t be safe.

The room looks old and all the furniture has clearly been pieced together from various second hand stores. The dresser is a 1970s, heavy, wide, wood piece that has more drawers than anyone would ever need for a night in a hotel. And trust me no one is staying longer than a night at this hotel. Hell, at this point I may not make the night. There is a white dorm fridge with a white dorm microwave sitting on top. I have already received yet another text from Video Guy describing the terrible stench coming from his dorm fridge so I don’t even think about opening mine.

I am traveling with liquor (thank god) and I quickly make a drink while we figure out where we are going for dinner. We can’t possibly stay there and by the looks of the surrounding area, we need to drive far away for a safe meal.

I now receive yet another text from Video Guy telling me not to turn on my water. He has tried to wash his face, and the water emitting from the faucet smells like death. There is no way in hell I am showering.

We decide to find dinner on the DisneyLand lot. Because my two co-workers are male, they actually felt safe to park in the basement garage so we now venture back there. We take the elevator down and as the doors slide open, I’m pretty sure this is where I will die. We step out and see what I assume is a maintenance worker creeping in the corner. I’m convinced this is the end…but we keep our heads down and make it to the car.

During dinner, I discover that Bad Hotel Booker has left her patio door open in her room to air it out. The door has no screen or safety lock, it’s just open when it’s open. And yes, I understand that her room is on the third floor…but there are ladders and the hotel is tucked back in a dark corner. I can’t decide at this point how one grown woman can make so many bad decisions.

Dinner ends too soon, and we have to head back to the Rape Hotel. As we roll into the lobby (we chose to NOT tempt our fate with the basement parking) and walk past the “lounge,” I can hear what sounds like a lonely lounge singer. I just know it’s this middle-aged woman, dressed in this slinky, red, sequin dress, who comes out for Karaoke every Tuesday night. The lounge has to be empty by the look of the parking lot. But just as we pass the lounge door, it swings open and out slides two guys who HAVE to be mob. They both have 1970s leather jackets and and they smell of smoke and steak and loneliness. And I think, “ah, these are the killers who will take our lives.”

We all 6 get into the elevator together with the two mob guys standing in front of us. It’s a super awkward ride and Video Guy cracks a joke. The 4 of us laugh…The Mob does not. The elevator stops at the floor below ours and The Mob exits. But as they walk out of the elevator, Mob Guy #1 turns slowly and stares at us. And I think, “yep, he’ll be by later to kill me.”

I somehow convince myself to get in bed, but I sleep on top of the comforter and I leave the lights on. I have no idea how I fall asleep, but I do. But I’m up again before it’s even light out. Video Guy has fled the hotel an hour before that and is waiting – safely – at a near by coffee house.

As I wait to check out, I become convinced it’s the hotel I can never leave. But after a 5 minute wait someone finally shows up to check us out. I take my receipt and race out of the hotel as quickly as I can.

I get in the car, and I realize that the printer appeared to have crapped out while printing my receipt. I don’t actually have a receipt that says anything. As we pulled away I’m pretty sure the hotel disappeared into the past behind us and that I had stayed at a hotel that didn’t actually exist.