I wanted to help… Tales from a wedding

Alternate title: Be careful what you wish for, you may just end up with a soaking wet bride to be at your hotel door the night before her wedding.

While I’m on a roll posting pictures tonight, I should catch up on the wedding from a couple weeks ago.

About that same time I wrote a post about feeling empty, not helping as much as I like to – need to, even.

I wrote it just a few days before I left for Virginia for Meg and Bill’s wedding.  I drove the nearly 8 hours to Virginia, through the colorful mountains, singing and finding calm.  I arrived at Wedding Weekend ready to be bridesmaid for the event.  And it was a beautiful event.

But not before the night before the wedding happened.  I document this because we’re going to want to remember this one day.  This story will be told for years to come and I’m the only one who can do it.

Things to know before the story:

Meg was not a happy wedding planning bride.  The whole thing was overwhelming and stressful for her.

I’m not calling the rest of her bridesmaids young… I’m just calling them younger.

I know from experience, drunk people are the worst.

So…the day before the wedding.  We have a bridesmaids luncheon around 1pm.  We check in to the hotel we’re staying at, which is next door to the hotel where the reception is.  Then we all head to the church for the rehearsal.  It goes fine.  I have to talk to the wedding coordinator about keeping the flower girl in her place, but that’s my job.  I make a detour to a Michaels to pick up a glue gun and clippies to turn the required earrings into clip on earrings for a bridesmaid without pierced ears.  Again, it’s what this bridesmaid does.

The rehearsal dinner was so great.  It was at a local brewery in Richmond, the food was plentiful and delicious.  The beer was wonderful.  I took selfies with the father of the bride:

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Blurry selfies, but fun none the less.  Her family is so adorable.

I leave the rehearsal dinner around 10pm.  I caution the other bridesmaids to not stay out too late, the wedding day is a marathon and no one wants to be hungover while getting hair and make up done.  I am in bed and asleep by 10:30pm.

I am awakened by a knock on the door.  I think I hear Meg’s voice calling my name.  I don’t know what time it is, I don’t know what’s happening.  I get up, open the door, and there is Meg in pajamas, looking a little hysterical, and a man standing behind her.  He looks at me and says, “Can you handle this (gesturing towards Meg) for a minute?”  I stammer that of course I can and Meg comes in my room and lays on the floor.  This is when I realize she is soaking wet.  I look at a clock, it’s a little after 12:30am.  I look at hysterical, now crying Meg, on my floor and ask what is going on.

She explains (and I use that word in a fairly loose sense – there’s a lot of stopping and starting as Meg is hysterical, soaking wet and fairly drunk) that she was trying to stop the dripping of her bathroom faucet, but turned too hard and the handle came off in her hand, and just like a tv show – water starts spraying everywhere.  She puts her hand over it, that only makes the spray go right at her.  She calls the front desk, where I can only imagine they thought a violent crime was taking place as she is just sobbing into the phone, “Come quick, you have to come quick.”  The man that had been with Meg was the overnight hotel supervisor who was trying to fix the faucet.

I tell Meg this is no problem, she can sleep in my room, it’s fine.

I’m all wet.”

We get her some dry clothes from her room.  This is the first time I see the damage in her bathroom.  She was not kidding that water went everywhere.  The floor has an inch of water, the carpet is soaked three feet out the door, water is on the walls and ceiling.  I so wish I could have been a fly on the wall while Meg dealt with this thing.  We get clothes, get her back in my room where she strips down and changes.  I get her into bed and we’re back to hysterical tears.

“Everything is awful.  This is an omen.  We shouldn’t get married.”

I try to tell her how funny this is going to be in the morning.  It’ soo funny.  She alternates between laughing and crying.  I learn they left the rehearsal dinner and went to the lobby bar to keep drinking and eat two large pizzas.  Sure.

“I need my bathroom stuff.  It’s all wet.”

I go back next door.  She’s right, her toiletry bag is soaking wet.  I bring it back to my room, lay everything out on a towel, hang the bag up in the bathtub to help it dry.

“I need my purse.  Can you get my purse.”

Of course I can.  I run back to her room and back to mine.

“Do you think I can get some bottles of water?  I mean, my room is flooding, I should get some water.”

I get her some.

Then she decides she wants to call Bill.  I get her phone and dial him, thinking I should give him a heads up as to what is happening here.  I call Bill.  One of the groomsmen answers.   I have to go a few rounds with a drunk groomsmen before I can get Bill on the phone.  I finally do, tell him Meg is just having a rough night and wants to chat for a bit.  I put her on the phone where she kind of explains what happened and tells him everything is bad luck and they shouldn’t get married.  Bill’s answer must be something along the lines of, “Just work through it.”  Meg does not care for this answer and with Bill still talking, she thrusts the phone back at me.  I tell Bill we’ll see him tomorrow.

We chat a bit more about all the other things that could have gone wrong.  This is no problem.  And again, someday will be REALLY FUNNY.  She finally wears herself out (after about an hour and a half of this) and falls asleep.

At this point I am now wide awake.  I really have to go the bathroom so I go back to her room because I don’t dare turn on any lights or make any noise in case it wakes up Meg.  Around 5am (just about 45 minutes I finally got back to sleep) she wakes up and wants to go back into her room.  I tell her I’ll knock on her door when she needs to get up.  I let her sleep until about 8:30am.  We have to be at the hotel for hair/makeup around 9:30am.

She comes to my room to take a shower, still not trusting of her bathroom.  I go out to find us coffee and something for her to eat.  I walked a few blocks to a coffee shop and was grateful to have a little fresh air and alone time at the beginning of this very long day.  I found myself smiling.

