Zen Flying

I’m always super smug  in the TSA security line and take delight in being THE most efficient person in line despite the fact that I need five bingies for my stuff. 

Bingie #1

  • Easy to slip off shoes (The TSA guy took them OUT of my bingie which was annoying to my sense of order but I didnt protest. Im sure he touches a LOT of shoes which could make a person cranky when argued with.)
  • My lucky necklace that one person said looks like an Irish Symbol. It actually came free with a dress purchase at Kohls. But I personally think it looks like a spy necklace
  • My Fitbitch: she loves when I’m in airports, hello STEPS
  • Wedding ring. (Apparently I didn’t have to take that off but it was fun to be single for a minute) 
  • Glasses (which is why I didn’t see the other TSA person waiving me through to the poof of wind tunnel and therefore lost efficiency points for dawdeling for 3.2 seconds before getting yelled at) 

Bingie #2

  • My baggie full of liquids and gels plus three lipsticks. Im never sure if lipsticks count as gel but Im not willing to risk potential time in Fulsom over LIPSTICK
  • My purse, now empty of my mom’s urn and my samuri sword (see yesterday’s blog post) plus all liquids and gels and MAY be gels) see Bingie#2

At this point the man behind me thinks I’m done with bingies. Oh contraire Mr Take Up MY Bingie Space Guy. 

Bingie#3

  • Ipad 1
  • Ipad 2
  • Iphone
  • Ichargers 1 and 2
  • IhavetoomanyIdevices-it’s too complicated to explain
  • Portable Iphone battery thing that looks super suspicious to ME because it looks like a tiny black bomb, but its not, it’s my emergency back up charger in case I cant find a port/plug and/or dont want to sit by someone weird in order to charge via said port/ plug, so I NEED it but always get a little sweaty about this. 

Bingie#4

  • My Chromebook

Bingie#5

  • My briefcase containing 14 blue capped pens, 1 red pen and three spiral notebooks in case one of my Idevices doesn’t work
  • A really good library book that I hope I don’t leave on the airplane. My library card has been marked ‘at risk’ so I’m taking a big chance

Mr. Pushy actually had the nerve to whisper God’s Son’s name in vain while I OCD’d all my bingies so they were all in a straight line and flipped my briefcase a few times so the shoulder straps weren’t hanging out. He clearly did not know how much slower any OTHER person would have been with all this stuff. I forgive him though. People get weird in airports. It’s the fear and uncertainty. 

This is why I always put on my biggest, most serene, ‘I’m more patient than all of you’ smile from the security line all the way through boarding, watching the pursed lip, scowly people flounder and sigh and judge the person in front of them for going too slow or having so much stuff or just being annoyingly in front of them. They know not what they do for they are anxious, weary, fearful fliers and don’t know how to be zen like me while traveling.

My biggest concern on my flight from Spokane to Salt Lake was deciding before the flight attendant reached me, if I wanted cookies or cheez-its. I didn’t have my glasses on and couldn’t see what kind of cookie they were serving. The cheez-it packages looked pretty small and I was worried it would be just a cheez-it tease and not any kind of happy cheez-it orgy. I mean the flight was a whole hour and thirty seven minutes. 

It turned out they were whole grain cheez-its. Blasphemy. I chose poorly. Which made me kind of grumpy about the kid behind me kicking my seat. I’m normally more chill about that stuff, but I’m not gonna lie, I visualized a little airplane aisle smack down. And the guy next to me was a diet-coke slurper so that was a little grating to my ears. But I kept that shit to myself and just asked for a cookie from the super nice Delta Flight attendant, who had a sexy french accent. And he gave one to me without any kind of snarky judging. 

In conclusion, not one single person KNEW I was having any kind of inner struggle with zen flying.  I don’t know why other people can’t be more like me. 

Namaste Bitches! Ha!

 

 

 

My Seven Daily Sanes

I’m so different than I was ten years ago. I am reminded of this daily when I look at the top shelf in my office where the shadow box sits that Grant made me for Christmas ten years ago. It contains  pictures of me finishing my first marathon complete with my hard earned and nearly died trying to acquire necklace medal. Honestly it was all I could do not to put that thing around my neck and saunter around every day ALL day for people to see. I’m not a jewelry person but THAT bling? It has stories to tell! Like when I thought my friend Bill was a medic on a bicycle at the top of the hill nearing mile 13. There he was practically shimmering like an angel and I thought “Thank GOD because things are not going how I planned.” It turned out he was Bill instead, which was even better, offering flat Coca-Cola and inspiration. “Meet you at the next mile marker and you can have another drink of this.” My friend, without a doubt is responsible for helping me cross the finish line, one mile at a time with sugar nectar and pep talks for incentive, so that I could experience Grant and our cheering kids waving and clapping  at the end like I was some kind of princess warrior. My eyes still water over that feeling. 

