Friday, February 26, 2016

No Reason to be Happy*

Last Thursday, I gave myself permission to take a hot bath. In the middle of the day. With piles of laundry yet to be washed, a dog that desperately wanted a walk, and a dinner plan yet to be determined.  I ran a deep, hot bath, added a few drops of lavender essential oil, lit a candle, and stepped in. 

The tub is set in the corner of the room with large windows framing two sides, frosted below for privacy, and open to the sky on top.  Lying back, I could see a triangle of roof with the downspout attached, a few bare tree branches, and grey sky.  We have enjoyed a lot of sunshine in the last week and temperatures in the upper 50s, but today was grey with spitting rain and that soft light that makes it impossible to tell what time of day it is without consulting a clock. 

As I let my thoughts drift away a smile appeared on the right side of my lips.  My nostrils flared slightly and the left side of my mouth followed until I was positively grinning.  For no reason. I hadn’t just remembered something funny or sweet or thought about something exciting in the near future.  I just smiled. 

As I pondered this strange, unprompted grin, I recalled something my nine-year-old said to me once. And I finally understood what she meant. 

When she said it, we were leaving the hospital after having just paid a visit to her favorite teacher.  Mrs. H had suffered a severe bout of pain and dizziness the night before and was rushed to the ER and evaluated for a stroke.  She was disoriented and confused and, at the time of our visit, still in some measure of discomfort.  And the doctors had no real answers.  Despite that, she was delighted to see Lola and I walk in to her room and she immediately squeezed us both tightly and began talking in her rushed, irreverent way.  The three of us were laughing within minutes and Lola perched on the side of the hospital bed with Mrs. H’s arm draped over her.  We bounced from topic to topic, dipping our toes in the waters of concern, but mostly skipping lightly around school, pets, and things we were looking forward to.  When Mrs. H began to get tired, Lola and I left, promising to check back later in the day.

As we walked down the hospital corridor, I began to feel a bit melancholy.  I caught glimpses of other patients, lying in bed asleep with mouths agape, struggling to get out of bed, pushing IV poles down the hallway as they steadied themselves against a nurse or a loved-one.  I thought about Mrs. H and all she has meant to us and our family over the years and found myself sending an urgent wish out to the Universe that she heal quickly and completely.  I was lost in my own thoughts until I felt Lola’s bouncing gait next to me and looked at her.

She was half-walking, half-skipping down the hall, bopping her head from shoulder to shoulder and singing a little song under her breath.  Her eyes twinkled with mischief and she wore a huge grin.

“What are you so happy about, little one?” I asked, relieved. I had originally resisted bringing her, worried that it might upset her to see her beloved teacher sick or in pain.

Lola stopped mid-stride, cocked her head up at me in confusion and let out a laugh.

“Mom. You don’t need any reason at all to be happy. You need a reason to be sad or upset or angry, but you can be happy just because you’re happy.” 

I laughed, too, thinking that it was such a “Lola” thing to say. She truly believes it. She lives it.

It wasn’t until today in the bathtub that it sank in for me.  As the smile crept across my face, the first thought I had was, ‘what are you smiling about?’  The answer that came to me first was, ‘Nothing.

And everything.

I don’t need a reason to be happy.’

*This essay is one of several that originally appeared in BuddhaChick Life Magazine. As the magazine is no longer available, I am reposting it here so readers can find it. 

The Challenge of the Shoulds*

An active mind and time alone are not a good combination for me.  Ironic, considering how much of my time I spend alone, writing from home during the day (or not) and alone in the evenings as often as not with my husband’s travel schedule.

I have known for a long time that going for stretches without social interaction does something to me. It pushes me somehow in ways that are uncomfortable.  And while I know that this discomfort is a sign of something I need to examine more closely, my methods of examination push me in to a darker place from time to time.  

I am very good at telling myself what I Should Be Doing.  Years of being directed by my parents, a Marine Corps father and a mother who was desperate to be in control of her own destiny, to go here and do this and prioritize that taught me that inactivity was to be avoided.  It also taught me that service to others and their priorities was of paramount importance.  So I often find myself struggling to prioritize tasks in such a way that it becomes eminently clear which things deserve doing first, second, and on down the line.  Struggling because there is no way to do that. There is no universally accepted rubric that says this book review is more important than that load of laundry or taking the dog for a walk as he whines and follows me from room to room.  

