Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

I’ve been in a big transition lately.  A whole lotta things have been changing my perspective.  Nothing eventful.  Nothing dynamic.  Just small, meaningful movements in my heart have given me a whole new look at what I want in my life.

What’s funny about that shift is that when you know what you want, you’re immediately aware of what you don’t want.  What’s better, you’re also aware of what you won’t tolerate.

One of these things is friendship.  I’m crystal clear about what I want in a relationship with a friend.  I want honesty.  I want support. I want time.  Those are the 3 legs of the tripod of friendship that must exist for the relationship to stay balanced.  And there’s a reason for those.

Honesty: I must know that you are honest with me.  I don’t want you to be abrasive, but I do want you to be honest.  I’ll ask your opinion.  I’ll ask for help.  I’ll ask for perspective.  If I can trust you to be honest, then I know that when I ask for your opinion, you’re not telling me what I want to hear.  If I wanted a lemming as a friend, the choices are abundant.  But I want truth and trust.  And as BFF#1 says, “You can say anything where trust is present.”

Support: I can be a little bit of a risk taker (file that under “Obvious statements of the year).  So I get excited about new opportunities and things that inspire me.  I can overwhelm myself with possibility and work myself to death on things that don’t matter.  Once you’re honest with me by telling me what you really think about the 18th project I’ve taken up this month, I want you to tell me that you believe in me.  I want you to say, “You got this.”  Even better would be, “Can I help you with it?”

Time:  This one is a biggie.  I need you to actively engage me in discussion and spend time with me.  And not only when you need something.  But when you want to say hi.  When you want to know what is going on in my world.  When you want to share something good that happened.  Something bad that happened.  I want you to want to see me for lunch or dinner or coffee or shopping or pedicures or a movie or just to run errands together.

Understand that I don’t need this all the time.  I don’t need you to reach out every single day.  I don’t want a friendship that feels like a checklist or a chore.  But if you treat people you work with or people you just met better than you treat me, well then there is a big problem.  If you make excuses to not spend time with me, or “forget” to update me on a situation that you needed me to help you through when you were in crisis… then there is a problem.  If you’re not saying, “How are you?”  Or “What’s happening in your world?” or “I haven’t heard from you.  Are you okay?”, then we ‘ve gone off the rails a little.

As I continue to grow and learn more about me, I find that I’m actively communicating these changes with my loved ones.  I want them to grow with me.  I want them to be in my corner.  Because they matter to me.

Sadly, there are some that aren’t ready to make the jump.  They’re content to be where they are, and that’s okay.  I was resentful for a while.  I felt like their desire to stay where they were was a rejection of our friendship.  I realize now, though, that just as I’m ready to grow, they may not be ready to.  And that’s okay.  My journey is my journey.  And theirs is theirs.

I’ve made the choice to allow that separation to happen.  I don’t want to go through the veritable “break up”, which no one walks away from unscathed.  But more simply, I want to allow them their own space on their journey.  I want to wish them well.  I want to remain thankful for their influence in what’s gotten me here.  I don’t want them to look at me as someone who pushed them into something they didn’t want.

I want their happiness as much as I want my own. 

And I wish them love and light on their journey.  Perhaps our paths will cross in another intricate fashion, once more.  Until then, I’m happy to have loved them.  And to have had their love.

We’ve all dealt with friendships ending at some point.  How have you handled it? How has it been handled with you?  Do you look back with regret, resentment or respect?

I’m a crazy woman.

It’s been an interesting day for me.

Image

This is my Teddy. He’s a lab-shepherd-rottie mix. He’s 3 months old in this picture. And he’s absolutely the sweetest dog on the earth.

I woke up feeling great and decided to take my new-ish puppy (we’ve had Teddy for two months) on a walk at 6am.  2.5 miles later, I felt good, he felt good, and on to my day I went.  I ran a couple of errands, went home, got dressed, and got ready for work.

I headed out the door, got my Starbucks, and proceeded to the now-jam-packed highway to work.  It was backed up.  Like… very backed up.  I was in the right lane, since it seemed to be moving faster.  Slowly we crawled along, and I noticed that there was an accident ahead.  Dozens of people slowly passed the accident and as I approached, I saw why.  Two men were outside their cars BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER!  Like, seriously going to blows.  What I found interesting, though, was the toddler in the back seat of the car, screaming like he was hurt!

I pulled ahead of the cars, threw my car in park, and ran to where the two idiots men were punching each other.  I grabbed one of the arms of the man doing most of the beating and was screaming at him to stop.  He was hulk strong, so I didn’t even phase him.  Punched the guy again.  So I grabbed him from behind and did my best to at least give a ton of resistance before he punched again.  Meanwhile, I’m screaming, “STOP!  STOP IT NOW!”  He seemed to momentarily realize what was happening and stepped back from the other guy (who was bloodied and a mess, by this point).  I stepped between them just as the man swung and I got slugged in the shoulder.  I felt every ounce of my blood boil and I yelled, “Hit me or him again and I will beat you to death with my bare hands!”  I meant business.

