The Kindness of Strangers

Be Kind - We are all fighting

One of my goals for this year is to be more flexible, specifically to relearn how to do splits. While I am not exactly the creaky old crone I could be, I am definitely not as flexible as I used to be. Aging? Already? This one I can work on.

Got tested about a different style of flexibility this weekend. Hand plans to spend the weekend with the man & his family for Superbowl, a birthday & a few other things. Due to scheduling some work in another city in between Charlotte (where our families are) & Wilmington (home), we weren’t able to drive in together. Which meant I got to come into town early & spend some time with the little dude (& of course the rest of the family). What we didn’t plan was his car cracking up & leaving him stuck in Wilmington.

After a trying week for both of us & not getting to see each other much, it was not ok. I wanted to scream. Bummed to say the least.

After the initial anger, we both agreed it was better to just relax and enjoy our weekends even if not as planned or even together. ENJOY. There is my word of the year again. So I’m trying. There are worse things that easily could have happen. Still sometimes life is just frustrating. Today as I watched my nephew have a breakdown because he didn’t want to take his nap, I thought about how maybe we as adults should embrace the meltdown tantrums. Just release the feelings & express ourselves. Then again should I be taking life advice from a 20 month old? Probably not. Have to admit hearing him yell my name in his little munchkin voice to come save him from his daddy trying to get him to sleep kind of melted me.

Although it’s not quite the one I wanted to spend the weekend with, at least I get to watch the big game tomorrow with one of my favorite guys. Still making memories & suddenly I have more time to read now. Maybe I will even get to knock out another book on my way to 50!

Recently I did finish a book that I have to say surprised me.

I’m a big fan of catching Amazon freebies & when I saw that one about someone traveling across America by hitchhiking I thought why not? So I added The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America to my stash & didn’t think much about it. After finishing Wild, I really wanted something travel related & discovered this find again on my Kindle. Thanks to a blog I read regularly, Crazy Running Girl, I also discovered there is a bloggers’ book club that has started up by Sarah Ohm where we get a topic each month to read our interpretation of & then blog about the books read. Right up my alley! January’s theme is Motivational Book, which Kindness of Strangers ended up being for me.

The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

No I’m not going hitchhiking anytime soon, but this memoir by Mike McIntyre did inspire me to think about how kind people really can be. I’ve started looking at people walking near roads a tad differently too.

Mike finds himself in a place where he isn’t sure of his life. Frustrations with a relationship and career lead him to decide to toss aside his job, responsibilities and fears and walk from his home in California to a place on the east coast called Cape Fear. Which strangely enough is where I live! Truth be told the Cape Fear is a river and the Cape Fear he is heading towards is just the area considered as the river basin for that river. He doesn’t realize this but the whole time reading I was confused by his talking about going to Cape Fear, North Carolina. “No such place” I would mental argue each time I read it.

His rule is simple. He is going to get from California to North Carolina, coast to coast, without a single penny. No cash. No credit or debit cards. No checks. Nothing. Not carried on him & not accepted from anyone along the way. In this era (he did this trek in the mid-90s), this concept seems absolutely crazy. Completely letting go of control and trusting that he will find people to provide a place to stay, rides, food and the occasional necessities like a bathroom or shower once in a while.

Equipped with a sign and a backpack he starts off simply thumbing from town to town. Along the way he meets some very unique characters as you might imagine. Knowing this is a true story both gives me faith in people and scares me slightly. You really just don’t know who to trust and who not to sometimes.

“Sometimes those who give the most are the ones with the least to spare.”
Mike McIntyre, The Kindness of Strangers

I won’t give away much more, but I did find his travels very entertaining. His leap of faith is one I don’t think I will ever be brave enough to attempt, but my wanderlust is rev’d up. I’m more likely to trust the wilderness of nature like Cheryl Strayed in Wild than the people along the highways across the US!

“There was a time in this country when you were a jerk if you passed somebody in need. Now you’re a fool for helping. Gangs, drugs, murderers, rapists, thieves, carjackers. Why risk it? I Don’t Want to Get Involved has become a national motto.”
Mike McIntyre, The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

Something to think about. Are you the kind stranger or the one who drives past?



