Author Archives: Melissa Halsey Caudill

I’m Sorry (Well, sort of.) (Ok, not really.)

“I can’t tell you the key to success; but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.”
- Ed Sheeran

Let me tell you about the kind of person I used to be…

sorry6Oh, wait.  Never mind!  I found an old picture of myself.  Maybe that will be enough of an explanation.

I’m serious, people, I was the biggest doormat you’d ever meet in your life.  I would bend and bend and bend until I felt broken. The word “no” was not in my vocabulary. If someone wanted/needed something, I was there (regardless of whatever personal sacrifice had to be made in order to do so).  If plans were made and I wasn’t involved in the planning or it wasn’t convenient to participate, you’d still see me trotting along with everyone else anyway.  Going with the flow – making sure no toes were stepped on.  (Except my own, of course.)

sorry7Well, to be perfectly honest, not a whole lot has changed.  But as I get older, there does seem to be a slight shift.  Now, here’s how it generally plays out.

Someone asks if I’ll do something (or in some cases informs me that I’m already signed up to do it without my knowledge), and what do I do?  I throw a hissy fit.  Oh yeah, gone are the “oh sure, no problem” days of my past. I gripe, I complain, I shout all the reasons why I’m certainly not going to do it and stand my ground.  And then what happens after that?

*Sigh.*

I do it.

And what happens after that?  I apologize for the way I acted when I said I wasn’t going to do it because I’m so afraid that I may have hurt someone’s feelings or made them uncomfortable.

sorryBut you know what?  I’m not really sorry. Rather than just trusting my instinct – trusting my gut -I fall back into my old ways and just do what is expected of me to try to not rock the boat.  The only difference is that I’m a little more verbal than I used to be about why I don’t really want to be doing it.  In other words, I’m still a doormat, I’m just a bitchy doormat now.

And that’s not cool.

Riding the fence like this is not going to get me anywhere.  Nobody likes a bitchy doormat.

So, here’s what needs to happen.  I have two choices.  I need to:

A) Go back to the way I was. Be the girl who keeps her mouth shut, goes with the flow and does what is expected of her regardless of personal sacrifice or gut instinct, and yet have bunches and bunches of “friends” because of it.

-Or-

B) Cut the balancing act and just slip full force into sticking to my guns.  Sure, I may lose friends (which I think I probably already have by being in bitchy doormat mode, so that’s nothing entirely new), but I will stop sacrificing the friendship that actually matters – the friendship with myself.

Well, guess what?  I think I may be just a little too far over the edge of the fence to be able to turn around and go back at this point. I’m thinking it’s going to be choice “B” for me for now on.  (And you can let that capital “B” stand for whatever you’d like…)

Let me go ahead and issue my public service announcement:

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I have a feeling that disclaimer is necessary.  But while others are reading that disclaimer, let me just go ahead and give myself a little reminder as well:

I’m tired of saying no to myself in order to say yes to everyone else.  I deserve the same respect that I have been giving to others, don’t I?

Don’t you?

Just a thought.

***

“No more bitchy doormat-ism.”
- Melissa Halsey Caudill

Weed ‘Em and Reap

“Don’t water your weeds.”
- Proverb

Plant1Now, let me just start this blog out by letting you know that I know nothing – and I mean NOTHING – about gardening.  Or even about keeping a plant alive.  Case in point, the poor little plant you see here to the right.

*sigh*

This picture is the reason I’ve never had plants.  THIS is what happens to them.

Now, in my defense, this poor little fella got left behind in a major move.  My boyfriend Richard’s family did a little house swapping and then I followed close behind by moving into the home with Richard.  In the midst of all the moves, this plant was left sitting on a shelf by a window.  Neglected.  Once we got moved in and settled, I finally noticed the poor little fella and went to work on trying to save it.  I diligently remembered to keep it watered and turn it towards the sunlight, etc. etc.  And what happened?

Um, well, nothing.

The plant looked exactly the way it looks in the picture for months.  And yet – somehow the parts that were alive (or at least I assume they were – they were still green), just kept going amidst all the dead stuff.  So, finally, it dawned on me that maybe I should treat the plant like you do gardens.  Get rid of the weeds to make room for the stuff that is still alive to be able to grow.

Hmmmm.

