MY Year of YES

There’s a subscription box group for Female Entrepreneurs that I belong to. I joined it on a whim when I was feeling a bit stuck. Although I haven’t had time for a lot of the free training sessions that have been offered, I appreciate the books, office supplies, tools and other useful stuff that comes with being a member of this elite little society. There’s a Facebook Group and the Founder is taking her wares on Shark Tank since this tiny box has taken off so exponentially. (It went from a small operation she put together in her living room, to a box she’s now outsourcing the curation and delivery of.)

I was overjoyed when I opened last month’s box and out popped Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of YES! (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)” This book has been on my list for a while now and I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, my schedule is a little crazy, so I resorted to grabbing the Audible download and adding it to my collection as an accompaniment. Yesterday I began reading.

This is MY year of YES.

  • YES to putting myself first
  • YES to doing the things I’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late
  • YES to cultivating meaningful relationships
  • YES to knowing that I don’t need to change to be loved
  • YES to taking good care of myself and those I care about
  • YES to listening to my own inner voice

I’m doing a lot of things that are taking me out of my comfort zone, but for the first time in a really long time I’m also perfectly fine and really happy. Although societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to have been married and popped out a few kids by now, the thought of having someone to answer to (besides my parents) isn’t one I have a desire to explore.

My last boyfriend needed constant reassurance and validation. By the time that relationship ended, you could look at pictures of me and clearly see the life had completely drained from my eyes. Now that I’m getting back on track to becoming the person I’m supposed to be, I refuse to revert to anything resembling that shell of a person. It’s not what I want for myself. I want so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL say YES to love, but only when I know it’s what’s right for me. It’s never pleasant to fail. And one of the worst failures of all is to have a failed relationship that ruins a lifelong friendship. At least I know that now. Postponing the inevitable is probably what drained the life force from my eyes. The stress and worry of the impending failure weighed a few million tons.

Since then I’ve:

  1. Started a series of renovations on my house (everything I’ve always wanted to do and HAD to do)
    • Complete remodel of guest bathroom
    • Partial remodel of master bathroom
    • Foundation repair
    • HVAC line & box replacement
    • Screened in patio with built-in wet bar
  2. Purchased tickets to the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas (I went in 2015 BY MYSELF and the lineup was EPIC)
  3. Went to Raleigh’s FIRST EVER SuperCon
  4. Saw Jump Little Children and am seeing them again in October
  5. Saw and met K.Flay!
  6. Got published in an e-zine!
  7. Got promoted!
  8. Saw Bowling for Soup
  9. Graduated from the FIRST EVER Citizen’s Police Academy
  10. Went to my first “Great Cover Up”
  11. Saw Kevin Smith
  12. Had a Bride featured in Borrowed and Blue

If all goes well, renovations should be finished by my birthday (August 27, fingers crossed) so I should have some great photos to post by then. Otherwise, expect some of the usual stream-of-consciousness ramblings and photos to tide you over.

Most of the things on this list are things I would have held myself back from if I’d stayed in the same place life was going last year. I was disappearing. I was hiding from life. I was shying away from everything I really wanted because my insides were full of conflict and doubt.

NO MORE!

  • YES to knowing better so I can do better
  • YES to saying lots of YES, but knowing when to say NO so that I can take the time to recharge

Just so much YES. It feels so good each time I say it.

 

Advertisements

Excerpts from Guyvile

I once dated a guy who told me that his mother would ask him what was wrong with me if he told her I’d never been married at my age… instead of taking into account the fact that he lived in a small, sterile apartment with walls covered in photographs or artwork of nude or partially nude women. In lieu of a sofa, he had an over-sized bean bag chair that he insisted I run in and jump on as soon as I walked in the door. I refused. This was probably another strike against me. The place was so sterile that I was almost afraid to touch or move anything. Seriously. It was “serial killer sterile.” No clutter, no stray hairs, no implements left in plan view, not even a remote control or a fruit bowl, only the most pristine of surfaces… In hindsight, I probably should have checked the freezer for severed heads on my way out.

He was a programmer of some sort and a freelance photographer. As you could guess, his preference was to separate women from their clothing before photographing them. This, among so many other things, didn’t sit well with me. Walking into an apartment with walls covered in naked bodies is as intimidating for a grownup as walking into a dorm room strewn with centerfolds is for a co-ed.