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What should have been

It is one sad weekend around this house.

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Football season in my eyes ended this afternoon when referees saw to it that the 49ers got handed the lead over my beloved Panthers.  Still stand 100% behind the crew & I refuse to cheer on anyone else at this point.  To me NFL season is over today.

For once I was grateful not to be at the stadium.  Too say I didn’t keep my cool would be a nice way to put it.  Like I have said before, you mess with those I love & treat them unfairly & woe be you.  Time and chilling at home has calmed me down some but I still feel like we have been robbed of a great opportunity and I don’t understand why.  What I do know is there is nothing I can do about it other than start counting down the days until the draft party that starts the next Panthers preseason.

Acceptance of disappointments that I can not change is a theme this weekend.

Yesterday would have been Mom’s birthday & looking back I should have planned on it effecting me.  I thought I would have been better by now, but grief isn’t like that.  It truly is like waves that come and go.  I miss her & a lot lately I just want to call her up to vent or ask a question or relay a message in that way she had to other family members.  The gaps are still there and the pain still stings.

If I was still living solo I probably would have spent the day in bed not talking to a soul other than when my sister called to check in.  Dad was off camping with his cannon buddies, so I feel like he was taken care of.  My sister had friends coming in to visit, so she was good.  I didn’t think that maybe I would need the support too.  Luckily I had it by my side.  Thankfully he is a heavy sleeper & I did most of my “ugly cry” sobbing while he was still asleep.  Baxter however made sure to snuggle especially close.  Dogs just know.

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Reading also is helping me.  At one point before dawn I got up & made some tea & started a new book, Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman.  Sometimes the right thing gets to you at just the right time.  This is one of those times for sure.  Just at the start but already relating very closely and I recommend this for woman who is struggling with the loss of their mother.  A lot of the information is about those who have lost their mothers at a young age, but in a lot of ways it doesn’t matter the age.  Support systems play a big role in healing and I found myself realizing that not having one certainly has made the impact of her passing feel bigger.

Thankfully I am working on that and having Mr Man here to hold me & comfort me was luxury.  Still not feeling entirely like we aren’t just having a long sleep over as best friends, but I guess that is how good relationships should feel.  I just have to get used to it & remember it is ok to enjoy it without worrying about when it will end.  Scary as it is I am grateful that while mourning the loss of one loved one I am able to feel loved and valued.

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Even if she wasn’t here to celebrate I made sure to have cake.  He last birthday cake was angel food, so I picked one up.  Got it just to feel the comfort and connection to that day a year ago when we celebrated by her bedside watching her determinedly feeding herself spoonfuls of cake, strawberries & whipped cream.  Thinking about it afterwards I have to laugh at the obvious pun of having ANGEL food cake.  Then again it very easily could be a simple new tradition of remembrance.

& yes of course I made a wish.

Pretty sure she would have & would have wanted me too.  Moms are just like that sometimes.

Why Hello Nov

How on earth is it possibly November already?

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The time is going much faster than I realized.  Just doesn’t feel like it should be here yet.  Enjoyed my Halloween night, probably more than I should have, but still I forget it means the end of the year is so close.

Decided that whatever happens this month, happens.  I am going to try best not to expect too much.  Tradition will come back in time.  This year we just need to be together and support each other.

That & I am going to focus on non-holiday goals as distractions.

Which speaking of goals… I achieved one MUCH quicker than I thought I ever would!  At the start of the year I joined the GoodReads.com challenge to set a goal number of books to read in 2013 & by the end of October… I have done it!

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Thought with my history of not finishing them last few years, that 2 a month would be a stretch!  Here I am at 25 instead of 24 with two whole months left to go.  So I will keep going & who knows.

Now will I be able to write a novel in a month? We shall see.  Again it is NaNoWriMo and I’m jumping in.  Why not?  50,000 words in 30 days, who says I can’t? Others have.  Shall see.

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Definitely feeling inspired today!  Starting something new with a new idea.  Who knows where it will lead.  Something to publish? Something just for me?  Or something for the recycle bin!  Either way it is all in the experience.

Still debating on which 5k to do this month.  Thought for sure I would be registered for one by now, but nope.  Dragging my feet.  Why I just don’t even know.  Part is the decision.  This one or that one.  Course I guess there is nothing that says you can’t do two a month!