I was helping.

I wasn’t mad or upset about the shenanigans.  I was so glad that I was there.  This is the kind of stuff I’m good at.  I can help make earrings into clip ons, I can handle a bratty flower girl and I can be there to get a drunk, hysterical, soaking wet bride to hair and make up in the morning.

The rest of the day was a dream.  I’ll post a few pictures below.  I don’t have a lot of them – I let the photographer do their jobs and just focused on doing mine.  Bridesmaid.  Helper.

 

Apparently, bridesmaids wear matching robes to get ready these days.

Apparently, bridesmaids wear matching robes to get ready these days.

With the bride!

With the bride!

Robes on a party bus!

Robes on a party bus!

My friend Angela and her daughter Avery made it to the wedding too!  I was soo happy to hang out with Angela that night and at breakfast the next morning!  Avery thought Meg was a princess.

My friend Angela and her daughter Avery made it to the wedding too! I was soo happy to hang out with Angela that night and at breakfast the next morning! Avery thought Meg was a princess.

What's a wedding without some wedding crashers!  There was another wedding down the hall and the couple in the back thought our party had better music.

What’s a wedding without some wedding crashers! There was another wedding down the hall and the couple in the back thought our party had better music.

It is like the old theatre saying goes, “Bad dress rehearsal, great performance.”  Well, I think you could say, “Bad rehearsal dinner, great wedding day” as well.  The wedding day was perfect.  Everyone was beautiful and happy and the wedding band was great and Angela was there and I was so happy to be there for it all.

We had a wedding brunch the next morning and then I was back on the road.  I stopped at the Humpback Covered Bridge on the way home.

It's a curved covered bridge!

It’s a curved covered bridge!

Usually I’m a pretty point A to point B driver, but I’m trying to embrace the journey a bit more.  Glad I did.  It is a fun fall memory.

The End.

The End.

 

Philly Phun

Lest anyone think it was all transcendental self awareness and getting crushes on magical Canadians during the conference in Philly, let me assure you I also had a great time exploring the city.  I was so looking forward to this getaway, getting into the city a day early and leaving a day later so I had time to check it out.  It was my first trip to Philly.  There are some standard sites to visit: Rocky steps, LOVE statue, Liberty Bell.

Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia City Hall

I didn’t know they also had a beautiful City Hall!  It was such a gorgeous building and the clock tower made me think Peter Pan would be flying by any minute.  The hotel I stayed in was a block away from this building.  After checking in and freshening up I had time for a walk around the city before getting to my fancy night out dinner.  I snapped a few pictures of City Hall here and then walked another block to the LOVE statue.

Friends.  Once upon a five years ago, I went to see Plymouth Rock.  Another New England treasure.  It was one of the most disappointing things I’ve ever seen.  It was so small.  I’m sad to say I had the exact same reaction upon seeing the LOVE statue.  Hmmm.  That’s smaller than I thought it would be.  I thought it stood on the ground and would be taller than me.  In reality, it is on a stand.  The picture isn’t great, it was dark.  But, proof that I saw it.

I mean, it's nice...just not what I was expecting.

I mean, it’s nice…just not what I was expecting.

Then I went to dinner at Russet.  I always Yelp Farm to Table restaurants when heading to a new town and it always works and turns out delicious.  This was no exception.  What’s interesting about Philly is there are a lot of BYOB restaurants.  Russet was one of them.  I didn’t realize this until I checked in.  Conveniently, a wine shop was close by and they needed a few minutes to get my table ready.  I grabbed a decent bottle of Chardonnay and told myself I wouldn’t drink the whole bottle.  This turned out to be a lie.  This restaurant had multiple food terms I’ve never seen.  This doesn’t happen a lot.  Sformato.  Pincianelle. Soubise.  It was fun.  After a few glasses and some delicious food, I thought about putting my drunk texting skills to work for me.  (Remember the change in habit stuff – trigger, behavior, reward.  I just changed the behavior!)  I started texting all the friends I’m so grateful to have.  At least 10 people heard from me and why I love them that night.  It was nice to not feel regret for the drunk texting the next morning.  Yay for putting good feelings into the world!

The conference didn’t start until Sunday at 12:30pm.  Originally, I planned to get up and run the Rocky steps Sunday morning.  If you recall the bottle of wine from the night before, plans had to be amended.  Instead, I thought I would hit up the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall – each only a few blocks from me as well.  As I was flipping through the Philly magazine in the room I ran across an ad for one of those Blow Dry bars popping up everywhere.  This suddenly seemed like an amazing idea.  Dealing with my hair in a hotel can be troublesome.  When someone else straightens it, it is amazing for days.  Done.  They had a 9am appointment and it was on the way to the Liberty Bell.  Meant to be.

This is my hair a day later - still looking good!

This is my hair a day later – still looking good!

There’s this funny bit in Season 1 of HIMYM about Ted and Barney doing legendary things, and Barney tries to talk Ted into going to Philly so they can lick the Liberty Bell.

While I had no intention of licking the Liberty Bell, it makes me laugh.

I'm not licking it.  I'm not licking it.

I’m not licking it. I’m not licking it.

Me and the Bell.

Me and the Bell.

Just around the corner is Independence Hall.  I was pretty moved looking at this building.  The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated here.  Signed here.  It’s pretty awesome.

I mean, Thomas Jefferson stood where I was standing!

I mean, Thomas Jefferson stood where I was standing!

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After buying my obligatory new city Christmas ornament from the Liberty Bell/Independence Hall gift shop (of course), I headed back to the conference.  That night I had dinner with some colleagues from BGSU, another alumni and the coordinator of the grad program.

