Not even a little funny

Don’t Look Down

Fear-of-HeightsI’m not afraid of heights. Not really. I mean, I can easily do Ferris wheels and tall buildings. I’ve stood on the thick plexi-glass floor on the top level of the Sears tower. I’ve been to the top of the Space Needle. Had drinks at the Metropolitan Museum rooftop bar in New York.

I’m not afraid.

But watching my children maneuver when they are somewhere high up where they could possibly fall? That terrifies me.

It’s a good metaphor for life, I guess.

The general advice for people afraid of heights is don’t look down.  Of course you know down is there but if you look, you could get dizzy and that increases the risk of the very thing you fear, stumbling, falling, jumping.

Life isn’t a vertical journey, though. We have what’s up ahead and we have what is behind us. Often people will tell you not to look back, leave the past in the past, soldier on, move forward. That’s all good and fine but I have a different view. I think the equivalent to the person afraid of heights looking down is the person unsure about the future looking ahead. It can cause dizziness and fear.

And looking back doesn’t have to mean holding onto that which you must move past. You can look in the rear-view mirror simply to see the progress you’ve made.

Back when I had a team of people reporting into me, this was a mantra of mine. Often, we were so busy, spending so much time seemingly banging our heads against the wall, feeling like it was impossible to get anything done, I would often say “Look back and see what we did.” Because your progress is easily visible when you look back. And if we can look back and see progress we’ve already made, even in tough circumstances, then it’s logical that we can expect more progress in our futures, even if it seems impossible in the moment, dizzying, head-bangingly frustrating.

That’s my life right now. I get dizzy looking ahead. Things still have not settled down. I have that horizontal fear of heights regarding my future. I’m anxious for everything to be orderly, and yet right now I’m still unsure of how it will all come out. But when I look in my rear-view mirror, I know there is progress. Adjusting, adapting, coming to terms with the new reality of my life. I’m working. I’m sleeping at night. I go out socially with good friends. I grocery shop on Wednesdays. I have a routine, a brand new routine that now includes mowing the lawn and repairing lamps. I bought a drill. And if I have an occasional day where I barely get out of bed (ahem, yesterday I binge-watched The Newsroom all day), it’s because I choose not to, not because I just can’t.

If looking forward makes you dizzy, just don’t. Don’t look down.  Look back to see how far you’ve come and let that give you assurance that you will continue to move forward, even if things are still unsettled. Even if you’re still trying to work out some really big stuff. It’ll be OK. You’ll get through it. Life’s gravity will pull you forward.  Just do your best, it’s almost always good enough.

Signed,

Talking to Myself

 

By |July 11th, 2016|Indiscriminate Drivel, Not even a little funny|Comments Off on Don’t Look Down

I Don’t Want to Talk About It (an essay of 445 words)

angel sad statueIn November of 2012, I wrote a blog post called I Have a Pimple.  Two thousand and twelve, y’all. That was over three years ago and the pimple was already pretty big by then.

In 2013, I wrote Are You There, God? It’s Me, Linda, which is another post about my pimple where I don’t talk about my pimple in all its glorious and gory detail.

I tried to deal with my pimple by managing my own life better.  In 2014, I decided to be more outwardly focused and I joined the board of directors for a non-profit. (If you have buckets of money to donate to charities, call me! Text me!)

I entered into 2015 with a mindset of standing up for myself. Ends up, 2015 was a year of big changes.  I quit my job. I remember distinctly the day I put my notice in. I remember because I tweeted this:

It was a glorious summer. Everything a summer with no job should be.  I will be forever grateful for the summer of 2015.

And then October came and the winds of change blew hard. It took me awhile before I could share openly, but in early December, I made my Emancipation Proclamation and broke the news of my pending divorce.

In other words, that damn pimple exploded all over the mirror of my life.

Divorcing in the age of social media is hard. He and I have agreed to be kind and considerate of each other, so I’ve mostly kept my damn mouth shut. But here I am writing about it. Actually, I’m writing about not writing about it. I know he could easily be reading this, and my children are possibly reading it too – at least the brave and rebellious ones who click the link even against their better judgment – so I won’t be talking about it. I won’t tell you about my pimple. Just that it has popped and now it needs some TLC so it can heal.