Oh yeah & toss in all the normal daily stuff.  Should be an interesting month!

Beware the Books with Boys on the covers

I can no longer go to the book store that sits a block from my house.  Thanks to a frigging kids book on the discount rack.

Just enjoying a few kids books delighting in the pictures and stories & remembering days where I was tucked in & read to nightly.  I was lucky enough to come from two parents who encouraged reading & took the time regularly to read to us.  When we were old enough they were sure to ensure library visits or shopping trips had us stocked with tales to read on our own.  There were many days that I was kept out of trouble due to being glued to discovering what worlds lie within two covers.

From time to time I peruse the racks and check out the children’s section in addition to the more age appropriate ones.  Usually I get bored pretty quick and move on.  For some reason, maybe it is the season of the inner child, I found myself reading a couple during my visit today.

However, I was not ready for the book with the smiling kid tearing up the toilet paper on the cover.  Looked innocent and playful enough.

Why does this book sit there without any warning labels or indications of what lies between the covers?  Waiting to strike its pain to those when they least expect it.  Confused?

Wikipedia summarizes the story as…

As the story begins, a son has just been born. The story then continues through the life of the boy until he is a grown man. The mother continues to rock her son to sleep singing “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Later, the role is reversed and he holds his elderly mother and says “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my Mommy you’ll be.” At the very end of the story, the mother passes away and her son is the father of a little girl, rocking her to sleep; singing the same song that his mother used to sing to him.

While I knew with a title like Love You Forever it might be sentimental, I was NOT read for the tears falling & the crushed feeling I got.  Lets just say I didn’t get to the part where the son has his own daughter or the mother passes.  The image of the son holding his mom was all I could take.

There it was midst the goofy stories of animals exploring life and learning, various editions of familiar takes retold in countless ways and simple words for babies board books.  Like a black widow spider hanging out in the playland ball pit.  No foreboding or hint of the way it can swiftly change a happy day into sorrow.

Try to play it off like I had something in my eye, but that didn’t really fool anyone especially when I started the sniffling.  UG!  Yup… I am now able to say I have broken down in a public place.  Check that one off my life or bucket list.  Great.

Maybe it is the season or stress of everything going on or perhaps it is the evil words of the pages with pictures.  Book burning anyone?

Thankfully the reviews from places like Amazon make me feel a little less alone in my weepy experience.  Sounds like this is one that tugs at many heartstrings.

& some people dare say books are boring! Ha!

Honoring Patricia Monaghan

Some books seem to come into your life by divine intervention.  They are there with the words you need to read at just the right time.  Patricia Monaghan wrote several of those such books for me.

Sadly she passed on from this world this weekend on November 10th, 2012 after battling cancer.

For me she gave me a sense of connection at a time when I was blossoming in my realization that divinity was not strictly a male characteristic and celebrating the goddesses celebrates the divinity within.  Her books warmed my heart and provided guidance many times.  She had a gift of being able to seamlessly rope together stories & myths of cultures spanning the globe in unity.

 

She understood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and shared her experiences having it in the family.  She faced the monster of cancer when she lost her husband, Robert Shea, and her words inspired me to feel like the way I felt wasn’t so unusual after all.  In her writing, The Spirit of Chaos and the Chaos of Spirit, which originally was published in the  SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2005 issue of Quest magazine, she put it better than ever I had heard before: “Nothing is “just right” when someone you love is terminally ill.”  You learn to accept the chaos and try to roll with it knowing that it isn’t right & nothing will ever make it feel so.  His advice to her is something I discovered and strive to achieve “He once told me that the secret of happiness is to live like you have cancer, but not actually have cancer.”  If only it were easy to live life like we didn’t have the tomorrows to push off those things we want to do.

Her books also brought truths to light.  Through hard times, I could look to them for inspiration or at least some comfort and a feeling of kinship.  As she wrote in the forward for the Goddess Path, “This book is not the path; it is only a signpost on the road.”  So many times advice on troubles or choices can be found in books for me.  Her texts seem to always have answers I needed to hear as I walk my path.  I feel truly blessed for those signposts accompanying me.

