Writing through the downpour

There ain’t nothing you can do with an umbrella and a rain jacket to protect your bottom half against a horizontal downpour on your 5 block walk home from work. Your pencil skirt will be drenched.

There ain’t nothing you can say but yes when your law firm partner who is visiting from out of town asks you to join him for lunch with one of the firm’s most important clients just one hour before you are set to have lunch with your sister. He does not care that she is also visiting from out of town.

There ain’t nothing you can do but smile your way through agonizing small talk after said partner is 30 minutes late to the lunch he invited you to but which the client was unaware you would actually be attending. It does not matter that you do not practice this area of the law.

There ain’t nothing you can do but say you’re trying when your boss jokes that your next adventure should be to follow in the footsteps of your fellow teammates and get engaged. He claims online dating worked for his sisters even if it hasn’t for you.

Sometimes life throws us curves we can’t do nothing about. We get drenched, disappointed, heart-broken, depressed and, if you’re like me, stressed with so much anxiety that your chest burns, you have trouble breathing,  and you run to the break room as fast as you can to get your next fix of sugar and caffeine hoping that will somehow calm you down.

The other day as I found myself searching the internet for a new job and realizing that there is no such thing as a stress-free job no matter how hard I look (dang it!), I knew I needed to find a different solution to help me make it through my days. And then I remembered my last job. It was equally stressful, if not more, albeit in very different ways. And yet, somehow, I didn’t find myself cringing every weekend for just one more day like I was now. So what was the difference?

I wrote more. That was it. I’m not kidding. My last job offered no small shortage of stories to tell and I told them. Because I told them, I could laugh about them. They didn’t sit buried in the shadows of my mind to fester and taunt me. I got them out in the open and I pointed right at them. Shared them no less. This is the difference. I know because in the past 5 days I’ve slowly felt a return of my pre-4 p.m. call self. All because I’ve written on each one of those 5 days.

Try it for yourself and see what happens. See if I’m making it up.

Not only does writing help me cope, heal, and detox, writing makes me happier. I become more observant of the world around me. I see the good, the bad, and the downright ugly, but as I write I begin to think – I could use this in a story. Which is really my story. And when I write my life like a story, all of a sudden it becomes so much more interesting. Which then makes me so grateful I get to live this interesting story!

So when the rains come down and the partners call and prince charming seems eternally detained, you can find me writing. Writing through the downpour. Writing for my sanity. Writing to smile through this crazy stressful story called life.

 

How does writing help you?

A power-surge smile

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“You got the dimples,” says the rail fare inspector as he walks by this morning.

I flash him an even bigger grin – showcasing my body’s most attractive imperfection.

I’m waiting for the train on Main and trying my best to stop sweating profusely. It’s only 8:30 a.m. but the thick August heat is oppressive.

“How are you so happy going to work?” he asks. “Do you like your job?”

Funny that he asks this. Just that morning I had been dragging my feet trying to cut through the apathy just to get my butt out the door. But, “sure,” I say, “I like my job” and grin again.

He starts telling me how he tries to stay positive too even though he has to deal with some crazies and pick up their crap.

“I just don’t know how you’re so happy going to work.” He states again. Wow, I must really be deceiving.

I try to remember this “happiness” a few hours later when I start a project I haven’t fully thought through and the whole world (literally) asks for clarification. (Well, at least I now know the Brits like Michael Phelps!)

I discuss this with my friend via text. She says perhaps my not-so-happy is actually quite-happy compared to some. She says she’s starting a journal in which she will write down how God has been a part of her life that day. That perhaps, the more we recognize His hand in our life the more the downs won’t seem so…down. Maybe that’s the key.

I think there is truth in this. I think about yesterday.

After a week battling some serious lethargy (caused by, among other things, a 4 p.m. call) I had no desire to go to the gym. I finally convinced myself that I had to at least show up. I could walk on the treadmill, but I had to at least show up. So I did. I walked on the treadmill – it wasn’t working. I walked on the next one – it wasn’t working. And so on down the line.

Turns out due to the incredibly high heat index and the resulting power surge, all machines not currently in use were not working. I hemmed and hawed trying to decide what to do, until I remembered that 6:30 body pump class that I was under trainer’s orders to attend but had deliberately skipped for the past 2 weeks. Right.

Through some nice Houston trickery (perhaps), I end up where I really should have been all along. I just needed a strong push to get me there – and lo and behold, I got it.