Eh, I didn’t know if it would work, but I figured it would at least make things look a little better, right?  So, I went to work.  After a full morning of picking and prodding and trying my best to efficiently differentiate between green and brown, I was left with…well…a much smaller plant.

Plant2Bless its heart.

(And hey, I didn’t even though that little fern-looking thingy was even in there!  How about that!?)

So, yeah, the little fella was looking a little pruned, so to speak, but I still had to admit he looked a heck of a lot better.  Right?

And that’s when that writer’s brain of mine kicked in.  Suddenly, all of those “weeding” quotes I’ve always heard began to make sense to me.  Looking at this little plant in front of me made me realize something important.

This is what it takes to change your life.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably faced some moments in your life when you realized that something just wasn’t ‘right.’  You know what I mean?  No matter how much you tried – no matter how many things you crammed into your life to try to fulfill some void that you were certain would top off that internal happiness meter – nothing seemed to work.  You tried this, you tried that, you packed your life with so many places and people and things just trying and trying to find that “thing” that would make your life perfect…and still.  Nothing.

And then, suddenly, when you realize that you can’t fit a single thing else in your life, it dawns on you.  There’s just no more room.  None.  You’re spreading yourself thin by trying to take care of all the things on your plate (or “in your pot” so to speak) that there’s just no more energy (or “water”) left.  And then, when you look even closer, you start to realize how useless some of these things are to begin with.  You’re putting precious energy into things that aren’t even serving you anymore, and maybe never even were to begin with.  And sometimes those ‘things’ are actually ‘people.’

In other words, you’ve been watering the weeds.

Kinda stupid, huh?  Sound familiar?  No?  Hmmm.

Think maybe it needs to?

I don’t know – maybe the way I am is unique.  Maybe I’m the only one who has crammed their life full of crap to no avail. But if the responses I’ve gotten from many of my blogs in the past tell me anything, I’m thinking I’m probably not unique at all.  I think we are a whole lot more alike than we may realize.  All of us.  And I’m betting someone out there probably needed to hear this today.  Was it you?

Get rid of the weeds, people.  You might feel a little empty to start with.  A little bare, maybe.  But what’s left will be worth taking care of.  And you’ll actually have the energy (“water”) to do it.  And before you know it, you’re going to have nothing but a pot full of life.

Doesn’t that sound kinda awesome?

***

“We’re like a gardener with a hose and our attention is water – we can water flowers or we can water weeds.”
- Josh Radnor

Take The Cookie

“The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Yesterday, was one of those ‘take the cookie’ days in my life.

Ok, let me explain what the heck I’m talking about.

A while back, I decided to go on a diet.  Well, sort of.  By diet, I mean I’m just going to try to watch what I’m doing and not put so much crap into my body.  Back when I was running regularly, it was easy to somewhat ignore what I was eating because I’d just work it off.  But now that I’ve been injured for a while (torn/strained ligament in my right foot), all that junk eating combined with no exercise was starting to show on my thighs, if ya know what I mean.  So, I decided to buckle down and do something about it.

And then one day my daughter and I were headed to her dance class and she decided she wanted a cookie from Subway.  So, we swung by and I gave her some money and sent her in to grab one for herself.  When she came back, she not only had hers, but she also had one for me – a scrumptious raspberry/white chocolate – my FAVORITE.  Immediately, guilt rushed over me since I’m not ‘supposed’ to be eating that kind of stuff, but how could I turn it down after she brought it back just for me knowing that it was my favorite?  Of course I couldn’t do that.  So, I took the cookie.

(And it was YUMMY!)

Since that day, I’ve decided to use that phrase periodically.  Anytime I have to veer from the ‘rules’ a little, I call it “taking the cookie.”  It’s basically my way of reminding myself that there are going to be exceptions.  Sometimes, you just need to take the cookie.

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Ready to ride

And yesterday?  Well, yesterday was one of those times.  And boy, was that cookie awesome.

My boyfriend Richard and I had a rare day free from responsibility.  Our kids were at their other parents’ houses for the day (ahhh, the dynamics of the modern-day blended families…), neither of us had to work, and there were no other pressing engagements that we had to be involved in.  So, of course, we both started piddling with our own hobbies.  He started learning a new song to play (he’s a musician), and I started thinking about all the things I needed to be writing (I need to work on my novel, get a blog done, etc.).  But before either of us could get too far in, we made an impulsive decision to just head outside and take a ride on the four-wheeler, something we very rarely ever have time to do.