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We found a good burger place around the corner.  They had some delicious looking drinks, but I abstained that night.  I mean, bottle of wine the night before, remember?

After conferencing allll day Monday I checked out a little place called Barbuzzo.  It was a Mediterranean place and I got a flatbread pizza with some odd toppings – Brussel sprouts, garlic white sauce, fried egg – you know.  The coolest thing about it was that it came with two little vials – a house made chili oil and oregano still on the sprig that you could add to your pizza to your liking.  That was cool.

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Not a great pic, sorry. See small vials of oregano and chili oil on the right.

The conference ended around 3pm Tuesday, and after a quick nap, I was back out on the town.  I wandered around Rittenhouse Square, the Avenue of the Arts, and ended up at Village Whiskey for dinner.  It was a super small place with a great whiskey list.  The only thing that looked great on their food menu was the Veggie Burger.  And it was okay. The Johnnie Walker Black was better.

After one I needed to call it a night because I had the Rocky steps to conquer the next morning!  Finally!  Philly had beautiful weather during the conference.  It was a gorgeous morning to go for a run.  And Philly was a pretty city.  It was about a 2 mile run from my hotel to the Art Museum and you run along this boulevard with other museums and so many trees and fountains.  Philly has a lot of public art.  It was really great.

Everest.

Everest.

I ran up them, no problem.  It was so fun.  There were a few other people running up them.  I got to the top.  Took this picture:

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Then decided I wanted to do it again!  Like running up the stairs was a ride.  The second time I ran up them I even video taped it.  But it’s a terrible video, so I shan’t be sharing that here.

I've never actually seen Rocky. That's not a problem, is it?

I’ve never actually seen Rocky. That’s not a problem, is it?

Rocky statue at the base of the stairs.

Rocky statue at the base of the stairs.

I ran back to the hotel, cleaned up, grabbed brunch and headed back to the airport.  My Philly adventure had come to an end.

Conferring

I’m attending the Organization Development Network (ODN) conference this week.  Overall, the conference experience has been fine.  I have some opinions about the way this conference was run, but that’s another post.  The first day of the conference was Sunday and there have been some hits, but mostly misses for most of the first two days.  Then at 4:30 yesterday I attended a session and it’s been hits for nearly the last 24 hours.

I’m going to just take a moment and stream of conscious review what’s happening.  The first is that it’s hard to be in the OD space and not have it be the magical experience my grad school experience was.  I’m struggling to not have my cohort with me to work through the ideas and topics.  Phooey to real world!  I think I just miss those people and that place and I’m reminded of that most when talking about OD topics.  I moved through that feeling the first day or so, and by last night was ready for these topics of mindfulness and emotional intelligence.  I love the topic of emotional intelligence and my ongoing quest to be self aware is a big part of EI.

This gentleman, Dr. William Brendel, led a session on Mindfulness in the Organization.  He was the best speaker I saw during the conference; intelligent, engaging, encouraging, and compassionate – which might sound like an odd word to describe a speaker – but it is what it is.  During his session he made asked the audience if anyone had a current mindfulness/meditation practice and about half the room raised their hand (I did not).  He then said that was great and if you didn’t, you should see him after the session.  He made a few jokes during his session and one that I was the only person who really laughed (and laughed kind of loudly) and I thought I have got to stick around and meet this guy.  I just want to know this person.  So, I stuck around after the session and there were a few others who made a few comments and he is polite and really discusses the ideas they’re bringing forward.  Three of us stayed in that room for the next 45 minutes.  It was the first time at this conference I felt really glad I had attended.  It was a smart conversation, one woman responded to something I said really strongly in a positive way and I was happy I made her think, the speaker hugged me as we all left – which is kind of an odd thing to do – but it was what it was.  Right?  Since his presentation centered around letting things be what they are and not what we try to make them – I rolled with it.  Oh, and I told him I was prompted to visit because I didn’t have a mindfulness practice and he tells me to go to You Tube and search his name.  He has a whole channel of guided meditations.  That’s kind of awesome and I’m going to try them out.

I started to loosen up.  I felt the energy you get from a great conversation.  I headed to the networking evening/poster session review.  I equate poster sessions to a science fair.  These are individuals who may be testing out a thesis, didn’t have time to get a full workshop together, etc and so they set up a small table or easel and you swing by, they talk about what they’re doing.  It’s a great concept to get a quick hit of new ideas out there.  I walked straight to the table talking about applying Emotional Intelligence.  This fantastic British man starts talking about the work.  I probably talked to this guy for at least half an hour.  The work they are doing is exactly the kind of work I want to do.  I will probably have to move to London to work with this company someday.  The company is called JCA, and they do all kinds of intervention, workshop, leadership and EI work.  My fantastic Brit, Rich, gets more excited the more questions I have for him and he’s explaining it all in a fantastic British accent.  He introduces me to what they call the “OK Corral”.  I couldn’t find an example on their website, so I recreated the chart.  It blew my mind in the way that’s it is such a simple approach to how we bring our attitude towards others into our interactions.

I'm confident this is a copyrighted tool, so please don't steal it, ok?

I’m confident this is a copyrighted tool, so please don’t steal it, ok?