Thankful that they live on even now as she has left.

If ever there is doubt that one life doesn’t effect

others, she is proof to me.  Even though I never met her she has blessed my life many times over and continues to do so.  Every one is connected and we all can impact others.  Who will our ripples into the world touch?

“This is out world, our life, our death.  And divine force resides in all of it, even in what seems monstrous to our eyes.”  ~Patricia Monaghan, from November 1oth in the Goddess Companion

The Dare – Student Edition

Caffeine has nothing on enthusiasm.  Another day wide away before I need to be.  Just too excited to get going to the next phase.

Virgo: Travel plans that you have been working on for a while are finally taking shape now. Or, perhaps, you’re enrolling in an educational program, making your upcoming journey a mental one. Either way, you’re at the threshold of a great adventure and previous resistance continues to fall away as Mars in your sign gains speed. Fortunately, you receive an extra boost of help today from the practical Sun-Pluto trine, so focus on a single goal and work to make your dreams come true.

Sounds like I am right where I need to be.  Love it when you do something because you know its what is right for you & then you end up getting all these confirmations that you are exactly where you need to be.

Yes its slightly scary to take the leap, but I know now I have wings & with the effort, I will soar.

End of another chapter on the resume.  May seem slightly sudden, but its been coming for a while.  I am feeling wonderful about it & ready to start working towards my next phase in life.   The experience was valuable.    So the application is in, transcripts are on their way and my FAFSA is in the works as well as plans to get by for however long this ends up taking to build the dream.

I’m putting my money where my mouth is & walking the talk.  If you only live once, there is no reason to wait a moment more to reach for the dream.

Also time to be slightly realistic & make a plan!  So the plan. (yes… again the Virgo is going to try to plan!)  This time I am less afraid & more focused on getting through the tough times to where I want to be.  I am in a holding pattern til I can confirm if I will be starting school in the summer session or the fall.  Also need to confirm on the financial aspects.  The age old do I do the student loan question.  I have never had one before, but this time I don’t expect anyone to pay for this but myself.  My parents and both sets of grandparents were kind enough to bless me with my bachelors degree.  My PHR was paid for by a former employer.  These building blocks certainly are paying off & I am truly lucky to have had them.  Now to use them to grow on.  Sure scholarships & grants would be great but most I have found are for undergraduates and single moms.  (PLEASE feel free to alert me to any that I may qualify for in the comments! I am very open to working on getting them & if your lead pays off, who knows I may reward you.  Don’t get too excited though I will be a college student on a budget!)

So again the plan, or the challenge I am setting for myself:

  1. Work out at least 4 times a week 30 minutes
  2. Keep waking up by 9:00 am for at least 5 days per week
  3. STUDY!  No sense waiting for classes to begin learning.  Time is now.  Learn vocabulary, concepts, forms etc.
  4. Improve typing speed
  5. Live on $100 a week (But I am changing the rules on this one)

Each week I am going to limit myself to $100 per week to eat, entertain myself, etc on.  This will not include bills, gas, medication or pet expenses.  It will include clothes, food, going out, all that extra stuff.  Again there is a way to add to the amount!  Achieve in order to get more.  Reward system.  Budget living again, but with hope.

As before – Any food in the house or anything given to me won’t count cost wise.  Also I can and will find ways to earn cash. Still resolving not to touch the 401k!  To add to the weekly allowance I can gain some extra cash flow by earning it:

  • For every application for a scholarship, grant or employment I complete & submit = $1.00
  • For every hour I volunteer = $1.00
  • For every interview I go on = $1.00
  • For every extra 30 minutes of exercise beyond the 1st 4 sessions per week = $1.00
  • Each day I track over 10,000 steps in a day = $1.00
  • For each book I finish = $1.00 for each book, $5.00 for anything related to the law field.

So back to the plan.  Tracking everything I do.  My life is my job.  For now at least.  I still am doing the catering service and actually am working a wedding today.  Perhaps with the increase in film production locally lately, I will find myself doing extra work again soon.  Once I get the green light on classes & can figure out my school schedule, I can get a better idea on what hours I can work.  Then its job hunt time.  But for now I am not sure if I’m going to summer or fall session & not 100% confirmed where I will be studying.  So a lot is up in the air.