And as if that weren’t enough, he had this tendon on his jaw that attached to his eyelid. This meant that when you were sitting directly across from him at a table, he could be looking down at his food and simultaneously looking AT YOU. The tendon would pull his eye open and closed as he chewed. It was the epitome of creepy. Since our breakup, I now refer to him (not so affectionately) as “Poe.”

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
– Edgar Allan Poe “The Tell-Tale Heart”


Flash-forward to just last week.

Drag-Makeup Guy was a problematic over-texter. I probably set an unfair precedent by responding fairly quickly, so when I turned my attention to anything other than him, he started to ask what was wrong when I didn’t respond immediately. This only increased my lag time.

He also liked to use really big words. Usually I very much appreciate this in a counterpart, HOWEVER, he did it CONSTANTLY. This, coupled with his I-know-more-big-words-than-you-nyah-nyah attitude ended up sabotaging him more often than not since he lacked the skill of properly using most of his large vocabulary in a sentence.

IMG_5274[1]

The weekend of our ONE DATE, I had stayed out late on a Sunday (which I very seldom do) to catch a concert. I was dead on my feet the next day and couldn’t wait to get home to rest. He couldn’t stop texting. But in the subtext of the texts he seemed to be scolding me for being out on a school night in the first place. I’d only known him a few days at best, so I found this odd and decided to mention my discomfort. He didn’t take this well. We exchanged a few text pleasantries in the days that followed and then the texts stopped altogether… for about 2 weeks. I turned my attention to all the things that needed doing and did them, not giving him a second thought.

That Monday was the beginning of a very busy week. Out of the blue he texted “You still alive?” I didn’t respond. I was fighting a cold, cooking dinner for my parents 3 nights that week, squeezing in an exercise class and attending the citizen’s police academy. He could wait.

Evidently he couldn’t.

IMG_5574[1]

And evidently my auto-correct likes to change TIME to THE ME when I fat-finger something similar in a text message. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care. Besides, he deleted me anyway. What a relief!


My friend Lisa attempted to set me up with a guy she knows. It appears that she thought highly of him because he passed himself off as a big time music promoter and all-around hot shot. In real life, he lives with his mom, works in a furniture store, and thinks so highly of himself that he throws himself a birthday party each year and hires mildly successful bands just so he can charge admission and call it the “Social Event of the Year.” It isn’t. In fact, I’d never even heard of it… or him for that matter. The crowd he runs in is rife with leathery, weather-beaten ex-rocker types determined to recapture whatever glory they can siphon from their hard-rockin youth. He’s right at home at the center of this, still living out his big hair 80’s dream complete with bedazzled jeans and Ed Hardy shirts.

I’m not exactly sure why Lisa thought this would work out.

He was very tall, long legs and a short torso that carried a large beer belly. If you asked me his body shape, I’d say “Lollipop?” He made a point of telling me that he had Diabetes right up front, which is no laughing matter, but he seemed to not take it seriously. Then he made a point of telling me that he could control it if he wanted to, but for now he’s just taking daily insulin shots because he doesn’t have time to deal with it. When he told me he drank sweet tea and ate donuts for breakfast and mostly only had time for fast food, I tried to educate him about the importance of protein & how easy it would be to substitute a protein bar or shake. He turned up his nose like a small child at the idea.

We went on one good date, on Valentine’s Day, to which he wore an old sweater that reeked of body odor and bad cologne with really worn-out jeans. (Did I mention that he took me to a really nice restaurant which was only serving prix fixe? He said he’d brought a suit with him, but he arrived too late to change into it. *Insert audible groan here*) The date was brief and pleasant, which most first dates are.

Then we went on one bad date, but because since he was Lisa’s friend I was really trying to see some redeeming qualities in him. However, in the meantime, he would text me so furiously that I hardly had time for anything else. (Now you see why I’m not fond of over-texters.)

We were NOT a match. The way he saw the world and the way I saw the world were such opposite perspectives. But it was difficult to get rid of someone who kept driving 2 hours to see you. When our last date ended rather abruptly, I was just relieved it was over. A few hours later the barrage of texts began again and I blocked him. No point in beating a dead horse. Move on Buddy.