My fantastic Brit of course explains the model using words like “wanker” and “bloody ass” and at one point “fuck”, and it was just this fantastic mix of Downton Abbey meets Malcolm Gladwell kind of moment for me.  Anyway, what this company has done is add the layer of attitude on top of typical EI models.  It’s all well and good to be self aware, but what if I think you’re an idiot?  I’m aware that I think you’re an idiot.  So, awareness doesn’t help us here, we have to go deeper into the attitude.  At one point I teased fantastic Brit about something and he responded saying that he had enough regard for himself that those comments don’t phase him.  That’s the trick.  If I have high regard for me and I have high regard for you – then we can do the work we need to do together.  But if I think you’re stupid (and chances are, I might) then I get critical and judgey.  In a few situations where I feel I’m not OK and have high regard for the other person I get really intimidated.  E.g. anytime someone younger than me is doing something cool in the workplace.  It was just a great way to not reinvent a tool, just add a layer to it and make it more accessible, make it better.  I loved how easy this was to get and to talk about.  Must move to London.  Five year plan, maybe?

The hippie dippie midfulness/self awareness theme kept going this morning as we did an Open Space event.  Open Space is a way to have a meeting that is self governed.  Even the agenda is created by the participants.  The room is set in a giant circle and in the open space in the middle are sheets of blank paper and markers.  Our facilitator – Harrison Owen – the INVENTOR of OPEN SPACE – explained how the day would work, explained that people were to acknowledge that whoever showed up to the topics were the right people, whatever is discussed is the right thing, and whenever it ends is fine.  If at any point you’re not contributing or not learning, use your two feet to go somewhere else.  Once he opened up the middle, many conference attendees wrote out a topic – they had to then say it out loud to the group – no speech about it – just a one phrase topic they wanted to explore with the other OD peeps in the room.  Then they put them all on the wall.  Eventually the topics got organized and the person who wrote the topic convened in a corner of a room, out in the hallway – wherever.  Then you went to the topic you were drawn to.  We did 3 rounds of this.  The first round I joined a group that had the title “How to get people past their biases and get them to be curious.”  There were 7 of us in a small circle and we had a fantastic discussion.  It’s amazing how quickly we fill in the story about other people, their intentions and their lives.  We all do this – we have to create judgements to give our world context and order.  I didn’t speak up a ton during that conversation, but paid close attention to what others were saying and certainly had an inner dialogue working around what was being said.  The moral of the story, and the one point I did make early on, is that the question might need to be reframed – I can’t get people past their biases – I can only get myself past mine.  I can only show up as curious about other people.  There was a woman in the circle telling this story about how fearful her colleagues were to be self aware and the group kind of called her out on not being curious about their reactions.  Why isn’t it okay that they be scared?  Why isn’t it okay that they choose to not follow the path she did?  I was glad to hear I had those thoughts about her comments before someone else in the group said it.  I’m glad I can hear that and want to call her attention to her own biases.  Anyway – great discussion with interesting folks.

The last big moment of this day just ended a bit ago, right before I came back to my room to write this.  Earlier, when all the topics were being presented, a man spoke up and read from his paper, “I’m curious about how we can build magical spaces.”  I’m drawn to anyone who uses the word magic.  It’s a brave word to use in an academic setting.  But this man with smart, kind eyes holds this idea up, and on the wall it goes.  I found myself standing next to him just a few moments later when everyone was reading the topics and deciding where to go.  “Magical spaces, huh?” I said to him.  He looked at me, smiled sheepishly, and said, “Yes.  Are you interested?”  I assured him I’d be there.  Sometimes you just recognize a kindred spirit.  When that session started, he told the story about the genesis of that topic.  His father was a psychoanalyst and had a home office.  It was made very clear to this gentleman and his sister when they were younger that they not go near the hallway or the office during sessions.  As a boy, he thought his dad’s office was a magical room – people came in, something happened in that room, and they left healed.  He talked about even sneaking in when his dad was out and reading his father’s notes to try and understand.  To his dismay his father wrote in a kind of shorthand that he couldn’t read so it all remained a mystery.  I got this kind of instant crush on this guy, right?  He was soft spoken, yet had a sense of wonder.  I’m not describing it very well.  This group was larger, which I was surprised by – and only a little dismayed by.  I can’t lie – I would have been happy to just chat with this guy by myself for an hour and explore this idea.  The group had some interesting thoughts, and some points were made.  I won’t go into all of those here.  It was enough that I remembered the idea of magic.  This concept that I believe in.  I’ve said before that I don’t particularly have religion, but I believe in magic. And not fairly tale, Disney magic.  It’s such an intangible concept that it’s impossible for me to describe.

It did get me thinking about times I’ve felt like I was in a magical space.  I may have to think about that some more before I write about it.  I was happy enough to be reminded of it, and by such a kindred spirit.

With that, I’m going to spend my last 20 hours in Philadelphia exploring the city some more.  I have a large Ben Franklin statue to find, a shopping district to window shop along and one more great restaurant to try out.  Tomorrow I run the Rocky steps and then home for a while.

Feel fine vs. being fine

A few weeks ago, my wise pal Claire says the following:

I worry that you keep trying to convince yourself it is okay rather than working on getting to okay.

My elegant reply was:

Huh?

I said, aren’t those one in the same?  Isn’t convincing myself I’m okay how one gets to okay?

No, she says.

I’ve been letting that marinate for days.  Slowly, it started to become clearer to me – what Claire was telling me.  I wasn’t doing things that helped me get to okay.  I wasn’t being interesting, or learning, or enjoying my days.  I was just going through motions telling myself I was fine and then completely losing my stuff every now and then.

So, I decide to start watching a Ted Talk every morning.  It’s a way to think about a new idea, listen to people with passion and wake up with questions and ideas about the world.  It’s going really well.  I like this new routine.  It helps me have interesting things to talk about, guides me to look up more about an idea, encourages me to listen to music or get more sleep or avoid monogamy – whatever the speaker might be advocating.

