Limitless (and the Pitfalls of Private School)

It’s natural to have doubts. We don’t start out that way. In fact, we start out trusting everyone. We talk to strangers, reach for the hot burner, don’t look both ways before crossing the street, attempt to stick our fingers in the light socket… (okay well perhaps not all of us, but we get the warnings regardless) We are born fearless and without prejudice. We know no strangers. We have no issues of weight or body image. We don’t doubt ourselves. Why should we? The world is a great big mystery to be solved and it’s all out there for us! And then… we’re thrust out into the real world.

I remember my first bitter taste of reality. My parents sent me off to Junior Kindergarten at a private school that required all students to wear uniforms. We couldn’t even wear our winter coats on the playground at recess because our school emblems needed to be visible at all times. That first day Mom also sent me off with a few toy cars in my pocket. As soon as I pulled them out at recess, they were quickly stolen by a girl named Mary Alice Askew. I asked for them back, she refused. I asked again to no avail. Recess ended and we were ushered back inside.

Class started, but I was still distraught over the injustice that had just occurred. I whispered to Mary Alice while the teacher’s back was turned, “Give me back my cars!” She snickered. Overhearing this, the teacher called me to the front of the class and asked what was going on. “Mary Alice stole my cars!” I said. The teacher then promptly collected the cars from Mary Alice, put them in her desk drawer and gave me a spanking in front of the entire class! I returned to my seat, car-less and mortified. This was the exact moment I learned that life was not fair.

I spent 10 years at that odd little school with its strange rules and stringent dress code. My Mother was under the impression that if I attended a private school, I would meet people of a higher social standing than those in public schools. What she didn’t realize was that many of the students at this school were sent there because they were kicked out of everywhere else. She also didn’t realize how badly I was being treated by my peers. I was never taught to stick up for myself, so I was bullied and talked down to probably more often than I even noticed.

Mom used to arrange after-school play-dates with girls in my grade who she assumed I was friends with. I wasn’t, and I was usually surprised when they told me they were supposed to come home with me. They were nice to me one-on-one, but when we got back to school nothing changed. Mom kept arranging these hangouts and I kept wanting real friends. I may have been young, but at least I knew the difference.

My teen years were painfully awkward. I was too ugly, too skinny, I’d never kissed a boy and I didn’t know what all the sex slang terms meant. If I wanted a guy to pay attention to me, I had to grab the new transfer student before he started hanging out with the cool kids and making fun of me as well. I wasn’t cool by any stretch of the imagination, so I just did my best to get through.

I found an escape through the world of musical theater and collected a handful of quirky theater nerd friends along the way. There was a great theater camp during the summer and I had started getting a few lead roles here and there. (All the while, my parents were hoping I’d switch gears and tell them I secretly wanted to become a Doctor or Rocket Scientist) One year, right before school started, I landed the role of Baby Louise in Gypsy, which required me to dye my hair a deep, dark brown color. The bullies at school didn’t miss a beat on that one. The prank calls about my hair looking like “excrement” started a few weeks before the show opened. Luckily that was about the extent of it.

But all of that never broke me. Sure, I had plenty of teenage “sequester yourself in your room-listen to loud music and cry” moments, but doesn’t everyone? And I finally found my voice. It took me a long time to learn how I needed to stick up for myself, but I finally have. My friend JD used to say that I had a habit of going from zero to bitch in 60 seconds. This was because I wouldn’t say anything until I was past my breaking point. I put up with all sorts of things that I should have nixed from the start. This comes from a history of self-doubt. When you experience so much unpleasantness, you start to question yourself and wonder if you’ve done something to deserve it. Then in later life, it takes a while to realize that it was never you at all. It takes a skilled eye to see through people.

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So I’ll leave you with this…

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Let’s Do This!

This is what I say to myself every day when I leave my house. I also say a few sweet parting missives to my dog upon my exit as he stares at me longingly from the front gate. These include, but are not limited to, “Take care of the house.” “Go inside. It’s raining.” “Please don’t bring another toy outside.” “I’ll snuggle with you later.” “You’re a pretty boy!” “I love you!” and “I’ll be home soon, I promise.” But all of this is beside the point.