I think it would be funny for Grant to make me another shadow box at the end of this year to show how hard I have worked to reshape my marathon mentality and physicality. There would for sure be a picture of me first thing in the morning showing off my Fitbitch that says I already burned 636 calories and I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN OUT OF BED YET! I mean, how great is THAT? I’m awesome without even trying!

I’m currently not running due to a very long battle with bad ankles. Right now I have frozen peas strapped to both sides of my ‘good’ ankle that I sprained when I fell down the bleachers when I was trying to take a picture of my son David at the end of his last home JV Football game. It was below 30 degrees that night and I forgot I had a blanket wrapped around me. I went down with a very large and painful crash. I’m pretty sure Grant was trying to pretend like he didn’t know me because he just kept walking. Two lovely older-than-me people tried to help me up but I was literally frozen solid and would have taken them down with me. “No. I’m good. I’m pretty sure I sprained my ankle but my husband will eventually notice I have fallen and literally can not get up, and come back for me. He promised until death parts us.”

Some days it’s easier said than done to not comparison shame myself to the me of ten years ago. Sometimes I dream about it, the running.  Long distance running is a powerful thing and the experiences of my marathons have taught me so much about myself and continue to give me insights and new perspectives in my daily life. The other day I had an ‘aha’ moment that I will share before I get to the point of this post, which I’m pretty sure is not about marathons. 

I was reading this beautiful novel that was just…mmmm…so yummy….see? I was deeply absorbed in the words and the story and the magic it takes to write a novel when I felt my left brain say to my right brain something really nasty “You will never write a novel. Blogs are easier. Short.  Simple. Not a lot of effort. You’re just not smart enough or disciplined enough to write a whole book, especially a novel. You should give up on that idea.”

WTF left brain? First of all, you are an overly analytical naysayer. Second, I  can remember when blog posts were super hard to write. Mainly because it was YESTERDAY that I was struggling to get one finished before the WSU Cougar Football game started. But here’s the thing:  I can also remember how hard it was the first time I ran three miles without stopping: huge accomplishment! A marathon is simply a series of short runs, that when gradually and methodically put together, becomes a marathon. Perhaps novels are of similar nature. So fuck you left brain.  

Which brings me to the point of this post, though without much logic (because I just pissed off the non-dominant side of my brain):  my seven daily sanes. 

At the beginning of the year I made a pact with myself to try and adhere to seven simple daily actions to at least keep me PAR with my current state of being a content and mostly at peace, inappropriately tight size fourteen, moderately energetic, non-running,  successful business owner, hippy chick goddess. I call them ‘My Seven Daily Sanes’.   

  1. Pages
  2. Grats
  3. Yoga
  4. Medication (whoops I mean MEDITATION)
  5. Veggies
  6. Water
  7. Walks

Now I’m not gonna lie, this list has been much harder to check off each day than last year’s list: 

  1. Grow my hair

I have been doing number one of the seven pretty regularly for over 14 years. Julia Cameron taught me in “The Artist’s Way” how important it is to check in with myself with morning pages (or what I sometimes refer to as morning vomit). Three pages of handwritten words unedited (especially by the asshole left brain) and unfiltered. I notice, on the rare days I skip this ritual, that I feel like I do when have two different colored socks on or a black bra with white panties: off kilter. The first two pages are almost always whining yucky stuff, but usually by page three I have some kind of weird little break through, like “maybe I should stop eating cookies at midnight” or “you really need to quit this job and form your own business and here is the first step toward that”. 

Grats is a newer thing that has helped center my thoughts on positive things in my life (especially after the nasty brain vomit). Every day: ten things I am grateful for. Then I write thank you ten times at the bottom of this list. I think these journals will be a good thing for my kids to read when I’m dead. Unlike the morning pages which really need to be burned. My grats contain things like: “I’m thankful I didn’t kill Grant yesterday because today he is so much nicer.”

Everything feels better when I practice yoga: my brain, my bones, my skin, my muscles, my joints, my soul. That’s all that needs to be said about that, except that it is my running from ten years ago: life saving. 