Then, I took a drive through West Virginia.  Most of the time I think I don’t like nature, and then something will happen and I will realize I am wrong.  The weather was perfect, the trees were a mosaic of fall colors all the way up the mountains and I was enjoying every moment of it.  And the drive became a way to leave some bad feelings behind me.  I feel like I found some peace on the drive.

WV2

Today I read this article, by my new guy, Mark Manson.  He writes the following:

Our culture reinforces this subtle form of selfishness, this constant identification with feelings and wanting to feel better. But feeling better is not necessarily being better. This fallacy is present in our advertisements, in our political speeches, in our films and literature, in our self-help industry. If you feel bad then it is bad. If you feel good then it is good. “Go with your intuition.” “Listen to your gut.” “Follow your heart.” “Live for today.”

Clearly, Claire could become a rock star essayist.  This is the idea she was trying to get me to understand a couple weeks ago.

The rest of the article is worth a read.  It’s about fear of simple things – and how we perceive our actions to be so much harder.  For example, How could I possibly tell my parents I want to quit medical school when they really wanted me to go?  Easy answer: You tell them you’re quitting medical school.  Mr. Manson gives a few examples of these things that we’re making so much harder, when from the outside they are so simple.  How do I ask that guy out?  Well, you go up to him and ask him out.

I’ve been in this introspective tailspin for what seems like ages now. I’m starting to think it’s been worth it.  I’m starting to see how some things come together.  And when I’m really on the other side of this, I’m going to be so much stronger because of all the work I’m doing right now.  It doesn’t always feel good, but it’s the right thing to do for me.

 

I like helping.

Yesterday was a bad day.  Nothing happened to make it a bad day.  Nothing except creepy old demons popping up in full force.  I’m soooo over the demons.  Being a “silver lining” kind of gal, there was one moment that was really positive.  I had a good idea.  (Insert Sports Night joke here…)

I’ve read a lot about habits and patterns and trying to change them.  The one big take away I had from that line of study is that habits exist in three phases: trigger, behavior, reward.  One of the worst habits I’ve picked up lately is delaying getting out of bed.  But I don’t hit the snooze and get a few more minutes of sleep, I grab my phone, pull up Netflix and turn on an old rerun of some show and lay in bed, slowly waking up while listening to something I’ve certainly seen before.  Yesterday, in a moment of clarity, I thought – fine, keep the behavior, but start your day with something better than old 30 Rock reruns.  Grab the phone and pull up a Ted Talk.  Start your day with a new idea, someone talking passionately about their life or how to make the world better.  Trigger: waking up, behavior: watching something while consciousness seeps in, reward: staying in bed the extra few minutes.

Keep the Ted Talk thing in mind while I tell the next part of the story.

(But first, a note.  Because I’m about to talk about still being all blue and broken from the last relationship.  What I have done a bad job at, and maybe because I didn’t even know how to verbalize it myself until recently, is explaining exactly what is wigging me out so completely.  I don’t want the ex back.  I broke up with him for reasons and those reasons solidified and multiplied with his behavior since the break up.  I’m wigged out because I am shocked at his behavior towards me.  The other disservice I’ve done to myself is letting myself near any electronic device after a couple of drinks.  Because what I tend to email or text to the ex is the end of a thought or conversation I’ve had in my head – and without the logic that got to that conclusion – he assumes I want him back.  The thing that wigs me out so much is that I became the villain in this story.  I wanted to get married.  I was willing to make sacrifices and compromises and live a life very different than the one I had imagined for myself because I loved him that much.  He wasn’t in love with me.  He wasn’t ready to talk about that kind of future.  I could tell.  I could tell in his pulling away.  I could tell in his avoiding certain discussions.  But he wouldn’t man up and break up with me so I did with him.  I couldn’t love him as much as I did and have to find enough to love me as well.  It was honest and brave – to break up with a man I still had soo many feelings for, soo many plans for… What wigs me out is that he couldn’t be as honest and brave back.    He had to turn me into the villain and himself into the victim so he could avoid taking responsibility for any part of this.  We could have parted amicably.  He could have said, “Sarah – this is so hard.  You are so great and it’s been amazing to get to know you better.  I understand that we are both trying to be active and present in our lives and our current long distance situation does not facilitate that. ”  Or something like that.  Instead, for the last five months I’ve been carrying around the broken love and broken plans and broken pictures of us in the future AND all the blame, when his actions are what led to the break up.  He was relieved I did it and he didn’t have to.  Why can’t we just tell the truth about this?  I’m wigged out by him not being at all the man I had hoped he was.  That he said he was.)

I busted out my trusty copy of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert a few nights ago.  There are a few passages that have become like a best friend’s advice for moving on and dealing with my stuff, especially when it comes to men.  One of her most famous passages by now is the conversation between her and Richard from Texas about soulmates.  Recently, Gilbert was with Oprah on some kind of speaking tour and I ran across this snippet, where they talk about that passage:

She says in the clip (if you didn’t watch it – which you should – it’s 2 minutes) “Whatever they fired up in you, you might have needed fired up, and then they need to go.”

If I look at the last relationship through that lens, it helps.  I loved D so much that I looked like crazy to get a job in Ohio.  I wanted to be closer to him.  It was going to take something that massive to drive me from the pretty comfy life I had in St. Louis.  To leave my family, to leave my perfect apartment, to leave my park and Farmer’s Market and Claire and Ex Hubs and my routine… I landed in Ohio just fine.  Maybe his job was just to bring me here, where professionally I’ve had more opportunities than I could have imagined in St. Louis.  I’m better connected to the work, to things that challenge me.

So – now you have the habit/Ted Talk part of the story, and the Elizabeth Gilbert fan girl part of the story.  This morning, after my rough mental health day, I woke up, grabbed my phone and pulled up her latest Ted Talk.  She just did this one a few months ago.