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Tag-along

I mulled over the decision for a bit because I knew this would be a perfect opportunity to get some writing done, but finally I decided that this was one of those times when I just needed to ‘take the cookie.’  (Really – I actually said that to myself.)  No more thinking of what I ‘should’ be doing – just hop on the four-wheeler and take a break.

IMG_20140406_212035

Back we go!

So, off we went!  Well, our first attempt was somewhat short-lived since we had a tag-along.  We had to turn back and lead her back to the house and tie her up.  Bless her heart.  Oh, and we also had to go put more gas in the four-wheeler.  Oops.

But then we were finally ready.  So, off we went again!

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Gorgeous creek that runs by our house

Richard took me around and showed me the land that he grew up on – showed me all the places he played as a kid and even told me some of the stories of trouble he got into (not sweet little Richard!).  I was amazed that I had known him so long and have lived in this area for months now and had no idea how beautiful it was.  All the memories that are tied to this place and that make the man I love who he is – I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on this day of getting to know him and this land that he loves so much.

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The Peak

The whole time we were riding along, I was overcome with how blessed I am.  I live in this gorgeous area, I’m in love with an even more gorgeous guy (with a heart to match), I’m healthy, my kids are healthy…the list goes on and on.  Sometimes I get too busy and too loaded down with worries (money, scheduling, etc. etc. etc.) to remember to take the time to realize all the things that are good in my life.

No, not just good.  Fantastic.

And if I hadn’t allowed myself to “take the cookie,” I would have missed out on such an awesome reminder.

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Wind in my hair :)

Yes, I could have been at home getting some writing done.  But what I did end up getting done was more important.  I was falling even more in love with the guy who stole my heart over two years ago.  And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

There is an old Doug Stone song called Too Busy Being in Love.  The lyrics kept running through my mind while we were riding along:

“I could have written a play so sweet and so funny
Given old Mr. Shakespeare a run for his money
Written the words to the prettiest tune
That would never leave a dry eye in the room
My only excuse for not doing enough…
I was too busy being in love.
Yes, I was too busy being in love.”

IMG_20140406_205853Yes, who knows what I may have written if I had stayed at home and took the time to be doing what I ‘should have’ been doing.  Better yet, though…who cares? :)  I think what Richard wrote was better than anything I could have ever written anyway…

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Don’t forget to take the cookie on occasion, my friends.  Trust me.  You’ll be glad you did.

“I could have written a poem to make young lovers crazy
Written a movie for Hepburn and Tracy
A beautiful song and it starts with your name
Written my way into fortune and fame
But I have no regrets for not doing enough
I was too busy being in love
Yes, I was too busy being in love.”

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Purpose

“The important thing is that men should have a purpose in life. It should be something useful, something good.”
- Dalai Lama

purposeblog2I visited my grandmother in the nursing home over the weekend.  She has Alzheimer’s Disease and is, unfortunately, in the later stages.  Meaning, she has no idea who any of us are.  And while this is still heartbreaking, most of us in the family have gotten used to it.  We know what’s coming when we visit her.  We’re ready for it, and we expect it.  We’ve learned to live with it.

Unfortunately, however, she hasn’t.

One thing she kept repeating over and over again during our visit was this one same question, “What am I supposed to be doing?”

Each time she asked the question (not remembering she had just asked it seconds earlier), I would respond the same way, “You’re not supposed to be doing anything, MawMaw. Nothing at all.” And each time, she’d say, “I’m supposed to just sit here?”  I’d tell her yes, and then the cycle would repeat itself.

And then, in addition to her question, I started noticing other things around the room that seemed connected to what she was getting at.

Now, we weren’t visiting in my MawMaw’s private room.  When we arrived at the nursing home, she had been moved to the ‘day room’ for activities with the other residents (which she didn’t seem to want to participate in).  So, while visiting her, we also saw a lot of the other patients.  And while there were a variety of levels of illness (as well as a wide variety of personalities), one common theme seemed to stand out at me.  The theme that my sweet grandmother was trying to convey with that one question she kept asking me.

The search for purpose.

