Losing to Find Freedom

freedom

A lot’s been going on since Bro’Ham took over my computer a month ago.

Maybe I should qualify what ‘a lot’ actually means. I’ve been losing. In just about every area of my life, something is being purged to make way for something more expansive.

I lost my desire to palpitate every time The Kid makes a decision. It’s not my life, it’s his life. It’s also not my right or responsibility to judge his choices. At his age, I’d had him and was living at home with my parents, unemployed. His dad and I weren’t on good terms and life sucked. I survived. So will he. And the upside is he didn’t have a kid, so I don’t have to have an awkward conversation with my grandchild when I’m 50 saying s/he can now call me Gram D.

I let go of the notion that The Girl is someone she’s not. I realized that a 16-year-old teenager is not going to always think past her choices. I also realized that if I really want her to understand what owning her choices means, then I have to let her own them. We had that conversation earlier this month. I can only hope that conversation will make her at least think one choice past her immediate impulses. But if not, hey, it’s still her life to live. I can be supportive as she navigates a new set of choices presented to her.

I released the extreme emotional attachment to my mother. That’s a major statement that needs explanation. It happened in two phases. I first realized that I didn’t need to call on her to help me as much as I once did. I’d come into knowing what I know and realized that I already knew the answer and sought her spirit as validation. She stopped showing up for me. At first I was deep in my feelings about that, but I had a moment of clarity: everything I need is inside of me. She knew that and she needed me to know it too. The best lessons are the ones I figure out on my own. It was the first step in the process.

The second phase was releasing the emotional charges of her things that I still possessed. I don’t have a lot. Her wedding rings, a scarf, photo album, cake pans and accessories and some jewelry. Slowly those things weren’t symbols of who she was or remembered, they were just… things. Her spirit was no longer in them. What I came to realize is when she stopped showing up, she also took her energy from those objects. When I saw them with new eyes, I realized a few of them don’t fit who am. I stopped wearing the ring. I packed up the pans with the intention to take them home to my dad along with the photo album. I went through the jewelry and kept what I liked and tossed the rest. The scarf is no longer a staple of my winter gear. It’s actually been demoted to my scarf drawer instead of in its holy place in the front closet. Letting go of the emotional made room to free up my physical space. I will always love and respect my mother for giving me life and the lessons she taught me, but I was finally able to release her and let her go help others.

I purged stuff that didn’t belong in my life anymore. When I say I went through everything, I inspected every sock, earring, lipstick, nail polish, box, colored pencil, book, pair of panties, bras, shirt, skirts, shoes… I think you get it. The upside is it’s going to make packing next week realllll easy. The downside is, um, well, I need to go shopping. All that purging made my closet look like I’ve been struggling for a decade. That’s probably how long it’s been since I did a real clean out though. It’s amazing to see things I once loved now kinda repulsive to me.

I deleted old files in Google Drive and Evernote. Now that was an undertaking. Man…. Not only was I trash at giving documents good names and organizing them in the beginning, I couldn’t even remember why I’d downloaded and saved about 71% of the stuff I deleted. Random pictures of The Hero sleeping. Recipes I’m sure I expected to cook, but now just made me weary reading. DIY sewing projects when all I’ve mastered (and care to master) is making a banging set of curtains and a maxi skirt. Everything else? Gone. Except Triple Chocolate Devil’s Food Cupcakes and Hash Brown and Egg Casserole. They give life.

I stopped participating in friend groups that I didn’t develop. I sat and realized that I’ve been part of other people’s groups of friends, but have never cultivated my own. My Circle of Six was a figment of my imagination. I don’t even have a circle of six. I have a Triangle of Truth. But those three women? I love them and want them to remain my friends for the rest of my days. The frequency with which I talk to all of them is different, but the feeling when I do is the same: they are the sisters I chose. It was a long time coming, but I’m glad it did.

I released this notion that I didn’t deserve to spend on myself. Of all the things in this post, this one may have had the most significant impact on me because it made me look at how I value myself. I go to the spa every other week now to get something done. Last time, I went to get a color consultation on lipstick because I am sick and tired of trial and error and picking some color that, once on me, doesn’t make me feel electric. I allow someone else to cater to me and not feel guilty spending the money to do so.