I also seem to have summoned up a sort of theme music. My phone magically starts playing the Pandora app moments after I walk in. This is a relatively new development and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Since I’m also unsure of exactly what is causing it, I just yell at Siri to make it stop and it does… again magically.

For some reason I began this year with renewed energy. I’m not sure if it was the breakup or some sort of unspoken resolution I sent out into the Universe, but I feel as though with the dawning of 2017, I unloaded the behemoth of all things unwanted and began to see the world through newly-opened eyes. Each day is a gift. I have 2 best friends who are complete opposites. They are two of the most amazing women I have ever met and they continue to inspire and bring out the best in me on a daily basis. They are my co-conspirators, my biggest cheerleaders, and I never question that they always have my back.

Right alongside the things I love and am grateful for are the things I’ve started to see completely differently and want to change. For a long time I’ve been reluctant to do weddings. I just flat out don’t like them. People seem to think that on their wedding day, a makeup artist can simply wave a magic makeup brush and transform them into a completely different person than they were before. That’s always struck me as odd. Mark my words. Nothing will make you question your talent or faith in humanity as much as doing wedding makeup.

Granted, I’ve been lucky to have had some amazing brides, and those experiences alone have been more than enough to outweigh the occasional Bridezilla. However, yesterday I decided to take bridal service rates off my website completely… then exhaled deeply. Three hours later (I kid you not), a bride sent me an email wanting to hire me for a HUGE wedding in about 8 weeks. I sent her a polite response and referred her to a friend who just set out on her own and is building her makeup artist business. Pay it forward whenever possible. Absolutely 100%. This business is completely cutthroat and it’s difficult to know who your friends are. But it all comes back. That’s the one thing you can count on.

I’m actually ahead of the game this week. My taxes are done (these are regrettably a last-minute thing, but I’m working on pushing them earlier and earlier each year. #smallwins). I’ve also secured a loan from the bank that will take care of all of the foundation work (GOOD NEWS! My house will not fall into the abyss on my watch!) and the renovation of both bathrooms. This was all done by Wednesday. I feel as if I deserve an award for adulting super-hard!

Today, a newsletter from a professional organizer was sitting in my Inbox. It contains a plethora of fantastic advice. (Yes, I included the link for you… because I’m good like that.)

AND as if the Universe didn’t have my back enough today, I just got the call notifying me that tomorrow morning I’ll be making David McIntosh camera-ready for Fox.

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Both of these men are named David McIntosh. Which one do you think I’m meeting?
If you guessed the pasty, middle-aged guy… you’d be correct. *sigh*
Always the politicians, never the hot guys.

One day…
I’m waiting Universe…

 

They Walk Among Us

Have you ever had a friend you thought was so terrific you often wondered why they were still single? Or perhaps YOU are that friend. Evidently, I am that friend. I both relish and fear this thought for a few good reasons:
Sure, it’s very flattering to be thought of as such a hot commodity. HOWEVER, I always fear that things will not go well and I will forever be known as “that bitch who broke my friend.”

Flash forward to last night…

Recently, a friend has taken an interest in making sure that neither Lee Ann nor myself don’t remain single on her watch. Although, both attempts failed and each rendered its share of awkwardness, mine may have won the prize.

It started out innocently enough. A post-work drink at a bar near my house. The location was strategic in case I needed to make a quick getaway, but I didn’t think it would be necessary. What I didn’t know was that he was 3 beers in when I arrived. It’s possible that everyone on the premises knew but me.