I’m beyond excited.  Feels 100% right for me.  Can work in a field where again I am helping others.  Law school could be an option down the road, but I believe I am more into the research and administrative assistance side.  Not sure I would be much for the public speaking in a court room.  This way I get to be part of the team & support in the efforts but get to stay out of the limelight.  Completely know the value of support.  Reminded how much of a gift it can be as I do this with the support of friends & family.

Not alone and not accepting defeat in this fight.  Time to grow.  Time to prove myself once again.  Time to survive and thrive!

I’m open to any advice or suggestions that you have.  Please feel free to contact me if there is anything to share.  Encouragement, advice, links, all completely welcomed.

Now I’m off to search for scholarships and read a little before I am off to assist with making a bit of magic for a happy couple (& getting a great workout, food & my next paycheck!).

Moving Beyond the Fear

Another day back in the saddle of work.  Fought the urge to stay late & knock out a few projects since it was night two of the pole dancing classes!  Part of me couldn’t wait to get back in action.

The other part kept thing – shorts.  shorts in March.  I am not ready for shorts in March.  Reality I am not into wearing shorts right now no matter what the month.  Just not a fan of my legs for now.  Silly I know.  Body issues just creep in like termites & take control sometimes.  I know I am not the same girl who had the dancer’s body years ago.  Even if I wish I did.  Facing that fact in full length mirrors that line the wall isn’t exactly a wish come true. But the reality is the more skin to grip the pole, the better you do.  So shorts it is. Gotta suck it up.

I freely admit that it took a klonapin to get me in that room.  Funny how one moment you can be so confident & secure, but the next you slip into self doubt and comparing your body to others.  We are all so different that never leads to good things.

Still I love that I have come this far.

Back in a dance class.  Pushing myself further & further into the areas that aren’t comfortable – physically & emotionally.  Doesn’t matter what it took to get there, I was there.  I stayed the entire class and worked my ass off.

I have the bruises, scraps & chipped toe nail polish to prove it!

Started to feel the limitations that my injured hand is going to cause.  Scared myself a couple of times thinking I was going to push myself into re-rupturing the tendon in doing pole slides, but I was lucky.  Hoping that through practice I can find ways to adapt and my arms will grow stronger.  I am learning that a lot of time you aren’t just gripping with your hands as you would think, but using your upper arms, thighs and any other body part that works for that maneuver.  So much of it is learning to trust your body.  Taking that trust that you will catch yourself as you fall into the spin.

Yes.  This class is becoming more than just a physical work out for me.

Also discovered a book last night that has my head spinning.  In a great way.  I needed something light, funny & having nothing to do with romance, dating or drama.  A good distraction.  Stumble into the bio section on Amazon & ended up having a book suggested called Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom.  Interest officially peaked.  I read the description and wondered if this insight into another agoraphobic’s life would be a good thing or push me back into old patterns.  The story certainly sounded all too familiar, anxiety issues that progressed into full blown agoraphobia.

I took the risk.  Started reading, fully prepared to laugh but I wasn’t so prepared for how real she describes a few things.  Perhaps I didn’t think that anyone else went through the physical reactions and fear that I did.  There is a certain comfort in reading the pain and torture but with a humorous twist.  If we can’t laugh at the things we do, we will never survive.  I know I try my best to laugh at the various predicaments that I worked myself up into.  The feeling of needing to hide or get out a situation IMMEDIATELY or you knew you just couldn’t trust your body.  Felt strange to read REAL account of agoraphobia instead of just another exaggerated Hollywood adaptation.

Hearing another woman’s story feels empowering.  She clearly made it to the other side and is dealing well.  The fact that she has such a sense of humor & is able to speak out about the experiences is truly inspiring.

I may have found a new heroine!  She is Agoraphantastic! At the very least I know I have found myself into a book that is going to be easy to finish.  Can’t wait to continue on the journey tonight & see how she goes from low point to on top of her game.

Perhaps one day I will share more of my stories from the horror within.  For now I am just going to celebrate how far I have come, keep pushing myself further and hope that all wounds do heal in time.

For now, I need to get something on these scraps & bruises, read a few more pages & get some sleep!