Along those lines, I let go of this notion to blow all of my disposable income on eating and drinking. As a matter of fact, I try to limit myself to lunch and dinner on Fridays and no more than two hard ciders per day. I’ll be honest though: this really came about as a kind of trial and error. Wine started giving me ridiculous hangovers. Bourbon gave me the mad heart burn. I don’t like beer. So now me and a variety of hard ciders have a nice old time enjoying ourselves. And it frees up money for pampering at my new favorite day spa.

I let go of this idea that there isn’t enough and started making space for truth. Truth is, there are things I just didn’t want to do. I had money. I had time. I didn’t want to do them. Now the reasons I didn’t want to do them were all different, but when I owned that truth, everything else became easy. And I started to see that there was enough money, time, energy to do everything I wanted to do. I had to declare it and work the plan to make it come into fruition.

I let go of my tiny fear box. It started with work. I asked to take on some duties and when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to excel at them with my current knowledge, I freaked out. I got scared. I realized though that every unknown is scary and I can either let the fear cripple me and suck or I can acknowledge it and work on learning. It showed me how to slow down and move one step at a time instead of thinking 274 steps in the future in my head only to find that step 3 changes the whole plan.

I let go of later and focused on what’s happening right now. Because if you’re like me, right now is usually just fine. You’re still breathing and life is still rolling along. When things come up, it’s almost second nature to stop and ask myself ‘Is this affecting me right now though?’ I’m not saying I avoid dealing with things, but like the fear factor above, skipping past right now was causing me a lot of anxiety. The gray was getting real and I was exacerbating small issues into dramatic sagas. Nah.

I gave up my cape. I struggled with this because it’s how I show love. I do things for people. And the one person who gets the lion’s share of my love is The Hero. After 10 years of showing up at platinum level with gold energy though, I burned out. And I started being resentful. It wasn’t his fault. I didn’t ask for help. The thought occurred to me one day that I am not his caretaker, I’m his partner. And partners complement. He can cook and clean better than me (there was some stankness about admitting that to myself). I’m better at organizing our lives though and making sure everything rolls smoothly. I asked for help. He said yes. We’re living life again like it’s golden.

And there’s Honesty’s Protégée. This blog has been everything from mind dump to recipe/DIY repository. I’m not going to make any more statements about what it will be or what I will do. I know that I’ll come here when it feels right. That may be to cook. May be to dump 2,000 words and update you on my life. I don’t know. I hope you stay, but I understand if you don’t.

Until next time.

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Hangin’ a Right on HP

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Welcome to 2017.

There are changes coming to the blog. Here’s a brief summary:

Food Discovery. A few weeks ago, I was clearing out the basement and realized I own a ton of cookbooks. Despite owning them, I cook the same things over and over again. Boring. In comes Food Discovery. Every week, The Hero picks random numbers and we find a new recipe to try. Am I nervous? Of. Course. Do you know how many recipes have things in them I don’t eat? I’m not going to even talk about some of the food pairings. But, we committed to expanding our horizons so we’re in. First post coming this week.

Posting. Nice segue with that last sentence, right? When I was thinking about getting back on track, I realized that I am comfortable committing to posting three times a week. In time I may change that schedule, but for now, it works for me.

Video. I’m not even sure what I would video, but incorporating it in the mix seems like a good next step for HP and a lot of fun. The Hero says I have a soothing voice. I think he’s biased, but we’ll see what happens. All I know now is there will be video at some point. And more than likely, it’ll be silly. We have fun around these parts.

There are other changes coming too, but why ruin the surprise? Let’s just see what 2017 has in store for all of us.

Coasting into 2017

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Look. I’m not even going to front like a new year doesn’t shift my mind in some way. At least twice a year, I take inventory on me: January 1 and July 2.

So I’m coasting through 2016 wondering what I’m actually going to do different in three days. Working out probably ain’t one of them. Me and these pounds got history. I’m using ‘grown woman weight’ to justify them. I got a grown woman body. Done.

Changing my eating habits. Eh… maybe. I could eat less. I know it’s brainwashing from when I was little and was the only girl trying to keep up with my brother and two cousins at the buffet. I mean it worked then because I burned it off. Now, competing with The Hero led me to this great grown woman body. Into the maybe category.