I just love her.  Watch the video – it’s about 8 minutes long.  Recently I wrote about the purpose article and how it struck me, and I think she has some of the same lessons.  What are the yearnings, what makes you forget to eat, what kind of crap can you put up with because putting up with that crap is better than not doing what you love.  “I loved writing more than I loved failing at writing.”

She goes on to say that after the success of Eat, Pray, Love she was struggling with creativity and felt a lot in common with her unpublished diner waitress self.  This bit spoke to how I felt yesterday.  For some reason, by last night, I was back in the worst place about this silly break up.  I knew it had to be more than about not having the guy anymore.  First, he was a nice man, but he’s not for me for the long haul.  Logically, I know that.  Second, I’ve been through break ups before.  Why was I back in the worst emotional place?

It’s because I feel empty.

For about a year surrounding my divorce I felt I was in a place where all I did was take.  I took energy from the universe, kindness from friends, all the pity I could get and I gave nothing back.  I tried to right that the next few years.  I thought of the first half marathon I ran as part of that atonement.  I was raising money for the disease my cousin died from.  I ran 13.1 miles because I didn’t love it.  Because I knew I needed to do something outside of me.  It’s hard to explain, but I feel I had gotten to a great balanced place.  I was giving a little more than I was taking and I was happy.

Then I moved to Ohio.  And I gave a lot.  I gave all this love and energy and attention to someone who I thought was deserving.  I put a lot of my own wants aside to be what I thought he needed.  And I would have kept doing it if I hadn’t bought a house that needed someone to stay and work on it over the weekends.  I would have continued to go up there most weekends, plan and pay for trips, make special dinners and special plans, compromise some of my key values because they were very different from how he lived, get Cleveland Browns t-shirts… the list goes on.  And some of that is okay – some of that is relationship stuff.  But I failed to get what I needed back.  I continued to show up and ask “how can I be nice to him today, how can I make him feel special and loved and important?”  I never got that back.  So, sure, I had this coming, right?  I saw what was happening and I let it happen.  I could have broken up with him for any of those reasons too, but I didn’t because I loved him.  And I was making choices.

And now I feel empty.

There’s an emotional bank, right?  Have you heard this metaphor?  There are going to be days that are emotionally hard hitting.  Days I hurt someones feelings.  If I’ve made deposits in that person’s emotional bank, then hopefully the withdrawals can be weathered.  By making me the villain in this story, by not acknowledging and validating all the efforts I made, there were no deposits made in the ole emotional bank.  But I kept spending.

And now I’m empty.

Back to the Liz Gilbert Ted Talk.  What do you love more than you love yourself?

I like helping.  (You were wondering where that title was coming from, yes?  No?  Moving on…)

After my semester in Disney, I realized I wanted to go into hospitality because I loved answering the tourist questions.  I loved being the person with answers.  Even in what should have been a dark time after getting let go from the casino in 2011, I had these part time jobs that let me help people AND talk about food all day!  I loved helping them pick out chocolate and master the mandolin (cooking one, not the instrument one).  I got a master’s degree because I wanted to help organizations be what they were supposed to be.  I love when strangers stop me on the street and ask for directions, and if I don’t know, I stand there and google it for them!  I offer to take pictures of families in front of land marks so they can all be in the picture.  I like helping.  This is the thing at the core of me.

I feel empty and it’s hard for me to help anyone right now.  I gave a lot this year.  But at least I feel like I’ve finally figured out what the demon is that I’m trying to slay.  I need to find a way back to helping.

From my pal Liz Gilbert (because I really do feel we are pals) and her Facebook page:

Maybe this is just a year that asks questions.

Maybe this is just a year that asks questions.

Quinn and I will just have to figure out the answers.

Quinn and I will just have to figure out the answers.

Cards Against Humanity

This freaking game makes everything fun.

Have you played???  You need to play.

Warning – it’s a little dirty – so drinking helps.

7 of us went through some lousy vodka, many beers and at least 4 bottles of wine.  I’m not sure who drank what, but I’m pretty sure I drank a lot of the wine.

I made pumpkin penne and pumpkin cupcakes and the Cardinals won the game.   All of these things are good.

I may be just a tad toasted.

Most of my "gang".  Missing the Canadian consultant.

Most of my “gang”. Missing the Canadian consultant.

The delicious cheese tray - including a baked fig brie.  As one does.

The delicious cheese tray – including a baked fig brie. As one does.

How cute are Rex and Mackenzie Mackenzie (she's so great we have to say it twice)?

How cute are Rex and Mackenzie Mackenzie (she’s so great we have to say it twice)?

Oh Chris.  He's our dreamy consultant.  And tonight he had almost all the good cards.

Oh Chris. He’s our dreamy consultant. And tonight he had almost all the good cards.

IMG_9771

Darryl is a boss. If he were a cartoon character he would be the bear who sings “Bare Necessities”.

Almost nothing makes me happier than a house full of happy guests.  I so adore this group.  We mingled, ate dinner, enjoyed pumpkin cupcakes and just had so much fun playing this silly card game.  Laugher is sooo good.  As is wine… as is sleep.  Good night.

I may have drank 2 bottles of wine all by myself.  Good night, friends!  :)

I may have drank 2 bottles of wine all by myself. Good night, friends! :)

 

Sometimes, web articles nail it

Alternate title: The art of sitting still

I’ve had this article on my mind for over a week now – where did the time go?!

