Today would have been your 24th birthday. The last birthday of yours that you were here for, you turned 16. I wonder if there will ever be a birthday of yours that comes along that I won’t wonder what you would have been like if you had lived. I don’t think there ever will be and I’m finally okay with that. Not okay that you aren’t here but okay that you won’t ever not be on my mind on this day and every other. Happy birthday Willie. I love you and always will.

We spend so much time in life thinking about stressors
and things that suck in our lives. 
I decided today to make a list of things that make me happy. 

Coming out of a summer where I lost a long term romantic relationship AND a job,
I have felt lost and ungrounded.
So many of the things that made me happy are no longer in my life,
I have struggled to see or know what does bring me joy
(not the Marie Kondo type…although you should see my underwear drawer now!) 

A funny thing happened though.
As I sat down to try to think of 10 things to list
(which I thought was going to be hard),
I got going and realized that there are way more than 10 things. 
It helped me to rediscover those things that I had become distanced from,
things that I had pushed away from acknowledging
because it hurts to think about them without crying
(see #’s 5,16 & 19),
things that I worry might be gone forever and to voice
that I want them because they make me
happy means I might be UNhappy without them.
Doing this also showed me that I have hit a point of
being unapologetic for what I love.

Things I love and want do not mean I am needy,
they mean I know what makes me happy - and that’s a good thing.

Things I love that are cheesy and stupid
(see #’s 2(d), 4, 17 & 21) I will proclaim without shame ;). 

So my Top Ten list will be as long as it needs to be,
and ever to be added to. It’s my list 🙂

What puts a smile on your face?

Top Ten(ish) Things That Make Me Happy
(in no particular order of importance but yes, coffee is number 1)

1. Hot coffee in the morning. Preferably with a cigarette and outside.
2. Travel.
a. waking up someplace that is not home. 
b. getting lost walking around a city that you don’t know
c. airports (yes, I do love them now) - the anticipation of where you are headed lives in them.
d. shot glasses with cheesy touristy pictures on them (yes, I collect them)
3. Roadtrips.
a. loud music in the car a thousand miles from home.
b. roadside rest stops; that feeling when you get out of the car and finally stretch your legs.
c. changing routes on a whim because you want to try a new direction for a while.
4. Stupid B movies that I have watched a dozen times.
a. Planet of The Apes
b. Anything Star Wars (original three) related.
c. Bad 50’s black and white cult classics.
d. Zombie/Post Apocalypse movies.
5. Love. All kinds.
6. Graffiti.
7. Decrepit and abandoned buildings and things.
8. A clean kitchen.
9. The smell outside when it rains.
10. Bike rides at sunrise. The silence is perfect.
11. Camping.
a. conversations about nothing for hours around the campfire.
b that feeling when your sleeping bag finally feels warm after you slip into it.
c. swimming in a lake so cold that you can’t feel your feet when you get out.
12. That feeling when you are lost in a good book.
13. Loud music while cleaning the house.
14. Dancing alone in my apartment.
15. That feeling when you are done your run.
16. The scent of the person I am in love with.
17. Ridiculously time wasting Youtube videos
a. special nod to the “Irish People try…” series
18. Scary movies (even though I am a wimp at watching them and will swear that I hate them).
19. Falling asleep in the arms of my partner.
20. Breakfast. Hot breakfast. On the weekend. 
21. Troll dolls.
22. Hikes with my kidlets and realizing they have,
in fact inherited my sarcasm and dry wit genes.
23. Cheese. All. Cheese.
24. Butches. Everything about them.
25. The ocean waves. Quiet or harsh, they cleanse and whisper of power.
26. Words.
27. The feel of a freshly shaved head.
28. Boots. 
29. Leather.
a. the smell
b. the feel
30. Femmes. Everything about them.
31. Dogs.
32. Spreadsheets.
33. Kayaking and paddleboarding. 
34. Beer with labels that make me laugh.
35. Boobs (yes, you read that right, it’s not a repeat of #26). 
a. Side boob. Trust me, it needs its own entry.
36. Sea glass.
37. A pen that writes exactly how you want it to.
38. Moonlight.
39. Sex.
40. Apple crisp.
41. A hot bath with my laptop on the towel chest so I can watch a movie while I soak.
42. Making dinner for friends and spending the evening laughing.
43. Frozen yogurt with gummy worms at the movie theatre.

Trying to decide what I want is a tough think. So in the interest of making some headway in this process, I remember a phrase I heard somewhere many years ago (may have been Alanis Morissette and during my post teen angst years…) Paraphrasing here: find out what you don’t want and then you’ll know what you do want. May have been more about who you are than what you want but you get the idea.