I tend to give precedence to those things that serve others - laundry, cooking, shopping for household necessities, straightening up - and push off others that seem more nebulous.  I have, over the years, figured out that the dog only really needs to be walked every other day (please don't tell Cesar Milan), that if I make it to yoga or the gym twice a week I am really doing well, and that I can crank out a good book review in an hour.  

I know that the best thing I can do is banish "Shoulds" from my vocabulary.  And I've come a long way in that regard.  But I became aware today that I do it in so many other ways, I'm not sure I've really come as far as I thought.  Every time I catch that inner voice berating myself for wanting to do something more than another thing that is probably more productive or helpful, I am "shoulding" myself.  If I have the urge to lie down on the couch and take a cozy nap with the cat instead of folding that load of laundry or going to get Bubba's contact lens solution, the nap is vetoed even before it was fully realized as an option in my mind.  If, instead of reorganizing that closet of Lola's that disgorges random items every time you open the door, I would rather sit down and read for an hour (who wouldn't?), I hear this sweet, condescending voice in my head that says, "You can read on your own time, dear. That closet isn't getting any cleaner while you sit there, and you'll feel guilty the whole time you're on the couch, so you won't focus on the story, anyway."  

I have even become so sophisticated at this little game that the notion of spending an entire day rewriting a chapter of the book I'm currently working on becomes physically repugnant.  Not because I don't want to write, but because I have so thoroughly convinced myself that my writing serves nobody but myself (at least until I sell something), that every word I type is a piece of laundry left unfolded or six steps fewer with the dog this afternoon.  I have associated things that give me joy with guilt and feelings of laziness in an effort to convince myself to be more productive in the service of others.  

The truth is, I spend more time performing mental calculations in an effort to decide how to structure my day than I do actually performing the acts themselves.  It is as though I envision some stern judge and jury I will face at the end of the day as I justify the things I decided to spend time on.  And for what? There is no gold star that goes on my permanent record.  There is no jail time for dishes left undone.  From time to time there is an extremely hyper retriever in my face if I neglected to walk him, and almost always there is remorse that I didn't write more (or at all) today.

So the question remains, what am I avoiding by continuing to deny myself the freedom to choose things that please me each and every day?  What would happen if, for some portion of every day I sat down and did something that speaks to my soul? Something whose only purpose is to make me happy?  As I write this and envision myself doing it, the grounded, heavy feeling in my core is enough to convince me that I've been looking at this the wrong way.  The simple act of imagining that I have given myself permission to indulge my desires regardless of what anyone else may think warms me from the inside out.  Calms me. Settles me.  

That is not to say that the notion of implementing it doesn't frighten me a bit.  It is counter to everything I was taught and every example set for me by adults in my life.  But if I close the door on that chatter and sit in the space and stillness of the other imagining it feels possible.  

*This essay is one of several that originally appeared in BuddhaChick Life Magazine. As the magazine is no longer available, I have reposted it here so that readers can find it. 

Replacing Fear*

I love yoga. Not only for the sweating, quiet determination, sore muscles and peace I gain from it, but because it is where I hear that strong, inner voice most clearly. Without fail, as soon as I let my guard down and begin my physical practice, words come to my head. Simple words that don't necessarily strike me as being important at the time, but they resonate for days afterward. Last week's epiphany was no exception. It didn't knock me over with a shout inside my head or jolt me into instant clarity. It fell like a raindrop in a deep pool. It was quiet, melted into my brain without a trace, and rippled. And rippled. And rippled.

What would this look like if it didn't come from a place of fear?

Throughout the week I continued to examine that thought. Throughout the week I found myself amazed at how often my reactions originate in fear and how fear is responsible for outlining the space in which I act. When I recognize the source for what it is and consciously move from fear to acceptance or love, everything changes. I can feel a shift in my body as I relax into groundedness and space. My mind becomes open and possibilities expand forward. The walls around begin to dissolve.

When I operate from a place of fear, my options are restricted and I begin to make connections that aren't necessarily related. If this happens, next comes this and then it swells into that and...Oh, No! Spiraling anxiety as the fear feeds on the tightly coiled energy inside my body and brain and I'm locked inside with it.

When my responses originate from love or acceptance or groundedness there are no boundaries. In fact, once I make that subtle course change, I no longer feel the need to drive any agenda. Whereas with fear, I'm compelled to either stick to the course my anxiety has laid out or fight to alter it in some way, when I let go of fear, I am more likely to sit back and see where things go next. I don't need to act within any particular moment to make something happen or prevent it from happening. I am able to temper my responses and, very often, the next step reveals itself or negates any action on my part at all.

