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Dance.

Smitty’s Ode to the House cleaner

 

As a young pizza-faced drummer boy, my ultimate goal in life was to just live.

I really had nothing to live for because I was a product of a very dysfunctional family. My folks divorced when I was 6. I thought it was the end of the world when my bio-dad sat me down in the park in Roundup and informed me that I would no longer be his favorite fishing partner. He also informed me I probably wouldn’t ever get to see him again. Life shattering, to say the least. “Just live through it #1 Son”. That’s what I got told. My longest relationship with my best friend at the time, ended in a park. Detrimental.

Fast forward a whopping couple of years. My mother married the man that became the rock of my world. As a stepdad, Jr. was the quintessential hard-working cowboy that most people would call evil in today’s society, He was honest, fair, and mostly quiet to the grown-ups. When Jr. barked, you knew he had a reason. The ass- whoopings received from that man were ALWAYS earned, and never done in spite. Every time it happened, I deserved every bit of it, as did my brothers and sisters. We seven kids all had extremely different personalities, and he shaped us all into the adults we have become to this day. All of us different, but also all respectable members of the communities we live in.

Looking back, we all were raised in an “old fashioned” style. Yes Sir, No Ma’am,, Please, Thank-You, Eat with your damn mouth closed, Hold the door for the ladies, Believe in God, Clean up your plate because you don’t know the next time you are going to get to eat, and general stuff like that were all instilled into us. The girls did the inside chores, and the boys ramrodded the outdoor things that needed to happen. Occasionally, there was some cross work between the two, but not often. The animals got fed before we ate. If you forgot to chop the ice for the cows to drink, you didn’t drink. If you didn’t feed the dogs, the dogs got your food, while you ate the dogfood. THIS is where I learned some of my foundational values. It all boiled down to the fact that his discipline style was well thought out, and pretty much summed up the Golden Rule. Yes, we seven messed up as kids, but none of us ended up in prison or with a major drug problem

Jr. taught us everything we needed to know to survive. Between raising cattle to raising crops, we were taught the value of everyday things, and to treat them as if they were your own. He also taught us that sometimes, shit just breaks, and then taught us how to fix it. Fixing it was usually cheaper than running to town and grabbing it, thereby shutting down an entire day’s worth of work. Jr. graduated the 8th grade and made his mark on the world from there.

Moving forward again, we had a series of fires, droughts, and even a damn tornado that had ruined us financially. We gave up the farm and ended up moving from school in Custer to going to a school in Melstone, starting my Freshman year. We will just call ALL the years from my 7th grade until my Senior year “fuzzy” to say the least. I was already a professional, yet functioning alcoholic by the time I reached Melstone. It was at this time in life that, in my world, girls were toys, and partying was a way of life. Then, something strange happened… Instead of me, or my brothers, or any of my drunk friends, God had this magnificent idea to strike my 6-year-old sister (the youngest of us 7 kids) down on the gymnasium floor with a brain hemorrhage / aneurysm. They flew her to Denver Children’s Hospital where she lived for a long time, along with my folks. Not long after that, I shattered my left knee, ending my athletic career in school. Everyone would think this would have had a major impact on our lives. The funny part is that instead of us failing as children, we did everything that were taught growing up. We raised and milked the cows. Were calved the small herd we had, we branded the calves, we doctored the sick, and we LIVED with no direct supervision, because that is how we were raised. On top of all we had going on, we kept going to school and passing with flying colors. People we amazed, and they tell us to this day they don’t know how we did it. Little do they know, we did it with a LOT of alcohol. I am truly surprised none of us died.

Due to my terrible acne problem, I was not a big hit with the ladies until they found out how easily I scored the wine coolers they liked, but boy was I a great drummer. I think the priorities in my life at that point were misplaced (obviously), but I can also say I was one of the only people to have set a single row of Everclear on fire from the Sportsman’s bar all the way to the high school in the middle of the dirt main street…. Accomplishments, right? 

Well, party time started to come to a close. The folks came home from Denver and informed us that we were once again moving. This time we were going to try irrigated life down in the Miles City area. I thought I had said all my goodbyes at the end of my Sophomore year, but we will revisit that soon. Remember the “housecleaner” later in my story.