Job searching has been a struggle to say the least. Partly because the job market in my town is horrendous if you are wanting more than a minimum wage job but also because searching when you literally have zero idea what you are looking for is like trying to smell the colour nine. 

I contemplated moving back to being self employed. It would allow me the flexibility that I adore. The ability to have a schedule that I set myself. Time to travel when I want and not be tied to a Monday to Friday 9-5 schedule. I put some serious time into this option. I could consult. Business operations and structure are my skill set and something I could transfer into a company of my own. I’ve done it, for free, for associates and business contacts for the last couple of years and I’ve been told more than once that I’m crazy for giving it away. So I mused on that. Heavily mused. 

Then I remembered how it was to be self employed in reality. I was self employed for almost 20 years and I loved it. It also stressed me out and fed my workaholic issues in a bad way. Anyone who has ever run their own business will tell you that the reality is that you work far more for yourself than you ever will for someone else. That’s true. You also will most likely never really have the financial security of knowing how much you’ll have coming in every month.  The benefits are not to be ignored though. Freedom, being your own boss, setting your own schedule, the list goes on and on. So do the issues of starting up, capital costs, time and energy, marketing, and the month to month financial concerns before you actually start making money (and that can take a lot longer than anyone thinks it will). I spent 6 years getting my first business up and running as a side hustle before I took the leap and quit my full time job back in the late 1990’s (goddess that makes me feel old!). I know the self employed game and it’s not easy. 

So I took a job last month that had a wage that was acceptable for my needs even though I had some serious reservations about it. Honestly, I knew going in that it was not a good fit and that it would be a job that would make me less than happy to be going to everyday. But fear of no income won out and I argued with myself that I was being picky, that I was being unreasonable to think that I could find a job that was better. So I accepted the offer and started last week.

Yes, from day one, I knew it was not the right fit. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t a healthy environment for me. Trust me, it was much better in many ways than what I had left in August but it had some pretty serious issues as far as a workplace for me. Eight hour days, solo, customer facing, with no other staff (and hence, no ability to take breaks, including a lunch break) was just not going to work out for me long term. Add in that I was also hired as the manager meant trying to manage and overhaul a business operation that was a mess after a year of no management. So basically, business consulting work, front desk duties (solo) and did I mention that I was also needing to post, interview and hire a new person for the one day a week that I would not work (Saturdays) with no ability to leave the desk? Impossible.

But… I argued with myself, imagine the difference you can make here. It is essentially a blank slate as far as organization is concerned. There is so much potential. You  LOVE business organization and the minutiae of “fixing” it all. There are so many things you can bring to the table to make this better. But. But. But. In all of this, the voice that whispered in my head that I was lucky to have a job at all. Shut up and just keep going. Who are you to want better? 

Then another voice, the one that made me still job search every morning before work, still sending resumes and cover letters even though I had a job now: it said… remember what you want? Sit up and give your head a shake! You did not go through the stress and hell of the last few months to settle. To accept “ok” and “good enough”. You are worth more, you deserve more, than something you aren’t happy with. Granted, no place will be perfect but YOU ONLY GET ONE LIFE. 40 hours a week is a lot of hours to spend not content. 

But, but, but. 

So I interviewed for another position with another company. For a touch less money but with such an amazing work atmosphere and in an environment that hits my skill set and will allow me growth and potential with a future that was not only hinted at but talked openly about in that first interview. A workplace that values work life balance and puts it first and foremost by pointing out that all breaks (including lunch) are paid because “We believe you should be paid for the time during the day when you are recharging yourself.” What a fucking concept. 

I did what scared the hell out of me. I quit the job I had taken last week. With no notice (they still had the other person before they hired me so I did not leave them in the lurch, I’m not a complete douchebag). I put myself first. I start my new job next week. 

I may not be a hundred percent sure or clear on what I want in a career yet. After a week in a job that I certainly did settle for, I do know what I don’t want and that’s a start.

That feels good. 