But you should know that even if I’m (we’re) not talking about it on social media or on our blogs or at the Thanksgiving dinner table with all our relatives, we are dealing with the mess of this pimple. He is and I am and our children are.  We won’t bleed all over you, we’ll just bleed quietly over here where we won’t bother anyone. No, really. Don’t worry about us. Could you hand me that tourniquet, please? Thanks.

Back in 2012, I wrote a post called Strength is a Clever Disguise.  We’re being strong. We’re dealing with the mess. We’re healing. But be gentle with us, OK?

Because sometimes what we can’t talk about takes all of our energy.

 

By |February 10th, 2016|Indiscriminate Drivel, Married Life, Not even a little funny|Comments Off on I Don’t Want to Talk About It (an essay of 445 words)

Dear 2015

new_year_cards_happy_new_year_2015Dear 2015,

You come at me all clean and shiny, a blank page for me to write on. You should know this – I am left-handed and I smudge everything. Everything.

And yet, here we are. I turned 50 last week, you know.  Fifty. That means I’ve faced 50 clean and shiny blank pages and made it through every one of them. Every single one. That’s why I’m not afraid, and I’m quite excited.

I realize the hipsters aren’t writing resolutions anymore. I don’t know if what I do is resolution-writing or just reflecting on some themes of the year. Occasionally, I’ll set an actual goal. I remember in 2009, I decided I wold make my bed all year, and I did. Just last year, in 2014, I chose to make it a year of finding ways to give back to the community and I joined the board of a local non-profit with a mission in which I believe.

So, what of 2015? Well, I don’t want to give away all of my secrets, but there are a couple of big things I have in my mind as goals.  And then there are some themes more about how I will “be” in 2015. How I might want to calibrate the essence of me and the way that I exist in this world, interact with people.  That’s what this post is about. I might smudge it. In fact, I probably will. But here is what I aim to do.

I will apologize less.

I do care, of course. I never want to offend or hurt anyone. But I think in the past I’ve worried about bothering people too much. I will worry less and apologize less for bothering people.  I won’t apologize for my political beliefs or my weight issues or my lack-of-religion. I won’t apologize for making different choices than you or someone else. I won’t apologize because you don’t like what I did or didn’t do.

I will apologize when I am sorry about something or when I’ve done something hurtful to someone I care about. In that case, I may apologize for causing the hurt even though I won’t change my decision about what I have done or am doing.  Because sometimes what is the right decision for me may cause some hurt to someone else, even someone I love. I can promise you I will think long and hard before causing that hurt, but there are times where I will still move forward and make a choice that may cause hurt, and I will feel sorry about the hurt but not about the choice.

In 2015, I will not care so much about my job.  The stress of the job is taking a huge toll on me, and I have to draw my line and guard my boundaries.  It’s a job.  Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s a good job and I’m grateful to have it. I’m grateful for the living it provides to my family. I am grateful for the opportunities it has given me to learn and grow professionally.

But… I will not sell out my health to it, nor my sanity. I will guard those boundaries like a well-trained pit bull.

This is hard for me, y’all. I take great pride in the quality of my work. By taking care of my work-life balance, it will, by necessity, require that I let more things slip at work. Companies today are all “Do more with less!” and so we have had our people numbers diminished year over year with the expectations and responsibilities rising and I cannot let it encroach any further.

While letting things slip poses a risk of my performance measurement also slipping, that’s not even the main thing that bothers me. It’s the loss of reputation. I have built my work reputation over many years of solid performance. I am a get-things-done person and I take pride in that.  For the past couple years, I’ve continued to try to uphold that even with higher expectations and reduced resources. That isn’t sustainable. So standing this wall, guarding this boundary, means I am choosing to let my performance and reputation slip.  Hold me, I’m scared.

Perhaps those two things seem arrogant to some.  I won’t apologize. (See?? I’m starting already!)

I’ve turned off comments on my blog, so I can’t ask you what your goals or resolutions are for 2015. Not here, anyway.  I turned off comments months ago. Too much spam coming in. Too much worry in my head about not getting comments. It’s part of simplifying. It’s part of writing mostly for me regardless of what others think or don’t think.

So, 2015.  Bring it. I’m ready.

By |January 2nd, 2015|Indiscriminate Drivel, Not even a little funny|Comments Off on Dear 2015