Take one lady for instance.  She kept pushing her little wheelchair around firmly explaining to people that they were not allowed to go certain places.  In fact, she’d block their path if they tried.  (Which in one case resulted in a kick to the leg of the other person in his wheelchair as he was simply trying to go through the doorway. Yikes!)  While little Miss Bossy Pants was an annoyance to all concerned, I started to realize that she was just appointing herself with a purpose.  A misconstrued purpose, maybe, but a purpose nonetheless.  Her job was to tell people where to go and not to go.

And this same lady at one point (when everyone was apparently in their appointed places and she had allowed herself a break from guard duty), rolled herself over to a hamper near the door and, with curiosity, opened the lid and peered in.  What she saw was a mound of dirty, used towels.  So, what does she do?  One by one (until the nurse caught and stopped her), she pulled them out, placed them neatly into her lap, and started folding them and putting them back into the hamper.

She had found a purpose. Folding laundry.

Another woman sat at her table and made bread. No, she didn’t have any flour or shortening or bowls or an oven or any of that. Not that you or I could see, anyway.  But nevertheless, she sat at her table and mixed and kneaded the dough, placed it on the table, patted it out, etc. It took me a while to figure out what she was doing, but once I did, that same thing hit me again.  She had found her purpose.  She had to bake biscuits.  And she was content in doing so.

In every person lied the same idea.  One woman chose to sing, another chose to yell at her kids (who weren’t there)…the list goes on and on.  What looks to those of us in our “right” minds as unnecessary chatter and activities, to them are anything but unnecessary.  They are, in fact, very necessary.  To their livelihood.  To their well-being.

To their sense of purpose.

Which brings me back to my MawMaw.  While sitting there, I was reminded of a quote I once heard.  I couldn’t remember it exactly, but when I got home, I looked it up.

“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.”
- Og Mandino

Those are some powerful words there.  How much do we take our purpose for granted?  How much do we complain when we have to go to work, or when we have to drive kids here and there, or when we have yet another activity to have to show up at or to have to devote time to?  Do we ever just stop to bask in the beautiful, yet forgotten, meaning of it all?

We have a purpose.

I turned to my sweet grandmother, with all of this on my mind, and I finally had an answer for her.  The next time she asked me, “What am I supposed to be doing?,” I had her answer.

“MawMaw.  All you have to do is just let us love you.”

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It’s time to rest.

I know that wasn’t enough for her.  And I know she won’t remember my answer for any length of time.  But regardless of whether it seeps into her aging mind on some level, it still remains true.  No, there are no more children to take care of.  No more laundry to fold.  No more dinners to cook or beds to make or groceries to be shopped for.  My MawMaw is right – there is nothing left that she is supposed to ‘do.’  It is time for her to, whether she wants to or not, simply rest.  That’s all.  Just rest.  And to a woman who spent her life as a wife, mother of nine, step-mother to many others, and grandmother and great-grandmother to too many to count, I’m sure that’s a tough blow to take.  But whether she realizes it or not, although there are no physical activities left for her to take care of, her purpose still remains strong and true.

She’s still here because she still has a lesson to teach us.

She may not realize that, but I do.

Thank you, MawMaw.  Because you are serving your purpose, I’ll now go on to serve mine.

(And I’ll try to remember to appreciate every moment of it….)

***

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
- Carl Jung

Ripples

“When you drop a pebble into a pond, ripples spread out, changing all the water in the pool. The ripples hit the shore and rebound, bumping into one another, breaking each other apart. In some small way, the pond is never the same again.”
― Neal Shusterman

ripples

Ripples in the Pond

So, I’ve been told that I have a wide reach with this blog. More than once, I’ve had a person mention something to me about how a particular entry really affected them – and I was shocked because I didn’t even know the person was a reader at all. It makes me proud when that kind of thing happens. It’s like the quote I posted above, you know? No matter how small you think your little pebble is, the ripples will spread out in a way you may have never even imagined. How cool is that?

Well, guess what? Now, it’s your turn to drop your pebble.