I have written a few posts about meditation as holistic medication. Some days I have time for a nice long guided mediation. Most days I just try and remind myself to breath in and out: 4 counts in, 6 counts out. Repeat until calm again. As a catholic, I have found the rosary to be a good form of prayerful medication. Keeps a person off the ledge.

OH VEGGIES. I know I need to eat more of you gross fuckers. It’s a quest I’m still working on. When I feel shitty I consult the last few weeks’ checklist and say to myself: “dummy, cheez-its are not veggies. This is why you feel bad.”

Water is often on my daily grats list but it’s usually in the form of being grateful I can wash my hair or take a hot bath/shower whenever I feel like it, something so many people don’t get to do. Those very people would willingly hydrate every day if they could. So this needs to be something I never take for granted. I have rarely known real thirst. But when I don’t drink water my face looks like a dried up old hag. So.

I added walking to the list because my Fitbitch is a total nag. She says I need to move more. Plus I have this new puppy Bella who needs to move or she gets grumpy. Right now I’m a gimp but the walking thing is wonderful. She and I have these amazing conversations about the best places to poop when you are a dog (she prefers the middle of the street with cars coming for a nice adrenaline rush), the scary house that she refuses to walk past (we now go around), and how some day soon she and I will maybe do some running but for now we will just piece the short walks gradually into longer ones. 

See?

Something is Really Bugging Me

This post is not for bug-a-phobes. (If you are one stop reading right now and go do some yoga to get the word ‘bug’ out of your brain. I’m super sorry for upsetting you.) The real word for extreme and irrational fear of bugs is entomophobia. I actually didn’t know this until today when I looked it up on Wikipedia. 

Entomophobia is the broad term for insect phobia, lumping all the bugs into one big, bad, scary category. But there are some specific types of bug-a-phobes that I now know about that have brought up some childhood memories. 

Apiphobia is the fear of bees. Some of you may know that I am NOT afraid of bees from my post a year or so ago called “I’m Pretty Sure I Saved the World Today” which was about rescuing a bee from my swimming pool. But I can remember like it was yesterday, the first time I was stung by one. I wasn’t older than five, playing with my little sister in grandma’s backyard in Yakima Washington. My mom, aunt and grandma were all in the backyard with us, cooling off in the hundred degree Yakima weather by splashing in a little wading pool. Holly and I were wearing just our little girl underpants, giggling and dipping in and out of the cool water then running around on the clover filled grass. I can remember how cute my sister was, still a toddler with brown curly hair and coffee bean skin (to my plain straight blonde hair and pale freckle skin). She thought then that I was the funniest person on the planet. The memory of making her belly laugh still makes me smile. Sisters. But then it happened: this painful jolt of what felt like a zap of electricity on my foot. I screamed and then cried in pain and my mom, aunt and grandma all came running to me, crooning softly and examining my foot. I had stepped on a fat bumblebee and I was completely stunned and shocked. Why would the bee DO that to me? I wanted to talk this through. I had QUESTIONS. My aunt, who would have been about fifteen then, more a big sister than an aunt to me, examined my foot more closely and said in a somber voice: “Oh…the stinger is still in your foot. This means the bee will die if you didn’t already kill it from stepping on it.” That made me feel even worse, to have KILLED a pretty bumblebee, even if it HAD hurt me. I felt TERRIBLE. The poor girl was defending herself and it was then that I became aware of my potential impact on nature, a giantess killer at five years old who never went barefoot in the grass again. 

Myrmecophobia is the fear of ants. Ant’s have actually always fascinated me though I don’t much like them in my house, because where there is one, there are generally hundreds of others not far behind the daring explorer. My husband was an exterminator for a few years, so ants are pretty much afraid of our house. But I have another unintentional death memory, this time involving ants.  When I was six years old I wanted to understand them better. I built an ant farm in a clear container filled with dirt and about twenty carefully captured black ants so I could watch my little friends dig tunnels in their perfect new home where they would be happy and safe forever. Unfortunately, I had not yet learned about the need for air holes and a bit of moisture for all living creatures and woke the next day all excited to see what was going on with my new buddies only to find them all dead in the sweltering sun, where I had left them, not allowed to bring them inside to sleep with me. Ugh. More crying. 

