It’s 9:33 p.m. and I’ve written five variations of this poem.
The same syllables, the same fingers clicking on the keyboard,
and each time I feel like I’m getting somewhere,
but the sentiment keeps sinking.
How do you control a brain that just wants to dance?
My mind keeps taking me back to when I was a child
and I taught classes with my toys in my bedroom--
or maybe they taught me--
hours would pass and yet I couldn’t stop
inventing worlds and words
like the ticking and the clicking of my computer keys now.
How do you calm thoughts that are too anxious to settle?
I’ve too much to do, there’s a life I’m not living yet,
who am I disappointing,
or how much am I failing myself--
all of these words are merging in a lesser Pollock
somewhere in Poland.
The Internet tells me to just relax, to take a breath
Drink less caffeine
But what’s glamorous about that?
I’ve an image to uphold, you know.
It’s 9:37 and I’ve written six variations of this poem.
And I’m afraid I’m no closer to the finish line
than I was the moment I took my first breath.
Ever wondered what I do all day? Of course you have! Join me on this very serious glimpse into my life.
Wake up. I continue to push snooze for 1 hour, 20 minutes in ten-minute intervals.
I finally roll out of bed after remembering that I must show up at work to get paid.
After taking a shower, eating breakfast, taking care of the dog, and deciding life’s too short to put on makeup, I leave for work—only after changing my outfit approximately 20 times. I end up wearing a variation of yesterday’s outfit and same shoes.
I arrive at work and instantly begin counting down the minutes to lunchtime.
After several hours buried in projects, it’s snack and news break time. I decide I don’t care about any celebrities that make up most of my news feed and instead read several articles speculating about the fate of Jon Snow.
I consume another sad desk lunch while working on client projects, trying not to drop an entire container of milk on keyboard, as I have done before (note to self, need to invest in more bleach wipes).
Time to head home. I listen to more speculative Game of Thrones podcasts while muttering at the road construction. I try not to rear-end every driver that happens to be on 494 today.
I finally arrive home and am attacked by ferocious beast known as Cosmo. He jumps on me until I take him for a walk, which I do, since it’s the only form of exercise I seem to get anymore. (Unless you count lifting up my glass of wine…I’m pretty good at that.)
I sit down and pull up a blank Microsoft Word document to work on a blog post. The typing begins.
Satisfied with my two words I’ve written so far, I pull up Facebook.
I return to the blog post—decide I hate those two words—start over with new blog topic.
After much thought, I decide I hate new blog topic, too. Struggle to write two new words on old topic.
Internally debate professions Cosmo would have if dogs worked. I can’t decide between politician or figure skater. At this point, I am leaning more towards figure skater, but I grab a cookie to help me think.
Yep, definitely figure skater.
I realize that it’s already 7:00 and need to make dinner. I quickly write something down, reread it a few times, cross my fingers that it’s okay, and put it up on the blog.
After making dinner, I reopen the Cosmo profession debate with Evan, who seems less than thrilled by the topic of conversation.
Inevitably, I fall asleep on the couch with either HGTV, Ghost Adventures, or Food Network in the background.
And we start all over again tomorrow!
Who doesn’t love the sound of rain and thunder? I’m sitting on the couch listening to this beautiful sound, coffee in hand and banana bread in the oven. Happy Sunday, friends.
Food for Thought
As everyone knows, Minnesota (and the world) lost a legend this week with the death of Prince at age 57. If you’re mourning his loss as I am, check out this article from the New York Post about how Prince Was So Good, He Made His Own Competition.
Much like the author of this Everygirl article, I was a weird kid (vocabulary of an adult + huge glasses + love of sharks). Learn how Daryl Lindsey turned her childhood weirdness into major adult success here.
Everyone loves a villain. Check out Bustle’s list of the 7 Best Villains Turned Heroes in Literature and see if you agree with their selections.
In case you didn’t already pick up on it, I’m in love with wine. But considering I’m not a millionaire (yet), I’m always on the lookout for a good deal. The New York Times was nice enough to compile this list of the best 20 wines for under $20 this Spring.
I don’t really need another piggy bank, but I’m so in love with this cute Coin-Stealing Kitty Bank that’s been taking over the internet that I might just add it to my collection.
Watches are so wonderful. I can’t wait for this beautiful watch from Kate Spade to fly on my wrist sometime soon.
Things I Want to Eat
Strawberry milkshakes? Good. Cheesecake? Good. Not needing to bake anything? Fantastic. This No-Bake Strawberry Milkshake Cheesecake from Life, Love, and Sugar has me drooling all over my keyboard.
I’ve been craving Indian food nonstop recently, so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this easy-to-make, delicious-looking Spinach and Potato Curry (Palak Aloo) from Coffee and Crumpets.