I’ve decided that I’m going to bank on that ‘wide reach’ thing being true, and use my blog for something that I think is extremely important.

jay

Photo courtesy of Jay’s Facebook page

I want to tell you about my friend Jay Erwin.  Up until August of 2013, Jay was a runner. And an awesome runner at that.  In fact, he was a co-founder of the Boone Running Club – a club whose Facebook group has provided invaluable information and race info to me ever since I became a runner.  In fact, it was the basis for the Ashe Running Club page that I and a friend recently started for our area as well.  (Talk about your ripples, right?)  Jay reached out to me many times on Facebook to encourage me as a beginner runner and was very instrumental in working with me to continue moving forward to reach my running goals. And I am just one voice in the pond, so to speak.  I know there are many, many others who would tell you the same thing.

Well, now, it’s time to repay Jay.

In August of 2013, Jay was involved in an accident.  Here’s a portion of the story in Jay’s words:

” I had an accident on 8/24/13….I was cutting a tree down and it fell on me. My son who never had CPR training saw that I had no pulse or heartbeat and he gave me CPR. I believe the hand of God helped him. I was revived by my son and soon after that I was flown by helicopter to a Trauma unit in Johnson City, TN. I died two additional times on the helicopter, but came back. Surgery was administered to my spine and left shoulder. My left shoulder was completely smashed, but corrected and I had two rods inserted to stabilize my spine. I started coming around after 16 days.  I was in Johnson City for 18 days and then I was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA. At the Shepherd Center I rehabbed and learned how to live again….I was at Shepherd for about 100 days and I got to come home just before Christmas…”

Wow.  Once a runner, and now Jay will never even walk again. Can you imagine?  I mean, really.  Can you?

I’m guessing probably not.  But you know what you can do?  What we can all do?

Help.

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Jay and his lovely wife, Lisa

Now, obviously, none of us can turn back time.  We can’t go back and take away this accident.  We can’t give Jay his running legs back.  But what we can do is reach out to help him in this time of need.  How can we do that?

A company called Mobility Solutions is sponsoring a contest.  Three lucky winners will be chosen to receive a wheelchair-accessible van that will aid Jay and his family tremendously.  As you can imagine, their whole world has changed drastically. Getting Jay from point A to point B requires great effort.  This van would change his life in ways that those of us who just hop in our cars to go from here to there could never even begin to imagine.  And how does he win it?  Simple.

He just needs votes.

All you do is click on this link.  Register (you can register with your Facebook account if you’d like) and vote.  Vote, vote, vote.  Vote every day.  That’s all it takes!

Simple, huh?

And if you want to help even further, join Jay’s Facebook group and get tips on answering the daily “extra vote” question to gain not one, but TWO votes per day.  Jay is not in the lead, but I think that with our help, he can be.  Surely taking a few seconds out of each day to vote for this well-deserving man is something that you can do, right?

Time to toss your pebbles.  These ripples are going to mean more than you can even imagine.  In fact, let’s start a wave, people.  Shall we?

Please, please vote.  Our friend needs our help.

***
“It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Positive Thinker?

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
- John Wooden

Ok, I feel kind of bad.

I was just speaking to someone over the weekend who had never read my blog. I was explaining the types of writings I do – uplifting blogs about everyday events that have hidden lessons in them. (I thought that was a good way to describe it – there’s definitely not a particular theme to this thing, that’s for sure…) So, they said they’d love to check it out and would do so as soon as they got a chance.

Then, I got home and clicked on the link to my blog, and realized what the first thing would be that this person would see. A blog called “WTF.”

guideposts3Heh. Oops.

And then, I check the mail.  What do I find?  The April edition of Guideposts magazine. Now, I’m not necessarily a subscriber to Guideposts, although I have been mysteriously receiving issues starting a few months ago (Grandma, was that you?), but I was expecting a stack of the April editions to arrive.

Why is that?

I was notified a while back that a quote from one of my stories (Scars) was chosen to appear in a section of the April edition of Guideposts entitled “The Up Side.”  This is a section that contains uplifting quotes by sometimes famous, sometimes not famous (obviously), people who are “positive thinkers.”  guideposts1I knew the magazine was coming, but the thrill of opening it up and rushing to page 15 to check out the Up Side section was pretty cool.  I opened it up to page 15, and the first thing I see is Sandra Bullock.  Woohoo!  I’m listed in the same section as Sandra Bullock?

How do ya like them apples??

And then I flipped the page to the second page of quotes.  Page 16.  And there I was.  Seeing my words – my quote! – in black and white was pretty awesome, to say the least.