I started my Junior year in Miles City and was bored. So, so, so board. Everything about school was something I despised, but I kept my grades up, because I didn’t even need to try. I honestly think that had school been more of an actual learning process instead of an institution that was boring, I probably would have been a bit smarter in later life. On top of doing the farming and ranching stuff back at the house, and enduring the monotony of the public school system, I am took on a job cooking at a fast food joint so I could have money to support my drinking and “dating” habits.  Once again, being bored and not being able to play sports, I had at least some things I was good at. I would go back to Melstone and work for the summer between my Junior and Senior year. Then it happened…

I was approached by a guy in a fancy coat trousers with a red stripe, who shook my hand with a white glove. Medals hanging on his chest, making me think about how they came to be on his chest, and thinking how they could someday be on mine… Take me away from here Mr. Marine! “That’s Sergeant Driver to you Boy”.  So June 14th, 1991, I signed up to become a US Marine. Do you want to know why? Well, I will tell you. It is because nobody in my immediate area of knowledge had ever been one. I had a cousin that washed out. I am sure there were others, but I wanted to be the first in my family to be “The one”.  Finally. I had something to shoot for. I still drank like a fish and partied with the ladies like a rock star, but I knew it was finite from the moment I signed up in the delayed entry program. And this is where I screwed up, concerning the nerdy housecleaner.

August of 1991, I was working my summer job in Melstone, still drinking, and still playing with the ladies, but it was getting time to get ready to go back to school in Miles City. A housecleaner (who was also a classmate) got hired to come clean my living quarters. This pretty much meant doing everything from throwing away my stack of “magazines” I had accumulated, vacuuming, washing floors, and all the other crap that 17 year old boys do NOT do… Hell, for all I know, she even cleaned upstairs where the raccoon lived. I wouldn’t know. I didn’t bother going up there. I was getting ready to have my BIG going away party, so what did I really care? The house just needed to be clean for the party. A couple chicks and dudes and lots of alcohol showed up, and for a 17-year-old boy, it was an epic party. Later in life, I found out that I seemed to have forgotten to invite the housecleaner to the party. My little overlooking of this could have changed a LOT of lives forever I believe. I had forgotten to say goodbye to her when I left Melstone to move to Miles City, and I had forgotten that I gave her a ride in the tractor I was operating so she could collect the money for cleaning the house. I forgot a lot of stuff in those days. Had I put two and two together, my life probably would have been a LOT different.

I invited a few friends from Melstone to come for my High School graduation in Miles City, but once again, forgot the housecleaner. June 14, 1992 was the day I was waiting for. I loaded up and was off to Butte after a VERY unfulfilling Senior year. Standing on the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego, I was now ready to become a Marine. 13 weeks of intense training to learn to kill. Learn to survive. Learn that pain is weakness leaving the body. Learning to subdue every passion except 3. God, Country, and Corps- The only 3 things a Marine really needs to know. I ate it up and graduated meritoriously from Boot Camp. Graduated meritoriously from Motor T school where I had learned to do my chosen job, and then shipped off to Okinawa for 2 years. While in Okinawa, I meritoriously picked up Corporal with eighteen months in, and lost it the same day… What an adventure!!!

While in Okinawa, one fateful night my fellow Marines and I were at the E-club when a gaggle of white girls walked through the door. Remember, 2 years in a foreign land, and these were not Nationals, and we were well into a great night of drinking. Inevitably, I offered them a ride home, which they turned down due to the whole drinking thing. I had a great idea and offered to walk them home, and so we all stumbled for miles until we found where they were staying. It was that night I informed Jenn that I was going to marry her someday. June 14, 1996, I departed from my beloved Corps because of the same reason so many trained killers do- LOVE, plain and simple. Or so we all think…

July 27, 1996, Jason and Jenn get married, because that is what everyone is supposed to do, right? RIGHT? Wrong. I will not badmouth my wife of 21 years, but I will tell you that I had no idea what love actually was until my first daughter was born in February, 2000, and my second daughter 3 years later. These two beauties were brought into my life as an attempt from the Great Architect of the Universe to tell me it was time to start settling down. I am sure of it. Did I listen? Absolutely NOT! Partied harder than ever! Had a great job, had a house all paid for and a roof over the kids’ heads. I was doing great for myself. My marriage, not so much. I was the epitome of a bad husband. We looked good in public, but we couldn’t look at each other behind closed doors. Is that what LOVE is supposed to be? Is this the great secret of marriage? It is just living together and staying for the kids because “that’s what you are supposed to do the right thing?” If you answered yes to ANY of the questions I just asked, you WILL fail, sooner rather than later. October 31, 2015 was my failure date. Think about that. Do the math. Almost 30 years of hard-core drinking, with a 3 month break for Boot Camp.