Being petty. Sigh. But I tried (imagine reading that in an irritating Steve Urkel voice). It’s so hard. Why can’t Jesus or Jobu just zap me on the head and I’ll be nice? Why, lord, why?! I wish I could blame it on something, but it’s me wanting to control people. Not even situations, y’all. People. That never works well and I usually end up with RBF, imagining how many paychecks I’d have to save to buy a remote warehouse just for the occasional kidnap and torture. I’m kidding. Or am I…? I am. By the time I save that much I’d have to outsource the kidnapping and torturing. Where’s the fun in that? Right.

Even though my mind is dormant, some things are cooking. Despite being petty, I am learning to relax more and let some things roll over me like wind. The good kinda wind, not that polar vortex crap that makes you want to punch the air. I’m learning to breathe when I feel that old familiar feeling creeping down my back. Breathing works. It makes my brain tingle and tingling brain is good.

I miss crafting. My work space is basic. Like it’s so basic, that if I needed to repair an earring or necklace, I’d have to go get the supplies. Better example: it’s like wanting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich then realizing you threw all the peanut butter away because somebody convinced you adults don’t eat PB&J. Oh the regret! But, I can’t change what’s happened and I did enjoy the free space. Now it’s time to get back to creating and cooking stuff (see grown woman body above).

Know what else? Going places alone. I really enjoy my friends’ company, but sometimes the thrill of experiencing something alone, even briefly, is pretty fantastic. No pressure to interpret or be or do anything. Just enjoy the experience of being out and doing something new. More of that. And even more of old things like going to dinner or teenage fantasy movies alone.

Of course there are new things. Travel is one of them. Going to Vegas in January with a friend. That’s like two things at once. Know the last time I went on a girls’ trip? 2005. 2005! For the most part, there hasn’t been a person I wanted to go with and, well, traveling makes me nervous. The pressure of doing something when I probably want to enjoy staying in a hotel for at least a day always made me pause. And just about everyone I knew who traveled had or needed an itinerary. I mean I love a schedule, but can’t we just wing it? Anyway, thing of the past. Vegas was a big step and I figure if I’m going to start something, might as well start it with flair. And no pictures.

Slowing down is another. I’m pretty sure somewhere on this blog I talked about slowing down before. This is different. No. Really. It is. It dawned on me that I ASK people to tell me who they are and get upset when they aren’t who they say. I literally figured that out Monday, thanks to a conversation with The Hero. He’s a pure watcher. Not in a hurry to move one way or another until he SEES what’s happening. I’m about that watcher life.

I KNOW I talked about dulling my shine before. Yeah, that’s done. First of all, it’s getting a little too complex to remember who knows what about me. Blame it on getting older or managing way more information that I’m used to, but I just can’t anymore. I’m showing up with all my rough edges because I’m a human and I’m not perfect. And that means trimming the stragglers. You know the ones. You’re friends with one person, but they have a clique so you feel like you should be friends with the rest. Nope, nope, nope. I’m building my Sisterhood Hall of Fame in 2017.

Um, what else? Ohhh… being constantly connected. I need a 12-step program. I have a lot of free time and get bored because I eliminated the fun in my life, so I find myself stalking Facebook. I’m sure I’ve lost a lot of brain cells and gained some form of PTSD from all the terrible crap going on in the world that I’ve read and shared. I have to unplug and live IRL. I hope I just made that term up, but if I didn’t don’t tell me.

In a nutshell 2016 was a good year. I learned a lot about myself. This is MY life. Everything in it should exist because I allow it, not because it was given to or forced upon me. I’m teaching myself the same lessons I tried to teach The Kid about choices. Every choice has consequences and I have to own them. Know what I’m doing? Owning the choice to design a life that I will LOVE. Not love. LOVE.

Boom!

Stadium of Lawn Chairs

lawn chairs

Y’all. Sigh.

I’m embarrassed.

I went ballistic about something that I misinterpreted and elevated to Def Con 4. What someone meant as a joke, I lost it over. My annoyance had been building over time and 13 variables went into my reaction. I won’t list them because you’ll be like ‘Dee… girl… Do better.’