Once he realized that he just punched a woman, he really took a step back.  I had control of the situation.  I asked, “Who does that kid belong to?”  The man who punched me ackowledged my question.  “Mine,” he said.  I was furious.  “What the fuck are you doing out here with this guy when your kid is screaming like that?  What the fuck is wrong with you guys? Get your kid!”  He stepped around me to his son, just as the cops showed up.

Of course, they lectured me for getting involved, blah blah blah.  And I’ve gotten it from a few others, too.

To be honest, I didn’t even think about myself.  I saw the guys punching and the kid screaming and all I thought was that this poor kid was hurt from the wreck and no one was paying attention!  And all the people who drove by!  What the fuck is *that* all about?

I get it.  Those guys could have had a knife, or a gun, or just reckless senses and beaten me, too.  I get that.  But what kind of person turns a blind eye to that spectacle?  Don’t we owe our fellow man that sense of duty?  If I were getting beaten on the highway, who would stop for me?

So, dear readers, I ask you the same thing: If you were in this situation, would you do the same?  Why or why not?

I can sum up everything I know about life in 3 words…

But that would make a shitty blog entry so I am not going to just yet.  I might post it on Twitter or something, though.  That remains to be seen.

So in one of my last posts, I told you I got laid off at my last job… the last job that I loved (although I didn’t love the CEO boss who was a total douche and ultimately fired me).  But there is a happy ending to that story… sort of.

During my unemployment I stayed afloat with our finances, lost 20 lbs, and spent a TON of time in nature which totally refreshed me.  I found another job 4 weeks after losing my previous job, and then had two weeks of not worrying to really enjoy the forced sabbatical.

I started the new job almost three weeks ago.  I like it, well enough, I suppose.  I’m still not acclimated to the environment, and the new team hasn’t accepted me as one of their own, yet.  I am getting things done, though, and beginning to feel accomplished.

Karma took care to the douche I used to work for.  I found out that he got fired only *days* after I started the new job.  I don’t normally celebrate the misfortune of others, but I have to say that I delighted in karmic retribution.  Because fuck him.

What I didn’t expect is the disappointment and anger I feel, now.  I’ve heard through the grapevine that the other two owners didn’t want to fire me, but couldn’t put their foot down to prevent it because it would jeopardize the proceedings to eject him from the business.  And so now, I’m super pissed because I could still be making better money, working with better people, and kicking ass at the other company that is NOW becoming the environment they were when I was first hired with them.

And then I tell myself to quit being such a puss because really?  Why am I crying in spilled milk?  It’s done and the only option I have is to suck it up and move on because I can’t change it.

Because in the end, life goes on.  And the sun will rise tomorrow.  And I need to remind myself that everything happens for a reason.  And that reason will reveal itself through patience and hard-work.

Sunrise in Denver, CO

Sunrise in Denver, CO – copyright Fusion PDC 2013

So, I leave you with this, one of the amazing images from my recent outings during the sunrise.  It’s amazing.

Let’s face it – when it sucks, it sucks

Since losing my job, I’ve spoken with a lot of people.  Friends checking up on me.  Family members making sure I’m okay.  Former co-workers keeping me in the loop with the latest gossip.

A few times, when they’ve been complaining, somewhere during the conversation they’ll say, “Wait… I shouldn’t be complaining.  I mean, look at what you’re going through.”  And then today, I saw a post on Facebook with someone well-meaning lampooning fellow Facebook connections for complaining too much, and not being grateful, enough.  “You just wasted a breath with a complaint while someone else took their last one.”

…..please.  Really?  THAT is the new standard for our lives?  Be happy and grateful 100% of the time because someone else has it worse?  By the same token, should we refrain from celebrating because someone else has it better?

That is possibly the dumbest possible way to set yourself up for failure I’ve ever heard.  Because here’s the thing, folks – we *need* time to process our feelings.  We need to experience them.  All of them.  We need to experience disappointment and anger and happiness and frustration and sadness and excitement and boredom.  We have been given the ability of cognitive thought.  And with that comes a range of emotion.  That emotion allows us to tie feelings to experiences, and thus, enlightenment.

Think about it: You spend a whole week at work putting off an important project.  On Friday, the project is due, and you don’t have it completed.  Your boss expresses his frustration, a little less than politely.  You go into the weekend feeling angry with yourself for not getting it done.  You feel embarrassed because your boss called you out.  And you’re sad because, instead of socializing with friends, you’ll be doing the project you should have done during business hours.

Without the emotional ties, we would struggle to learn from our experiences.

