It’s okay if you cry

You’re feeling confused and maybe a little scared. Go ahead, cry. It’s okay. Life is overwhelming. There’s so much to do. You don’t know where to start. Even if you did know where to start, you’d second guess yourself anyway. You’d convince yourself that you were wrong and then you’d get confused all over again. So yeah, go ahead, cry. Let it out.

Everyone else is just so on top of it. They know where they’re going and why and how and they’re flying toward that goal like Icarus toward the sun. While inferior you sits on the sidelines and feels nothing but envy. That awful green stuff in your gut that makes you dizzy and nauseous. It’s not fair is it? Everybody else in the know but you’re in the dark. So really, it’s okay – cry. Cry great big buckets of giant tears. Fill the pool or the Jacuzzi with them. I understand. I really do. Let it out. Cry.

You failed. That hurts. A lot. You don’t know why you failed and that hurts more. A lot more. It’s not that you aren’t trying. You are. You’re trying so hard that your brain cells are blistered, your mind is bleeding, and your soul is circling the drain. Go ahead. Cry. It’s really okay.

Then tomorrow….

Start again.

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Celebrating the Small Stuff

This week I did a series of picture posts on my Facebook page. I’d read somewhere that pictures were more popular than links or straight text on Facebook and based on my small ‘experiment’ it does appear to be true. Pictures do seem to get more attention on my page.

For me, that was good because I spend a lot of time with text, words, concepts and sometimes, a picture really does speak better than any word you can come up with. Or maybe pictures coupled with the right word is the real winning combination.

The picture post that got the most attention is the one I used above.

So, why would that message resonate more?

Getting lost in the big stuff

I think that people get lost in the big stuff. I know I do. Chasing the dream of being a best-selling author, is a good example of the big stuff I want to celebrate. I pray I will be able to celebrate. I fear I won’t ever celebrate. And I doubt there is any author who doesn’t feel that way.

We all have dreams that we chase. Some more realistic than others but important to us, nonetheless. Despite any proximity to reality.

But the problem with getting lost in the big stuff is that we miss all the wonderful little things that happen to us, for us, and around us. The world is a big, beautiful mystical place and there are probably hundreds of moments a day we could celebrate if we chose to.

So, here is the small stuff I’m celebrating this week:

♥ Puppy Lily absconded big dog Emma’s bear (stuffed toy) and guards it with all the ferocity of a bear. Did I mention the bear is bigger than she is?

♥ Dinner with my friend Andy. It was just us barbecuing a couple burgers in my backyard and then later going to Starbucks for coffee. Then hours of talk about anything and everything.

♥ Phone call with Jenny. My best friend who lives in Texas and whom I miss terribly. Quote from her son, “I touche a Guinea pig and now I’m sick.” You just can’t make that kind of stuff up, right?

♥ I finally figured out scene 86 in my book.

♥ The grocery store had daffodils on sale – $1.99 for 10 stems, I got 20. Today they opened. What a beautiful sunny scent!

♠ I discovered tiny little tomatoes on my tomato plants. Six of them. Big news!

♥ I had heavy cream for my coffee this morning. Heaven.

♥ A favorite client contacted me out of the blue yesterday.

♥ Spring is finally here.

Maybe it’s just gratitude

Maybe all I’m really talking about is feeling gratitude in my life. And if I am, that’s fine with me. I want to feel grateful for everything in my life – even the small stuff. Even the bad stuff. Because it’s all part of this mysterious game we call life and you can’t appreciate the good without the bad. The highs without the lows. The exciting without the boring. Right?

How about you, dear reader? What is the small stuff you’re celebrating this week? Did you finally master that cookie recipe? See a beautiful baby? Hug a puppy? See an old friend? Witness an incredible sunrise? Feel free to share any or all of it.

Have a great weekend.

Annie

All the good things that happen to us every day

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Happy almost New Year, everybody. Hard to believe that another year has passed already, but it has. I look forward to what the new year will bring. In the meantime, I am still struggling with my Christmas cold, which came upon me a couple of days before Christmas and has hung on pretty tightly since.

It’s been a fun fest of cough medicine, tissues and late night coughing. I mean seriously, how much snot can one head hold?