That fateful Halloween night, I literally shattered more lives than I can even tell you about. The residual effects will neve be gone from the memories that happened that night, which eventually led to my divorce, literally 2 years later. A divorce is a very expensive undertaking by the way. What, you ask is my point to all of this? Well I have a couple, which I am going to spell out in no particular order.

  1. You will always find a way to overcome adversity.
  2. Don’t drink and drive. 
  3. Don’t think your acquaintances are your true friends. They are actually not 
  4. ALWAYS invite your house cleaner to the party, even if you think she won’t go.
  5. ALWAYS thank God daily for what you have.
  6. Never say never to anything, especially if you find true love.
  7. Discipline your offspring so others won’t need to.
  8. Hug you babies and tell them you love them always.
  9. Tell your true friends how much you love them as often as possible.
  10. Foster every relationship as if it the first day you met them. 
  11. Don’t believe anything you read in the papers, and only about half of what you see in real life
  12. Don’t give up, ever. Choose to LIVE!
  13. Never, and I mean NEVER think that you are on a higher plane than any other, including the janitor.
  14. Remember that sometimes your nerdy house cleaner could be the love of your life.
  15. Never be afraid to take a leap, even though the last one was your “first and absolute last”.

And there ya have it. Life, according to Smitty.

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Fan.

 

I was some where between 12 & 14 when I became a fan. My dad had football on the tv. I was sitting there in my orange t shirt cheering for my team. They lost. Again. I got up walked outside and threw my t shirt away. I was done being on the losing side. I picked a new team, and little did I know, that losing streak would just as long.

That winning streak though. Man it was glorious. It was the late 80s and they were winning everything. The chemistry was amazing and they just couldn’t miss. It was easy to be a fan.

Three years after I graduated from high school was the last time I would see them win a trophy.

Those lean years are where the growth starts. Because you remember what it was like when everything was going right. It makes you wistful. It makes you want to go back when the losing streak drags on for days or years. Or when the wins come just enough to give you some hope.

In order to win, you have to believe in something bigger than yourself. You have to believe in the person next to you wanting to win as much as you do. It’s a common goal. All it takes is one person to stop believing in the goal for it to fall apart.

Isn’t that something? Just a lack of faith and everything can come undone.

Why is so hard to believe in the win? Is it easier to believe there isn’t enough wins to go around? That you deserve the win but not me?

I was very competitive in sports but I also was just as easy to doubt my ability. When I ran track it was as easy as breathing to me. I could win. If I thought that someone else could be faster, it only made the win sweeter. I believed. I had faith. Even in the loss, I kept the faith.

I also thought the win didn’t belong to me. It belonged to someone else. And that’s where I would fail. My faith in myself was lacking.

A drought of more losses than wins started to teach me a lot of things about myself.

I needed to put in the work. I needed to get my passion and I needed to have more faith.

I had to be dedicated to the grind. I started to pick my head up. I started looking in the mirror and got my belief back.

I started to remember that there is wins for every one. I kicked people off my team that no longer believed or deserved to be there.

I found a coach. I found a mentor. I found a way to win. Every fucking day I get up and I am still dedicated to the grind. I get to work on the play and I adjust my team as needed.

I pulled out my red and gold t shirt and I am reminded that in the middle of the hustle, I can never take my eyes off the prize.

I deserve a win. I am a fan.

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Togetherness.

I’ve been working on someone else’s dream this week. No that’s not true. It’s our shared plan/ dream. I am so use to being separate that together is sometimes difficult. Togetherness is hard. It’s getting easier as we grow together, but we fight it some days.

Relationships are fucking hard. Not one high school love story tells you this. Love stories don’t explain the hard, they gloss over it.

You have to together more than you separate other wise the self doubt starts creeping in. You ever watch a couple that’s together? They move, talk and think in a fluid motion. Same way you can feel the separate in another couple? Everything is hard, uncomfortable and they move out of sync.

Not every day is fluid in my relationship. We definitely have days where one of us is in the boat paddling and they other just wants to beat the other with their oar.

My mood is a varying touch of love and I am tired. When I say I’m tired, like a lot of women, I don’t mean I’m tired. I am not tired. It’s just the word that sounds less psychotic and less dramatic. I am more mentally exhausted from the day to day bullshit and having to ask for more or say again makes me tired. I’m trying to be better about expressing myself as more than tired, but some days I’m just wore the fuck out from being human.