 

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How cool is that!?

And then, I flipped back to page 15 and read that subtitle again.  “Quotes from Today’s Positive Thinkers.”  Awesome.

Oh…

Wait a minute.

“Positive thinker?”  Ummmmm, yeah.  This positive thinker is the one who just wrote a blog called “WTF” and ended it with “Sometimes people truly suck.”

*embarrassing laugh*

Heh.  Oops.

So, let me just explain a little.  Last week sucked.  It just did.  Even “positive thinkers” are apparently human.  That last blog is not really who I am.  I was hurt and I lashed out.  It happens.  People don’t suck.  That was a harsh statement.  People are who they are, and it’s up to me whether or not to let their actions affect me.  And, most importantly, it’s up to me whether to allow them to remain in my life or not.  In this case, I chose the latter.  (And I feel great about that.  Really.  You should try it sometime – it’s very freeing.)

So, yeah.  I just had what I like to think of as a little “hiccup.”

packBut see this quote?  I came across this a few days ago, and it made me feel so much better about my situation.  I love the part that says not to “unpack and live there.”  That’s great advice.  I had my little fit, and now I’ve moved on.  Time to regain my Guideposts title of ‘positive thinker’ and keep moving forward.

So, to my regular blog readers, let me thank you for allowing me my little setback.  I appreciate you sticking around.

And to you, new blog reader from the weekend, I hope you’ll stick around and get to know the real me.  The me that does not let outside forces break my spirit.  Temporarily?  Maybe.  But forever?  Ha.  Not a chance.

There’s too much good in this world to let the occasional Negative Nancy spoil it.

***
“If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.”
- Pat Riley

WTF

wtf

Yep. You read that right.

W.T.F.

That sums up the weekend I just had.

You know that feeling where everything is going great and it feels like life has finally evened out for you?  You’re floating along, things seem to just be working out the way they’re supposed to, all systems are go.  And then suddenly…BAM!  Out of left field comes a sucker punch that completely knocks you off course.

Well, that’s what happened to me this weekend.  And oh no, one punch wasn’t enough.  Life had to hand me TWO of them, not to mention all the aftershocks to follow.  But I’m just going to concentrate on the one punch for this blog.  The other one – well, who knows.  You may hear about it one day.  But not today.

Now, I’m going to withhold specific details.  And I probably shouldn’t be blogging about it at all.  A part of me thinks that talking about it publicly will just fuel the fire and makes things worse for me.  But then there’s this other part of me – this slightly bigger part – that feels a little differently .  You know what that part is telling me?

Screw ‘em.

And that part is a heck of a lot louder than the other part so it wins today, my friends.

I live in a small town.  But the difference between me and the other small town dwellers is that I have not been here long.  In fact, I have never been anywhere long.  I’m a nomad of sorts.  The military brat in me has never really disappeared, which has caused me to float around from here to there, even as an adult, and never really put down roots.  But in the past few years, I actually thought I had finally found a place to call ‘home.’  I go places and I recognize people.  I walk through Walmart and invariably see someone I know and stop to chat.  I start seeing people that I work with out and about in their personal lives and stop for a quick “how ya doin?” conversation.  This may sound like everyday humdrum happenings to most of you, but not to me.  It was new. And I loved it.

But this past weekend?  This past weekend showed me the down side to this small town living.  And to be quite honest – it has made me want to start dragging out the luggage.

Apparently there has been a rumor going around for the past few weeks that I tried to break up a marriage by calling the wife and telling her that the husband had been cheating on her.  Apparently I “witnessed” this.

*sigh*

Now, before I go any further, let me tell you a little story.  A few years ago, my coworker and I were leaving work at the same time.  I was following behind her making my way through town heading home.  I noticed traffic was a little slower than usual, but just went on listening to my music and singing and daydreaming like I always do.  Once I finally made it through the traffic jam and got moving again, my cell phone rang.  It was my coworker.  I answered and she said, “Wow, that was a bad wreck back there, wasn’t it?”

Say what?  A wreck?

I had driven by a friggin WRECK, people.  And I hadn’t noticed a thing.