The most INTERESTING thing I discovered in my bug research on Wikipedia was that Lepidopterophobia (the fear of moths) is a REAL THING. This makes me feel a little bit less of a freak when I literally shudder over the very idea of a moth in my room. Another kid memory: ten years old, completely and deathly afraid of moths. My dad had to come to my room so many times to “take care of the moth” that he finally told me he would pay me twenty five cents for every moth that I killed all on my own. What he doesn’t know to this day is that I promised my sister half the profits if SHE would kill them for me. I still felt bad about killing the bee and the ants so despite my hatred of moths, I wasn’t going to kill them. I had enough blood on my hands. Plus I didn’t want to touch those filthy things. But my sister was a fearless killer at the young age of seven: she once ATE an ant without even a drop of remorse or shudder of disgust, so she willingly helped me create the pile of gross, dusty, moth corpses: our bounty in a glass jar. My mom, not realizing there were dead moths in the jar, which we innocently kept on the ledge above the sink with a few other empty jars, grabbed it, with the other jars and packed in them macaroni salad for our trip to the lake. My dad was of course served the helping that contained the moths. I’m pretty sure he thought my mom had done it on purpose, some kind of ‘back at you’ thing for whatever my mom thought he had done to her. The look on my gagging dad’s face was just…well a reminder that macaroni salad is GROSS and so are moths. But I still won’t kill them  and I have learned to overcome my disgust enough to capture them in my hands when they dare to come into my house (if no one else is there to help me) and set them free outside.

Which brings me to the main reason for starting this post about bugs: the fly that was in my room the other night. There is only one thing more annoying than a fly buzzing around like a bitch when you are trying to sleep and that’s a humming mosquito that you just KNOW is going to suck all your blood out and give you malaria the moment you fall asleep. It was my intention to kill the fly, so I could go to sleep. I made all kinds of attempts while my husband just laughed at my game of tag with the fly and rolled his eyes. I was reminded of the scene from Breaking Bad where Walter White goes ape shit over a single fly in his sterile meth lab. He was super tired too. Finally, all sweaty and humiliated from chasing the fly around I sat down on the bed and said “Fuck it. Flies only live twenty-four hours. Who am I to get in the way of this fly’s last little joy ride before he dies on his own?” The next morning I woke up and sure enough there was the fly, clinging to the curtain next to my side of the bed, clearly dead. He had died in the night, next to me and I’m so very weirdly comforted by the idea that he possibly knew someone was on his side during his last moments.  

Now, some of you might think from all of this talk about remorse over killing bugs that I am perhaps a vegetarian or a Buddhist. But I’m pretty sure Buddhists don’t say fuck all the time  like I do and vegetarians don’t eat meat, which I also do, though I almost always say a mental thank you before I partake in the yummy goodness of a steak. Plus the other morning when I was sitting in the bathroom all defenseless and you know, eh’hem, pooping, a spider came out of nowhere right toward me at full speed, clearly intending to kill me and I splatted that bitch DEAD without one drop of remorse. Arachnophobia is not a disease, it’s a truth. Those fuckers deserve to die. Thank goodness I had my slippers on.

Cheering it Forward

Today I got to pick Mitchel up right after school. It’s the first time in awhile I have gotten to ride with just him, since he has had football practice at the same time as his older brother David for the last three months. So I was actually looking forward to my twenty minutes of time in the car with him. Boys are sometimes hard to pin down in conversation. Unless they are trapped in the car with you. Even then it depends on the day and the mood and whether or not you happen to be super annoying to them. 

Naturally I was late. 

I actually blame Maria. This morning at 10 am she  texted me a picture of a Starbucks snowman cookie and peppermint mocha and said “the holidays have officially begun”. Those yummy, sugary, buttery snowmen cookies are the BOMB and my mouth actually started to water. I texted back “I’m SO going to reward myself with one tomorrow AND a Chestnut Praline LatteeDatee.” 

Yum. 

But when I was late to pick up Mitchel and thought to myself, since I was already late, I might as well make it worth being late and have a yummy Snowman cookie and a steaming hot chocolate waiting for him. HELLO! Mom points. 

PLUS I would also then avoid all the snarky pushy parents blocking traffic because they think their kid is the prince of England and therefore should not have to walk half a block where the PROPER line forms. 