Friendships are just as fucking hard. Women spend a lot of time trapped in their heads. We tell ourselves a lot of shit that isn’t true. So being friends is a difficult road some days because we always wonder if this bitch is going to pick you up from the bar at the end of the night or leave you. And it takes some time to really find that girl squad that isn’t going to flirt with your man, tell your secrets or leave you at the bar.

I like to think I’m a fierce friend, but even that gets me into some fucked up situations I could avoided by just being a bitch. I also get my feelings hurt because I’m loyal to a fault and I can’t understand when someone else isn’t. That’s not their fault. It’s mine.

After all we are all humans having a human experience. Some days every relationship is going to be easy and fluid and those are the days I realize I have it pretty good. I have a healthy relationship and I have fierce friendships. So those days when we face each other and want to toss each other out of the boat, I know it will be okay because it’s hard to work through the shit but it’s worth it.

I am going to go work on a shared dream and vision, so he can be a better human; I can work on mine to be a better human too.

We will start to plan trips with our friends.

We are only human.

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Direct.

Direct.

That’s my word for 2020.

I believe it’s important to pick a word for the year. For my year. I believe it gives my mind a place to focus.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word as: to cause to turn, move or follow a straight course; to dominate and determine the course.

Direct.

I picked this word simply because it spoke to me and simply because I need to focus. I need direction. I tend to be a bit scattered brained.  I am far too exhausted at the end of the day to work on myself and my goals. I get these bursts of inspiration and then the are quickly forgotten because I remember I need to focus on the task I am currently on.

Or I see something shiny.

I start every thing with a good intention. I have a dream.  I start with my notebook and I write down my goals for the month. I break it down to the week and to the day. I keep it real. The only goal I have been able to stick to so far is work out 4 days a week.  It’s the easiest thing for me. Plus it’s because I have no one and nothing on my agenda at 5:30 am.

Early morning is perfect for feeding pets and making coffee. I tend to wonder around and drink my pre-work out because it’s too early for hot coffee.  I mostly wish I had infinite amount of time in the morning to do all the brain awakening things my best self thinks. Isn’t that strange? Because if I would only be direct and intentional with my morning; I could.

The question is am I willing to do what it takes? Am I willing to shut off the tv, close the door and direct my thoughts to moving myself forward in all areas? The answer isn’t a resounding yes. It’s more a cry. A shout. Everyone else keeps pushing their dreams, goals, ideas upon me and being the pleaser, the helper, and the friend; I say yes to their dreams. I tell them they absolutely can direct themselves to achieve their goal.  I love watching them succeed. I love to clap for their wins.

It’s my turn. It’s time to step out from behind the crowd and start to lead.

Are you with me? Are you standing there starting to think about your why? You should be. You absofreakinglutely should be.  It isn’t selfish to be direct. Holding ourselves back is selfish. Pushing our dreams to the side is selfish. We have gifts. We have direction.

We were just side tracked by life. We were side tracked by the should do and you need too. We got side tracked by responsibility and jobs.  Those bills don’t pay themselves do they? Or maybe we spent so much time supporting someone else’s dream that they forgot we had one too.

This year. This year I am telling you to be Direct. I am shouting at you to stand up. Stand up for you dreams and your plans, because dude; life is short and I am here to tell you one day you’ll wake up and wonder what the hell you did with your life.

Direct.

 

 

 

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Feels.

I was yelled at a lot growing up.  Correction. I was hollered at a lot growing up.

“Get off that fence.”

“Open that gate. NOOOOO….the other gate.”

“Put her in. No, let her out….OUT.”

I had a pretty good childhood really. If nothing else, I learned the difference between being in trouble and being in deep shit. I learned the difference in tone. I was taught that go left meant my dad’s left not mine. I may have cried a time or two, but I was usually in the middle of no where and still had to get home. On a horse or in the back of pick up or I guess I was given the option of walking; but I am lazy. Besides, have you ever kicked the reins up to the ears of a fast horse and told him to go while you just held on? That will clear your mind and correct your attitude.

I am the mom of one. A single. An only child.

My daughter is amazing. She’s funny, helpful, thoughtful, loving, creative beyond my imagination; but I don’t think I hollered at her enough.  She was never told to get behind the chute and not to let that cow back up. She has never been on the back of horse and told to hurry up while yelling back “I AM!” (which roughly translates to bite me.)

Now follow me while I walk on this trail a minute.