On the healthier side, I’ll need this gorgeous Caramelized Peach Caprese with Smoked Sea Salt to recover after I’ve eaten all the cheesecake above. Snag the recipe from How Sweet It Is.
Just for Fun
I’ve listened to every version of Purple Rain imaginable this week. This absolutely jaw-dropping tribute from the cast of The Color Purple (fronted by Jennifer Hudson) is a must-see.
Baby animals are cute and unintentionally funny. I laughed way too hard at this.
In Case You Missed It
Catch up on this week's posts--Where I Tell You About Family, Poem: To My Teenage Body, and A Brief Commentary on Dirt and Joy.
Line of the Week
“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.” Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
As so many Minnesotans did on this gorgeous day, my husband and I spent the afternoon outside doing yard work.
After a while, the time spent raking, piling leaves, and pulling weeds in our large backyard wore on me. My back ached, I felt tired, and I was generally ready to resume my place as resident couch potato.
And then I looked over at my dog, Cosmo, who was on a long leash in the yard with us. He sat in the grass, soaking in the sun’s rays.
Suddenly, he started excitedly digging his little paws into a patch of fresh dirt. I’ve yet to see such determination in hole digging.
As my white dog slowly turned black, I couldn’t help but laugh.
All it took was a messy dog to remind me, man, I need to lighten up.
We humans tend to make things so serious—especially situations that have no business being so. Our heads spin with endless to-do lists and growing lists of grievances. But do we take the time to just smile at the great things around us?
A beautiful day outside with my little family, getting some exercise and making our home look nicer—how could I possibly complain about a sore back? Watching him traipse through the yard with such joy, I remembered just how lucky and happy I am.
It’s necessary to pause and reflect, especially on days when the sun warms your back.
Always enjoy the little things and let go of anything that’s not worth your energy.
Spend time with the ones you love and let them fill your heart with happiness.
And as Cosmo, in all his infinite furry wisdom, reminded me:
Sometimes, you just need to play in the dirt and live a little.
There is a story I’ve needed to tell,
but I’ve hidden it behind so many bricks, I’m not sure it’ll have the same shape
when I unearth it.
You see, there’s a clock constantly ticking behind my eyes, except instead of
keeping time, it spits out a record of the hours I’ve wasted trying to be
anyone other than myself.
In my dream, I'm a little girl hiding in a body that’s never felt quite right--
always too big or too small--
and a brain that seems far too grown up to belong to her.
Stretch and shrink her as you wish, it won’t matter.
I thought that, maybe if I folded myself up into a tiny box,
suddenly the endless measuring tape in my head would release its grip on my self-confidence and stop choking me.
A body can only be pulled in so many directions before it breaks.
When I look in the mirror, I see a map to my soul that’s buried in my stretch marks and maybe one day, I’ll learn to just
and the way home will be obvious to me too.
This skin has a story to tell. I’ll be able to someday. For now, I’ll sit and try to grow
comfortable with my reflection.
All clocks stop ticking eventually.
Merriam-Webster defines “family” as “a group of people who are related to each other,” but also as, “a group of related people, including people who lived in the past.”
The “past” portion of this definition sticks out to me. You can be a family, a unit, whole at one time but then broken at the next—broken in the past, but whole again in the future.
Five days ago, my older brother flew home to visit Minnesota, vacationing from his new state of Arizona. My entire family shortly arrived, staying with us in shifting forms and arrangements throughout the weekend.
My parents divorced when I was young; both my mother and my father remarried and had more children. From the time they divorced to when Jesse and I became adults, our parents never really talked (at least not about pleasant things) and weren’t on the best of terms.
I’ve spent much of my childhood and adolescence split between two families—two Christmases, two bedrooms, two separate lives. I planned on spending most holidays and weekend visits that way for a long time.
Recently, though, something changed. Last year at my wedding, we all came together to celebrate. And it seemed as though the ripped seam began to stitch itself shut. At Thanksgiving, both families joined my new husband and I in our cramped house to express gratitude for all that we have been given.
And this weekend, with the arrival of my brother, the two families spent the entire weekend together. Four parents, three adults, and three children—all one unit.
We played games, ate, and drank wine in abundance—everything that happened no longer mattered. We enjoyed each other as related people do, laughing and taking in everything around us. The hurt and pain stayed in the past where it belonged.
There were so many things I wanted to say at last year’s Thanksgiving, the first holiday I had celebrated with both of my parents since their divorce so long ago, but I didn’t know how to put the words together. Nor did I have a chance this weekend.
So today, I’m grateful for my past. I’m grateful for my future and the togetherness that hopefully will be a part of it.