(written as I have tabs open on a new website for my side hustle 😉  a girl has to have dreams, right?)

 i dance along the lines

the sheen of the web
a lie
that speaks of a slippery slope

the truth
is that it
grips 

holds

binds

captures

i am teetering
holding tenuously
to my balance

each movement
i make holds
an uncertain outcome

each step 
propels me 
in a different direction

i try to look
forward
beyond

the glare
off the strands
is blinding

tears sting 
my eyes
the edge is all i see

i hold 
my breath
and step

close your eyes.

feel, don’t see.

i want your senses to play musical chairs and have sight to be the one left standing, walking away alone when the music stops.

see the words with the depth of so much more than simple, deceptive sight.

let the words dance in your spirit instead of across your vision

don’t interpret them with intellect; let them tell you their story through tingles and shivers.

feel them in the rush of your pulse or the exhales that leave you spent.

revel in the letters and syllables and lines on the pages as they cast a nonsensical net over your mind and drag you into their depths.

let your fingertips dance over the smoothness of the words, barely caressing them as you pull them in closer to you.

grip them harshly, devour them and savour them.

decimate them with your lust for what they harbour, what they hide.

feel how they squirm under the intensity of your scrutiny and discovery.

soak in them, immerse yourself, don’t dare to consider trying to find release.

taste the bitterness of them rise up in your throat as you try to swallow them down and make them disappear when they’re too much.

dive into the darkness, swim deep into the chilly waters they offer.

relish the sweetness of them as your tongue embraces their offerings to your soul.

consume them.

sit in the discomfort they show you as they rip apart the edges of where you try to hide.

be terrified of their depth, their height, their darkness, and leap into them anyways.

shudder as the goosebumps appear on your flesh as their libidinous morsels send shivers down your spine.

be deafened by the pounding of your heart as the words make you want to turn and run, 

uncertain if you want to leave them behind or cling to them and hold on for dear life.

be fed, be nourished, be saturated

by the anger, beauty, pain and brilliance that courses through your veins.

carried in the ink that is the beautiful,

rich,

dark,

life-blood of your syllabic circulatory system.


					

I remember the first time I felt regret.
That’s not true. 
I remember the moment, the split second that was just before that feeling tore through me.

I can still feel the string that was tied to green balloon as it slipped past my fingertips.
It slid, barely touching me as it flew upwards,
the balloon, filled with helium, drawing it up and away from my grasp.
I had played the game for only a few minutes that morning.
It was silent outside in the early morning chill where I stood in my driveway.

Everyone else in the house was asleep, I had taken my balloon and wandered out.
Even at seven years old, sleep was always done for me far before anyone else in my house was stirring.

I had spent the night before playing release and catch in my bedroom and I was good at it.
I had held tightly to the string, letting the weight of the balloon bob against it as I tugged it lightly.
Loosening my grasp, I would let it purposely slip away.
For a second, maybe two.
Until I would grasp and hold tight, catching the string before it was too late.
Stopping it from leaving me.
I was good at it. 
It never got away from me. 
I knew I could always catch it.
I knew this.

I stood in the driveway and shivered in the cold air.
I looked up at the balloon tethered to the string and at the endless grey sky beyond it.
I let my grasp loosen and the string started to slide through my fingers.

I tightened my grip.
Just a split second too late.
The string wasn’t in my hand anymore.
I saw it as it flew past my eyes and was gone against the heavy, overcast sky.
All I could see was the bright green balloon as it lifted farther and farther away from me.
Out of my grasp.
Forever.

It wasn’t merely the loss of it that hurt.
It was that what I had done had caused it to be gone.
That it was gone because of me and I couldn’t take that action back.
There was no way to make that reality different.
That hurt more.

 

It’s been one week since I left home to find some peace and, more importantly, distance, from the last few weeks and all of the surrounding stress and heartbreak that they have held.

Today is my last day of solace in spending time with friends who are so much more than that; they are family. My last day before I am back on the road tomorrow and heading for home and the uncertainty that awaits. Today though, I am working hard to not think of what is there. Of what waits for me to decide and figure out. Instead I am focusing on where I am today and at the adventure filled next few days ahead of me and where the road will take me. 

A few days in Costa Mesa before being here in Phoenix have both settled me and brought up so many emotions that it has been a maelstrom of competing feelings inside of my spirit. Memories of past visits have flooded me and swirled up hurt and loss like I didn’t know, but suspected, they might. They came. Tears came, and went, and came back again. Through all of it through, what shone through most brightly (aside from the sun that threatens to burn my poor white skin alive) was the laughter and the love being shared and indulged in. A perfect example of life in a micro view. Hurt is there yes, but present also is joy and happiness and moments of calm and peace that I have not felt in far too long. 

I have vague plans of heading for the coast and travelling leisurely as I make my north. No real plans beyond finding places to stop that make me smile and enjoying the quiet of the car and the chance to spend time letting my mind wander as the miles pass behind me. 

I am working hard to embrace the space that is where I need to be right now and to sit with it and wander through it. To let go of the feelings that creep in that whisper to me that I have to figure it all out, that I have to have a plan once I am home. Right now, today, and in the next few days, there is just now.