She has had a different up bringing then I did. I am more cowboy boots and a ball cap; and she is crocks and a hoodie.

I had a two parent home and she did not.  She has two parents that love her, and we do our best to co-parent.  So because of that I think she missed on some things and she also has had more opportunities than I had. I always tell her with all things being equal; she has a pretty sweet life. She struggles. She is quiet. She is shy. Or so she likes to think she is.

Being an only she doesn’t have a sibling to tell “oh my god get out of my room.”

My sister said that to me a lot.

Along with “don’t touch my stuff!”

She also didn’t have the chance to delegate. At least that’s the term I use. I do enjoy it when I watch my niece “delegate” to her brother.

I am, by nature an extravert introvert. I am social and out going in certain situations and then I just need to go home and not talk to anyone. The energy it takes to be my out going amazing self is too much and I always need a recharge.

My daughter worries. She worries all time. She worries about things that she doesn’t always voice out loud. A natural disaster like an Earthquake will leave her in tears and worried about everyone she loves in California. A tornado some where in the country will cause her to ask what the chances of that happening here.

I was too busy being told to get up we had cows to move before it got hot to worry or be concerned maybe I could catch on fire from being inches from a sun. Okay so that’s a little dramatic, but you get my point.

My child will also ride her bike fearlessly around our town and takes long walks by the river by herself. She also loves knowing she gets to go home by herself and just “relax.”

I never once uttered the words “I’m bored.” Because that was followed by, “then come with me.”

I now say things similar like “then go outside, go for a ride, go feed the horses or go see Nana.”

As I was told as a kid, “get some of that house stink off of you.”

I think it has the same effect, just not the same punch.

Her fierce determination run head first into her anxiety.

And this is why I think she wasn’t hollered at enough as a child.

It’s my fault.

She was the easiest child and when you’re a single mom; it’s easy to think she didn’t need much because she was so ‘easy.’  I still wonder if moving her here was the best move. It was brutal and I am sure the removal of seeing her dad to not; wasn’t the easiest thing for her to understand. Even when I thought I had did a good job of preparing her.  She has a core group of friends that I am so grateful she still has because some days are still rough for her here. But I think she has found her core group here too and I am thankful.

I think she has had a pretty good childhood really. She still is growing and her trying to get ahold of her monkey brain without so much external input.

I have anxiety. I worry. But I have learned to tuck that shit away…wait I don’t? No. I don’t. My emotions are out here on the air waves. If I am pissed….you’ll know. If I am sad, I am quiet. I have just learned that I don’t need to try to punch every single person that just pissed me off.  I call that growth.

I also have found guidance to deal with what anxiety that still pops up. I read, I listen to podcasts, I color, and I get outside when I can. There are still chores I can do. And I move my body daily. My monkey brain needs the discipline. My attitude needs the work.

And I have learned to unplug completely.

Recently my daughter has started to open up more. She trusts us and family dinner has become a place where we share and talk about things that bother us and make us worry.  We talk about things we can control and we talk about solutions. Like learning to pray. She doesn’t believe in God she says, but she believes there is a higher being and right now that’s all I ask.  We also put our crystals under a full moon and read Angel cards. We are asking for all the higher beings to help us out.

I just want her to find her confidence in all things and I know that takes time. If only she wasn’t so stubborn.

I will keep talking to her like I have her whole life. I will keep being real with her and I will keep being my extra, anxiety ridden, extravert introverted self to show her that you can be a bit out of control but not have to have all the answers.

Most importantly don’t let your monkey brain run you and unplug every once and again.

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Strait.

After sitting in the town of Blues, I had to come out some time right? I am not one to sit in the tub for too long. The water gets cold and sooner or later you have to pull the plug and listen to the water drain. That’s what I decided I would do. I would just will myself out of the funk. That seems simple enough right? If I could sit and be in it; couldn’t I just get out of it?

Turns out that’s a no. Turns out when I try that I eat my feelings. All of my feelings. ‘Tis the season for treats. So one…dozen..cookie won’t hurt right? Not to mention every article telling you how to not gain the holiday weight (prepare food, plan for the parties, and don’t drink your calories) or how to get over the blues (get a light, go out side, keep exercising…) and so the self pity party just moves into great and now you’re fat too.

Feel me?

The self talk can be simply amazing. Don’t believe half the shit you tell yourself; especially when you are in the town of Blue.

I did the only thing that I know how to do when I am in a funk. I sat on the sofa and watched TV and I drank wine. And when all the sweets I had been eating finally gave me a stomach ache; I got off my ass.