When my friends shame themselves for complaining, simply because I’m unemployed, I graciously respond, “Don’t do that to yourself.  Don’t feel like you can’t complain about a situation because of what I’m going through.  I’d rather you express your feelings to me because we’re friends, rather than censor them because I’m in a rough patch.”

Without emotion, nothing happens.  As I’m sitting here, I realize that my coffee cup is sitting precariously close to the edge of the table.  That makes me anxious; I don’t want my coffee to spill.  So I move it.  Conversely, I notice that my running shoes aren’t put away.  But right now, I’m not worried about it, so nothing will happen.

You feel how you need to feel.  From processing emotion comes insight.  From insight comes enlightenment.  From enlightenment comes next action steps.  From next action steps comes success or failure.  And the process begins again.  Getting stuck in any one part of that process is problematic.  But going through them?  Perfectly healthy.

So here’s my public service announcement for the day: Feel how you need to.  Bitch about life when it has you down.  Celebrate when something good happens.  Someone always has it worse.  And someone always has it better.  And don’t worry about me.  I can’t stop myself from expressing myself.  So I’ll be just fine.

From the mind of The Flame

BFF #1 and I are generally connected every day on Facebook Messenger. Every day. All day. Lunch breaks and meetings aside, we chat.  Sometimes it’s random.  Sometimes it’s not.  But it’s nice to know that, no matter the distance, I get to work with my best friend every day.

Everyone should be this lucky.

My first message to her, today, went like this:

ME: I kept seeing something out of the corner of my nose.  Then I was like, “Oh…. It’s my nose.” 
ME: Fail.  The corner of my *eye*!  My nose can’t see out of anywhere.

After this one-way exchange, I began to think of all the random things we talk about all day.  For your reading pleasure, I have included it here.  Hope it makes you smile the way it makes me smile.

ME: BFF #3 just posted on FB today, “Does anyone else clean when they are stressed?”
I was like, “I clean when I’m angry. I got that from BFF #1.”  Then it occurs to me that I didn’t get angry-cleaning from you. I got “redirecting” from you.
Her: I’m not angry as much as everything there was so clean (and it was so refreshing).
ME: Lol. Exactly why I didn’t get angry-cleaning from you.  You’re a cleaner. I’m a go-to-sleeper.

Her: What time?
Candle time
ME: What time?  Ice Cream Shake time.  (#thingsfatgirlssay)
Her: Actually the first one was totally separate. What time did dude come in? (Pause) It is an hour necessary for a candle to be burning, for relaxation time.

ME: Grammatically speaking, which is correct:
“Are you *a* Jehovah’s Witness?”
or
“Are you Jehovah’s Witness?”
Her: Yes on the first, the second would apply as a “we are Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
ME: Ahhhh… okay. I’m on board. Not that it matters, in any capacity with regard to anything. It’s just something that crossed my mind.
The world can resume its revolution around the sun, now.
Her: That’s funny. I’m like, weird question.  “Those Jehovahs” is my favorite.
ME: “Those Jehovahs” might actually sound like a racial slur. Like, “those people”. “Those N-words” (I am being kind to your gentle mind by not using the *actual* n-word.)

Her: Go home.
ME: Almost. Just finishing one thing.  HEY! You go home, too.
Her: In the car already.
ME: Bragger.

ME: Memes are my hobby.
Her: We should get you a non-digital hobby. It’s better for your soul.

ME: I’m so mentally frazzled that I’m using periods unnecessarily on bullet points. *face palm*

Her: Payroll is due by 10. I sent a note that said I’m leaving town please do payroll at 8. Here it is 3 fricken 24 and there is one person not done. I’m about to curse.
ME: I like your emphasis on three fricken 24.

ME: I like the word burgled.

Her: I’m looking at weeds I put round up on last night. They are green as ever and smiling at me.  ….Jackasses.
Me: Yell at them and express your disappointment. Then threaten to drown them in bleach or fire.
“YOU DISAPPOINT ME WEEDS!!”

Her: I’m eating spoonfuls of peanut butter.
And celery…
ME: I’m chewing gum.

 

So that’s basically it.  Between these random musings is the very best friendship I could ever hope to have.  She’s my rubberband, and keeps me together when I’m falling apart.  And when there isn’t drama, she allows me to be who I am.  And she loves me anyway.  I love her.

My cup runneth over.

Blog prompt to get me back in the game….

It’s been a while since I blogged and it was (quite politely) brought to my attention that I needed to blog again.  The last one was sad.  So…. here I am.  Blogging again.  I’ll update on things in another post (I’m working on it, but not quite done) – the short answer: I am well. 🙂

I chose a blog prompt and this one was perfect because it’s been on my mind *a lot* lately.