But here’s what came out of that: in a very real way, I still have issues with being heard. And not feeling protected. Or respected. When I was younger, I just buried it. I thought I was insignificant and people not hearing me was what I should expect from life. There were instances when I needed someone to stand up for and protect me and they didn’t. I learned how to deal with it.

Somewhere along the line though, I realized that my voice is my way to communicate to the world exactly what I need and how I want to occupy my space. What Monday’s explosion helped me realize is that those were tools for dealing with my space. The place where I am the sun in my universe. I tried using my tools in someone else’s universe and it failed.

Hence Monday Magma Meltdown. And the lawn chairs. Lawn chairs because you know I’m not about to make myself have seats on a regular. I am going to deal with this issue.

We all like to think we are more sophisticated than we are. The Universe has a way of sending situations and people along and says ‘are you? let’s see.’ And in not being diligent, I had to answer no. THAT was and is a hard pill to swallow. No matter. There is work to be done.

I apologized to the people who got the full blast of my white hot anger. I didn’t feel good about myself until I did. I also removed myself from the situation. Can’t blow up anything if you don’t have access to explosives, right? And once I know that all of the residual feelings are gone and I can see clearly, I’ll work on being less petty. Hey! At least I’m realistic. There’s no sense in me saying I’m not going to be petty. Reasonable, people. I am reasonable.

So hopefully before the end of the winter, I’ll be giving away these lawn chairs. It’s not like I have room for them anyway and with summer and cookouts coming, you probably need some for your family and friends when they come over.

Look for the flyer on the site in the next coming months and a post about how I took the less petty road.

D

Giving up to Fear

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Two posts in one week? Wassup with me? Seriously!

The end of the year always makes me take a look at where I’ve been and where I’m going. This year is no different in that respect, except that it is.

This year I learned about my truth.

How could I NOT know my truth you may be wondering? Because I’ve always hidden it behind an inherent fear. Fear of the unknown. The cost. The social collateral. The financial collateral. Fill in whatever it is that people fear and I’ve probably used it. All to protect myself.

But what really is there to protect? My reputation is pretty good in areas that matter. I meet all my deadlines at work at a level that regularly gets me praise from others. I’m still confused about that as I’m sure I’m only giving about 55% effort and receiving 90% praise. Most people in my life think I’m useful in some way, even if it’s only to ask me to cook or bake them something (which can kinda get annoying, but whatevs).

You know what? I gotta go back a month or so. A friend of mine invited me to a virtual book club to read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. I’m not a fan of book clubs, but this particular friend made it to my speed dial, so I figured why not? What have I got to lose? If I don’t like the book, I’ll stop reading. I am a unabashed quitter when I don’t like something.

But Shonda is like a much richer, better connected version of my introverted self. She was the introvert whisperer. And something in the first four chapters hit me like a ton of bricks:

I always say no.

Let me rephrase:

I say yes, then find a way to change it to no.

I’ve been sitting with that for two days. Mulling it around in my mind. Feeling the bitter taste of the truth. I always find a way to say no when I’m afraid that people will see me for who I really am. Kinda awkward 40-year-old who starts talking and forgets the points she makes, sometimes has extremely unpopular or contradicting opinions and is always wondering what the lesson is. And that was all fine until I realized that I was shortchanging myself. Missing out on experiences. Relationships. Life.

So the Year of Yes coincides with the Year of You. The Year of Yes means saying yes to things that scare me, things that get me outside of my comfortable, little D box. Things that make me try life, even if it’s one tiny sample at a time. Because of all my fears, what I fear most is looking up and being old wishing I had done some things, wishing I had put in the work for more relationships. Wishing period.

So on this almost last day of 2015, I commit to more yeses. More opportunities to live and love life. To not be afraid to expose myself and see what life brings to my door.

Year of You

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Want to know what’s inspiring this post?

A bra.

Yes, a bra. A pretty, boobs-on-chin, leopard bra with lace and matching underwear to be exact. All my life I’ve purchased functional, but this one time, I said to myself ‘I’m going for sexy’. I was in that dressing room FEELIN’ MYSELF. Bought two sexy bras. Then got on eBay and bought four more sets. Then I bought a bunch of lipstick. Paid $25 at a quasi-swanky salon to get my eyebrows waxed (it was to change how I see spending on myself for beauty services). I started running and working out again. And the icing on the cake? Went to the beauty salon and got a cut and style. The salon, y’all!