Anyway. I pulled into the Starbucks that I go to quite a bit. It’s in a weird spot and their drive through is really complicated and I ALWAYS seem to get it wrong and try to enter through the exit only.  Every. Single. Time. I honestly think it’s some kind of emotional block where I second guess myself. Today was no different and I found myself sort of wedged and was trying to turn my car around to face the correct way in order to hit the drive through going the right direction when this grumpy old man in a beat up old pick up truck turned into the parking lot at full speed and just glared at me because I wasn’t moving fast enough even though I was CLEARLY trying to hurry. I couldn’t let him go ahead because I was blocking the little parking lot. So I hurried faster: scooch back, scooch forward, three times (waving and smiling and panicked) until I finally was able to pull into the drive through. 

In front of him. 

AND of course there was a super happy chatty person in front of me in line,  which was fine with me but NOT fine with the man behind me who was giving me the meanest, grinch glare and nudging his truck closer and closer to my bumper as though it would speed things up. 

When it was finally my turn to order I naturally took my time and chatted with the cute barista guy while waiting for my snowman cookies and drinks for me and Mitchel. But I also paid for the grinch’s Grande Caramel Fattachino. And that made my cute barista guy so happy and even MORE chatty that he gave me TWO free reusable holiday cups instead of just one, like I was apparently supposed to get but didn’t even KNOW about! And that just made me so unexpectedly happy that I tipped him a couple MORE dollars and chatted some more. I mean two pretty, reusable holiday cups AND snowman cookies? It just doesn’t get any better than that! At least during that moment in time. 

Until the grinch honked and broke our happy fest. 

The cute barista guy just laughed. “Whatya gonna do? Yeah?” 

I laughed and FINALLY (to the grinch’s grumpy pleasure) drove off, now even MORE late than I had planned giggling to myself about killing ‘em with kindness and paying it backwards or forwards or whatever it is, so as to confuse the grumpy universe with cheer. 

And THEN I pulled in to glorious almost empty parking area with no bitchy parent drivers and prince Mitchel only had to walk about twenty steps and was greeted by holiday cheer and actually chatted with me for ten of the twenty minutes of our drive! 

So this is why it was Maria’s fault I was late. But SHE is also responsible for cheering it forward so I’m pretty sure the world is a better place than it was before I was late. 

Maybe My “WHY” is Just to Breathe In AND Out

Below is an excerpt from this month’s eNewsletter that I put out from my company to friend/clients (some of whom follow my blog site). I feel the need to elaborate on it a bit in today’s blog post: 

There is so much talk on social media and elsewhere about knowing what your WHY is. I don’t know about you but I sometimes feel like I have more WHYs than I do time or answers. I spent my thirties just trying to remember to breathe and keep both my kids and career alive, so during my highly energetic forties, when I came up for air, my list of “what ifs” was so extensive it was exhausting! I like to call that the sorting out decade. It turns out that there are more things that are NOT my why than are. So that’s good news. 

Now that I’m in my 50’s there has been a SUBSTANTIAL amount of paring down in terms of who I want to be when I grow up. That’s really what this whole WHY thing is right? Not so much what your trade is (which can change at will, if you’re willing)  but how you DO whatever it is you chose to do. The person, substance and cause behind the actual doing of things. 

I do think there is a lot of pressure to find out what our WHY is when maybe we SHOULD all just relax a little and breathe (in AND out). I mean it’s hard enough having the human curse of reason.. If dogs could read our minds on the whole “I think, therefore I am” deal they would be like: “Dudes. Chill out and see if someone will toss you a ball a few hundred times. You’ll feel so much happier after!”

But, also I think that it’s really important that we all do a regular self check as we breathe through our lives. With the burden of reason comes some responsibility to be our best selves in this world. I mean why not? There is more to a good life than Netflix and Cheez-It binges. At least on the weekdays. 

So here is a short little checklist of questions that I ask myself regularly to touch base with where I’m at  in my journey that may help you feel a little less pressure in your own quest to discover your ever elusive WHY: 

  1. Would my dogs be proud of how I treat people and other animals? (If not regroup and change some shit.)
  2. If I died today, what would be the ONE thing I wish I had done? (If I am not doing this one thing, I’d best get off my ass and do it or I will be walking the earth as a very unhappy ghost, making other people miserable)
  3. What will people say about me at my funeral? (Those bitches better be careful. See #2. I’m probably going to haunt them)

Any how. I think it’s super important to do a little self recon from time to time. But it’s also important to breathe in and out, enjoy the journey and maybe not worry all that much what your WHY is. It will come to you when you are relaxed and open minded. Just ask your dog. Or your neighbor’s dog if you don’t have one of your own to talk to. 