(Oh yeah, it went to hosting one of two dinner parties in the past week, Zombie night at the Science Center, Birthday recovery, entertaining my aunt and uncle in town for the day and prepping for the 2nd dinner party which is 8 people coming to my house…)

I follow enough hippie dippie stuff on Facebook that every once and again an article about living my best life crosses my path.  I often click on them, thinking if I get even a nugget of good advice, then it will be worth it.  I rarely do.  Until this one…

7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose by Mark Manson

I clicked through and the frankness of the author’s tone and the opening anecdote hooked me.  I read all the way through, nodding and feeling inspired.  I emailed the article to my old grad school cohort, encouraging us all to revisit the development plans we made, to continue to hold each other accountable.  I got several responses from my ex-classmates and one in particular stood out to me.  I’ll get to that in a minute…

The opening paragraph that was so fetching to me was this:

“One day, when my brother was 18, he waltzed into the living room and proudly announced to my mother and me that one day he was going to be a senator. My mom probably gave him the “That’s nice, dear,” treatment while I’m sure I was distracted by a bowl of Cheerios or something.

But for fifteen years, this purpose informed all of my brother’s life decisions: what he studied in school, where he chose to live, who he connected with and even what he did with many of his vacations and weekends.

And now, after almost half a lifetime of work later, he’s the chairman of a major political party in his city and the youngest judge in the state. In the next few years, he hopes to run for office for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong. My brother is a freak. This basically never happens.”

I love the phrase, “this purpose informed all of my brother’s life decisions.”  

Purpose.

One of my former classmates told me the story of her son, and how he always knew he wanted to be a pro football coach.  Everything he does – school, internships, activities – points him there.  He just joined an SEC college team as the youngest coach on staff.  He’s tuned in to his purpose and I was happy to hear that story.

I felt a really strong purpose for myself in 2012.  My word for the year was FOCUS and I had three objectives – school, work, run.  And every decision I made did indeed fulfill one of those purposes.  I didn’t drink on Friday nights because of long run Saturdays.  I got over the fact that it was kind of a dead end job because it allowed me to go to school.  While I got my 13.1 tattoo, Claire and I were discussing one of my assignments.  Seriously – I had a purpose that year.  Even to an extent in 2013, I had a purpose… Get a new job and preferably in Ohio.  Put that master’s degree to work.  And I did.  I had some goals in 2014 – buy the house, involved in ACMP, etc, etc… but I think I’ve lacked clarity.  Or, I had clarity and it broke.  Or, it was cloudy clarity.  Moral of the story is I’m floundering.  Good news is, I manage to still be successful at work and engaging enough to make some friends while floundering.  Bad news, I am lacking purpose.   I don’t mean existential purpose, I mean Focus.  What am I really after right now?

hunt pinterest

Back to the article.

“1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR OF SHIT SANDWICH AND DOES IT COME WITH AN OLIVE?

Ah, yes. The all-important question. What flavor of shit sandwich would you like to eat? Because here’s the sticky little truth about life that they don’t tell you at high school pep rallies:

Everything sucks, some of the time.”

Mr. Manson goes on to say that everything includes an element of sacrifice, even the stuff we love to do.  We sacrifice time, another activity, etc each time we make a choice.  What struggle or sacrifice are you willing to put up with?  

Luckily, I love my job.  I love my work and can’t think of a sacrifice I had to make for it, outside of seeing my family less.  The few bad days or rough spots I’ve had have hardly seemed like a struggle.  Moving on…

“2. WHAT IS TRUE ABOUT YOU TODAY THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF CRY?”

I used to be able to spend hours playing with dolls or toys, making up elaborate story lines and character development.  Through high school and college I was involved in theatre – mostly painting or building big things that brought stories to life.  Even 8 or 9 years ago I was thinking about creating elaborate “bits” for Ex Hubs or casino employees.  I have a hard time being alone with my thoughts enough to get back to that imaginative, creative place.  I have said for some time that I’m not great at being alone with my thoughts, and that seems to have gone into overdrive lately.  I can barely get out of bed unless I have a tv on.  I can’t cook or do the dishes without 30 Rock reruns in the background.  I’m making a more conscious effort to from tv/movies in the background to music (love Spotify! I’m a late adopter.  Love it.).  I think my 8 year old self would be surprised we don’t act or play or imagine.  

“3. WHAT MAKES YOU FORGET TO EAT AND POOP?

We’ve all had that experience where we get so wrapped up in something that minutes turn into hours and hours turn into “Holy crap, I forgot to have dinner.”

Supposedly, in his prime, Isaac Newton’s mother had to regularly come in and remind him to eat because he would go entire days so absorbed in his work that he would forget.”

While I don’t love the word choice, it’s a great question, right?  And I think it goes to where is your passion?  The place I get lost for hours is writing this silly blog.  A post last week took me three hours by the time I found the right pictures and crafted the story the way I wanted and thought about flow and word choice.  I sat down at 7pm to write a quick recap and next thing I knew it was 10:15.  Tonight, I’ve been at this for about 45 minutes now.  I know that because I popped some cupcakes into the oven, set the timer for 30 minutes and I had barely gotten warmed up when I needed to get them out of the oven.  

The author states that he loved video games – got lost in those.  But really it was the competition against himself he liked.  I like to write.  I could channel that into writing papers or articles or crafting research.

“4. HOW CAN YOU BETTER EMBARRASS YOURSELF?

Before you are able to be good at something and do something important, you must first suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing. That’s pretty obvious. And in order to suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing, you must embarrass yourself in some shape or form, often repeatedly. And most people try to avoid embarrassing themselves, namely because it sucks.

Ergo, due to the transitive property of awesomeness, if you avoid anything that could potentially embarrass you, then you will never end up doing something that feels important.

Yes, it seems that once again, it all comes back to vulnerability.