I don’t know about you but I can be a pretty big baby when I’m sick and even I wish I could leave the room when I’m like that. The incessant whining, the sad eyes, the stooped posture. Yikes. And ironically, since it’s one of those bad head colds I can barely talk, so all my complainng comes out in Minnie Mouse like squeaks and squeals. Not a pretty thing, my friends.

However, it’s gotten me thinking. In my quest to beat the cold into submission, to meet it headlong in battle with light saber raised and determination glinting in my somewhat crusty eye, I realized it’s a losing battle. Yes, I can take the meds, get rest, drink fluids, and eat chicken soup but the thing is, the cold will take its course no matter what I do. All my focus on dare I say obsession with it, doesn’t do much to change it.

And from there I thought, it’s kind of how life is. We get slapped around and we fight back and then we get slapped some more. We get up and rattle our light sabers but then somebody kicks us in the head. It’s messy. It’s bloody. There’s lots of drool involved. And our all consuming focus on the problem only makes things seem more futile.

So I wondered if maybe it was a smarter to just let it be. You know what I mean? Just say, “Well, okay, that sucks.” And then move on. In fact, when I have been able to do this, often the problem works itself out.

Okay, what’s my point? Yes, I should definitely get to the point. The point is that what we focus on is what we get. Right? If we focus on problems then problems we get. But what if we focused on the good things that happen to us every day? And I promise you, no matter how bad you may think things are for you, good things do happen to you every day. You may not notice them, but they happen.

So maybe the trick is to start noticing those things. All those tiny little, lovely things that happen to you every day, like:

  • The email you got from an old friend because you sent them a Christmas card
  • The unexpected gift from a friend that arrived just when you were feeling low
  • The wag of your dog’s tail or that special purr from your cat
  • The snow on the mountains that you can see out your bathroom window
  • The guy who let you into to traffic or the lady who let you cut in line at the grocery store
  • You sold a book
  • You got a review
  • People you don’t even know read your blog or make a nice comment
  • Somebody retweets you
  • Starbucks sent you a coupon for a free coffee
  • Sunrises
  • Sunsets
  • The freedom to get on the Internet and bitch and moan about anything and everything
  • A great new book to read

The list goes on and on. Every one is really, truly a tiny little miracle. To be celebrated and appreciated and paid forward.

So, I don’t know about you, but I’m going out to look for the good things. Tiny as they may be, I know they’re out there. And as long as I have tissues to daubs my runny nose and eyes, I think I’ll be able to see them.

How about you? Do you notice all the little good things that happen to you every day? How did it make you feel? Feel free to share.

Annie

A real life story for Chuck

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Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge this week is to write not fiction but a story. A real one from my (your) own life. This one was hard.

Everything was off that day. And I found myself looking around, as though I could spot a clue or explanation for it — out there in the world around me. But everything looked normal.

I couldn’t make sense of that niggling burn in my stomach – the team of butterflies gnawing at my insides. The specter over my shoulder that made me cast backward glances.

And the foreboding stayed with me for the rest of the day.
I went to work. Everything went wrong. Customers complained. Food orders didn’t come out right. And the cooks were more surly than usual. But who could blame them? A quivering, red-eyed, sad-faced waitress just doesn’t say, “At your service,” does it?

Things went so badly that by the end of my shift the manager pulled me aside and asked if I was having emotional issues. She asked in mock sympathy if I needed medical leave. She inferred that if we had a repeat performance on the next shift I’d be looking for another job.

When I finally got out of there, it was an hour past the end of my shift and it was pouring. I ran across the street to my car, getting soaked to the skin. And as soon as I closed the door, I broke down and sobbed. Still utterly baffled by my feelings of dread and despair.

The drive home was surreal. The physical world mirrored my mood — dark, lonely with only a sliver of light to lead me home. The only thing that kept me driving was the promise of a large glass of red wine.

But when I walked inside my little house and saw the flashing message light on my answering machine I forgot about the wine. I stared at it. I knew that flashing light and whatever message it foretold would explain the day. The dread. The tears that started again.