In the last several days I have been able to watch myself and come to realize just how often angry or frustrated or anxious feelings arise from my fears. When Eve and Lola begin bickering, it is my fear that leads me to snap at them to "knock it off!" When I send out yet another email to a prospective agent or publisher, it is fear that drives me to downplay my own writing abilities or the importance of this book project to me. When I get annoyed at being interrupted while I'm mentally planning my day, it is because I am afraid that I'll lose the thread of thought and somehow "fail" to do all of the things I've convinced myself I ought to do in order to be the best mother/writer/wife/friend.

When I sit back and ask myself the question, "What would this look like if it weren't coming from a place of fear?" I am astonished at the possibilities. What if I trust my own abilities as a mother/writer/wife/friend and simply act out of love and the understanding that I have enough. I am good enough. There is an abundance of love/compassion/intelligence/patience/money/whatever I need. When I source my feelings and thoughts and actions from that well, life looks pretty damned amazing.

*This essay is one of several that originally appeared in BuddhaChick Life Magazine. As the magazine is no longer available, I have reposted it here so that readers can find it. 

Now is the Only Reality*

     I arrived at yoga 15 minutes before class was scheduled to begin and set up my mat in the front row.  I wasn’t sure how many people would arrive for class and, while I don’t necessarily like being in the front, I know the instructor and she would tease me if she came in and saw that I intentionally chose to be further back. 
            The room was warm and there was one other woman at the far end of the front row.  I settled in, cross-legged, to close my eyes and clear my mind.  I didn’t expect it to be an easy job. We were just coming off of a long Thanksgiving weekend and I felt catapulted in to the holiday season.  With only six days to go before my daughter’s birthday, I had yet to purchase her gift.  Once her special day was over, I anticipated a mad dash of shopping, decorating, cooking and traveling until January 2nd.  In the meantime, we were looking forward to a move in the late Spring which meant fixing up our house to put it on the market.  Add to that all of the “normal” things on my weekly schedule and my mind resembled a plasma static electricity ball when I closed my eyes.  You know, the ones that make your hair stand on end when you put your palms to the glass? 
            I sat for a minute, warring with myself about whether or not I ought to even be attempting this. Maybe the best thing to do would be to get up and go get some of the things crossed off of my list instead of indulging in a 90-minute yoga class.  No, I would look silly walking out now and the instructor would surely catch me leaving.  Perhaps I should sit and address some of the items in my head right now – devise the menu for my daughter’s birthday party or make a mental list of which things I can likely get done today.  I felt my anxiety level ratchet up a notch.   What I needed to do was to sit with my anxiety. Just experience without judgment.  Acknowledge my discomfort and not try to solve anything.
            The teacher entered the room and welcomed us all.  I steeled myself for the beginning of class, knowing that once I started it was like strapping in to an amusement park ride – I was here for the duration. Especially in the front row.  She asked us to close our eyes and do our best to stay within the confines of our mats. No, stay here, yelled my mind. This is what is really real. These things need to be done. This is real life.
            “That means not looking at your neighbor’s practice or thinking about what is for lunch. Just truly arrive on your own mat and be here. Simply here,” Mary gently reminded us. 
            At that moment I realized that being here in this moment, anxieties and all, was what was truly Real. Those expectations either existed in the past or the future, which really means not at all.  The only place to be was here, on my mat, in my body and my mind.  I know that yoga and meditation offer me peace and solace as well as strength and a sense of achievement.  Despite that, I often trick myself into thinking that activity and busyness are more valuable. More “real.”  Because I can get instant gratification when I cross something off of my list, it feels like an accomplishment. The benefits I get from stopping, slowing down, and being deliberate and planful about my actions and thoughts are much less tangible.  But if I think about it, I can always add more tasks to my list. That conveyor belt is never-ending.  The act of coming back to myself, grounding my actions and thoughts in this moment right now, wherever I am, feels solid and constant. It may not be “progress” in that sense, but without a stable base from which to act, that conveyor belt will drop into the abyss.
            As always, by the time Mary had led the class through our second set of sun salutations, my mind and body were firmly on my mat.  Halfway through class, I realized the static electricity had completely dissipated and the realization that now is enough carried me through the rest of the 90 minutes. 

            Whether or not I actually cross everything off of my to-do list doesn’t seem to matter anymore. For now, I am reminded that Now is Reality and everything else will follow. 

