I figured, since I am a writer now, maybe I should write you a love story. You certainly deserve to have a story written about you, my Steve, after all that you’ve given me. But here’s the thing… because there’s always a thing, isn’t there? I don’t know how to write a love story that’s half as interesting as ours. Nor do I have it in me to write a character who is quite as much of a character as you. You’re a one of a kind. Our love is that way, too.
On the other hand, if I could write my character to be one that you’d deserve in this great fictional love story, she’d be a little bit like me, but a lot not. That idea is rather nice, come to think of it, to be able to fix a few of my non-fictional flaws. So, here goes:
Fictional me would tell you more often how much she appreciates you cleaning up the kitchen in the early mornings when she’s still sleeping. Like me, she doesn’t care to clean the kitchen. She also would never complain if the dishes weren’t quite as clean as she’d like them. Fictional me yells a lot less than real me does.
Fictional me would also try more often to wake up earlier and enjoy that first cup of coffee with you. Early mornings are special to you and fictional me would be better about getting out of bed just early enough so that she wouldn’t be annoying. Fictional me would be a better fake morning person than I am.
Fictional Becky would be less critical, more encouraging, and laugh more often at your jokes. She would also be able to eat like a horse and still be thin and sexy 24/7/365. She would be more daring on hikes, more daring in the passenger seat, and even in the sack. Oh, and my fictional me would be less argumentative, less opinionated, and less complicated in the emotional department because dammit sometimes it’s just not necessary.
Alas, I am non-fictional Becky. I can’t be my perfect, or your perfect, or anybody’s perfect version of who I should be. I can just BE and hope that today’s me is good enough and maybe tomorrow’s will be a little better. But here’s the other thing… because they work in pairs, ya know! I will spend today and every day loving you as good and as hard and as best as I can. You are my very real Steve and our love is very, very real. And we both deserve nothing less than our very best try.
I love you, Steve. Happy Valentines Day!
I am hard-pressed to find anything in my heart but compassion for those affected by the bombings and other violence in Paris yesterday. It pushes any thoughts of hatred out. It makes no room for xenophobic ideas. I don’t worry that any one person’s religion inherently makes her/him good, bad, or otherwise. That job is up to the person.
What do I worry about? That our world has become so uncompassionate that I need to announce that I still am very much compassionate. Rose-colored glasses? Sure, I’ve got at least three pair lying around here somewhere. What of it? Why am I bad because I want, expect, dream of us at our best? Not bad? Okay, why would I be called silly, or unwise, or unthinking because I reach for my ideal life and expect others to do the same?
Are my ideals too unrealistic for you? Do they make you feel too small because of their largeness? I’m not sorry for you. I have only one life. I want to make mine as big in ideas and actions as I can. Don’t you?
I had a dream, once, that I was a spontaneous woman. Sadly, in my waking moments I’m a consummate ruminator. I tend to think over my next move, my next word, my next thought even, for a long time. Spontaneity is not my strong suit. That fact usually doesn’t bother me, but every once in a while it feels like a character flaw.
Steve, on the other hand, is my polar opposite when it comes to spontaneity. Rarely does he think about words before they come out of his mouth. It’s gotten him in trouble more than once, but I still see it as a great boon, personality-wise. Even if he does inadvertently hurt my feelings on occasion, or sometimes say things that are incredibly offensive, he’s just as quick and ready with an apology.
The thing is, he is also the most spontaneously generous person I know. So spontaneous, as a matter of fact, that it could be completely accidental.
I’m okay with that.
Here’s an example: Steve and I were sitting together in our spa (which we call the bubbly tub) on a recent afternoon and he suddenly popped out with “Hey! You have some gray hairs growing there,” as he pointed to my forehead. Before you go thinking something like well that’s not exactly a sweet compliment let me add a couple of important details. First, I’ve had gray hairs growing here and there for about 6 years. Also, his hair is at the 70:30 gray vs. brown point, so it’s not as though he were jeering at my oldness. Also, also, as soon as the words came out of his mouth, he said “I like them! They look nice!”
Is the generosity part evident yet? Maybe not, so let me elaborate. It literally took him years to notice in me the one physical characteristic we most immediately associate with old age. Years! He sees me every day, in all kinds of weather, too. Sunshine has surely glinted off my scattered gray hairs more than once in his presence. But it took him that long to notice.
