Monday Notes: How Are You?

When someone asks you how you’re doing, what do you say? Do you give the traditional “I’m fine”? If so, why is that?

A friend once posted to social media that no one really wants to know how you’re doing when they ask. So, just say, “I’m good” and keep it moving.

img_7513I agree. But I’m done interacting in that way. Here’s why. I’ve spent a large part of my life pretending that everything was okay when it wasn’t. I’ve also learned the hard way that repressing emotions and going about life in a “business as usual” fashion is no healthier than eating junk food everyday. Ill feelings stay with you until you release them.

Now, if you ask me how I’m doing or how something is going, you will get the truth.

If I really am good, then I’ll let you know. But if I’m not? I still let you know.

For example, When people ask, how are the girls, which is a common question, I pause because they’re no longer one unit called, “the girls.” Quite honestly, they never were. But being in their late teenage years makes it more evident.

So, I pause. I provide detail. Kesi is doing this, that, and a third. Desi is doing X, Y, and Z. Sometimes it’s unicorns and rainbows. Other times, I wish either of them were making different choices and headed down a path of clarity.

Either way, if you ask, then you’ll get a real answer.

I’ve learned to answer people truthfully about every aspect of my life because there are enough of us covering up sadness and anger with fake smiles and high-pitched laughs. I don’t want to be another one.

For me, reality is what’s up.

But what I’ve found is that people can’t quite take the real answer. Uncomfortable squirms and bug eyes show me that they, like my friend, would rather hear the traditional “fine.”

Quickly changing the subject when I explain how either of my daughters is really doing signals they’d like to discuss something more chipper, like the weather. But only if the sun has shone brightly for several days in a row. If not, then a conversation about when it might return is in order, because like real discussions about our lives, people also don’t like crappy weather.

So, tell me. How are you…really? And how do you typically answer this question?

Advertisements

Monday’s Notes: UPDATE

When I first began Monday Notes, I had 221 thoughts written down. In fact, I began Monday Notes for that very reason. I thought it would be a way for me to purge and delete. Well, months later, as of the day that I’m writing this post, I have 358 notes. That’s 137 more than what I began with!

Here is what’s in these notes:

img_5198#1: Remembering things that we want to buy. Dwight and I recently purchased a home and realized that certain furniture must go, like sofas and such. Of course, that means that new furniture must be purchased. Eventually, it gets to be too much, and I whip out my phone and start taking notes. Maybe I should’ve just added them to a Pinterest board.

img_5199#2: Future Facebook posts. There are a lot of passive-aggressive, petty people on social media. They range from the chick who broke up with her boyfriend and kinda wants you to know, but doesn’t want to tell all her business, to the guy who wants you to know that he makes a lot of money, so he shares an image of his check (real story). I don’t want to be like that, so instead of posting my first thought about my life, I just write a note.

#3: Current projects. I always have something that I’m working on. Currently, it’s an anthology that includes all women writers, who share similar challenges. My notes section helps me keep things straight, such as who needs a revision, who hasn’t responded, where the copy editor is, and when I’ll begin marketing. I’ve seen apps for these types of things, but I just can’t stand to download one…more…app.

#4: Students who do not participate. Three of my classes are online. As I evaluate work, I also keep notes on who hasn’t participated so that I can see if there’s a pattern of behavior that I need to mention to them. For example, if Suzie hasn’t completed Quiz #1 and Discussion #5, then I reach out to her and remind her of these things. I could just filter the online gradebook, but I find keeping notes way easier. I just have to remember to delete them when the semester is over.

img_5201#5: Blog ideas. Oftentimes, I read other blogs and become inspired by what they’ve written. This happens frequently. In order to actually ponder and write about it, I keep notes on what was said and by whom. My intention really is to write as an extension of their thoughts, but it rarely happens.

img_5202#6: Numbers. To be honest, sometimes it’s a password. I know. That’s bad because someone who wants to steal my identity might hack into my phone, and then they’ll know my passwords, and then my life will be in shambles. But probably not. Because most of the time, it’s just a number. Like this. I have no idea what 8097 means now lol

africans#7: Stuff people have asked me to read, watch, or listen to, like this YouTube channel/show my oldest daughter asked me to watch…in August. It’s called Africans, African Americans, and West Indians. I wrote it down, with the best intentions, but here’s the thing. People are always suggesting I read, watch, or listen to something. Many times, I just don’t make time to do it. I’ll either get better about actually doing it, or better about telling the person, I’m not interested. Either way, I need to delete the note.