But I have to say: you should get a dog. That’s the real advise of this blog post.  

What If We Only Fell Back?

IMG_5362

I’m so mad. I completely slept through my favorite holiday “Fall Back”. This is terrible! I honestly don’t know what is going on this last year but something has got to change. I mean who the heck SLEEPS for eight hours a night? What is WRONG with me that I would be so lazy and miss getting up at 5:30 am on Fall Back Day, go for a run, have a cup of coffee, a shower and STILL have it only be 5:30 am? It’s the only day of the year I get to stop time (my chosen super power if I could have one)  and I missed it by sleeping in until NINE THIRTY. It’s no fun to wake up at 9:30 and say “Oh yippy. It’s only 8:30.” Lame. There are no giddy feelings about that. The day is pretty much OVER at 8:30. There’s no getting a jump on my life at that time of the day. Not even on a Sunday. I’ve got shit to do!

I have heard that it is possible that this could be the last year the state of Washington (and six other states) fall back an hour and I’m super worried. In fact, I think I have finally found something I feel strongly enough about that I might bombard social media, make t-shirts, signs, file a petition, and chain myself across a building somewhere all in protest  to SAVE FALL BACK. 

It’s not about the daylight saving, or energy saving that I’m concerned about (the original reason for the world renowned ‘daylight saving’ idea of springing forward an hour and back again in the fall). It’s about the TIME. And I have an idea. What if the state of Washington was the only state to only fall back an hour every year and NOT spring forward and we changed it to just “Day Saving Time”. In twenty four years, Washington would be one whole DAY ahead of all the other states. Think about what that could mean for productivity AND tourism. People would visit Washington just so they could say they time traveled! 

But I am kind of digressing. I really want to talk about all this sleep I have been getting. I think that this is the first year of my life that I am sleeping a good eight to nine hours a night for most of the days of the week. And I’m not talking light sleep. I’m talking dead to the world sleep. So deep that I’m dreaming full movies in color with theme songs playing that stick in my head all day until my head hits the pillow the next night to start all over again. It’s exhausting! And to answer your question, NO. I’m not taking drugs of any kind. My husband even told me I kept him awake the other night snoring. WTF! I don’t snore. It had to be one of the dogs. The nerve of some people. 

What does this mean? Have I lost my will to live that I would sleep past my favorite holiday? Am I no longer motivated, inspired or excited  enough about my life to meet the day like a WINNER at 5 am? 

I’m thinking about calling a sleep clinic to be assessed: “Yes. I’m really struggling with sleep. I’m just getting too much of it and it’s ruining my life. I’m wondering if I have a problem. I just feel way too rested.”

Anyhow. This is probably just a weird phase of happiness, peace and contentedness I’m going through. I will try to push through it as best as I can. Don’t lose any sleep over me. I’ll be okay. 

The Interview

 

My daughter Maria is in her third year of nursing school at the University of Portland and a while back I called her on the phone while I was walking my dog Bella at Wyakin Park, a nature park down the street from our house. I called her mainly because I was creeped out by a guy walking a ways behind me on the same path. I told her this and she immediately said “MOM! Why don’t you call dad? I’m pretty far away to be able to help you.”

“Your dad is always warning me to not walk in Wyakin Park alone so I don’t want to get a lecture. Just know that if I go silent call dad and tell him to call 911 and then drive here super fast because I’m most likely either killed or abducted and he needs to get Bella. I don’t want anything to happen to her.”

We kept on with our chatting while I walked the park, the creeper long disappeared, so it was probably nothing, though it’s good to be more safe than sound I always say.  The subject of her needing to conduct a two part interview with someone about suffering came up. 

“Well, you can interview my uterus, it’s suffering right now. Why is it that every time you come home for the summer my path to finally completing my year long adventure toward menopause is disrupted? Now my plans for a party are screwed up. I was TWO MONTHS away from official menopause day. I feel kind of mad at you and your alpha she-wolf hormones for messing me up. I’m too old for this crap.”

She laughed and we chatted about how crazy hormones were and other female topics that I think we both crave as the only two girls in a family of eight. Then we talked about possible people she could interview that we know have suffered a lot and whether or not it would be weird for her to reach out to them and finally decided she would interview me (not my uterus). I had gone through a rather rough patch of time when I lost three loved ones: my grandma, my mom and my friend Libby all within a seven year span, and all the experiences leading up to and after those difficult days created all kinds of suffering. I felt enough time had passed that I would be able to give a good interview on the subject of suffering. We scheduled the first interview and I put it on my calendar when Bella and I arrived home unscathed from our walk. 