*This is one of several essays that originally appeared in BuddhaChick Life Magazine. As the magazine is no longer available, I've reposted them here so that readers can find them. 

A New Kind of Evolution*

“What do you do?”  Such a standard question, whether we meet someone on an airplane or find ourselves at a child’s Back-to-School Night or at a dinner party for our partner.  Such a simple question and so loaded. 

“I’m a writer and a mother of two.” That is my standard answer, but it feels so inadequate.  I am a product of my upbringing, a survivor of sexual abuse, a child of divorce.  For years I looked forward to becoming an adult so that I could free myself from my parents and become less defined by them and their hold on me.  I looked forward to exploring the world and looking at things in a new light and making decisions that would shape my future.  I wanted to fully blossom into the person I was meant to be.

What I neglected to realize was that all of the ingrained identity stories would come with me, packed snugly in whatever vessel I chose to carry as I made my way in the world.  Any decision I made hearkened back to the lessons I had learned, the overarching messages I had heard over and over again, and the things I told myself in an effort to make sense of the way my life was as a child.  No matter how “free” I thought I was, making decisions I knew my parents would disapprove of or choosing things because they were so vastly different from the choices they would have made, the fact is that I was still shaped by my experiences with them.

Never did this realization hit me harder than the day I found out I was going to have a baby.  I was going to be a mother. And I vowed to make good, healthy choices. I vowed to make decisions with more self-awareness than my parents had.  I vowed to be different.  And still, those notions of who I was and wanted to be stemmed from the stories I told myself about where I came from.

Several years ago, I bumped up against these stories in a hard way.  For most of my life, they had been the levees on either side of my life path. Always present, bounding my idea of who I was and leading me in a certain direction.  I moved forward, unquestioning, frustrated by the limitations, but never truly understanding that these boundaries were of my own making.

Today, as I meditated, a voice came to me that reminded me of my own evolution. And I began to count the years that I have been things other than what I grew up with.  Eighteen years married to a loving, supportive man. Twelve years as the mother of an energetic, open-hearted daughter.  Thirty years a writer.  Three years a yoga practitioner.  And for most of this time, I have been padding the scales on the other side.  Thirty-two years a survivor of sexual abuse. Thirty years a child of divorce.  Yes.  But those things are no more indicative of who I am than the things toward which I am moving and striving.  And their hold is beginning to expire. The statute of limitations is running out.

I have heard that for every traumatic or negative thing that happens to us as humans, it takes five positive experiences to counteract it. Evolutionarily, that was important so that we would remember the harmful, frightening things and not repeat them or put ourselves in danger.  When I think about it that way, I realize that I have had so many more positive moments in my life that I chose to live out within the boundaries of the “Who I Am” levee than it took to actually construct those walls in the first place.  I am allowed to evolve. I am allowed to grow and add to the list of “who I am.” I am allowed to strive for more and let those unhappy definitions fall to the bottom where they belong.  There is no forgetting or negating the impact they had on the person I am becoming, but there is also no reason to let them limit who I can become.  Or who I am today. 

Lao Tzu said, “When I let go of who I am, I become what I might be.”  In giving myself permission to expand the definition of who I am, I can begin to move past the things that I have limited myself to for so many years.  When the levee walls fall away, the possibilities are endless.

*This is one of several essays that appeared in the magazine BuddhaChick Life. As the magazine is no longer available, I've posted these here for readers to find.

Monday, February 22, 2016

There, I've Finally Said It. No More Guns.

I just don't understand the appeal of having a gun. I didn't really grow up with them, although my mom's first boyfriend after she divorced my dad and her second husband both loved them. They each took us kids out shooting in the rural areas of Oregon, aiming at tin cans on a log. I don't remember much about it, to be honest, whether I was afraid of the kick of the pistol or if the sound bothered my ears. I have no idea whether I got a rush seeing the can jump off of the log when it was hit or even if I ever hit one. I don't recall any conversations about where the guns were kept or if they were locked. I do remember my stepdad's sunny office at the back of our house sporting a box of bullets in the windowsill, but I don't recall being afraid of them, even though I was sometimes afraid of him.

We didn't grow up hunting. Dad never really talked about it, but I know he had a gun for a while. I don't think I ever saw it or touched it or even thought about it. Nobody in my family ever talked about needing one for protection, even when it was just us kids and Mom living alone.