Do you use your Notes section or something similar? I’m starting to feel like a digital hoarder. Is that a thing? As you comment, I’ll be cleaning out the 2,000+ photos I have stored on my phone.

Monday Notes: I’m Over It ✌🏾

They say a lesson will repeat itself until learned. Well, there are a few experiences that continue to resurface even though I’m sure I’ve been a great student and gleaned all that I can. I just can’t take it no more y’all! Maybe the universe feels otherwise. Either way, here are four things I’m over.

People feeling shitty but blaming it on me. Have you ever walked in a room and immediately felt sadness, then later learned the person who lives there is sad about something? This happens to me quite a bit, except the person who’s wrapped in sadness, anger, or hurt doesn’t realize it and attempts to blame it on something I’ve said or done. I believe the technical term is called, projection. Over the years, I’ve found it’s more convenient for people to point the finger at me, as if I’ve done something to make them feel bad, rather than be still and take account of their own energy field. It recently happened with one of my cousins, and let me tell you…I’m over it. I truly wished we all learned how to take responsibility for our own space and thoughts and then functioned from that place.

This ongoing feud between my brother-in-law, his wife, and me. For over twenty years, I’ve teetered back and forth in a tit-for-tat relationship with my BIL and his wife. He’s done or said hurtful things, and I’ve done the same. The most recent event happened when my dad died a couple of years ago. He nor his wife reached out to me with condolences. I was hurt (again). But took it as a clear message. I told them so in a letter. I thought the situation was over, but recently an in-law re-opened the conversation. I’m over it. I wished we could all clear the air and move forward in the most positive way possible. And if not, then I’m happy to let it go, without further mention.

My family expecting me to continue to visit them. My mother’s side of the family lives in Michigan and Illinois. Every year, they meet at a central house in Chicago for Christmas. Every other year, for seventeen years, my husband and I have packed up the girls and Rascal and driven 1,000 miles there and 1,000 miles back to spend that holiday with that side of the family. It’s exhausting. It’s expensive. And it’s something Dwight and I decided we no longer wanted to do. We’re over it. I can tell extended family is unsettled about the decision. But spending time at my home, with my husband and daughters, around our tree was the most stress-free Christmas I’ve had in my adult life. I wished they could be okay with that and know they’re welcomed at my home any holiday.

Apologizing for past behavior because someone else chooses to live in the past. This one is a combination of the first two grievances. One of my cousin’s complaints was that I never visit her. She was right. So, I planned a visit. But during the entire time, she continued to complain about how I never visit or do anything for her. Huh? I’m here now. I’m visiting now. I’m literally in your space…right…now. You don’t get to say that anymore. Likewise, I’ve had criticisms about my brother-in-law and his wife and they’ve had some about me. However, in an effort to move forward, I’ve apologized, profusely and to no avail. They’ve never accepted an apology from me, and I’m not going to assume why. I don’t know. But what I refuse to do is live in the hurt of past situations with them or anyone else. I’m over it.

Do you have any reoccurring experiences with family or friends? How do you handle family situations or expectations? Is there anything you’re over but keep having to deal with?

Monday Notes: Starbucks Observations

coffee-1281842_1280There’s nothing better than ordering a tall Youthberry, with a shot of classic. Hot tea is one of the few drinks the barista will make immediately. I always get it before I leave the counter.

If I’m inside, I find a seat near the back of the café where there’s an outlet. If I’m outside, then I’m right by the door. Either way, I follow the same ritual: 1) take the top off my tea so that it can cool to a consumable temperature; 2) unpack my MacBook, log onto the WiFi, and answer the question of the day; and depending on how loud the patrons are 3) plug in my ear buds and select Film Scores on Pandora. Something about listening to The Lord of the Rings soundtrack helps me focus.

But on this day, I decided to ditch the headphones. I’d observe my surroundings instead.