I sat on the floor in front of the machine and listened to the rain tapping on the window, urging me to press PLAY. I couldn’t. I knew I didn’t want to know. I knew it was bad, so bad that if I pressed it, my life would never be the same.

I lit a cigarette and stared at the little flashing light some more. I ached for that glass of wine but couldn’t move from that spot.. And when I finally couldn’t stand the anticipation any more, I pressed PLAY.

It was my stepmother. “Hi Anita, it’s Leona. Well honey, your dad passed away today. I’m sorry.” Her voice cracked. “We love you.”

Note: Even though this happened over 20 years ago, I still can only write about it from a distance. As though it’s a hot stove I’m afraid to touch.

Be afraid, be very afraid…

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Not long ago I read a blog post about fear. The blogger went to great lengths to rant against how the government, media, and capitalists were all manipulating us with fear to get what they want.

Ironically, during the rant there were a few fears thrown in for good measure – global warming, government intrusion and guns. These apparently were the good and legitimate fears that we should all believe in.

After reading the comments, I could see that by and large the readers agreed with the post and related some of their own experiences with fear being used as a manipulation tool. Various solutions were suggested – though nothing new or startling.

What’s missing here?

But here’s the thing that the post seemed to miss. There is a reason fear is used in anything from news reports, politics to selling widgets – it works. So then, rather than just ranting about fear and manipulation perhaps we could drill down into the topic further and examine not the use of fear, but why fear works as a manipulation tool.

Fear works because:

  • Everybody has a bias. If you can tap into that bias, then that person is yours for the asking.
  • Most people hate being bored and modern life creates a lot of boredom. Let’s face it, modern technology has taken much of our critical thinking away from us. We don’t need to pursue information in earnest anymore, we have Google and Wiki. And they are happy to do our thinking for us. Hell, we don’t even have to drive or parallel park our cars anymore. Technology will do it for us.
  • Sensation is king among humans. This is a bit of an extension from the boredom bit. Humans love to feel stuff. They love the rush. It interests them, it kicks in endorphins, and it relieves their boredom. Otherwise, no one would ride a roller coaster, sky dive, mountain climb, read horror novels, or go to horror movies or truth be told, watch the news. Sensation makes humans feel alive.

What to do about fear manipulation?

You could do many things about it, if you had the will to do so. If you are the kind of person who is strong willed you can simply refuse to give into it and go about your business

Though the better solution might be to find a hobby or activity that interests you and creates more sensation than the lookie-loo joy of watching blood and guts parade of the nightly news.

But above all else, and you’ll hate me for saying this,  I think we need to stop seeing ourselves as victims. So what if capitalists, marketers, and politicians lie and use fear to manipulate? None of them is holding a gun to your head. You don’t have to take the bait. You don’t have to see yourself as a victim.  You can actually take responsibility for your own fate and pursue what is important to you in life.

This is not to say that I don’t sympathize with people who are truly victimized. Crime, abuse, violence, natural disasters, illnesses, and accidents are all equal opportunity victimizers and there is usually no rhyme or reason or discernible why. But that is the exception to the rule. Most things you can walk away from and refuse to be victimized by:

  • Mean words
  • Critical comments
  • Being cut off in traffic
  • Liars
  • Jerks
  • Ass-hats
  • News reports
  • Celebrity spats
  • Opposing political opinions
  • Stupid things said by public figures

You can trade in that fear for something that excites and interests you. By doing so you might find it makes you happier in the long run.

How about you? Do people in your life try to make you afraid? Do you take the bait? Or do you ignore it and go about your business? Regale us with your stories in the comments.

The Grumble List

I don’t know about you but I have a few pet peeves. They’re really small unimportant things that I shouldn’t let bother me – but no matter what, this stuff sets my teeth on edge. Some are universal and some may just be me. But since I’m in the mood to grumble, here they are:

Men proclaiming to be feminists. Now, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, I understand it’s an attempt at compassion or empathy. Still, sorry fellas, if you’re not a woman, you’re not a feminist. I mean, when was the last time you spent a job interview having some guy stare at your chest? Or called you honey or baby at work? Don’t even get me started on mechanics, auto salesman, salaries and everything else.