(here’s me stepping onto my soapbox)
I like to feel pretty. Americans don’t consider any sign of aging attractive and I am, sometimes unfortunately, a product of my society. In spite of that, I’ll sport my gray hairs proudly and reframe my definition of “pretty” to include them. Not because Steve likes them, though. No. I proudly wear my aging because it is important to recognize and celebrate me at every age.
(this is me stepping off that soapbox)
Even more recently, Steve surprised me with another spontaneously generous blurt. He and I are currently cutting calories to lose weight (I am purposely avoiding the term dieting. Dieting is BAD). I am, to reiterate the point, a product of my upbringing though, and in the 70’s and 80’s we dieted. I struggle to move away from that mindset, but it still pokes me in the ribs on occasion.
Also in the 80’s, process and progress were unimportant. We were only happy when the scales displayed our goal weight and not before. Anyway, two days ago, I weighed myself just out of the shower and told Steve, with what was certainly a disheartened look on my face, “I only lost four pounds.” And before I could breathe my next breath, he said, “That’s a lot. Think of how big a four pound roast is!”
How sweet and generous is that?? He immediately, spontaneously, accidentally displaced my disappointment with a happy sense of relief. I imagined strapping a four pound roast to my belly and YES it is a lot of weight! As a matter of fact, it’s 1/10th of my overall goal and that’s not nothing.
I’m lucky to have someone in my life who accidentally makes me feel loved and good about myself, yes? I sure wish there were times that I could spontaneously make Steve feel good about himself in much the same way. Everything in life is a trade-off, though. I’m not spontaneous, so that will probably never happen. Instead, I should keep this in mind: it’s likely that I give Steve other kinds of unintended boosts when he needs them. I sure hope so, anyway, because the chances that I’ll become a spontaneous person are about as likely as the chances that I’ll choose to basejump off El Capitan.
There’s about a 0.00000000001% chance of that happening, in case you were wondering.
I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating. ~Sophocles
I don’t understand why people cheat, in life. Generally.
Why cheat? Is that how you want others to think of you, as a cheater? As a person so unsure of her value that she has to “enhance” it? Fake it to tip the balance in her favor? I just don’t get it.
Think about this:There’s makeup, plastic surgery, facial peels, implants, rogaine, viagra, all marketed to appeal to our insecurities. American consumerism says we are what we buy. Do you want to be judged on all that stuff? Because in my mind, it paints a picture of weak, silly, and shockingly insecure. We’re a whole damn bunch of sick, sad cheaters.
Because we’re not happy to be ourselves.
Here’s one example: I’m not sure if I consciously go bald faced, but I rarely wear makeup. I only put it on when I want to feel especially fancy. Maybe it’s because I’d rather not spend the extra time in front of the mirror – I can be showered and ready to go in under 30 minutes. Or maybe it’s because I’m lazy. Making up my face takes a lot of effort. The point is it’s fake, all that makeup and stuff; it’s a way to cheat reality, to make us, falsely and temporarily, feel better about ourselves.
In case you’re wondering, I do realize that wearing makeup is also a means of self-expression, like clothing choices are. But does your makeup (the face you show to others) define you or does your character (the face in the mirror)? Everyone will answer that question differently, and that’s as it should be. But if it makes you uncomfortable to even consider, or you can’t/won’t answer that question, chances are you might need to spend a little time thinking on it.
Because, instead, we could focus on what really matters. Does accentuating my brown eyes have any real bearing on my personhood? Of course not. That’s the reason I don’t wear makeup much. I’d rather be doing things that feed my soul: I’d rather meditate or weave or write a poem, maybe. Those pursuits “create” me into the person I intend to be. I want to be unique and interesting and worthy of others’ attention — I’m no different than anyone else — but I don’t want it because of some makeup hack I learned on Youtube.
All that stuff, the “cheats” we buy, they’re false shortcuts. Focus attention away from the mirror and toward whatever it is that’s making you feel like less than you want to be. You’ll find real answers there. It’s not the quickest way to “look your best”, but I promise you this: eventually you’ll notice a sparkle in your eyes, and that’s a beauty unlike any that comes from your makeup case.
I find it interesting that in the English language we don’t have masculine or feminine words, like other languages do; French and Spanish come immediately to mind. Yet we assign, as a culture, masculine and feminine traits to words. Powerhouse, for example.