So maybe I'm missing something. Maybe I don't have some piece of the puzzle that I would need in order to really feel strongly about "my 2nd Amendment right." But, frankly, I am more than willing to forego it altogether as long as the shooting stops. As long as I never have to see another story about a toddler accidentally shooting himself or his mother. As long as I don't have to hear about teenagers playing Russian Roulette on a dare and someone ends up dead. As long as I don't have to hear that there is another guy loose in some town somewhere shooting people for no apparent reason. I'll give it up. And I'll ask you to give yours up, too.

Because here's what I see. In our current circumstances in this country, when there are more people living in poverty than there maybe ever have been, when there is extreme racial and gender inequality, against a backdrop of loud ranting on social media and radio and television shows from people who freely persecute and alienate other people, we can't afford the 2nd Amendment. We can't keep our guns if we aren't willing to treat each other like human beings.  It's too expensive. The cost is too high.

I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but I have a strong belief that simply owning a gun lowers the threshold for violence. That, all things considered, if you have two people with similar personalities and tendencies, one with a gun and one without, and they each get into a fight with someone - the kind of fight that really pushes your buttons, makes you see red - the person with the gun will be more likely to escalate to violence than the person without one. I believe that someone who owns a gun is more likely to use it to settle a score, to make their feelings known, to end the battle once and for all, than the person who doesn't have a gun handy is to throw a punch, use a knife, or find some other weapon. I believe that there is something impersonal about using a gun that allows us to feel detached from the act of violence in a significant way, such that we don't have to consider what it might mean for us. If we have to stop and think about getting into a fistfight with someone we are arguing with, we have to wonder how badly we'll get hurt in the scuffle. But if we have a gun and the other person doesn't, it's an easier decision. The effort it takes to pull a trigger just isn't the same as the effort it takes to physically assault someone.

And before you point out that I just made an excellent case for everyone to own a gun, just stop. Because the above scenario is only for arguments and road rage and innocent victims killed by an enraged Uber driver in Kalamazoo.

The idea that we would all be safer if we all owned guns is belied by the statistics on accidental shootings. According to the Washington Post, in 2015, an average of one person per week was shot in the US by a toddler using an unsecured weapon. In the first six weeks of 2016, nearly 350 people have been shot in accidental shootings. That is more than five people per day, shot accidentally. Nobody can protect themselves from an accidental shooting by using a gun. I don't care how much of a ninja you are.

And, for the record, I also reject the argument that what we have here is a mental illness issue. To be honest with you (and, again, I am no expert, I'm not a certified mental health professional, so this is 'just' my deeply held conviction), I don't think that ANYONE who sets out to shoot a bunch of random people in a school or movie theater or from an overpass is someone I would call NOT mentally ill. I think that in order to want to inflict serious bodily harm on a group of people you don't even know, by definition, means that you have a mental illness. Unfortunately, we don't tend to know that until after it's too late and people are dead.

We could piecemeal this situation with background checks and laws against certain people owning guns - violent criminals, those with a restraining order, people undergoing treatment for mental illnesses - but we won't cover the people who just snap. The people like Robert Dear and Jason Dalton who were "quiet neighbors" and "loners" without any real red flags going up will continue to elude us. We also won't capture the accidental shootings that happen at the rate of 5 A DAY in this country. And so we need to ask ourselves whether the need to protect the rights of regular citizens to shoot at cans and deer and ducks a few times a month is worth it. We need to weigh gun enthusiasts' right to recreation against the rights of the rest of us to not get shot randomly. There is no other item of leisure that compares in its lethality to that of a gun, and I, for one, am willing to forego my right to bear arms so that other members of society can live without fear of harm or death at the hands of someone who was, up until now, a "responsible gun owner," but they snapped, or they forgot to lock up the gun, or they got pissed off because the other driver didn't signal that lane change.

As a nation, I would hope that we have progressed past the point of needing to arm ourselves against our own government. I think that we have come far enough and developed tools enough to band together and make our will known without worrying about soldiers coming to our door to force us to do something we don't want to do. Besides, if our government was truly determined to quiet us, they have weapons much worse than guns and your personal stash of firearms won't do much to stop them if the drones come.

Friday, February 19, 2016

All the Ups and Downs

I am someone who used to be prone to depression. I say "used to be" because it has been a long time since I really felt that deep, penetrating sense of darkness, and I'd like to think I'm cured. If that's even a thing.