Auto dialers, auto responders, auto messages, auto tweets. There’s nothing quite as heartwarming as having somebody from a phone center auto dial you and not notice when you’ve answered the phone. Although sometimes the conversations you overhear while the jackhammer doesn’t know you’re listening can be great material for characters. Ditto on auto responders, messages, tweets – anything that just comes automatically and has little similarity to a human being.

Pets and children out of control. In a park or a Chuck E. Cheese you definitely expect kids to be running around like wild unrestrained creatures but not in a restaurant, or a grocery store. I understand that kids are hard to handle and parents are often overworked, stressed out and so forth. But when I see a kid climbing the grocery shelves while his mother is talking to her BFF on her cell phone I want to call Child Services. Same with dogs running loose. Sure, in the dog park, not a problem, in your yard, also not a problem. But when I’m walking my little mutt on a city street and an unknown Doberman bounds toward us without an apparent owner in sight, I’m not amused. Especially when the owner (who eventually appears) laughs and says he’s harmless.

Cashiers who hand you your change and receipt all in one stack, without counting it back to you. What are you supposed to do with a receipt, bills and change all dumped into your hand? You know the person behind you wants you to move so you can’t stand there and separate it, especially since his shopping cart is butting up against your butt. And I’m glad that the cashier has counted my change back to him/herself because if it’s good enough for him/her, heck it’s good enough for me.

People who expect you to be their audience. I know a few people who a seriously lacking in conversational skills. Their idea of a conversation is for you to stand there while they espouse their opinion on something, a topic you aren’t even interested in, and essentially tell them how brilliant they are. If you dare to interrupt them with an opinion of your own on the topic, you usually get a wagging finger and a blunt, “I’m not finished yet.” Sorry, I’ve got news for you buddy, I’m totally finished.

What about you? What sets your teeth on edge and drives you up the wall? Have you found a way to not let it bother you? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments.

Writer Chick

With your whole heart – Are you all in or all out?

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I’m one of those people who does things with their whole heart. I can’t be halfway. I’m either all in or all out. It’s just how I’m wired. Some see it as a character flaw because you know, I take things to heart. I take things personally. Because to me, it is personal. I mean anything that is part of my life is personal, isn’t it?

Sure I’ve tried to develop a thick skin and act like things don’t matter. It’s just a job or a crappy review, or some guy I didn’t want to date anyway – whatever it doesn’t matter. But doesn’t it? If it’s part of your life, it is personal. Doesn’t it have to be? I think so.

I once had a friend who told me she puts things in boxes. In her head. Must be a pretty organized head, right. You know? This argument goes in this box. This catastrophe goes in this box. My grocery list goes in another box. Wow, I sit back in wonder of people who can do this. I can’t.

But the truth is, I don’t want to live in a box. I want to live in the waves that threaten to drown me and tap dance in  thunder storms wearing my tin foil hat. Wail like a banshee when something hurts. Laugh like an idiot when something tickles me. I want all the colors in the crayon box. And I don’t want to color inside the lines either. Vivid, bright colors that make you shield your eyes. I want to talk loud when I’m excited, wear red lipstick just because, and paint my nails purple because it’s pretty. Eat the whole loaf of bread I just pulled out of the oven and slather it in butter.

Life is there to live, to experience, to try, to fail, to sometimes succeed. Maybe even to fly. So…with my whole heart I choose to aim for the skies. I’m all in.Always. Come what may.

What about you? Are you all in? All out? Do you feel with your whole heart? Do you hold back because you’re worried what people will think? Do you take one cookie when you want 10?

Speak with your whole heart (or whatever part you care to share) in the comments.

Writer Chick

Father’s Day Blues

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Every June I sing the tune of missing you
Where are you, Pop?
Over the moon?
Watching a game
Having a beer?

I wonder about that.
You’re gone
But where did you go
When you left
This place called life?

Can you give me a hint?
Drop me a feather
Paint a little picture in the clouds?
Just a little celestial wave of the hand
So I know you’re still out there.
Somewhere…

So I know
You think about me sometimes too
Just every now and then
No pressure
I’ll listen between the sighs
Real hard
For your laugh
Okay?
It’ll be our secret

Copyright 2015