I’m thankful every day for the divorce that separated my parents—without it, I wouldn’t be blessed with a stepfather and stepmother to love and three more siblings to envelop in happiness.
I’m thankful for the healing power of time.
And I’m thankful for love and its ability to bring people together, both when it’s easy and especially when it’s hard.
Time changes everyone. And if we're lucky, we only bring our best selves to the future.
A moment of honesty here, friends: I had no desire to write this blog post last night. I heard the call of my bed, so sweet and wonderful after a long day. I saw the housework piling up around me. I was buried under the weight of all the things I should have done instead of this.
And yet, I wrote it—with heavy eyelids and messy house, I walked to my keyboard once again.
I know in the long run, this is just a blog; it isn’t a matter of life and death if I don’t finish this post. But as much as I hope you’re all waiting for my next entry with bated breath, my perseverance isn’t for you.
It’s for me.
You see, one of the greatest Truths of Writing, and one I need to remind myself of often, is the importance of developing a consistent writing habit.
As my sage author on habits and happiness, Gretchen Rubin, once said:
“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”
The regular act of writing, even just a few sentences, is so incredibly important for advancing the technical abilities and creative thinking of writers. It prevents your brain getting rusty. It challenges you to think of new topics and ways to craft stories.
I’ve found that in months where I consistently scribble down a few things every day, I have a much easier time of accomplishing my writing goals.
But besides the benefits of greasing those creative cogs and keeping you motivated, writing frequently is beneficial for my mental health and anxiety.
I know they’re just words. But if you fall into any of the following categories, I’m willing to bet that someone else’s written words have affected your life--
If you’re here, you know what I mean.
Writing is tremendously cathartic. When I have a rough day and need a stress reliever, I turn to my pen and paper. When I’m crushed under the enormity of the thoughts bouncing around my head, stringing words together helps calm down the buzzing. When I need to work out my life, writing is always there to give me a hug and say, “It’s okay. Let’s figure this out together.”
Writing is my crutch when I’ve sprained my soul and my cheerleader when I’m down.
What we as writers do may not be important to everyone, but it is to us. All I can do is shout into the void and hope that someone is listening.
Think back to elementary school for a moment. Do you remember the excitement of your teacher handing back a test, only to find it adorned with a bright yellow, metallic star? Oh, the excitement you felt knowing that your teacher took the time to commend you on a job well done. If you were anything like me, this little sticker made your whole day.
You cherished that gold star. You craved more gold stars.
And now tell me this--when was the last time you were given a gold star?
We live in a world where we’re constantly told to improve, that we need to do better. At home, at work, in our relationships—the quest for self-improvement never ends. But what happened to acknowledging the good things we’ve done in our lives and the work we’ve put into making the world a better place?
I’ve mentioned the name Gretchen Rubin on the blog before (I’m in love with all of her books); well, on Gretchen’s podcast “Happier,” she advocates for bringing back gold stars and recognizing when those around you do things that make you happy, help others, or make life easier for others.
It’s an incredibly easy act, but it has the potential to change your entire outlook on happiness and appreciating others.
For the sake of demonstration, here are some of the gold stars I’m giving out this week:
I’m not saying you need to walk around giving actual star stickers to people again (although that would be really fun, so maybe you should do that). I’m not even saying that you need to say, “Gold star!” to those who have earned it.
Simply put, I’m advocating for more appreciation for the people in our lives. Like thanking your husband for doing the laundry because you hate it and really meaning it. Or letting your coworker know how much their extra work on your recent project really meant. “Thank you” goes a long way.
We seem to have so much to complain about, but not enough words of gratitude and appreciation. Start noticing the actions and efforts of those around you, and start telling them how much you value them.
And if you’re reading this, let me tell you how much I appreciate you. Seeing my readership counts creep up every week is what motivates me, so thank you.
Gold star for you.
I'm here to let you in on a secret:
I've learned it over the years, with my wind-battered face towards the wind.
Your shell is not meant to shield you
from the world's hardships and tribulations.
My darling, you were meant to break out of it.
There's a world outside of that exoskeleton,
full of beautiful new experiences,
people to hurt you.
Moments to cradle in your heart when the fire inside extinguishes.
Abandoning the safety and warmth of everything you've known, you'll feel your wings emerge. Slowly at first. And then at once, you'll know.
It is only with wings that one can fly.
And so, my dear, as you venture out into the world, another day older and so much wiser, remember this:
Love with reckless abandon.
Learn to crave the way an unsatisfied heart aches, and embrace the relative comfort of being uncomfortable.
Grow so tall and brave that your wings touch the sky before your ego ever will.
Continue to amaze me and everyone blessed with watching you learn to fly since you took your first breath.
Shells are not a safety device. They're a grand curtain to reveal the magic yet to come.
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.