Directly in front of me, a Spanish-speaking couple met with a bilingual man. The cellphone conversation he’d had five minutes before they arrived was in English and full of laughter. As soon as the couple sat down, his tone changed. Eleven years of the romance language didn’t help me interpret their discussion, but the seriousness in the air led me to believe it was an important topic. Was he a professional translator? Had someone recommended him? Were they in trouble?

I’d never know.

On the left side of me a couple met with a realtor. The middle-aged white man and his Asian-looking wife had moved from Seattle to Jacksonville. Years ago, they’d lived overseas. I wondered if they were former military. Where “overseas” had they lived? Why did they choose Jacksonville over Seattle?

“So are y’all ready?” the bright-eyed realtor asked.

“Yep,” the husband replied, “It’s time for a house.”

I’ve come to accept my nosey-ness as a positive trait that allows me to observe and then write detailed descriptions of people. But it was time to be productive.

Just when I’d settled in to read and respond to blogs, I saw them.

“You’re not old enough to be line leader,” he said.

She snatched her tiny, pale, white hand away and attempted to sprint to the edge of the sidewalk. Her legs failed her. He reached for her small arm with his free hand, while the other held firmly to his more well-behaved, five year-old daughter’s right hand.

First he praised the two year old, “I admire your tenacity,” and then, he reprimanded her, “but no.”

The two little girls remained on either side of their dad, hand-in-hand, dawdling their way down the sidewalk and out of my view.

img_3053I admire your tenacity reverberated and stuck with me.

I was sure they were middle class simply because he used the word “tenacity.” Did they live in the new development that peeked through the space between Nordstrom’s and Bento? Did the girls have traditional names, like Emma and Gracie? Or had they gone more trendy, Bailey and Zoe?

It was probably a mix. Zoe was the runner and Emma was the oldest. Zoe wanted her bedroom to be painted deep purple, but they’d convinced her that fuchsia was just as amazing. Emma never posed a problem, going along with whatever her parents wished. Her room was light pink, with a matching flowered duvet and pillow covers.

Their mom was at home taking a well-deserved break from her orchestrated life.

“Why don’t you take Emma and Zoe to the mall?” she suggested.

He was happy to help out. But, next time he’d ask his wife to come along. She’d have to seek rest elsewhere.

Real people inspire me to write. I’ve looked over at the person next to me on the highway and made up an entire short story with characters, backstory, and plot. Am I the only one who does this? Do you look at people and wonder what’s going on with their lives? Where does your writing inspiration come from?

Astigmatism and a stigma

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the fifth grade. We all lined up as usual to take our public school vision test. I giggled my way to the front of the line. This would probably go like previous years.

Finally, it was my turn. Was that an “F” or an “E”? Was that an “O” or a “C”?

“Kathy,” the visiting optometrist started, “it looks as if you’re going to need glasses.”

I was already different than the children on my block. They attended the neighborhood school and I was bused to a magnet one. My hair hung down my back, while other girls had cornrows or braids with colorful beads. I spoke “standard” English when everyone else used “ain’t” and double negatives with ease.

And now I had to add wearing glasses to this list?

My first reaction was a single tear from my near-sighted eye. Another soon formed and trickled down my cheek. Before I knew it, I was full-on crying, in front of the whole fifth-grade.

The visiting optometrist whispered, “Now dear, you don’t want to make the people who wear glasses feel bad, do you?”

She was talking about Alexander Adams, a kid named after a president. She referred to Eli Korner. A nice boy, but not someone I wanted to be in the glasses gang with.

So my mom took me to a place called For Eyes. My first pair were lilac. If I had to wear them, then I was going to look as cool as possible doing it.

***

Fast forward to 1991. I had just graduated high school and had a job. All this time, I’d been wearing the glasses that someone else could afford for me. This time, I’d wear the glasses that I wanted.

My first pair, with my own paycheck were Laura Biagotti’s. I’m pretty sure I paid over $200 for them. But it didn’t matter. I was fly. Ironically, I’d also decided to ditch wearing them in public. It was time for me to enjoy the convenience of contacts.

That was back when you could get a pair of annuals and they would last, well, all year, as the title suggests.

I wore those contacts so much that Dwight didn’t even realize I needed to wear glasses. I slept in those contacts so much that the optometrist had to threaten not to give me a prescription because you know, you’re not supposed to sleep in contacts.