He made a point to let me know that he liked my looks… A LOT and then went on to tell me how much he worked out, how great he was at sex (because evidently I needed to know right away?), how much he liked my swimsuit photos on Facebook, how much he loves golf and has a trip to Myrtle Beach planned for which he’s set a countdown timer on his phone (which he needed to show me of course), how he used to work for Microsoft (and after that could get his pick of jobs like he was some sort of wunderkind), and how he now works for Lenovo. Then he told me about how he travels all the time since he’s divorced and his kid is 18. He also made a point of giving me the exact figure he paid his wife in the divorce and probably expected me to flinch more, but I was too busy processing all of the nonstop braggadocio.

I almost did a spit take when he asked, “and can I talk about myself for a minute?” It made me wonder what it was we were doing before. Was I talking about myself? Nope. I told one story about one person we knew in common. Other than that, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. He told me his work was sending him to Germany on Saturday. Then he asked me if I was seeing anyone else. Before I could even answer him he told me he was seeing a few different women. A FEW? Then he expressed a huge amount of disdain quite loudly that they all wanted him to take care of them. That was what he thought all the girls he dated had in common. Not that they were all pretty… or all blondes… or all tall… NO. He thought they all wanted him to look after them. This is probably news to those women.

After this loud declaration (which was probably the middle of beer 7ish?), he took my hand and told me he was taking me to Germany with him. He went on to say that I was buying my own plane ticket, but that we’d have steak every night and even though we’d be staying in the same hotel room I didn’t have to do anything with him. Good Lord, he didn’t even bother to ask if I was vegan! (which I’m not, but still… I don’t think it would matter much) And then he told me that he would need to work during the day, but I could go shopping. Gee… Like I need more stuff in my life. And to be held captive by this loon in a foreign country eating steak and wandering around by myself while he worked? Sounds like the premise for a horror movie.

When he excused himself and went to the bathroom, the two women seated beside me at the bar, the bartender, and the promotions guy from a Brewery in Fuquay who had watched him pre-game while he waited for me to arrive decided that they had heard enough. ALL OF THEM told me to run just as fast as I could to get away from this loser. They couldn’t believe the crap that was coming out of his mouth. They were appalled that he put a price tag on his marriage and told me he would probably put one on me as well. His repeated insistence even after my repeated refusal about the Germany trip, which was only 3 days away they found odd and pushy. They figured that he saw women as possessions, just as he saw everything else. He was big and important and owned everything. He saw no reason he couldn’t own me as well.

As soon as he returned, I glanced at my watch and remarked about how late it had suddenly become. I started putting on my jacket, an act which he tried to dissuade. I got up and started for the door. The 2 ladies beside me nodded and told me not to worry about the tab, they had my back. To be honest, I was really happy to see how women I didn’t even know would look out for me.

He was hammered. I let him walk me to my car, then watched him stumble away. I figured he probably walked back to the bar (which was the only reason I didn’t pop my head back in to thank the women and pay my tab myself). My friend informed me later that he called an Uber. She also informed me that he wouldn’t have been able to start his car because he had an ignition interlock device installed in his car. This would have been useful information to have known going in. Ugh, the Achilles Heel of all that bravado. Ridiculous.

You’re Never Fully Dressed

There’s a guy in my office who has what is most commonly referred to as “Resting Bitch Face.” Much like Eeyore and Droopy, I had a hunch that the poor guy was just misunderstood. Because of this, every time I see him, I smile really big and wave. I probably go out of my way with the happy/smiley stuff just to make sure he’s not really about to go postal and I’m just too naive to tell. I think it’s worked for me so far. Of course, he could return to his cube each time we cross paths to pierce a voodoo doll crafted in my likeness with very large pins, so there’s always that.

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I think this is how I’ve learned to tackle most obstacles in life. The whole lemons into lemonade thing… I can relate. It’s like I was trying to smile this grumpy fella into submission. I try to see the positive in every problem. I guess that’s it. They aren’t necessarily problems, they’re a challenge to be solved… a mountain to be climbed… a project to be completed. And believe me, I’ve had my share of half-assed projects lying around for far too long.

