Spring Break By The Numbers

18 waffles (two every morning for breakfast)
7 episodes of Jane the Virgin (My DVR can breathe now)
5 Jazzercise classes (including my first-ever two-classes-back-to-back try)
4 outings with friends (movie, gyros, Starbucks, sushi)
4 movies (“Love, Simon,” “Blade Runner,” “Thor: Ragnarok” (twice), “Logan Lucky”)
2 nights with family (hadn’t seen most of them since January)
2 books (“By My Side,” “Book of Laman”)
1 coding class completed (I still can’t believe it)
0 vegetables (not really. But kind of.)

Not bad.

Wonder Woman: Competition vs. Collaboration.

I took my niece to see “Wonder Woman” today. It was my 2nd time seeing it but her first–I offered to take her when I saw her briefly in between my June trips, and she agreed to wait. She’s cool like that.

As I drove her home, I asked her what her favorite part of the movie was, and she couldn’t pick just one. But then she nearly broke my heart when she said, “I don’t understand why people get angry about it. I mean, have they seen this movie? She’s a boss!”

I’m pretty sure her question was rhetorical, but I set about answering it anyway.

Because I am that aunt.

So here’s a close approximation of what I said to her.

Some men get uncomfortable when women show their power, because they don’t see women as collaborators–they see powerful women as competitors. What do you do with a competitor?

You crush them.

Right. So what does Steve Trevor do when he realizes what Diana is capable of? He gets out of her way. When he understands her power and they fight a second time, what does he do? Figures out how to help her, how to work with her. Collaborate.

When you start dating, I really hope you are able to discern if someone sees you as a competitor or as a collaborator. One guy I dated and really wanted to marry saw me as a competitor. When we played board games or computer games, I had to lose on purpose, because he would get mad if I won too many times. He was struggling with school and career decisions, and when I would offer to help him, he would turn down my help. I had my life a little more together than he did at the time, and he didn’t see me as a collaborator. He saw me as a competitor. How happy do you think I’d be if I’d married him?

Uh, not very.

Right. So, just remember that.

By the way, Wonder Woman as a film was just pure joy–even on a second viewing. So glad Warner Brothers and DC finally got one right.

This Is What A Bad Day Looks Like.

File_000 (2) This is what a bad day looks like.

No make up, no filters, no smile. Eyes and face swollen from crying. Lots and lots of crying.

The reasons for the bad day are irrelevant–I can’t share the reasons anyway. But I hit the trifecta of what causes me the most pain in my life (save for the loss of a loved one–no one died yesterday). And I hesitated taking this photo or writing anything about it, except for this:

So much of life is carefully curated these days. Sunny vacations by beaches and pools, perfectly angled selfies with perfectly coiffed hair and perfectly applied makeup. We share our best selves and give the impression that life is grand, even when we know it’s not.

It hit me yesterday, as I was fetal, crying, and simultaneously replying to text messages as if nothing was wrong. Feigned happiness for days, rife with fake exclamation points.

And I wondered if I saw a little less curation and a little more real, maybe my response to yesterday’s events wouldn’t have been so dramatic. But feeling like life is oh-so-wonderful for so many people while in the midst of some pretty dark emotions can amplify the darkness.

So I share this photo, and this vague accounting of my bad day, to maybe instill some sense of normalcy for someone else who might be having a bad day.

Bad days suck. They happen–no getting around that. But they happen to everyone, so try to remember that the next time you’re in the middle of a trifecta of pain. Chances are, someone close to you has been there before, and you both will be there again. Don’t let the filters fool you about that.

But a bad day is also just that–a day. Twenty-four hours. The sun rises again, and with time, the pain diminishes. Today I was blessed with people who made me smile and laugh. I ate chocolate and drank diet Coke and I bought a book. I had some great conversations and tried to remember that I still have much to celebrate and many people to love.

Yesterday was a bad day. But today was better.



Tempting the wrath of whatever

Before you read, a small assignment: watch this:

A couple of weeks ago in my Sunday School class, I commented that my life was pretty golden, and I didn’t trust it. I was happy, I was peaceful, I was healthy–all was well and I couldn’t enjoy it fully because I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I said these words out loud: “My life is pretty great, but I don’t trust it. Something awful is bound to happen eventually.”

If only Toby and Josh had forced me to go out side, turn around 3 times and spit…

My happy peace has left me, and I’m well aware of contributing factors. Too much social media. Not enough focus at work. Anger at things I can’t control. General self-pity. No working out. Not writing enough. Packing my days so full that I can barely breathe.

I commiserated with a friend about this today: “How did we get to this point?” I asked her. “I don’t remember being this busy or despondent 15 years ago. What are we doing to ourselves? Why are we doing it?”

She didn’t have a clear answer, and neither do I. Maybe just acknowledging there’s a problem is the first step to fixing it?

So I know what the problem is. I have strategies to fix some of the problems. The trick now is to muster the wherewithal to implement those strategies and get back to where I was a few weeks ago, before I tempted fate.

Waaaah. Summer is Over.

Today is August 1 and a Monday, which makes it a quality day to do some reflecting on the past 9 weeks of my life.

It was a good summer.

I didn’t take classes or do any traveling. I wasn’t beholden to a schedule that made me feel the rigidity of the school year. I slept in until 9 or later more than once, and when I woke up before 9, I stayed in bed and read books or watched Netflix.

More than once I didn’t shower until noon.

I didn’t see as many films in the theater as I wanted to, but I saw several movies courtesy of Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix (both streaming and old-school). I caught up on television shows I didn’t have time or energy for during the school year.

I read 15 books.

I spent time with my nieces and nephews and my parents and my friends. I visited places in Nebraska I never knew existed. I presented at a conference.

I wrote 23,776 words of a book I’m working on. I wrote a 2100 word essay and submitted it for a publication.

I learned the value in taking purposeful, creative breaks, I was a counselor at a high school journalism camp, and I started a podcast with a couple of friends.

I haven’t had many summers like this–I’m usually packed from start to finish. And the one summer I wasn’t, I did so very little that I started the school year hating myself for wasting all that time.

Of all the things I accomplished this summer, the most important was this: I learned how to relax with purpose, how to create without pressure.

In May, I made a list of everything I wanted to do in my time off. I didn’t cross off every item off that list, and that’s okay. Now, on August 1, it’s time to return to my school list, the one I start every Sunday night and add to it every day, hoping by Saturday most of the items are checked off.

And this school year, I’m adding movies and books and breaks to my list.