Tag Archives: hope

Fork, yeah!

thvtmdn5vdI swear. A lot. I didn’t always have a filthy mouth, but, once I started, I swore loudly and often (my parents were so proud). My favorite word started with an f and ended in a k. It wasn’t “fork”, but that’s the word I will use in this post, because I am trying to beat my addiction. I’ve even started a 12 step program. Hello, my name is Tracey, and I’m addicted to four letter words. Like most 12 step programs, the first step is admitting you have a problem and that you’re powerless to stop. The second step is to believe that a power greater than yourself can help you stop (Yeah, right. Even the power of parenthood couldn’t stop me. My daughter’s first sentence was “Bite me jackass”). The third step is…ummm..fuck if I know. Dammit. Back to day one. Hello, my name is Tracey, and I’m addicted to four letter words….

My husband hoped that becoming an accidental mother would change me. After all, mothers are sweet and kind, loving and gentle. Evidently I didn’t get the memo, because the only thing that changed was that I went from being a wife that swore to a mother with a dirty mouth. The good news is that, when people would “slip” and swear in front of my tweenager, she would just shrug and roll her eyes when they apologized (“I’ve heard worse”).

I know, I know, women shouldn’t swear/it’s not ladylike. TBH I don’t know what the big deal is. Studies have shown that swearing is good for you and reduces pain. Just recently I posted a popular FB meme as my status. I’ll share it here, ICYMI

thmtqv83pa

image courtesy of imgarcade.com

There are issues when you’re a woman who loves to swear. Nineteen of them have been identified by the awesome Erin La Rosa from Buzzfeed. Being far from “normal” (FYI normal is just a setting on the dryer), my issue wasn’t one of them. Using the “f-word” was cathartic at first, but, like most gateway drugs, one day it stopped giving me the rush I craved. I tried using other words, but they didn’t have the punch I needed. The logical next step in my progression (regression?) was to link them together in strange and unusual ways, but”I’ll see you next Tuesday you cat-faced mother forking son of a female dog” took too damn long. In searching for a new/better four letter word (one that will express my frustration with my current situation and the increasingly dark and dismaying world climate) I found the perfect word.

HOPE

(hōp)

v. hoped, hop·ing, hopes
v.intr.

1. To wish for a particular event that one considers possible: We are hoping for more financial support.
2. Archaic To have confidence; trust.
v.tr.

To desire and consider possible: I hope that you will join us for dinner. We hope to buy a house in the spring. See Synonyms at expect.

I’ve spoken about hope before. One of my first posts talked about losing and finding hope. the other one talked about fear and the power of Hope. When I picture Hope, I see a rare and delicate flower. It’s a fragile thing, easily lost and hard to find when life gets rough. The good news is that Hope is bioluminescent, allowing you to find it even on the darkest of nights. With a little love and a lot of TLC it will blossom, bloom and grow. I believe the best way to feed Hope is by sharing and spreading love, which is how I came up with an acronym –

Help

One

Person

Every

Day**

Look, it’s getting scary out there. It’s too much. Too much anger. Too much hate. Let’s see if there’s such a thing as too much love**. Hold the door for someone, share a smile, compliment a stranger. Be kind to each other. Play nicely in the sandbox.

And on those days where life beats you down and everyone is being an asshat, swear like a sailor like a woman who loves to curse. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

th5

image courtesy of gurl.com

 

I have a couple of questions (take out your #2 pencils):

  1. Do you swear, and (if so) what’s your favorite four letter word?
  2. What is your favorite story of hope?
  3. How do you “pay it forward“?

*Oops, that’s “HOPED” not “HOPE”. Dammit, I was hoping that this post would be perfect 😉

**there is, and it causes chafing, but that’s a topic for a different post

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On Loss and roses

Broken_heart.svg[1]I lost a coworker today. Well, I didn’t lose her. It’s not like she’s an extra sock or a misplaced set of housekeys, a little tchotchke that will show up when I least expect it (although she may come visit – we already have at least one ghost in the office). She was my coworker, but, more importantly, she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Ugh. my lame attempts at humor are irritating me today (note to defensive mechanism – take a break). I was going to write on life and loss and grief and hope, but the words won’t come. Instead I will leave you with The Rose Beyond the Wall, by A.L. Frink. It gave me hope when my mother died. Hope that I’ll see her again, on the other side of the wall.

The Rose Beyond The Wall

The Rose Beyond The Wall – A. L. Frink

Near a shady wall a rose once grew,
Budded and blossomed in God’s free light,
Watered and fed by the morning dew,
Shedding it’s sweetness day and night.