One of the hardest things to do is nothing.

Sometimes you have to sit in the space that hurts. 

Sometimes you have to stay in, 

and be surrounded by,

the space that makes you uncomfortable. 

Knowing that inside that space is held truth and wisdom and guidance. 

Sometimes the only way that you can discover what action is needed is to give the voice the space to speak and be heard. 

That voice whispers softly.

The quiet is it’s harbour to find you. 

Sometimes what is needed to be done is nothing. 

To wait. 

To listen. 

To sit, and know it is where you need to be; where it is the only place you can be right now in this moment.

To observe and welcome what you learn from those spaces that you never asked to be in. 

The spaces and moments that you don’t want to be in. 

When it’s time, action and direction will be the right thing to do. 

When it’s time, you will know where to walk when you set your feet to the next path.

But for now, nothing.

Not the usual Day One road trip musings. Not the same as the last one, that’s for sure. There are some funnies, but there is more heavy than the last time my backside sat in the driver’s seat leaving my home area for a long run down the states.

For starters, this one is solo. Which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing but it feels heavy on my heart today in so many ways. Maybe tomorrow it will feel different but today it’s impacting me and making my head and heart tumble more than the wheels of my car have so far on this journey.

My trip this time is for a simple purpose: to give myself time and space to heal and reset in a way that I am hoping will bring me some peace.

The previous couple of months have been tumultuous to put it mildly. June and July were filled with my work environment and dynamics finally reaching a crescendo that had been building since last fall. An issue that has taken a toll not only on me physically and mentally but also contributed to a significant impact on my personal life with regards to my relationship with my partner.

The end of July saw the end to my long term relationship, in large part due to the degree of work-related stress in my life and how it affected every aspect of my mental and physical health; how it then affected her and, in turn, us. 

Within a week, I had reached the breaking point at work and a full-blown breakdown happened on my part at work. Two out of the four front staff leaving within a week of each other had created a situation that found me covering long and extra days and with the pre-existing work environment issues, I simply could not deal with it anymore and a decision had to be made. For my health and sanity. To say that sounds dramatic but it’s accurate and not at all over-stated. I was unable to stop crying and could not eat or sleep. My health was failing and I was unable to even make it in to work at one point. The decision was made for me to leave my job as the work conditions could not be changed and the interpersonal dynamics could not be dealt with in any way that would allow me to stay. The last two weeks of August have been grueling with long shifts and extra work days but there was an end in sight as August 29th was my last day. Almost seven years of employment done. 

All things told, in the past month and a half I have seen the two most basic, grounding levels of my life gone; of my day to day “me” in many ways, ended. One far more important and having a much deeper level of hurt than the other, but both rocked me.

So, what to do? Nothing to do other than move forward and try to settle and try to figure out how to live with the changes. That’s all anyone can do when faced with change. That’s what I’m doing. I’m doing it hurting and sad and with no idea how it is going to look when the proverbial dust settles. 

The answer for me was a road trip. A chance to get away, physically, from reminders of life that set my head spinning. 

I started the day today with mixed feelings of excitement for the days ahead of solo driving (I love long distance driving) and anxiety over being alone with just my thoughts and no distractions. I hadn’t realized just how much I had pushed down dealing with some hurt until there was nothing to do other than listen to my heart. Ouch.

As the miles rolled by, my emotions jumbled as much as the roads curved and climbed. Landmarks from my last trip this was brought back memories that made me smile and cry at the same time (yes, I am a pro at driving while crying 😉 ). I was reminded by just how indecisive I can be when I couldn’t make a choice on where to stop for the night (800 kms and 12 hours was enough I finally decided and Roseburg, Oregon is home for the night now.)

I’m sitting here in my hotel room, with the TV on to add some noise to my quiet and plunking away at getting some feelings out on the keyboard. I have pie in my room fridge from the diner across the street and I am not in my car so those are two big happy things right now.

Oddities from today:

  • Best billboard sign goes to… “LUST will drag you down to HELL!!!” (Sorry, no pic, I was driving)
  • A very stern crosswalk signal (check out my instagram for the video)
  • A brochure for Cannabis Tourism (pic below)
  • What I thought was the last remaining telephone booth in existence (turned out to be just the booth, no telephone 😦  (pic below).

Tomorrow, heading for the coast and winding my way down to some very missed framily. California first, then on to Arizona. Soaking up the sunshine and hugs and love. All very much needed all around as we are all hurting from way too much lately.