Right now, there’s something you want to do, something you think about doing, something you fantasize about doing, yet you don’t do it. You have your reasons, no doubt. And you repeat these reasons to yourself ad infinitum.

But what are those reasons? Because I can tell you right now that if those reasons are based on what others would think, then you’re screwing yourself over big time.

If your reasons are something like, “I can’t start a business because spending time with my kids is more important to me,” or “Playing Starcraft all day would probably interfere with my music, and music is more important to me,” then OK. Sounds good.

But if your reasons are, “My parents would hate it,” or “My friends would make fun of me,” or “If I failed, I’d look like an idiot,” then chances are, you’re actually avoiding something you truly care about because caring about that thing is what scares the shit out of you, not what mom thinks or what Timmy next door says.

 

Great things are, by their very nature, unique and unconventional. Therefore, to achieve them, we must go against the herd mentality. And to do that is scary.

Embrace embarrassment. Feeling foolish is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful. The more a major life decision scares you, chances are the more you need to be doing it.”

I’m going to just let this section speak for itself.  Embarrassing myself is something I’ve got down, friends.  Moving on…

Start watching around 1:10 if you don’t want to do the whole clip

“5. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD?

In case you haven’t seen the news lately, the world has a few problems. And by “a few problems,” what I really mean is, “everything is fucked and we’re all going to die.”

I’ve harped on this before, and the research also bears it out, but to live a happy and healthy life, we must hold on to values that are greater than our own pleasure or satisfaction.1

So pick a problem and start saving the world. There are plenty to choose from. Our screwed up education systems, economic development, domestic violence, mental health care, governmental corruption. Hell, I just saw an article this morning on sex trafficking in the US and it got me all riled up and wishing I could do something. It also ruined my breakfast.

Find a problem you care about and start solving it.”

Kids.  In several ways, I want to save the world by saving the kids.  I want to help all the foster kids.  I want to make public schools so much better.  And in one that seems counter intuitive, I want to protect the abortion law.  Because I think people who have made the choice to have an abortion believe that they are not the right people to raise children and I respect that.  There are enough unwanted children.  I struggle with being “ready” for foster kids, but I could get involved in Big Brother/ Big Sisters again.  I could volunteer more time.  I could join the campaign to fight Missouri’s new ridiculous law about the waiting period for a legal medical procedure!  Do I have to wait three days to get an appendectomy?  A colonoscopy?  I know this is a very passionately fought argument on each side and I don’t mean to start debate.  I just mean to point out there are things I’m passionate about.  I need to start saving my part of the world.  

“6. GUN TO YOUR HEAD, IF YOU HAD TO LEAVE THE HOUSE ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

For many of us, the enemy is just old-fashioned complacency. We get into our routines. We distract ourselves. The couch is comfortable. The Doritos are cheesy. And nothing new happens.

This is a problem.

What most people don’t understand is that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it.2, 3

Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-and-error process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.”

True Story: Claire invited me to Zumba class with her for about 3 months before I actually went.  She kept asking me, kept telling me I’d like it… finally I went.  And I can safely say it made a huge impact in my life.  I fell in love with the instructor who was amazing to me and for my self esteem.  She and I remain friendly to this day even though she lives in Las Vegas now and I am here in OH.  I fell in love with Zumba – with dancing to loud music, little instruction, and feeling strong and happy.  Passion is the result of action, not the cause of it!   We don’t know what we’ll love until we try it!  So, if I’m forced to leave the house, I’m probably stopping at a great Zumba lesson.  

My aunt and uncle are on their way to Buffalo, NY and stopped in Columbus for the day this past weekend.  I took them to this quirky bookstore in German Village, The Book Loft.  The Book Loft has 32 rooms of books and the hallways wind around, it’s a funny place.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a bookstore because… Amazon.  It was so wonderful.  I wandered.  I browsed.  I bought a book called 100 Things to do in Ohio.  I’m going to start doing them.  If I have to leave the house all day, I like to see stuff.  And then if it’s cool I want to tell other people about that stuff.

“7. IF YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO DIE ONE YEAR FROM TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?

Most of us don’t like thinking about death. It freaks us out. But thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and distracting.

What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? Is there anything to say at all? If not, what would you like it to say? How can you start working towards that today?

And again, if you fantasize about your obituary saying a bunch of badass shit that impresses a bunch of random other people, then again, you’re failing here.

When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them, they don’t know what their values are.

And when you don’t know what your values are, then you’re essentially taking on other people’s values and living other people’s priorities instead of your own. This is a one-way ticket to unhealthy relationships and eventual misery.”

Yes.  This last section.  This.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I want the things I want, lately.  The problem is, I want everything.  And I don’t mean stuff, I mean experiences, ideas, credentials, etc.  I have something between an identity disorder and an impulse problem.  Someone tells me they’re taking a trip to Egypt – and suddenly I feel less than because I’ve never been to Egypt.  A few days later I realize I do not want to go to Egypt, I just want to be cool and interesting.  Many people have a PMP certification, I think I need one to be accepted, to be taken seriously.  You know what?  I don’t!  I can read a book, get some of the lingo and move on with my life.

There are a few things I know for sure that I did/do for me and not someone else’s priority.  Grad school, trying veganism, flying to NYC to see Arcadia on Broadway, running the Tink 1/2 marathon…  But so many other things I do because my knee jerk reaction is to do what other people are doing.  I’m sure this is tied in with my comparison stuff… I’ll let Claire work that out for me.

 

There you have it.  The article that has made me think.  The article that has me asking questions.  And if you have any time at all, read some more of Mr. Manson’s work.  I devoured about 6 of the articles in the first sitting.  He’s on to something.