As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,
Slowly rising to loftier height,
It came to a crevice in the wall
Through which there shone a beam of light.

Onward it crept with added strength
With never a thought of fear or pride,
It followed the light through the crevice’s length
And unfolded itself on the other side.

The light, the dew, the broadening view
Were found the same as they were before,
And it lost itself in beauties new,
Breathing it’s fragrance more and more.

Shall claim of death cause us to grieve
And make our courage faint and fall?
Nay! Let us faith and hope receive–
The rose still grows beyond the wall,

Scattering fragrance far and wide
Just as it did in days of yore,
Just as it did on the other side,
Just as it will forever-more.

A. L. Frink

thL4GNOWVE

On Loss

images71V16YFP2015 was a rough year. Loss came to live at my house last year. She was an unwelcome and unpleasant houseguest, and not just because she brought along her friends Grief and Despair (is there anything worse than unwanted houseguests?). The unpleasant guests didn’t kill me, but they did kill my creative spirit. As much as I love writing and performing, it’s hard to be funny when you’re living in the pit of despair.

2015 ended well. Grief and Despair moved out when Hope moved in (they can’t stand her glimmery goodness).  I spent New Year’s eve surrounded by family of heart, and woke up feeling cautiously optimistic. I decided that, since 2015 didn’t kill me, 2016 was going to be my phoenix year.

My New Year’s resolutions were to return to writing and stand-up, and (perhaps) to try my hand at other creative endeavors.

It started out well.

I posted several pieces, and journeyed far outside by comfort zone by learning to paint (or trying to, at least) at Gamut’s “Shelter Art” event at our local animal shelter.

2016 felt like a bright shiny new year….and then cancer stole Lucifer*. For the first time ever, I was completely derailed by a celebrity death. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of David Bowie’s music. I was, however, completely enthralled by him as an artist. He was the man who taught me to be myself, no matter what. He showed me that it was possible to reinvent yourself, at all ages and stages. He was an amazing person and performer, and, as Mark Ruffolo tweeted, he was the “father to all us freaks”. I may look like a suburban soccer mom, but my soul has always been more Ziggy Stardust than average white chick.

Then cancer took Alan Rickman. I loved him Truly, Madly, Deeply from day one. Not only was he a versatile, amazing performer/writer/director, he was an amazing human being. He was a feminist and an activist, and he did so while remaining a gentleman. In a world where celebrities strive for publicity, his charitable donations remained low key and oft overlooked. I just learned about this video for OneClickGiving, which he did as a favor for student charity filmmakers after they contacted him about a campaign to help refugees.

And today cancer claimed one of my childhood heroes, “Grizzly Adams” star Dan Haggerty. I remember watching the show, and getting the feeling that this gentle bear of a man was just as kind as the character he portrayed.

They say that things happen for a reason. I still don’t know who “they” are, or come up with a reason that we still haven’t found a cure for cancer. I have, however, found a reason for loss, thanks to the amazing gentlemen who moved on this week. Thanks to David Bowie’s last picture and Alan Rickman’s adventures with helium, I have learned  that Loss may travel with Despair, but she also travels with Joy. I have learned that Loss is an important part of life – she reminds us that life is fragile, and too short to be taken so seriously. I have learned a new definition for LOSS.

 

Love

Our

Silly

Side

David-Bowie-Last-Photo[1]

*Neil Gaiman’s Lucifer in his Sandman series is supposedly based on David Bowie. I’m not sure about that, but I know for a fact that he inspired The Return of the Thin White Duke

 

 

 

 

Fear, hope and other four letter words

fear2“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Frank Herbert, Dune

2015 was a sucky year (then again, 2014 wasn’t much fun). In looking back over the past year(s), I realized that it wasn’t the events themselves that were horrible (although almost losing my daughter and my husband wasn’t anything to celebrate), but what they did to me.

I went from being a fairly confident, mostly optimistic suburban soccer mom who was able to juggle marriage, motherhood, career and outside interests with some degree of success, to a weepy woman who could barely handle getting up and getting dressed (which reminds me-why don’t they have pajama days at work?).  Oh, I managed to come up with multiple excuses for “stepping back” from activities I had previously enjoyed – soccer, reading, writing, stand-up comedy,  lighting design and playing chauffer to the teen. I blamed age, fatigue, increased stress at work, my bad knee – but when I took a hard look at my life, I realized that there was only one thing stopping me. FEAR.