Now that may sound nice to you, you’re thinking, but that was just a coincidence, that was just a power problem, that had nothing to do with you. Perhaps. Perhaps you’re absolutely right. But I choose to believe some things aren’t coincidence. I choose to believe in these words:

Some may count this experience as simply a nice coincidence, but I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them.

When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance – David A. Bednar

I was in desperate need of a push. And I got it. The week before, I needed a reminder. And I got it too. There are still moments of lethargy and sadness, but there is happiness beneath it all. And it’s in the moments when my eyes are wide open, when I’m trying my best to take a step forward, that I notice it the most.

So Mr. Fare Inspector, that’s why I’m happy going to work when I really don’t want to go. Because I know there’s a bigger picture, that I’m just playing a small part, and that despite all the anguish and agony of this life, I’m not alone and good things await.

 

What “coincidences” have you seen in your life this week that maybe aren’t so “coincidental”?

The 4 p.m. call

At 4 p.m. on a Wednesday I get a call no woman wants to get.

I was in my office and the call came on my cell. The number was unfamiliar but the location wasn’t. So I answered.

“Hello?”

“Hi, is this ——?”

It’s a woman’s voice. My guards are up. I was expecting a man’s.

“Yes.”

“Hi, my name is ——-.”

Oh my. I don’t know this person, but I know that name.

“I believe you know my husband. I just wanted to call and let you know, we’re still married.”

I’m starting to physically shake. I have now become something I swore I would never become. I’ve become just one more lousy statistic in the large and ever-growing pool of women who have been deceived, betrayed and duped by men. A pool I thought I was too smart and too cautious to ever fall into. But no, I am now just one more victim in a world fraught with men who think of nothing but themselves, who think they can do what they want and get away with it, who think no one is going to get hurt.

I had misgivings. We hadn’t dated long. I was told he was recently divorced. We talked so much and so often that I believed him.

But now I knew the truth. That he had straight up lied to me. Over and over and over again. And now all I feel is dirty.

“I don’t date married men,” I hear myself repeatedly tell the woman on the other end of the phone. I’m no longer shaking on the outside, I’m trembling on the inside.

What these married men don’t seem to understand is how their unwanted advances make the good girls of this world feel. It is not flattering. It is not appreciated. You are married. However broken it may be, you cannot talk or feel your way out of your marriage. It’s just a flimsy piece of paper, sure, but that flimsy piece of paper that got you into a marriage looks awfully similar to the flimsy piece of paper that’s gonna get you back out. Until that second piece of paper comes along, you are still married. You are committed. You are devoted to one, have eyes for one, will only be with one. As long as you are married, your flirter is disengaged, turned off, stored away and buried deep in the corners of your closet.

This isn’t the first time a married man has made clear advances on me, just the first time I was miserable enough to not know. In all cases, it leaves me feeling the same – disgusting, angry, upset, and downright sad for my fellow sisters who are much bigger victims than I have ever been. Although my story is so very, very mild compared to those tender women I know – I still feel filth. I can only imagine how they feel.

My hat is off to those rare gentlemen that still exist, who are true to their marital vows, who live with integrity, and who may even cherish their wives. I only wish there were more of you out there.

 

 

Flying High Now

A recent work trip sent me to Philly  (!) – the City of Brotherly Love. I had never been there before and was super excited to head to the East Coast and discover this historic city. I was going to eat a  philly cheesesteak, see the Liberty Bell, but most important and at the top of my list – I was going to run up the Rocky Steps! (Starting pumping your fists now.)

I’m a Rocky fan. I can’t help it. My senior year of high school, in order to get ready for my very last season of swimming, I dedicated 5 weekends in a row to watching each of the Rocky movies in succession. I admit, I was super happy when Creed came out and have watched it twice. (Keep pumping those fists.)

The Monday morning I was in Philly I had a few hours in between answering work emails and setting up for a conference to explore. With giddy anticipation, I requested an Uber to take me to the Rocky Steps (!). My Uber driver was uber friendly and gave me a little tour as we headed down Franklin Parkway. He said he hated to break it to me, but there weren’t really that many steps. I told him I already knew – there were 72.

We approached the Philadelphia Museum of Art and I get out of the Uber. I’m smiling like a little schoolgirl. Before approaching the steps, I visit the Rocky statute. There’s a man standing there to greet me.

“You need your picture taken? I’ll take your picture. I’m here all day every day. I work for tips.”

Perfect. I needed a stand in photographer.

After taking continuous shots with my phone, he asked if they were good. As he’s working to get new customers, I conveniently find $2 in my wallet and hand them over.

Next – the steps!

If you need to find a good place to people watch, this is a really great spot.