If you are to do one thing for free for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Holy moly.  Like, how easy is this one?  I would photograph.  I have restrictions – I wouldn’t work in a portrait studio for free.  That’s work, because it’s conditional.  But I’d take my camera everywhere, and photograph every thing, and give away the images for free.  Photography is a passion.  It’s a driving force in my life.  It helps me to visualize beauty in places where most people miss it.

Copyright Fusion Photography & Design 2011

Copyright Fusion Photography & Design 2011

That old, run down barn at the end of my block?  I photographed it and it was beautifully flawed.  The lake you’ve driven by a million times?  I stood outside for 3 minutes in -20 degree weather to capture the stunning beauty that I saw.  The woman who thinks she is ugly and fat and unsightly?  I can photograph her and show her the true beauty that shines from within her.  The trees you see every day on your drive to work?  I can get an image that is so full of color that you’d be amazed that it is the same trees you’ve been looking at for years.

It’s about moments.  Not events.  Not days.  Moments.

I have an image in my head, because I didn’t have a camera with me at the time.  I was running a race with BFF #1 and I was really struggling with pain and breathing.  We were at a difficult point in the route, where it was all uphill for about a mile.  She was ahead of me, giving me a path as we moved in between other walkers and runners.  The image I can see, to this very moment, is her hand, to the side and behind her, reaching out for me to hold.  That’s it.  Just her hand.  It’s become an anchor for me, that image.  Because when I feel unable to continue, and it is all uphill… I know her hand will be there for me, to pull me up.

You see, photography isn’t just a matter of pictures.  It’s moments.  I can keep them in my head… but my God… when I’m lucky enough to get them on camera, they take my breath away.  Seeing something so powerful reflected in an image is most certainly what God intended when He made film.  And it isn’t just my images.  I see others’ images and I see the beauty they might miss.  I can fiddle with it and change it so that it brings out what they were really looking at when they took it.

I saw, on a photograph once, “If I were a rich girl, I’d do this job for free.”  And it holds as true today, as it was 15 years ago when I first saw it.

Photography feeds my soul.  I need to remember that.

I’m sorry: An open letter to my loved ones

Dear family and friends,

First and foremost, I’m sorry.  I feel like I’ve let you down in many, many ways.  And there is nothing to say, except, “I’m sorry.”

I can honestly say that I don’t have a handle on what’s happening with me, lately.  At one point in the not-so-distant past, I was lively and energetic.  That girl is…. well, she’s gone now.  And I don’t know where she went.

I feel like I can never get enough sleep.  Never.  I’m exhausted.  During the week, I force myself to get out of bed and carry on with my day.  I get up at 5:30 am, drive to work, work all day (most of the time without a lunch break), drive home and finally take my shoes off at 6:00 pm-ish. I. Am. Exhausted.  I make dinner (which, admittedly, isn’t all that exciting these days), and I collapse on the couch, too exhausted to do anything else.  By the weekend, I lie around the house, unmotivated to do anything but sleep.

And then, there’s the pain.  I don’t know that you would ever understand, unless you have been where I am right now.  Miserable doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Imagine, if you can, the last time you were really sick.  Then, imagine the last time you were really sore.  Like… for me?  It’s like the time I had walking pneumonia, combined with feeling like I had just done a half-marathon.  I dread waking up, because moving in the morning is like trying to break out of an invisible cast.  I’m stiff.  It hurts.  And I don’t know if it’s just a morning thing, or if I’ll be suffering all day.  Once I get going, random things will bother me.  My hips will hurt.  Or my toes will burn.  Or my back will ache.  Or I’ll be itchy.  Or my legs will cramp.  Or I’ll have a headache.

Good God… the headaches.  They’re not to be underestimated.  It could be a dull, constant headache.  Or Satan can be gripping my brain with his red-hot, pokey fingers.  They can last a few hours, or for days.

I get tired of taking medications.  Side effects from them mean that I have to take other things to try to feel better.  For example, the Tramadol makes me itchy.  So I have to take Bendryl to alleviate the itchiness.  But Benedryl makes me sleepy.  So I have to take an energy pill.  The energy pill makes the pain worse (not sure why).  So I have to take Tramadol.  And so it begins, again.

……I carry guilt with me.  All the time.  I feel guilty because I am tired.  I feel guilty because I am lazy.  I feel guilty because I am crabby.  I feel guilty because I am distant.  I feel guilty because I’m weak.  I feel guilty because I’m losing the battle.

I don’t have the answer.  But it isn’t for lack of asking the question.  Please, don’t stop loving me.  Don’t leave.  Don’t close your ears and your heart.  I’m trying.

Maybe, someday, the girl that you used to know will come back.  Until then, just keep loving the girl that I am, now. Hug me.  Tell me that I’ll be okay.  Hold my hand.  Talk with me.  Let me vent.  Help me forgive myself.

With unparalleled love,

me