Fear is like the abusive boyfriend who compliments you on your outfit, then asks if you have a skirt that’s “not as short/tight” or tells you that your makeup is “a little overdone”. Eventually you second guess everything you do/say/wear and run it by the boyfriend for his approval. Fear convinced me that the things that had happened were somehow my fault – that if I had spent more time at home, or less time doing things that I enjoyed, everyone would be better off. Fear whispered in my ear, telling me that there weren’t enough hours in the day for a “woman of your age” to do EVERYTHING, that even Wonder Woman deserves a break, that it would be better if I just came home and zoned out in front of the television.

After the second time that my husband almost died, I realized that Fear had lied to me. Stepping back from the things I loved hadn’t kept my husband safe. If Fear lied about that, what other lies was he telling?

The best part of having my husband almost die was that I was lifted up by people who loved us. I was lifted high enough to see a glimmer of hope, and Hope sends Fear running.

Once he started running, I saw Fear for what he is – a liar and a cheat. It was then that I remembered my favorite acronym.

False

Expectations

Appearing

Real

Run you bastard, run

breakingbad

 

 

Friends

imagesCAVD3IZN

FYI, this post is not about the tv show, although I liked it a lot.

 

I ran into a friend at the grocery store today. We were close once, but over the past few years we’ve drifted apart. Our daughters brought us together, but they grew up and found new friends, and so, our friendship faded.

That’s not exactly true, and since They say (no, I don’t know who “they” are) a writer must be honest, I’ll try again.

Our daughters grew up and my friend dumped me. Over the past year she stopped responding to my emails, answering my texts or returning my calls. I was hurt, and wondered what I had done wrong (because that’s the way my brain works. It’s always my fault). After a while, my feelings turned to anger. I decided she was a “friend for a season” and that I was better off without “friends like that”, but I was still heartbroken.

When I ran into her at the store, my first impulse was to smile politely and keep shopping – after all, I didn’t want my ice cream to melt. Seeing that I didn’t have any ice cream and that it was too late to hide, I decided to Be the Bigger Person and make polite conversation.

“How are you? How are the kids? Is your son a senior now?”

She responded by blurting out personal and devastating news.*  I was heartbroken again. I had written off a friend who was struggling to deal with a difficult situation. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t know, that I had no way of knowing what she was going through. I had walked away rather than trying harder. I had failed to be a lifetime friend.

What she did was not new – I have done the same thing in the past. I pulled away from friends and family, embarrassed to admit that I was having difficulty coping (“difficulty coping” is code  for “having a hard time getting through each day without crying”).  I don’t know why we turn away, when we should be reaching out for help. Or maybe I do.

We have been trained to believe that we can do it all (easily and effortlessly, thanks to Cosmo), and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. We’ve been told that help is a four letter word.  We have been led  to believe that other people sail through life (with perfect hair and makeup), and that we are the only ones who can’t get our S*** together. This way of thinking is not only wrong, it is dangerous. It’s the top of the slide into a dark, deep hole with slick steep sides. The bottom of the hole is filled with jagged glass and the sound of the Evil Inner Critic howling “You can’t do anything right, you are stupid, you are a failure, nobody will ever love you….”

There are ways out of the hole, but they’re difficult to find. It’s dark, and cold, and there are blocked doorways and false exits.  Some people choose to leave the only way they know how, ending their lives and leaving family and friends behind.  Some people are strong enough to climb out on their own. It can be done, but it’s a long, hard process.  The journey out is much easier when you have a team of people working with you – people who will cheer you on as you begin our climb, or throw you a lifeline and pull you up when you get stuck.

The first week of October is Mental Health Awareness Week. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Asking for help was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I am so glad that I did. Help came from the most amazing places. I learned that, although I CAN walk through this world alone, with a little help from my friends, I can fly.

*The news is not mine to share, and it’s not important to this piece.

15 Shades of Grey* **

*Please note, there’s no sex in this post, just mild profanity. If you’re offended by profanity, you’ve come to the wrong blog (I swear like a sailor. In fact, sometimes I swear like a ship full of sailors). If you’re looking for graphic sex, you should look for the other Grey book…or the adult bookshop.

** This post was prompted by Robin’s Williams birthday. He would have been 64.

images[1]

 “Well, here we are, halfway through July, more than halfway through the year, and what do you have to show for it? You’re a little older, a little fatter and your house is still a mess…..”

And there you have it, the EIC is in fine form this morning. I’ve talked about him, more than once, but I don’t think I’ve talked about his girlfriend – she’s a soggy, wet, warm, mildew-y wool blanket. She’s heavy and smelly and ruins everything she touches. She’s also a self-centered diva, demanding all your attention, then tsk-tsking sadly and insinuating that your best effort is not quite good enough, but suggesting that closing the blinds might help. I call her BFC, but she’s known by many names, including The Blues and Depression.