Everyone is running up the steps. Some are being videotaped as they run. Some are racing up the steps with their friends. Some locals are actually running up them as part of their daily workout. There is no hesitation in me.

Running up I go!

And at the top.

Fists are pumping the air. “Yo Adrians!” are heard. There are smiles all around and I love it. The iconic view is also amazing.

Philly

After getting ample time at the top to soak it all in, take all the photos I want and absorb the happiness of my fellow Rocky fans, it’s time to descend back down to Franklin Parkway and the work that awaits me.

To prolong the inevitable and enjoy the incredibly beautiful summer day, I decide to walk back to my hotel and see some more sights along the way.

Eventually the reason for the trip begins and I’m sucked into a work conference filled with passionate professionals who seem to truly love their job. The euphoria I felt on the Rocky Steps has been transformed into a feeling of dread and drudgery. I wasn’t sure how I got in this position, why I was in a job I wasn’t sure I liked, why I decided to forego other opportunities to be here, and why I seemed unhappy. My confusion and waxing apathy was made only more apparent by the professionally driven individuals surrounding me. I wanted to be anywhere but here.

It was the last day of the conference when the founder of the event walked by my booth.

“You talked to my daughter yesterday, didn’t you?”

I quickly glance at her name tag, “Yes, I did.”

Her daughter had walked by my booth asking about my firm, what we did and how it all worked, revealing in the process just how little she knew about the legal world.

“Well, thank you for talking to her. She just graduated from college and was so impressed by all the women at the conference. She said they were all so smart and all so gorgeous.”

Beneath all the apathy and drudgery I had felt in the past 2 days, this sweet comment stirred in me a great reminder of where I used to be. A young girl with stars in her eyes, but clouded with doubt, wanting so much to be like the women I admired, but not sure how I was ever going to get there, if at all. I was happy that in some minuscule way I had helped this girl see her potential and realize that doors are open, you just have to pick which one you want to step through. This was also a great reminder of something I had been missing in my life – the joy that comes from helping others and showing them what’s possible. I wish this brief feeling could have lasted longer and I could have done more to deserve it.

When I originally set out to write my thoughts about this trip, I planned to tell you how I wanted to fly high now, how I wanted to fight like a champ, how if Rocky had to pound meet to get to the top – he wasn’t the only one. But I wasn’t there yet and I wasn’t even sure I was running up the right steps. I’m still not sure if I am. But today, I want to tell you about something else.

Maybe it doesn’t matter what steps we’re running up. Maybe the steps change from time to time. Maybe we have our bad days where we just don’t want to run up them. It takes work after all. A lot of sweat and tears and doubts to make it all the way up. Maybe sometimes we’re afraid. Maybe some days it’s a struggle but everyone else seems to be flying up with ease. Whatever it is, sometimes those steps are just dang hard.

Perhaps there was a lot going through Rocky’s mind as he worked and trained and climbed. (Or maybe not, after all he is a fictional character). But I’d like to think that what got him to the top is what he exclaimed so freely to the world in “Yo Adrian!” Maybe the doubts and fears and confusion come no matter what, but that what really matters when it comes to climbing is who is cheering us on. And those are my thoughts today.

I’m not sure if I’m in the right profession, the right job, or running up the right steps. But if there’s someone cheering me on, I’m not sure it will matter. Maybe that’s what it’s all about. Having an “Adrian” in our life to motivate us when we’re down, to comfort us when we fear and to make the view at the top so much more amazing.

 


You like her?

Sure, I like her.

What’s the attraction?

I dunno…she fills gaps.

What’s ‘gaps’?

I dunno, she’s got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.

-Paulie & Rocky

 

 

I made it!

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Yep, I blogged for a month. Every. Single. Day!!

I created a home for my blog October 30th and November 1st I took off running (or writing rather). I signed up for Blogging U’s Writing 101 class that offers weekday prompts, helpful resources, and a community of supportive bloggers. I also pledged to participate in my first NaBloPoMo (National Blog Publishing Month) and post everyday in the month of November.

Thanks to the Writing 101 class I had plenty of prompts to get me started. Some days I was really excited to write and thoughts came quickly and easily. Other days I had to force myself to get a word down and some of my posts were rather short. Writing everyday was a challenge and the Thanksgiving break attempted to throw me off course completely. But I made it! Now I know, it can be done.

Writing everyday, or posting on a blog everyday, changes you a bit. For one, it obviously makes you busier. Thinking of ideas, writing them, editing them, replying to comments, reading and commenting on other blogs – it all takes time! I was glued to a screen in the moments I could spare and wrote feverishly on yellow legal pads when I could steal away on my lunch break. Many times I wondered if such a feat, especially at my amateur level, was even worth the exercise.