A few weeks later, Lisa told me to unblock him on my phone and social media because he wanted to apologize. I figured I’d never hear the end of it until I did, so…

He texted, apologized, then went around and around baiting me for an apology. I responded, “Sincere apologies expect nothing in return.” What followed was the absolute meanest text vomit I have ever received in my life.

IMG_5575[1]IMG_5576[1]

I save those for days when I’m feeling just a little too big for my britches and need to be knocked down a few pegs.

I think it’s time to just delete all of it now.

chill-homie

Officer Squirrel-Killer

Who’s ready for a good laugh?

I’m the newest member of the Citizen’s Police Academy!

Yes, I realize I’m not what you’d typically imagine when you picture a class of students in a “police academy” setting, but when I saw the write-up, something told me I needed to go ahead and do it. WHY NOT?

I’ve spent so many years letting the squirrels win.
79fa6cd8576072f30d1b0d799692f52f
I made myself so unnecessarily busy doing all the wrong things for so long that I had almost forgotten what the right things were. This made me say NO a lot. Now, I’m saying a lot more YES, but my NOs have much more power and meaning.

I remember a time not so long ago when I worked for a modeling school. I’d been laid off from WorldCom (now Verizon Business) and it was the first viable job option that opened up for me. My parents wanted me to “hold out” for another job in the tech industry, but I knew my severance package wouldn’t last forever and felt guilty collecting unemployment. Even though I enjoyed the work, the environment was stressful. The owners knew all about business, but little about the industry. As soon as the “stage parents” learned I was there, I’d spend entire Saturdays sequestered in my office with a line of parents out the door.

When I started the position, I was engaged. Both my fiance and my parents encouraged me to quit straightaway and look for something else. They thought the job was beneath me. Even with the constant backlash, I stayed my course and threw myself into my work. My relationship dissolved. It became too difficult to come home every night to someone who didn’t believe in you.

One of the last events I attended for the modeling school was the Southern Women’s Show. This event happens every year and fills the convention center with women of all ages. It was my job (along with the new receptionist Joey) to gather leads for new students. Joey was flamboyantly gay and a LOT of fun, so between times of “doing our job” we would sample the food, participate in every demo that seemed fun (or ridiculous), and just walk around everywhere being silly and looking fabulous.

That particular year there was a hypnotist on the main stage giving a demonstration. Since Joey and I stuck out like two of the sorest thumbs ever, the hypnotist selected us to come onstage (along with 20 others). I listened to every word… or at least I thought I was listening. But the squirrels were way too strong to silence. I just couldn’t relax, not even for 10 minutes. I remember being so disappointed in myself as I left the stage.

The hypnotist said, “It’s okay. Some people just can’t be hypnotized.” I would have liked to believe that was true, but I knew deep down it probably wasn’t. It took that defining moment to make me take a step back and see exactly how bad it had gotten. The squirrels had taken over. I was panicked and nervous. I felt at times like the walls were closing in. It was hard to breathe. I couldn’t relax.

That Monday when I returned to the office, I did something I never thought I’d do. I quit my job without a backup plan, giving 2 weeks notice.

Later that same day, my friend Renee called and offered me a position managing the Smirnoff promotion at the amphitheater. She told me I’d need to hire on a few more girls for the Summer concerts, but if I wanted it, the job was mine.

leap-and-the-net-will-appear

So I did.

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.

25ef22acb1b4d2518fd4509214eeb612

So I’ll leave you with this…

be-kind

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.

if-you-love-something-set-it-free

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.

New Year’s Resolution #5839 – Stop putting other people first.

I’m not sure why this hasn’t been the mantra recited in my head daily. I think it’s because I’ve been a people-pleaser since birth. But when you take a step back and think about it, it’s stupid to sacrifice your own feelings only to spare those of someone else. Most people can see through you when you aren’t being authentic… at least that’s the basic assumption.

All of this finally sunk in at the end of last year. I put it into practice. I was miserable, so I got out of my miserable relationship. I said NO to IT and YES to ME. I was scared to death of hurting him, but I finally convinced myself that my happiness was simply more important… not more important than him or his happiness. That’s not it at all. It’s just that for the duration of the relationship, I had been so concerned about him that I never really thought about myself. And for a change, I needed to think about what would make me happy.