The two of them rarely travel alone, preferring the company of their friends Anxiety Disorder and Self-Hatred. These asshats are the founding members of The Sneaky Bastards. I have battled TSB for years, with varying degrees of success. I recently came across some letters from my mother which showed me that she fought the same battle. I had long suspected that she self-medicated for depression. The letters are my proof. The letters made me sad – not because they were depressing (they weren’t. In fact, they were funny, and provided me with a lovely trip down memory lane), but because she thought she was alone. She wasn’t. Our family tree has an entire branch of women who were self-medicators.

My personal battles have been mostly victories. I have the blues, usually powered by hormones, but nothing that some chocolate and a glass of wine couldn’t fix (yay for self-medication!). I suppose I was due for a loss.

A series of losses, including health (my own and others), employment (not my own), and life (again, not my own) knocked me down. I struggled to get up, but a car crash threw me to the bottom of the deepest, darkest well. Figuratively, that is. My car got a dent. The other car got a flat tire. Nobody was hurt. Not physically, at least. We managed to drive away, but I was crushed beyond repair, and found myself sobbing uncontrollably on the floor of my car.

The good news is that hitting bottom (or close to it) gave me the incentive I needed to look for help. More importantly, it gave me the incentive to ASK for help. MOST importantly, I learned to accept help when it was offered, whether or not I’d asked for it. Now I responded to the offer with a “Yes, thank you” instead of a fake smile and a “Gosh, thanks, I’m FINE***, but thanks again for offering.”

I knew that I was not the only one battling the EIC and BFC and all their friends, but I used to think that it was a battle which needed to be fought alone, in silence, with the tools I had on hand. Now I know that I was wr…wr….mistaken (yeah, I have a hard time admitting to being incorrect. I’ll deal with that issue…soon).

This is not a personal battle. 1 in 8 women are affected by depression, and anxiety and depression affects twice as many women as men, but it is not a “Woman’s issue” either. I am tired of seeing The Sneaky Bastards win. They tell us that we are alone, that we deserve to stay in the dark. They lie.

The first step is asking for help. Yes, it’s a four letter word, but it’s a good one. Then again, so is hope.

OnceYouChooseHope[1]***FINE (Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional)

 

We are Magic

We think, sometimes (or, in my case, most of the time), that we are not enough. We listen to the EIC, the voice who tells us that we are not thin/smart/pretty/rich enough to do what we want to do. And so we wait, wishing and hoping for the day that we will be ____ enough to pursue our dreams. We tell ourselves that we have plenty of time, that when we lose those last 5 pounds, when we are better rested, when the kids are older, we will begin. And so we find ourselves wasting our days, dreaming of the day when we’re ready. We find ourselves at the end (or middle) of our lives, wondering how time slipped away, filled with memories of decent lives (there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a “nice” life) yet wondering what would have happened “if only”.
We live from our head, instead of our heart. Our heart whispers of possibilities, of another life, a life where our dreams come true. Our heart tells us to believe in ourselves, to believe that we are enough. To take the gifts we’ve been given and use them for the greatest good.
Stop thinking and start believing. You’re not dust, you’re magic. ❤

Hope, Lost and Found

OnceYouChooseHope[1]“Whoever said life is fair?”

That was my mother’s favored response whenever I whined “…but it’s not fair!” As a mother to a teenaged girl, I’ve said it more than once myself. My daughter responds the same way I did at her age – with an eye roll, a huff of exasperation and stomping feet. I understand her frustration, both with my response and the situation.

I’ve been reminded that life isn’t always fair several times in the past couple of months (more than several times, to be honest). Evidently I have a life lesson that I am Just Not Learning. I have reached a point in my life where loss is a constant. Loss of material goods (and yes, I know that stuff is just stuff, and that I can’t take it with me), loss of health (not my own, say I, as I cross my fingers, knock wood and spit for luck), loss of life (again, not my own), loss of hope. The last one is my own. My husband lost his job several months ago, and it’s been….a blessing, I suppose.

We are learning that time is just as valuable a commodity as money. We are spending less AND more. We spend less time doing things that cost money: less time watching television, less time surfing on the computer, less time eating in restaurants and shopping at the mall. We spend more time doing things that matter: more time talking, more time laughing, and more time playing.

My husband and I are returning to the early days of our courtship, when time was all we had. I am rediscovering things about my husband that (after twenty-six years) I’ve long forgotten or taken for granted. He makes me laugh. After all these years together, he can still take my breath away with a look, and he gives me hope. So I guess I haven’t lost it after all.