In addition to making life busy, writing everyday constantly filled my mind with thoughts, ideas, and questions. My mind was sometimes so full that I left groceries in the car, forgot to put on jewelry before heading off to work, and for the first time ever stayed awake and alert for my entire morning bus ride into town! (This even happened a couple times!) When my mind wanted to derail into the dark places of self-doubt and pity, it is writing and its all consuming thoughts that rejuvenated me and gave me the course correction I needed. Writing some of my more personal posts became my therapy, a way to release the pent-up anger and frustration that was building inside. Writing helped me cope and gave me strength to move forward.

My daily writing may not have been very profound or noteworthy, but I do have something to show for it. Words! Lost of words! You can see them as you continue to scroll down the page. So there’s that.

There’s also the friendships I’ve made as I’ve collaborated on pieces, sought advice, and reviewed short stories delivered straight to my inbox. The writing/blogging community is a welcome place to be and I’m thankful to those who ushered me in.

Last night though, I admit, I was ready to throw in the towel to this whole writing everyday business, thinking this is too much work, it’ll never take me anywhere and maybe we’ll just pass this off as one more phase. Except…I still had one more post to write. Writing it now, as writing will often do, has clarified my thinking once again. I am reminded that even if my writing never takes me anywhere you’d notice, it’s taken me somewhere today. It has suspended my reality, pushed out the negativity, helped me focus and let me dream. If that is all I get from the moments I spend writing everyday, then that will be enough. Now, to remember that!

While I am committing again to write everyday for the next month, this does not mean I will post to my blog everyday. Life is still busy and I’m afraid the quality will continue to suffer. My goal is to post at least once a week starting next Tuesday, followed by every Tuesday thereafter, and perhaps other intermittent days in between.

For those of you that have made it this far with me – thank you for reading and for sticking around long enough to see where this journey takes us!

As I am still trying to nail down some sort of writing routine, I wonder, how often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? If so, I’d love to hear about it below!

This is my story, what’s yours?

Gratitude

The Thanksgiving holiday has passed and we now embark on the Christmas season. A time of giving, but also a time consumed with shopping, wanting, wrapping, and stressing.

To hold on to Thanksgiving a little longer I thought I would list out a few of the things I’m grateful for in no particular order. The list includes “things” that cannot be purchased or wrapped, which made it a little tougher.

I’m grateful for:

  1. Every chance I have to sleep in
  2. Walks with my dog when I don’t have my phone to distract me
  3. Time to read and write
  4. Talking with my cute 15-16 year old Sunday school kids
  5. Hugs from my nieces
  6. Running into friends when I’m out and about
  7. Fall in Texas
  8. Spin classes with friends
  9. Places where my dog can roam off leash
  10. Days when my back/neck doesn’t hurt
  11. Lunch walks on workdays
  12. Phone calls from girlfriends
  13. Saturday rides
  14. Vacation days
  15. Visiting family
  16. Long, hot showers
  17. Discovering nature on walks
  18. Good men who do right and sacrifice their time for others
  19. Sunshine
  20. Timely texts
  21. Mornings on my patio

What are some non-things you are grateful for?

The hope of you

It’s the hope of you that keeps me true when I want so much to give in.

It’s the hope of you loyal and clean that makes me smile within.

Men like you are hard to find, like unicorns some may say,

But I caught a glimpse of you once on that warm October day.

You’ve gone away and who knows when you’ll return.

I’m trying to be patient and good, know it is for you I yearn.

For now the hope of you and what you are is enough,

But I’m not sure how much longer I can contain this love.

Hurry my dear, hurry, I’m waiting here for you,

Praying and hoping my dream of you comes true.

 

 

 

Polk Pick-it-up

She knew his history when she took the case, but she didn’t think he would follow her to the state line.

Her foot is on the gas, hands clenched on the wheel.

She sees the Polk Pick-it-up ahead. There’s a sheriff’s car in the parking lot. It’s a risk, but she has to take it.

She swerves into the lot, parks in the back of the store out of sight from the road, and runs to the entrance.

She opens the door and frantically scans the aisles. The sheriff’s not there. She hears the door open behind her. He’s inside.