The one thing I didn’t stop during my funk is my work out. God I know. Here I am talking about working out….again. But listen to me for a second because this is my tale; I kept working out. I just switched it around. I went back to one of my favorites.  I know that when I am in a difficult mental place the last thing I need is something new taxing my brain.

Even on days I don’t want too. Even on days I want to sleep. And especially on days where I want to eat all of my feelings; I work out. I do it because even if I cry through it, I got it done.  Trust me there have been days where I have cried through it.

Where was I ? I swear I am going some where with this. Oh yeah, the shit you tell yourself. So I have to arm myself with all the good thoughts so that I don’t just decide to move into Blue-Ville.  This isn’t fun. It’s some times feels over whelming to get out of it.

I am looking at the end of era. I am looking into the future and remember every thing that tried to knock me down but failed. I also remind myself I have ideas, thoughts and plans to start, to keep going, and to finish.

I remember the person I want to be. Not the person I was. I remember that  I am looking forward to becoming her and loving her. So I sit myself down and I say to myself; and I know it’s myself because I am usually naked in front of the mirror having this talk (sorry mom). I flex for a minute because I am easily distracted and because I need my triceps to pop a little more and  I realize my legs are still amazing; and then  I look up and I remember. I remember who I am and I start my pep talk. I tell her I have enough of this bullshit of pointing out every flaw and this mental pity party I was allowed to have is over. I have one life. One. Life is a very fragile, precious thing and I intend on going through it as I always have: with a loud laugh, a drink in my hand, a pair of boots, and an awesome resting bitch face with a who the fuck do you think you are attitude.

I wish I could tell you I snapped my fingers and it was that easy.  Every day I get up and do the same thing I always do. Tell my dogs to go back to bed.  And then I grab my clothes, brush my teeth and get on with my routine.  Because the only way out of the Blues is to keep driving and walk away from that plate of cookies.

I have also learned that I need to reach out to the people in my life. The thoughts on a loop get stuck and I feel no one wants to hear from me. Only when I am happy? That’s dumb. My life isn’t a Facebook post.

My advice for you is to pack a  notebook at all times and  when you need  some perspective; write it out and not just the bad stuff either. Write to yourself like you would your best friend. You’d hug her and tell her that she is a bad ass bitch.  Celebrate your wins. Daily.

My last piece of advice as you wave good bye to the town of Blues is to listen to  some George Strait. He always has good advice.

 

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Blue.

I have a confession to make. I have the Holiday Blues.

BAD.

It started the first week of December. I woke up in a horrible funk. I couldn’t figure out why.

About two hours later I figured it out.

The first week of December is not a happy one for me. I had two people close to me, my grandpa and my father in law,  pass away during the time frame. This year it hit me hard.

When my granpa passed away my mom called to tell me and I took the blanket his sister had gave me for high school graduation and I wrapped myself in it. To this day, that is my go to blanket for days I don’t feel good. It’s comfort.

I pride myself on being able to shake it off. To get on with the matter of living, but this time it hasn’t been easy to shake. I still wake up and go work out, and that is my sanctuary. My balance is a little off and things tend to be a little tougher. My concentration is scattered. So I went back to Iron this week. The lifting of the weight and the breathing in and out during each rep tends to be very cathartic for me. Everything slows down because I need to focus. Focus on the feeling. Focus on growth that comes from pain.

When that alarm goes off and every one of my animals know it’s go time; I don’t want to get up. I want to just stay in bed. I don’t because Grace, the lab, sits right next to me breathing in my face. It’s time to pee and eat. Jax the 2 lb ankle biter comes out from under the covers where he hibernates and starts to boss. Lastly, Angus, our black cat, wakes from slumber and goes the middle of the bed and meows. So there is no snooze button, which is probably the best thing for me. It’s routine.

I am trying. I am trying to love on myself a little more. I am trying to give myself grace. I am trying to answer when asked what’s wrong even thought I really can’t tell you what it is because I don’t even know. It’s just blue.

It’s not all blue. I play Christmas music each morning.

“Alexa play holiday music.”

“Okay here’s a station you will like . shuffling songs from holiday music on amazon”

Boom! Instant spirit lifter. For extra points, I play strictly Disney. You can’t be sad and listen to Mickey Mouse Sing.

I plug in the lights on the tree and make my coffee.

After all I’m only human getting the human experience. Sometimes that includes the blue period.