THAT is a perfect example of my attention to detail.  I am clueless.  A bomb could go off beside me and unless a piece of shrapnel pierced my skin, I probably wouldn’t realize it happened until I turned to walk in that direction and fell into the crater it left behind.  You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.  We all have our flaws, and that’s my big one.  I’m self-absorbed.  I have no idea what is happening around me at any given time because I’m too busy living in my own mind.  That is just the way it is.

And yet…

And yet, I managed to witness some secret rendezvous between two people I barely know and actually cared enough to go out of my way and tell the wife (whom I also barely know) about what happened.

Excuse me for just a second while I turn this BS meter alarm off because that thing is BLARING.

So, here I have been, roaming around this cutesy little small town, smiling and waving at all the people that I thought were my friends and acquaintances, thinking that all was well in my happy little bubble – and all the while I was being secretly hated.  Talked about. Defamed.

And sure, it’s easy to say, “Oh just shake it off.  It doesn’t matter what people think.”  But you know what makes it matter?  What makes it matter is that the people I do care about believe it too.  And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.  I remember an old friend once telling me that the hardest thing to prove is the truth.  If you’re trying to prove a lie, you can make up whatever you need to as evidence to just tangle the web a little more.  But when you’re defending the truth, all you have is the truth.  And apparently that just isn’t good enough these days.

So, am I going to pack my bags?  I don’t know.  I hate to think that one little incident could make that happen.  But when that little incident stretches as far as it has and has affected the foundation of trust that I have built with the people I love, then that makes it not such a little incident anymore.

I am a good person.  I just am.  That’s all there is to it.  And while that may sound like I’m tooting my own horn, believe me when I say I’m not.  In fact, I’m sick of being a good person.  I’m sick of turning the other cheek, of doing everything by the book, of looking out for other people’s feelings and considering others before I take actions.  I’m SICK of it.  I’d love to just take one day off from my personality and just go give everyone involved with this thing the punch in the throats that they deserve.

But I won’t.  Because I am who I am.

I’ll just continue to cry behind closed doors and watch the people and the life I love slip away because of something utterly and completely beyond my control.

Sometimes people truly suck.

***

“Laws control the lesser man…Right conduct controls the greater one.”
– Mark Twain

Writing Contest

DearLuckyAgent2

This is just a quick post to let any of my fellow writers know about the Dear Lucky Agent contest sponsored by Writer’s Digest.

Click this link for info.

If you have a book-length work that you’d like to submit, check out the details and do it!  All they are asking for is the first 150-200 words of your work.  If you win, you get a year’s subscription to WritersMarket.com ($50 value), a free critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work by an agent (who has been known to sign authors in the past!), and, of course, bragging rights!

What is there to lose, right?

Happy submitting, my writer friends!

 

Laughter

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
- e. e. cummings

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about our dog, Lucy, and a lesson I learned from her one day.  Well, apparently, Lucy hasn’t hung up her teaching hat just yet - she had yet another tutorial for me this week.

lucy3If I didn’t describe Lucy well enough in my last blog, let me give you a few more details.  Lucy is one seriously happy dog.  I mean…seriously.  That girl LOVES everything.  She loves me, she loves my boyfriend Richard, she loves our kids, she loves squirrels, birds, the mailman, the UPS guy, the cats….(ok, that may be pushing it a little – she loves torturing them, does that count?)

But I noticed something else about her the other day that made me smile.  Apparently, Lucy’s happiness isn’t just dependent upon someone or something else being around.  I was walking through the house and just happened to glance out the window and there stood Lucy in the middle of the yard – not looking at anything in particular, not doing anything noteworthy, just standing there – and that tail of hers was just wagging to beat the band.  No one else around, and Lucy was just as happy as she could be.  Just because.

I told Richard about it later and said, “I want to be just like Lucy. I want to be so happy that I wag my tail even when nobody’s looking, don’t you?”

He laughed and agreed, the subject was dropped, and we went on about our business.  Situation forgotten.