All of that culminated into the second half of my D annual plan assessment. I realized that I plan for everything, except making myself look and feel beautiful for me. Not for anyone else, not for a special event or occasion, but for a Tuesday when I’m going to my regular job to do regular stuff during a regular week.

Enter Year of You. I’ve set up our paychecks that we both get an allowance: 10 percent for the earner, 5 percent for the spouse. Every week it re-ups because someone is getting paid. Anyway, Year of You was born from actually setting aside an allowance. Money that’s mine and I can spend any kinda way.

That’s how I bought the sexy bra you read about a minute ago. My allowance. Oh… and all that lipstick. Umm… probably the brows. Not the salon visit. The family paid for that.

I digress. Anyway, the second half of my year is about the Year of You. Of being selfish in a good way, deepening relationships with my girls. Buying gifts, stationary, a good ass pen, a banging handmade journal. The only reason is because it makes me feel good. It increases me.

So I give you a challenge. What makes you feel good about you? What would it take for you to declare a Year of You for yourself? What’s stopping you from doing it? I gotta say seven bras, 10 lippies, two eye shadow palettes and a pair of boots later it’s one of the best things I’ve done for myself to date.

 

Life Lumps

© EK Success

© EK Success

I’ve been avoiding the blog. Some of it has to do with the fact that I have work to do and, quite honestly, I’m afraid. Some of it is sheer procrastination (read: laziness by overachievers). Since the last time I wrote, life has been, well… trying to help me re-member some things that were once an integral part of who I am.

The Kid left. You know that. The Kid came back. You know that. I had issues with that whole period. You probably know that too. What’s been happening for the past five months though is energetic and spiritual denial. By me.

I’m a firm believer that Life/God/Universal Energy wants to be gentle with me. I also believe that when I’m like ‘yeah… I’ll get to that as soon as….’, God sends a more serious situation. And when I blow Her off again, she sends – dun, dun, dun, DUN – THE lesson. The one that says ‘listen up or knuckle up.’

Mine is an aching lump on the side of my left boob, near my armpit.

The lump itself doesn’t bother me. It’s what it represents. It represents my abject disobedience to my higher self, to the God in me who wants me to be happy, light and free. The lump represents resistance to the spiritual shifts that I’ve ignored. Its existence translates to ‘You ready to work now? ‘Cuz, you know, She has unlimited resources if you still want to fight.’

I don’t want the brass knuckle treatment. My face is too pretty.

This lump represents me denying the truth that I cannot save my child from himself. That no amount of love will keep him from learning his life lessons in the way that he chooses to learn them. It’s spent energy on the things I cannot change and unspent energy on the things that I can. And when I move back into my Dee alignment, the lump will go away. Sounds easy, right?

So I’m sitting here in this coffee shop finally accepting that protecting The Kid is not my responsibility and probably never was. That months of beating myself up wondering where it all went sideways is not my fault. I wasn’t June Cleaver to The Kid, but I did the best that I knew at the time. I don’t have to internalize imperfection. Even June Cleaver probably took shots and hit the blunt in the bathroom when everyone was away.

Honestly, this shit hurts. A lot. I could probably cry from right now until Sunday night and still feel this… deep mourning. Death of an age for us, The Kid and me. But death always bring life and the hurt is ‘what will that life look like?’

Which brings me to the second part of the feelings. The unknown is what scares me. What if The Kid… just… doesn’t want the kind of relationship I want? And this is when I realize all these years I wanted to be a good mother, but I sometimes lost my way. Denying it was a lie. I love my homegrowns and they represent some of my greatest work. I think about the future a lot because I like planning for most things (except retirement, but that’s a story for another day). I can’t plan for what’s coming so I’m forced to slow down and be present, be in one moment. Immerse in each experience. Be present for everyone who takes the time to share a part of their life with me, especially my homegrowns.

I have to re-calibrate my brain and let me tell you, that’s no small feat.

But this lump sure as hell ain’t a walk in the park either.

I’m at a crossroad: I can choose the path of least resistance. Or not. It’s that simple.

Think I’ll take the easy, low road.

Dr. Seuss drops knowledge