Now, I have never been a fan of FaceTime which was the required method for Maria’s interview, unless she could do it live and Portland is an awfully long drive from Spokane. So I was a little worried about that part. I am always distracted by the little box at the top with MY face in it. Do I have boogers? How does my hair look? Do I have the phone positioned so I don’t have a double chin and my big boobs don’t steal the show? Also, the image of me I’m looking at is a reflection of the reflection I see in the mirror every day so it’s a mind bend seeing how other people might see me everyday. The thought makes me want to part my hair the opposite direction and turn my head to the right when I am face to face with people, which is my bad side but actually shows THEM my good side. It’s so confusing. And extremely self absorbed. 

So with that in mind, enter interview number one. I made sure my hair was done nice and I put makeup on so I would not be distracted by wishing I HAD done that. And then there was Maria, on my phone, who had clearly done the same. Her hair had grown longer since I last saw her, making her look older, more grown up and OH my FILLED UP HEART so beautiful. I felt this deep sense of awe that this delightful woman came partly from me and I was distracted from my own face in the corner which was good. We made some giggly small talk about how good we both looked and then got into the interview.  

I was fully prepared to just coast through the questions and as is my way, try and make it lighthearted and fun. I feel like I am pretty together and practical about suffering: it’s a human condition that is hard to avoid but I myself have lived through it thus far and relatively unscathed. What I was NOT prepared for was how meaningful the interview was for me and how my daughter shined with empathy and poise that had things spilling out of me that I did not at all expect, including tears and some amazing ‘a-ha!’ moments including the realization that I have pushed down a little bit of anger about the death of my mother, because I didn’t really want to talk about that part of my suffering. She should still be here. 

Now granted, I’m a talker. I have never had trouble talking or writing about almost any subject, including what my heart feels at the moment. It’s how I’m wired. But I have learned to keep some of my deepest things closely guarded, namely because people just don’t want to hear about suffering, at least not all the time. But also, it has been important to me as a mother that my kids don’t worry about me, at least not on a grand scale like I did my own mother for so much of my life. So it was a little bit unnerving actually being given permission to talk about my personal suffering, especially by my daughter in what felt like a professional counseling session. 

We ended the first interview and I found myself excited for the next one but worried that I had worried her.  

We were both less concerned with how we looked on the second interview and got into it pretty quickly. She had some follow up questions for me that were hard to answer because they were very thought provoking. These are the ones that stood out to me: 

  • What support was missing for you during that time? 
  • What have you learned about yourself through suffering? 
  • How did suffering affect your faith? 
  • What gives you a sense of hope when you are in pain? What IS hope in your mind, what does it look like?

Lots of big questions and I found myself meandering a bit with my words in search of what the answers were which was cathartic in and of itself. But here are a few answers I discovered:  

I know that I have never lacked support because I have learned how to ask for it from the people who I know are willing and able to give of themselves when it is most important. What I do know is that it’s not always the same person I turn to and that each person in my core has a different way of supporting and loving. Three words from the men in my life can sometimes be as powerful and soothing as hours of wailing with a soul sister. Different love languages for different types of suffering.

I have learned to understand that suffering is a gift when I look at what it would mean NOT to suffer which is one of two things: I’m dead or I do not love.

My faith has been altered but not shaken from suffering. I have had a few fights with God along with a more expansive and less defined by ritual understanding of who my maker is. I’m still pondering this one a bit but my spirituality as a whole hasn’t wavered much. I figure if I’m yelling at God, it means I’m a believer. Or crazy. Maybe both. 

But looking into my daughter’s eyes as we dove into our deep and powerful conversation,  I realized with a most profound and solid certainty that she and her brothers are the very definition of what hope is for me. My children, each with their unique gifts and personalities,  will absolutely make the world better, long after I am gone. What could be more hopeful (and soul soothing) than this? 

I got to witness first hand Maria’s healing gifts and know with certainty she has chosen the right path for her life “You should be a geriatric psychiatric nurse. Is that a thing? Old people need to talk this shit out before they die! You are amazing!” I said, wiping happy sad tears from my eyes. “I wish I could have had this kind of talk with my mom. That would have been amazing. This is priceless stuff. You’re welcome by the way.” 

“Ahhhh…” said my daughter “there she is!”