 

For more, see:

  1. Too close
  2. Drive

Two-handed fist pump & a shoutout

Co-written by Pairs Well With… and This Girl’s Story

Based on highly unscientific calculations, you will cross paths with approximately 31,390 people in your lifetime if you met one person every day since the day you were born and lived to be 86.  I think we can all recognize that you’re not introducing yourself at a ripe two months old, but over the course of a lifetime, it all ebbs and flows.  Think of the many souls you cross between jobs, parties and travel.  Point being, you cross paths with many, at some of the most unsought times and places, with a handful blossoming into a really amazing connection.

We were brought together by the good graces of writing and have bonded over each other’s work and life stories of heartbreak and healing from Minnesota to Texas.  After commenting on each other’s most heartfelt pieces, People Disappoint.  Pizza is Eternal and Why I Turned My Back That Day, we realized parallels in our stories and an emotional rawness within our writing.  While you don’t wish anyone to go through that pain, there’s something reassuring to know that you’re not alone.  Much of our story, as we started to share, ironically, unraveled to be the same…


The man that broke my heart came over a few weeks ago to discuss the potential of getting back together.  I sat there listening to him thinking of how badly I had wanted this and prayed for this and hoped for this throughout the past year.  Despite the longing in my heart, I realized that even after all the heartache I wasn’t sure I could do it anymore. Something was different. I didn’t know if I wanted this, at least not in the way it was being offered. The only answer I could give him was, I just don’t know. He left without us resolving anything and I cried myself to sleep that night.

Two days later I ran into a friend of mine who asked how I was. He must have heard what had happened and asked what I was going to do. Was I going to get back together with him? Timidly, as if I was trying to see how the words sounded on my tongue, as if I were trying to convince myself as I said it, I answered no.

Then to my surprise, he raised both of his hands above his head, pumped his fists and shouted, “Yes! Way to stick up for yourself!”

 

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His response took me back. Is that what I was doing? I wasn’t so sure. Had I not stuck up for myself in the past? Had I needed to? I just thought I was like everybody else, trying to wade through the cloudy jumbled confusion that are relationships. I was trying to give and love and compromise. But maybe he was right. Maybe there does come a time when you’ve done all you can do and given all you can give, when you have to put your foot down (however timidly it may be) and say I need more than this. I deserve more than this.

Perhaps there are times when we do sell ourselves short, whether it be in life or dating. We settle for things as they are and refuse to believe that there could be something better, that we could be better.  But why?  Are we so scared of taking a chance on ourselves that it paralyzes us to make no forward progress? Are we so exhausted from the effort we’ve put into others that we have a hard time scrounging up more for ourselves?

Anytime you question your ability, your strength, your appeal, you only shortchange yourself.  Self-doubt will win every time, especially when it comes from loved ones.  Living a life of misery for fear of change is no way to live. We are meant to soar, and sometimes that requires us to make a stand, switch things up and say, I will no longer be held back. It takes courage to do this and it does not come overnight. It comes through perseverance, patience, practice and love. Often times it comes through the support of those who can see what we, in our blinding pain, cannot.

Appreciation doesn’t cover the love and comfort we felt from friends and family who picked us up when we needed them the most

Thank you for sharing your tears with mine and for always offering your listening ear and support. I hope I’ve been there for you as much as you’ve been there for me.

Thank you for supporting and loving, and for those fighting words – even if they weren’t always appreciated or understood in the moment.

Thank you for understanding my sadness and showing up with cookies, tequila, Kleenex and kind words to put a smile on my face.

Thank you for heeding a prompting to come over at 10:00pm on a weeknight when you had no idea why and we hadn’t spoken in three years. Your visit was a very timely answer to prayer.

Thank you for leaving work to be with me on days that I couldn’t stand to be alone and for listening to me endlessly and tirelessly overanalyze the situation.

Thank you for knowing I was worthy of a two-handed fist pump and a shoutout. I needed that. We all need that.

 


Pairs Well With…:  www.pairswellwith.me  &https://www.facebook.com/pairswellwith/

This Girl’s Story: www.thisgirlsstory.com

Writing 101, Day 19: “Feature a Guest”

Shoes

My eyes are on the floor and I see shoes walk by.

Chacos!

Not every guy wears chacos! Only guys that are outdoorsy and adventurous!

I look up. He is tall and attractive.

We talk. He’s an engineer.

We date. He sends flowers.

We talk of marriage. I break his heart.

 

My my eyes are on the floor and I see shoes walk by.

Cycling shoes!

Not every guy wears cycling shoes! Only guys that are fit and like bicycles!

I look up. He is tall and attractive.

We talk. He’s an engineer.

We date. He brings flowers.

We talk of marriage. He breaks my heart.

 

My eyes aren’t on the floor anymore and I look for hats.