This too will pass. I embrace winter and December. Mostly because it’s the shortest part of winter. Mostly because I know everything that gets covered in snow comes out shined and new.

And not so blue.

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Cheer.

Welcome to Hell month.

I mean Merry Christmas.

Remember Christ in Christmas. Not Happy Holidays. Sigh.

I am sitting here sipping my Peppermint Mocha and wondering if I can just go ahead and skip right into 2020 blowing a horn and wearing a top hat.

Christmas always seems like rush hour to me. Have you ever just sat in traffic looking at red break lights and watching for the merging (no blinker, no warning)? Miles of red lights and miles to go. Everyone just hoping the idiot in front of them just finds the gas pedal and takes their foot off the brake (Come on! Move! Idiot!).

Okay so everyone finally merges and gets in their lane and then it’s a race. A race to find the best gift. Better than last year’s gift.  It’s exhausting and the next thing you know, you have missed your exit and have to go miles out of your way to get back.

That’s how Christmas feels to me. One big line of brake lights followed by endless merging.

However, I do like to play music when I am stuck in the Christmas jam. I tend to play a couple of Christmas albums every year. As soon as December 1st comes around, I start playing Sammy Kershaw Christmas Time’s a Comin’ and I move onto George Strait. Finally,  I tie it up with a bow with Harry Connick jr.

I am not completely heartless.

I just feel the weight of people pleasing closing in on me at this time of the year. I am hands down the worst gift giver. Just tell me exactly what you want because the overwhelming panic I get trying to find the perfect gift leaves me paralyzed. So you end up with nothing. My daughter caught onto this game at a very early age. Santa was her ticket in. She learned to make her list and check it twice.

When she was very little she would become very fixed on one gift. She very rarely varied once she decided. Like the year she wanted a Furbie.

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She gets very specific with her gifts, and now she sends them to her dad and I in a note document on her phone.  How times have changed! She adds and deletes to it. It automatically upgrades on our ends. Simple.

She may not always clean her room, but her ability to get us her list is always on point.

Christmas is always hard for me because she goes to see her dad. Every Christmas. It’s our deal. It doesn’t make me sad like it did the first year. The first year of tough. Mentally exhausting and I made it through. We made it through.  Now she looks forward to the flights because she goes by herself and sleeps the whole way, and complains her flight attendant that is making sure she gets from Gate A to Gate B doesn’t stop for coffee. So we move Christmas around to fit us. To be honest, we move it around to fit my shopping schedule.

So I get it when people are alone on this holiday. I also understand the love to be around everyone and do all the things. It’s important to make my own traditions around this year. I tend to be a bit more introverted and I tend to sit more quietly in my space, and sometimes that’s not what is needed or what I need.

I still like to drive around and look at everyone’s decorations.

When she was five years old we drove around with our hot cocoa through the neighborhood in Willow Glen because they do an amazing job of getting in the spirit. The giant sleigh and reindeer were always a hit. However not as big as hit as me swearing and saying the guy in front of me was driving like “a D-bag.” A little voice in the back seat asking me what that meant wasn’t my finest Merry Moment.

Now I watch all the Christmas movies (Die Hard, Christmas Vacation, Christmas Story, Charlie Brown and the Grinch) and I also love all the Hallmark Movies. Because what is better than to realize this season comes at us fast every year and we don’t always handle it in the very best way we could.

I know I need to do a self check when I start to feel anxious and ask myself what can make this better. It usually means to slow down and not hit add to cart. I would like to say I send out cards but that’s not who I am. I do text loved ones Merry Christmas(because my phone isn’t used for talking to live people) and I do like to sit quietly in the moment because my brain needs extra time before the rush of festivities.

The days are long but the time is short. For now I will ask for tea and make us sit through yet another Netflix Christmas Love story.

I love a happy ending. Don’t you?

 

 

 

 

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Forty-Six.

Forty-six.

Full moon.

My back hurts and I have some sort of weird bruising on my leg.

Where are my crystals? I should probably charge them. And I keep forgetting to manifest my destiny at 11:11.

This is 46.

I have always been upfront about my age. It’s a privilege to age. So I don’t take it for granted.

I think of my birthday as my January 1. I set my intentions and I start to build on it. Last year I made the promise to myself to start this little blog, I needed an outlet and I needed to write.  I get that little panic attack, breathe into a paper bag feeling when I realize how much time has passed and how much time I have left on this Earth.