Every year, I’d renew my contact lens prescription. And every other year, I’d renew my eyeglass prescription, wearing them at night only. I held on to this routine for 25 years.

***

Much like many prescription holders, my eyesight worsened over time. Much worse. But it didn’t matter. I could hide the truth behind my contacts. Decades later, companies discontinued annuals and only offered monthlies.

Everything was good, until this year.

My eyesight had worsened still. Because according to Dr. Suddath, no matter what, when you’re over 40, your vision will continue to decline, regardless of the starting point.

My current prescription is: -7.50 with a -1.75 astigmatism and -8.25 with a -1.00 astigmatism.

All this technical mumbo jumbo means I can no longer wear monthlies. My contacts only come in dailies, which cost $106 per month. Say what?

This means, as my good friend Mek suggested, “Maybe you should embrace the glasses now?”

And suddenly, I felt like I was ten again. I cried and cried, like a week ago y’all.

It might sound silly. But there was a slight fear.

Most people don’t even know I wear glasses, for real. Most people don’t know that if I didn’t have these contacts in, I wouldn’t know who was standing in front of my face. Most people don’t know that wearing glasses is what makes me feel 10% less confident in public spaces.

Most people don’t know that I’d been holding on to a feeling of inadequacy for 33 years, all because I couldn’t see clearly.

Sheesh! 

I had subscribed to a stereotype about wearing glasses and safely hid behind contact lenses. Well, it has to end here. I’ll have to shed this made up stigma and find the right frame for my (public) comfort level. 

The journey to loving me for me in this and every moment continues, glasses and all.

Do you have any hidden insecurities you’ve held on to since childhood? Share them below so we can support one another. 

Navigating Life 🙏🏾

This week’s Other People’s Quote comes from a blogger who is unapologetically Christian. Her name is Chanel Walker-Bailey and her blog is called Real Bold Truth. I typically shy away from in-your-face religious types; however, Chanel’s words come with a lot of testimony and authentic real-life experiences. Check out her blog and her videos! I’m sure you’ll walk away feeling a little more motivated.

chanel_quote_new

Death of a Tree

Do you know what this is?

It’s what’s left of this. IMG_3263

I started to wait until April 29th. But my broken heart wouldn’t allow room for a gimmicky Arbor Day post.

This tree and I fell in love last autumn. It was Inspiring Image #16. That’s where my empathy stems from. My camera and I had connected with its barrenness. All of its leaves had fallen, as is customary for trees during this time of year. It looked beautiful, not battered. And it certainly didn’t look like it should be destroyed. Branch by branch.

I looked forward to seeing its spring blossoms during our Sunday walks. I looked forward to the bright leaves that would fill its arms. I looked forward to sharing a glimpse of its showering green and newfound beauty. We were going to re-connect, this tree and I. It would show off its regeneration and I would stand under it, awed by the natural recurrence of rebirth. Our energies renewed by one another.

But no.

It was February 23rd. One man leaned lazily against its trunk. Another stood on the sidewalk, sizing tree up. Still, another sat atop a yellow machine. Its neck rose higher and higher. Orange cones and yellow tape surrounded the scene. Maybe they’re just removing the lone damaged branch, I thought. Hope against hope. I’ve always loathed that phrase. Wouldn’t the two cancel each other out, leaving no hope at all?

Upon my return, I’d ask them what they were doing. An hour and a half later, and like a stage-play, the setting had changed. All that remained was a stump.

“Did you take a picture?” Dwight asked.

“I didn’t. I couldn’t.”

Eventually, I could. And I did. The stump saddened me. Remaining scattered woodchips seemed irreverent. Couldn’t they have cleaned up better? A lopsided hew appeared haphazard. All of that machinery couldn’t produce a clean cut? Who has time for discriminate chops when there’s more of nature to disassemble? Who has time for anything when one’s job is to destroy trees that are minding their own business, waiting for spring, like you and me?

February 26th, the tree guy was back.

“Hey,” I yelled out of my car’s window. “There was a big tree down there, remember? You guys just tore it down.”

“Oh yeah,” the left corner of his mouth crept half a smile. “It was dead.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Really dead.”

Shows what I know. I guess tree’s time on this earth had ended long ago and I had been marveling at its carcass. Hmmmph.