As Americans, we attribute maleness to any word related to power. We see it as manly to be powerful. Even 45+ years after Gloria Steinem first took to New York Magazine to chronicle and highlight the growing Women’s Liberation Movement, power is still, in a subconscious and deeply ingrained way, a man’s game. That fact is unfortunate for so many reasons, but let me dive into just this one.
I am, at my very depth, thoughtful. I put more time and effort into consideration of my daily words and actions than some people put into doing their yearly taxes, which is to say, a lot. I am a ruminator, a cow chewing her cud. I think things through thoroughly and honestly and wholeheartedly, so much so that my decision-making is usually a tediously slow process. The upside is that once I’ve made a decision I stand very firmly on it. You could say I’m stubborn, and you would be right, but my stubbornness comes from a position of power. My powerhouse is thoughtfulness.
Another definition of powerhouse is a generating station. In common terms this means the generation of electricity, but I’m going to expand that and say it should mean to generate and distribute whatever individual, unique powers we have. And by power I mean our innate intention, our most powerful and resilient and individually characteristic human quality. Your power is likely how you are described by the people who know you best. Most people have more than one, for sure, but some, like Mother Theresa have one that seems to fill their entire soul.
Here’s why I like this word, powerhouse: it’s a “place” where power is both created and distributed. You make your power and you also send it out into the world. I can’t think of any better way to live, creating and giving away the deepest and most valuable part of who we are. It’s enriching for us, as individuals: When we’re focusing attention on our deepest and most authentic selves we can’t help but grow deeply satisfying lives. But there’s a community component here, too: We’re all a single piece of a giant, Earth-sized puzzle. And if you’re not filling your spot, who is?
We’re all born with certain strengths, certain powers. I am convinced that we are meant to use our powers to support and grow our community, our world really, into its best version, while we grow ourselves. It’s not such a leap to suppose that if we’re all busy growing these rich inner lives that the community would also be gaining the benefit of that wealth, too, is it? And if for no other reason than that, we should take back our power, in aid of our communities. But isn’t it an even better idea to take it back for ourselves?
So tell me, what’s your powerhouse?
Don’t get me wrong, addiction is no joke. I have dear friends and relatives who have suffered with/through/around addiction and I know the heartache and struggles addiction brings with it. If you have or know someone with an addiction, get help! Start with a simple google search, like I did for this post, on “overcoming addiction” and go from there.
The rest of this post is not intended to be quite as heavy as life threatening addictions can be – it’s more a self-lament and, hopefully, step toward freedom.
I am a Facebook addict. Really. Checking Facebook is one of the first things I do in the morning and last things I do before bed at night. When I’m bored I’m most likely to grab my phone and tap that app, that beautiful, giant blue F. But I hate it, generally. I really do.
Everyone has an opinion about everything, but more and more frequently those “opinions” are no more than a bashing of the opposition. That’s not helpful, nor does it further any sort of intelligent discourse. Then there are the cute dog videos and kitty pictures – I’ve been guilty of posting my share, plus a few of my adorable bearded dragons – these are mind-numbingly redundant; likewise baby pictures. I understand you’re newest bundle of joy just simultaneously turned 268 days old and spit up a Picasso-esque clot of pureed vegetables, but we saw the same picture three times last week. Oh dear, the reposts, the political angst, the stupid memes!
I’m trapped, though. I am a co-conspirator to all things evil in social media and I hate myself every time I log in. So, it’s time that I figure my way out of it. Of course I started with some research about addiction.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is, in short, “an inability to consistently abstain” from a given substance, behavior, or activity. And by that definition, I am, indeed, a Facebook addict. I have gone so far as to delete the Facebook app from my phone, only to find myself logging in over Safari. In case you’re shaking your head, it’s okay. I am, too. I found some helpful information, though, when I searched the term “overcoming addiction.”
The top 10 google results included a few Christian-based advice sites, an article in Psychology Today, advice from Dr. Phil, and even a 13 Step wikiHow article. There was even a link to advice for beating your addiction to pornography… I chose not to click on that one. I’m no prude, but I’d rather not have that come up on my list of visited sites if the NSA ever takes an interest in my internet activities.