I took a day and thought and cried and kept to myself. Before I knew it, I had an answer. I needed to get out of the relationship. So I put on my big girl panties and did it.

“Deciding is freedom. Indecision is torture”
– Jen Sincero
You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

I felt awkward and weird for a little while. Some days I even wondered if I’d made a mistake. Then one day the happy set in. I realized that I could do whatever I wanted again. I didn’t have anyone making demands on my time or watching every move I made via social media. The tightness in my chest released. My smile came back. I started making plans with friends I hadn’t spent quality time with in what seemed like ages. The smile became bigger. I started setting goals, creating budgets, making to-do lists, researching things I’d only dreamed of doing.

“It’s all happening.”
Penny Lane
Almost Famous

Now every morning I get up and look forward to my days. Even though most of them have been packed with the sort of homeowner minutia that makes most people groan with disdain. I’ve been kicking ass at work. (I even got an email from a recruiter about a job I would have given my eyeteeth to do a few years ago and even today considered shooting him a resume just for fun) I have a great side hustle and get to meet famous people constantly. The workmen destroyed my mailbox post? Meh, I got another. And the company was super-sweet in their correspondence with me, which made the entire process feel less daunting. Even the bad stuff seems good now.

This weekend I’m going to visit my friend Allison. We’re celebrating our friend Renee’s birthday with our friend Tracy. These are 3 of the strongest, bravest, most awesome women I know and I’m grateful to have them in my circle. Renee’s celebration also happened to fall the day before the K. Flay concert at my favorite venue in the same city. When I saw the concert announced, I’d lamented first because it was on a Monday and second because it was at my favorite intimate venue. It seemed impossible for me to be able to make that happen.

Then one day Allison sent me a text asking if I would come celebrate Renee the night before the concert. I immediately told her about K. Flay and asked if we could figure the concert into our plans. Before I knew it, I was asking for time off and purchasing concert tickets.

You only get one life. Live it the way YOU want.

Marie Kondo is my Muse

I set out to make this a daily project, but lately I’ve been slacking. For that, I apologize. I’ve been out getting my ass in gear on my very extensive “to do” list. After a few years of doing double-duty in a band, then living a double-life in Esthetician school, things had more than adequate time to accumulate around my tiny pillbox of a starter home. I’ve come to realize that just as it took time to collect the mountain of clutter that I successfully hid, then subsequently shuffled between the 2 spare rooms, it’s going to take time to go through and get it to it’s final destination (sell, trash, recycle, give, donate…). Fortunately, there are a myriad of options for where you can re-purpose most anything nowadays. However, when you just want it DONE, considering all the options only makes the job more time-consuming. Can you believe I even found a place that takes my old bras? Yes, I said bras!

Basically, when you live in a small house with 2 rooms that have almost exclusively been unusable for the past decade or so, you start to feel like the walls are closing in. I’d chipped away at this for a little while, then I’d feel the need to have people over and in my rush to prepare, all the clutter or anything someone would poke fun of if it were left lying in plain sight was shoved in a box and thrown into one of the spare rooms. The cycle continued…

The last time I found time to clear out a room was when I was dating Dennis. He lived in Charleston, and was seeing a handful of other people who I didn’t know about, which gave me plenty of time to myself. When he would visit, the house would be neat as a pin, but it weighed on my mind that I should clear out at least one of the rooms just in case he peeked in and ran screaming. My methodology was to take everything out and only allow what was needed back in. This would have worked like a charm if my idea had come equipped with a small storage unit. Instead, I lived with clutter everywhere until I figured out what to do with it all. Unfortunately, I think most of it ended up in the other spare room.

One boyfriend and one birthday party later, the room I cleaned is hardly navigable. I’m not putting it off any more. I’ve begun fixing/replacing everything I don’t like and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Why? I’ll tell you. That feeling you get when everything is finally in order… when you are free of clutter and you can find all the things you are looking for… when you can walk freely through every space in your home… I don’t even remember what that’s like. I’m envious of Marie Kondo, the organizational muse of the masses who has her collective “shit” SO MUCH together that she’s developed the new IN methodology by which the world is now becoming more organized and happy. All I can say is that I’d love to see her house. Although, I downloaded her audio book and I’m afraid it might just bore me to tears. We shall see…