When I lived in Charlotte for a consulting project I went to the craft store and stocked up on beads of every style, shape and color. I bought 3 kinds of thread and a few different types of closures for necklaces and bracelets. I wove a few beaded bracelets once (painstakingly following the pattern of a Nine West beaded cuff) and ended up giving them away as gifts because I had no idea what to do with them once I’d finished them. I made a few necklaces after receiving numerous compliments on one I’d thrown together out of a few colorful glass and metal findings. And then the thrill was gone. I moved on to something else.

After Dr. Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy (which totally jumped the shark a few years ago for me) took up knitting as a distraction from her sexual “dry spell,” guess what? I took a knitting class. I bought enough yarn to rival any granny and a large wicker basket to keep it in. I even have 2 different sizes of knitting needles. All I lack are the pink foam hair curlers, the bathrobe, the 9 cats and the lack of suitors. I know… There’s still time.

Nowadays, I’ve been trying not to take up any more hobbies that would require any more supply storage than I am already utilizing. Did I mention the live music equipment and lighting collecting dust in my parents’ basement? I didn’t think so. At least that one was somewhat lucrative and lasted 4+ years.

All I know is that now my projects consist more of lists than of things and I’m grateful for that. Maybe I’ll be able to smile everything I’m facing into submission.

Wish me luck.

Not Today Satan

Today is the day I find out if my house is slowly sinking into the abyss. I have an appointment with someone who is going to crawl under my house to inspect my foundation and supporting beams. A few years ago someone noticed an indention near the guest tub where the floor had caved in. A few years before that, the tell-tale cracks above a few entrance-ways began to form. Since all of my home repair knowledge came from my father, I believed him when he told me, “It’s just the foundation settling. It happens. I just need to put a jack under the house and jack it up.” To this day, that hasn’t happened. And due to my recent DIY and organization streak, the moment of reckoning is upon me.

I bought my house a year after my graduation from college to avoid “throwing money away on rent.” Because I was young and cared more about socializing, buying cute clothes and learning the newest makeup techniques… that’s where the majority of my time, effort and disposable income were spent. To be honest, I had no business becoming a homeowner. Then again, I’m grateful that I purchased my little pillbox house when I did because it’s about a 15-minute drive to just about anything I need. I’m literally in the middle of everything. Nowadays, people pay a small fortune for a luxury like that.

Some people go through life with a checklist. Car, College, Marriage, Dog, House, Kid(s)… My mother told me that I’d meet my husband in college. That never happened. After I graduated, I looked back, thinking I must have done something wrong. I hadn’t.

My parents had a few very rigid ideas about how I was to go about the business of my life. When I was younger, they never allowed me to have any pets except for the occasional hermit crab, fish or gerbil. I was allergic to cats, but dogs were out of the question. Although I was doing musical theater since age 7, art, writing poetry and music… my parents insisted that I get a degree in “business” so that I would have “marketable skills.” They didn’t want me to be a “starving artist” living under a bridge in a cardboard box, which was how they saw anyone who sought a career in art of any kind.

I’m on my second dog now. The first was a gorgeous Pekingese puppy I picked up at a pet store with an old boyfriend. I told him, “When we tell my parents, you gave me this puppy as a gift, right?” My parents eventually warmed up to the little fur ball. They even shed a few tears when he passed away after 16 years of being their precious GrandDog. Now I have a big fuzzy Australian Shepherd rescue. I think rescue dogs appreciate you more because they’ve been through stuff. Adopting that little fur face was the best thing I’d done in a long time. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be loved unconditionally. This little guy taught me how to love and be loved all over again.

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And as far as that “starving artist” stuff goes… I’ve been doing my best to make Mom & Dad eat those words. I still have my “responsible steady day job” that pays the bills, but I’ve been enjoying growing my side hustle. I signed up for this monthly box designed for female entrepreneurs and found out today that the curator lives in the Charlotte/Rock Hill area… only a stone’s throw away! I’ve been messaging with her since I’d been stumbling upon motivational content of my own. She just started her box business in December and it’s already one of the most sought-after on Cratejoy.