Until a few days later.  I was driving along in my car listening to the audio books that I always listen to when I’m traveling anywhere, and I realized that I wasn’t retaining much of what I was hearing.  I was just stressed and distracted and not in the mood to try to follow along with a book.  So, I ejected the audio book CD and started looking for something else to pop in, when I came across a CD that my ex-husband bought me the other day.  Yes, you read that right – my ex-husband bought me a CD.  Ok, it was a $1 CD that he saw at Goodwill, but still.  It was nice of him to think of me. What was the CD, you ask?  New Kids on the Block’s greatest hits.  Yup.  He remembered that I used to be an NKOTB freak (their last known fan actually – I have a tendency to hold on a little too long), and he thought I’d like it.  Up to this point, I hadn’t listened to it yet, but I just decided to go ahead and throw it in the player and see what they sounded like after all these years.  And boy, was I glad I did.  I was immediately transformed back to the late 80s/early 90s and I still remembered just about every word to every song.  Before long, I was signing at the top of my lungs like nobody’s business – and with a goofy smile on my face to boot.

That’s when I noticed the car that had pulled up beside me at the red light.

And what did I do?  *sigh*  I turned the music down, wiped the smile off my face, and sat staring straight ahead until the light changed.

Now, what the heck did I do that for?

Isn’t that dumb?  What’s wrong with wagging my tail when I thought no one was looking, you know?  I was just so darn afraid of how I looked to someone else.  Why are people like that?  It’s just plain silly.  I don’t even think I gave it much thought at the time - I think it was just instinct to pull it together and look like a decent, non-crazy, non-NKOTB fan girl and make myself ‘presentable’ once I knew I had an audience.

I so need to stop that.

I’m like that with pictures too.  I am the queen of “Wait – don’t take the picture yet, I’m not ready.”  Or, “Ew, that one looks like crap, let’s take another one.”  My family just loooooves that too, let me tell ya.  And my boyfriend Richard and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to that kind of thing.  He is crazy about the candid photos – the ones that no one knew were coming or that we weren’t exactly ‘ready’ for.  Me?  I think I look like a doofus.  Especially the pictures where I’m laughing.

laughter2See this picture?  For some dumb reason, I never posted this picture on Facebook or had it framed.  I wasn’t “ready” when the picture was taken.  Instead, I posted the version where we were standing up straight, both looking at the camera, smiling, with just one arm around each other.  I even have it framed and sitting on my bookshelf at home.  But this one?  This one was just sitting on my phone as one of the ‘mess ups.’  I ask myself now, “What the heck were you thinking, woman!?”  I mean, look at that picture.  My daughter is all snuggled up to me and I’m laughing.  I think I had told her to stand closer just before the picture was snapped, so she bear hugged me being silly.

Good grief, Me.  Get it together.  *These* are the memories you want to hold on to.

laughter3Or, how about this one?  We were trying to take a ‘selfie’ just before we had gotten all dressed up to go to the theatre together.  It took about 30 shots before we finally got the ‘right’ one – you know, the one where we’re both smiling sweetly and looking straight the camera.  This funny, goofy one where I was laughing so hard my eyes disappeared was never posted.  This shows so much more of our personalities than the one that I did deem ‘post-able.’ Kelly being silly, me laughing like a dork – this is ‘us.’

But I was just so afraid of it not looking ‘right.’  Not looking good enough.  Not being posed and ‘perfect.’

Silly, silly me.

So, today, I ask you this – are you like me?  Do you make sure the picture looks ‘just right’ before you take it?  Do you hold back on laughing so that you don’t like an open-mouthed hyena?  Do you stifle your happiness so that you look decent and presentable to strangers that don’t even matter?  Do you only publicly post the pictures where you’re smiling perfectly and everything is in order?

Or are you like Lucy?  Do you express your joy, no matter the circumstances…laugh until you cry when you see the ones you love…stay so happy that you wag your tail even when you’re alone?  And for Heaven’s sakes, not stop just because someone is looking?

Well, here’s my advice.  Be like Lucy.

We only get one go-around, you know?   Just one.  Don’t waste it.  Wag your tail, people.  Just wag it.

Life sure is a heck of a lot better that way.

Thanks for yet another lesson learned, Lucy dear.

laughter1
 

#tbt Poetry – Aspiration

For all two of you who are reading these throwback Thursday poems, here’s the one for this week.  Circa 2002 or so.

***

Aspiration

You keep me going.
You make sure I take just one more step
Go that one extra mile
Take that final leap.
(You are responsible for all that!)
You fill my heart with music -
My mind with phrases -
My pen with energy.
What would I be without you?
Who would I be without you?

Ode to the dreams that have not yet faded…

***

medream