I’ll jump into the variety of advice with Dr. Phil. He’s a big advocate of self-assessment when it comes to addiction. One helpful question I found on his list was “What are you using your addiction to avoid?” Well that’s a loaded question, now isn’t it? My guess is most addicts aren’t prepared to answer such a question without a little coaxing. In turn, you may see my analysis of the question as a direct avoidance of answering it. And you would be correct. The truth? When I sit down and scroll through post after post of Facebook fluff, I’m avoiding my writing. I have some hangups about my writing and Facebook lets me ignore them. It also gives me a place to write silly little blurbs about some of the things that I really give a damn about, AKA the things that I should be turning into blog posts or articles or books. So yeah, it’s a place to hide from my fears.
There, I said it. And the Psychology Today article “Overcoming Addiction” reinforced that point for me when it advised that “the awareness of the relationship between addiction and symptoms of … anxiety is essential.” The more anxious I get the more likely I am to partake in my addicting behavior? Well now that’s a pattern I’ve seen before.
One of the more interesting revelations I had during my research was a kinship with the advice of Joyce Meyer on the Christian Post site: “True freedom is knowing who we are in Christ and that we are valuable because Jesus died for us.” Without delving too deeply into religious territory, I’ll rewrite that statement the way it sounded in my head – “True freedom is knowing who we are and that we are valuable.” To be brief, I am too much of a skeptic to be a good Christian (or any other structured religion) believer. Here’s the kicker for me: toward the end of the article this statement appeared, “Don’t try to do anything without praying.” I know prayer gives a lot of people strength and direction, but I’ve never found that, so I’m not a subscriber. Plus, I happen to believe that as I grow and improve as a person I am capable of what I put my mind to. Which is not to say I have any issue with those who are fervent believers. I like the gist of that quote, though. Having a deep understanding of ourselves and an equally deep trust that we each have our own intrinsic value is unquestionably important. Also, I’m pleased to know I appreciate good advice no matter whether I agree with its context.
Of course, there were some repeating themes, like, “the hardest part is deciding to change,” or “admitting you have a problem is the first step. ” True, but not very helpful in a practical way. wikiHow had some good advice in it’s 13 Steps. For example, “brainstorm a list of all the negative side effects” and “make a list of positive changes.” I like those. They’re good action items (for those of you in the corporate world, or up on the Top Ten Hippest Business Buzzwords).
One reassuring finding is that addiction has a genetic link. So when I claim to have an addictive personality, the Harvard Health article on overcoming addiction supports me in my belief. Why is that reassuring? Because what I’ve seen over and over again in my own family is this: addictive behavior isn’t the problem, truly. The problem lies in what you become addicted to and how that choice affects your life. There are far worse things to be addicted to than Facebook, to be sure, but I’d prefer to be addicted to my writing. That’s an especially helpful perspective to have since another recurring theme was finding other activities to replace or distract from the addiction you’re trying to break. I like the idea that the end result of my replacement behavior is the creation of new, never seen before material. Whether it’s good or bad is beside the point. To have spent my time in the research and then creation of a piece of written work that slakes my curiosity should prove to broaden me as a person. And that, ultimately, is what I’m looking for – to learn about life and my unique place in it. Is there any better reason to break an addiction than that?
I may as well start from the beginning.
I just turned 49, so I’m living out my 50th year on earth, starting today. Right now. And that seems momentous to me. I’ve always wanted to be a “wise woman,” and 50 seems like the perfect age to claim that title, doesn’t it? The problem is, I don’t think it’s one of those titles you’re allowed to self-proclaim. Like, I’ve heard people call themselves a “thought leader” and my first reaction when that happens is, NOPE. No you’re not. That title is earned and it’s not true unless it’s attributed to you by others. Same with wise woman.
So, my goal, my intention, over the course of this next year, and for all my years afterward, really, is to earn that title.What will follow this first post is your guess as good as mine. Like life and a good sour dough starter, these pages will evolve and become what they’re meant to become over time. I’m aiming for wisdom, but I can’t say for certain whether I’ll reach that goal. I’ll try really damn hard, though, and hopefully I’ll strike a cord every now and then.
If letting things evolve naturally, untethered by concrete plans or expectations, makes you uncomfortable, you might not be my target audience. Or maybe you are and you’ve never let yourself think so boldly before? I’ll leave that up to you. Either way, I hope you’ll read me every once in a while. Even more than that, I hope I can entertain you, provoke thought or a hearty guffaw, inspire kindness or a slightly off-kilter way of thinking. If I’m able to do any of those things, even once, then I’ll feel as though the goal I set myself is worthy of my attention. And I hate to waste anything, especially my attention.