Nowadays people are finding (and fueling) their passions in so many unconventional ways. It’s possible to make a living doing things that the generations before us would scoff at. You just have to get out there and find out what really sets your heart ablaze. And be you, no matter what anyone else tells you, even Mom & Dad.

And Love Yourself.

Love Yourself

Happiness & the Pursuit Thereof

It’s funny how little I’ve thought about happiness lately, yet I’m perfectly happy. I have great friends and I’m finally starting to make a dent in my super-huge “to do” list (which is giving me a much-needed feeling of satisfaction). As much as I’m loathe to admit, I’m a born list-maker, so I do a tiny internal “happy dance” each time I get to check something off.

In my Facebook memories today I ran across an article I’d shared from a blog which mentioned The Happiness Project. Basically, Gretchen Rubin, then a writer at Slate.com, began chronicling her year-long journey toward happiness. It became a best-selling book, which turned into a phenomenon. Now she’s published a few more on the subject (as well as a few on completely different subjects). Happiness is indeed a much sought-after commodity.

Much like happiness, freedom has been a focus lately. It feels AMAZING to be unapologetically me. I answer to myself and that’s it. I have wise friends and if I want their advice or help, I know I can seek it, but I enjoy the feeling of not being confined by the rules or expectations of another. As if by telepathy, this appeared in my Inbox this morning. It’s an article about freedom in love relationships. I can’t tell you how much this resonated with me.

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Now I actually understand what that means.

In the years that followed the viral success of The Happiness Project, there were a number of people posting the results of their own Happiness Projects to social media. Every one is different. Each person has different things that create their own brand of happiness. No two results are the same. I challenge you all to go out and begin your own Happiness Projects. I know it’s March, so we’re a little late to the party for New Year resolutions, but here is a tiny excerpt from the book to start you in the right direction.

And a list, because I love lists.

Why Not?

I’ve pretty much led with that mantra lately and I think it’s getting me places.

  • Email in my inbox about signing up for Citizens Police Academy? WHY NOT?
  • Purchase awesome new kitchen lights and have electrician install them? WHY NOT?
  • Assist male friend on pilgrimage to find perfect prom dress for cheerleader daughter? WHY NOT? (Duh, I know where my talents lie…)
  • FINALLY get someone to come look at my foundation and get an estimate on exactly how jacked up (pun intended) it is? WHY NOT?
  • Buy the jeans in the size that fits me RIGHT NOW not the size I’m hoping I’ll be 2 months from now? WHY NOT?

Yeah, it’s stuff like that, both big and little things. But it’s the things we tend to get hung up on instead of just taking the leap and moving forward. How many unfinished projects do you have lying around your house? How many times have you put something off and it never got done? How many things do you have like this, hanging over your head, taunting you? And how many excuses do you make when they keep not getting done?

I was in the band and worked full time, then I went to esthetician school and worked full-time. Those were my excuses for what seems like an eternity. I still use them to explain the clutter in my spare rooms or my lack of attention to landscaping. I’m sure there are many things I attribute to all those years of neglecting everything else so that I could be a rock star and get an esthetician license. It’s been 5 years now. I’m out of excuses.

Every once in a while, the Universe will give you a little push. Most recently that push was in the form of my dead dryer. It had been 20+ years since a dryer had been purchased for my house. My old roommate had purchased the first one and sold it to me when she moved out. It outlived the washer by a few years, but the day after I knew it was a goner, I ordered a new one on the Internet complete with delivery, installation, and hauling away the old one.

After 2.5 weeks, 2 new dryers, an electrician visit, a ridiculous amount of Google searches, and the kindness of 2 guy friends who were available on a Sunday, things finally resolved themselves in my laundry room. I have the dryer I want. It works. And I completely re-organized the space with bins so that I can reach everything easily.

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The NEW Laundry Room Organization Plan

Now I’m moving on to other parts of my house. If there’s something you don’t like, WHY NOT FIX IT? If you leave it there continuing to make you miserable, you’re only going to stay miserable.

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I set out this year to improve every aspect of my life. So far, so good.