Where’s my heating pad? Maybe some CBD oil? Okay that’s better. I should probably take some ibuprofen. I’m already sore tomorrow.

This is 46.

I’m a little more comfortable now so let’s talk about this aging thing.

It’s odd how coffee is now medicinal. Seriously. It’s turned into a whole routine that is no longer sugar and creamer.

Seriously.

I work out every damn day now. Mostly so I can button my jeans. I have read about gut health, poop school and I have learned what make my body happy. Doesn’t mean I don’t OD on candy or lick the bottom of the chocolate cake pan; just means I know that my body will make me pay for it.

The body’s a temple, that’s what we’re told
I’ve treated this one like an old honky-tonk
Greasy cheeseburgers and cheap cigarettes
One day they’ll get me if they ain’t got me yet
‘Cause I’ve been living in fast forward
A hillbilly rock star out of control
I’ve been living in fast forward
Now I need to rewind real slow ~Kenny Chesney 
 

I also believe in good lighting and even better moisturizer. Look bitch, I know you still have that good skin and you don’t wash your face; but when you wake up in your thirties looking like day of the dead….you’ll be looking for a reverse aging too. Yes I’m rolling my eyes. Because the number 11 in between my eyebrows just appeared one day. Also wax your eye brows. Just do it.  Chin hairs too. Don’t look so appalled, everyone has them. Just drink your damn water. No really it’s water. That’s the secret.

My contact lenses are now saved for special occasions. I am tired of squinting through life and my eyes are dry. It’s a thing. But then my glasses get heavy and irritating, so I will just walk around blind until the eye strain is too much.

This is 46.

I suffer from FOMO. I want to be invited, I just don’t want to go. Not any more. I want to hear all about your burdens and joys,  but I also desperately want you to stop whining. 

I have grown so much  in the last five years that I’m amazed. I have grown so much in the last 10 years. I am now stronger emotionally as well as physically. I know how to stop negative self talk before it gets out of control. I have so many tools like good books and better friends to help through those moments of doubt.

I’m also not as brave as I want to be. Yet. I know I hold myself back. The people pleaser in me still shows up and cares too much; and that’s a work in progress. I am much better than I use to be. I am still learning to protect my boundaries and to say no without the fear of hurting someone’s feelings. It’s a work in progress.

Getting to this age is weird. I still think I’m 17 and yet I know so much more. I still want to do all the things.  I can see my past and realize how much it taught me. I speak the truth more. I can read people better ; I realize not everyone is meant to stay in my life and not everyone gets that second (or third) chance any more.

I don’t know how I feel about being 46. I know I am happy to see it. I’m happy to have the challenge in front of me, but I’m a little sad too. I haven’t been able to figure out why. Maybe it’s just the full moon and it will pass. Or maybe it’s I have too many expectations for me and I need to calm the hell down. Either way, this is 46. I will embrace it and not waste the time.

I will grow a little more and embrace me a little more. The good and the not so good. This year I will learn to let go just a little more.

I will also nap more.

This is 46.

Time to spread my wings. But first I will eat cake.

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Cake.

I love cake. Don’t you?

This is my favorite cake. It’s not unique. It’s delicious. The richness of the chocolate just melts into your mouth. I have been having this cake as my birthday cake as long as I can remember.

To kick off the celebration of the birth of this legend on November 12 in a truly me style, I encourage you all to eat cake.

Change the B to F on your Bucket List.

German Chocolate Cake.

https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/german-chocolate-cake/

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the Coconut Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans. I like to cut a round piece of wax or parchment paper for the bottom of the pan also, to make sure the cake comes out easily.

For the Cake:

  • Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 25 – 35 minutes (depending on your cake pan size. The 9” pan takes less time to bake) or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with few crumbs. Cool 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the coconut frosting:

  • In a medium saucepan add brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, egg yolks, and evaporated milk. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat. Stir constantly for several minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. 
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, nuts and coconut. Allow to cool completely before layering it on the cake.

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  • Melt butter. Stir in cocoa powder. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed to thin the frosting, or a little extra powder, until you reach your desired consistency. Stir in vanilla.

Cake Assembly:

  • Place one of the cake rounds on your serving stand or plate. 
  • Smooth a thin layer of chocolate frosting over the cake layer, and then spoon half of the coconut frosting on top, spreading it into a smooth layer. Leave about 1/2 inch between the filling and edge of cake. 
  • Stack the second cake round on top. Smooth chocolate frosting over the entire cake.
  • Spoon remaining coconut frosting on top of the cake.