After coming out of the last dark hole without the help of pharmaceuticals, I was simultaneously thrilled that it was possible (for me) and waiting for the slapdown because I had gotten too cocky. Too big for my britches. Thought I was above it all. As if depression were some spiteful older relative who was setting me up to watch me fall, laughing in the corner as I celebrated because he knew he had the power to pull the rug out from under me.

I remember being afraid to even hear the word "depression" for fear that that combination of letters could trigger another episode. I couldn't read about someone else's struggle with it, nor could I watch a television show or movie that featured any characters who were depressed. It seemed contagious, like my emergence from the darkness was the result of the fact that I had simply forgotten it was part of me - a limb I was ignoring but would soon rediscover and have to deal with. Seeing someone else with the same thing would inevitably draw my attention to it and dump me right back into that deep hole.

But it turns out that depression doesn't work that way. And on some level, I always knew that, but when you are still feeling tender from the last blow, it isn't much of a stretch to believe that the next one is right around the corner. And so I cowered. But eventually I came out of my hiding place and started to think that maybe this time I could be ok for a while. Or longer.

And it's been a long time. And I'm grateful.

But this week I discovered Furiously Happy, a book about depression and what it means to fully embrace the craziest, most wildly happy things in life. And I am remembering that, while gratitude is great, it is somewhere near the middle of the rise (and fall) of the roller coaster, but happiness like Lawson writes about, that is at the top, with the amazing views and the stomach-dropping adrenaline and the involuntary grin that spreads so wide you think your face will split like an overripe watermelon. And while it is probably way overused, that phrase "feel all the feels" comes to mind, with the emphasis on the ALL part.

Sometimes, when I am acutely aware of my status as a responsible adult, I hold back from laughing out loud when I see something ridiculous. I put all my energy into anticipating who will be hungry when and do we have healthy snacks in the house. I pay attention to the road and the pedestrians because I have a new driver in the car who is watching me (or not, it's sometimes hard to tell). I look for the lessons - and, believe me, during this crazy election cycle there are plenty of lessons. Sometimes I forget that adulting and irreverence are not mutually exclusive.

Last week I was really sick. That kind of sick where you really can't make yourself get up off of the couch and every time you try you fall over again. I mostly slept for two days. But then, even when I wasn't tired anymore, I discovered that I couldn't just bounce back, that emptying the dishwasher was enough to physically exhaust me and I had to go sit on the couch. The problem with this is that I normally don't sit around much. Unless I am reading a really great book, I can't sit still for very long and I certainly can't watch more than one TV show at a time without getting up to do something else. So being forced to sit around was painfully boring and I started getting a little weird.  At one point I found myself looking at all of the emojis on my phone and texted them to Lola.

Because who uses a circular saw blade emoji*? Or maybe it is supposed to be a free-floating gear? In any case, who created that and why? And what about the bamboo one with the little star-like thing and the red flag/leaf coming off of it? What the hell is that supposed to symbolize? I spent a long time looking at all of the stock emojis available, imagining what prompted their creation, and bugging Lola who was busy in her room doing homework. She was amused for a while, but quickly ran out of patience with me. I think her final text went something like: Oh, God, Mom! You need to find something to do.

The point of this was that it was useless and fun and goofy and that's something I haven't been in a while (well, I hope I'm never useless). And it rocked. And it reminded me that I can crack that door of irreverence open whenever I want to - not just when I'm deliriously sick - and that it is restorative. And since then, I smile whenever I think of something funny, even when I'm the only one around. Like this morning when I drove by a guy walking his pug (who, incidentally, looked exactly like the human version of his own dog) who thought he was alone and mimicked his dog's whole-body-shake-the-pouring-rain-off-of-me maneuver and stuck his tongue out at him. I laughed out loud. Or when I heard a song in my head as I stepped out of the shower and instead of trying to banish it or ignore it, I decided to dance to it. By myself. In the bathroom. And that dance move was the first one I've done in a while.

My poor kids. I think I'm going to start being weird a little more often. It's pretty fun.

*I just looked up that emoji on my phone because I was going to post a picture of it here and I think it's supposed to be a gear, but in my defense, that is still a fairly obscure thing to have on one's phone. There is also a table clamp one which is beyond ridiculous because, really? And, as someone who doesn't often use emojis because, well, I'm 44 years old, both of them are now in my "frequently used" emojis that pop up whenever I text someone. So I'm going to start using them both to see if I can confuse people and make them wonder what the hell I mean by that. Because that's fun, right?
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