I was thinking today about the new year. I was thinking about where I wanted to be at this time next year, what things I wanted to change about my life, myself. Truthfully speaking for the most part I am happy, content. Ideally I have everything that I could possibly need. I have a wonderful husband who treats me with kindness and respect. I have a smart, beautiful daughter with a good head on her shoulders, who does well in school, who has goals and dreams for her future. I have a sweet old pup who for the love of me keeps on going, who for the last 16 years has been the most faithful companion. And I have these two baby kittens who are full of new life, an abundance of energy that makes me smile every time I walk through my doors. I have this writing career (for however small it may be right now) that I've always dreamt about and that I will continue to push forward with until I can successfully provide for my family. I have a job that may not be the bees' knees but it is a job that I enjoy (mostly) working with people that truly inspire me to be better every day. So what then for this new year? What more could I possibly ask for?
The idea of a New Year's resolution has always been a bit silly to me. Every year we say to ourselves that we're going to stop doing something or we're going to start doing this other thing. We're good with it, too, at least for a month or so until we fall back into our old habits. I think I've said I would quit smoking for about half the New Year's that I've seen and not once have I followed through with it. We tell ourselves that this year is going to be the year that we lose the weight. This year is going to be the year that we keep it off... and then we eat those cheese fries five minutes later. Hey, there is nothing wrong with it either. I don't think you can truly just stop doing something or pick up something else over night. It's a process, a very tedious process at times. I remember one year I told myself that I was going to go back to being a Vegetarian. It only lasted a week. It wasn't because I really even wanted meat all that much. It was simply out of convenience. Convenience will always be the downfall of our perfectly intended motivations.
I love that feeling though, that feeling of New Year's Eve when all the world is full of hope and ready for a new beginning. You can feel the anticipation in the air and all around you. You can look at the person next to you. You can wrap yourself with everyone's good intentions for the other. Then the world starts to countdown and the energy is breath taking. For a moment, we are truly all in this together. We have a brand new year in front of us to reinvent ourselves or to stay exactly the same. Does it matter? And it never does because we are who we are. New Year's Day we don't wake up with a brand new personality. If you were a smoker the night before, you will still wake a smoker the next morning. If you like hamburgers, you're still going to want a hamburger. There's absolutely nothing wrong with staying steady.
But this morning I fell into that way of thinking of the things that I wanted to do better, to make better. It wasn't because of the proverbial New Year either. It was a moment looking in the mirror and asking myself if who I am today is good enough for tomorrow? My answer was yes to be honest. I have my flaws. We are all have our flaws but the flaws in all of us create a perfection that is all our own. Here's the thing though. I do want to change a few things about myself but not the core of me. I think after all my years, at the very base of me, I am who I am and this girl isn't going to budge all that much on the important things. Surface things? Yeah, surface things could use a little polishing. I could be kinder to strangers. I could tip Baristas a bit better. I could be more patient with the certain people in this world that drive me bananas. I could definitely let go. I think of my father often and wonder what in his life did he regret, what in his life made him smile the most. I wish I could ask him just once the things that he would have done differently but I know it doesn't matter much anymore. I think about him and these things that I want to do better, knowing that all that really matters is that I live my life to the fullest every day with grace and love. In the new year, if I can do that better, I may have figured this thing called life out.
In honor of a princess... Yes, this is a little tongue and cheek but I have to be honest sometimes I just do the first song that comes to mind that most fits what I'm thinking about. You know I have always been a fan of TLC. I didn't always like their songs but they had some talent. RIP Left Eye indeed... Everything in this song is true. You can buy a bunch of stuff to make yourself feel pretty but why is being pretty so important when it should be what is in the inside of us that should matter the most? We put so much emphasis on what other people think that we forget the only real opinion that should matter the most is what we see. So if you don't like what you see, then change the way you see yourself. You'll figure out how beautiful you really are once you take away your own harsh judgments...
TLC - Unpretty
TLC's official music video for 'Unpretty'. Click to listen to TLC on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TLCSpotify?IQid=TLCUnpty
As featured on Fanmail. Click to bu.
So I was just tooling around Facebook and I came across a post that my dear friend put up regarding the world judging the way Carrie Fischer now looks. It wasn't the first time I've heard the comments. I can't remember who (because there have been a few) who said she didn't age well. She certainly didn't look like she did in 1977... but why would she? Obviously time has passed for both her and the Princess. There isn't some time capsule that prohibits actresses and actors from aging just because their job entails them being on the screen. Not that it matters but I think she is just as beautiful today as she was then and probably even more so if I could sit down and talk with her. With age, comes wisdom and experience. You understand more, care less, and your character becomes more strong in its foundation. So what if she's had a surgery or botox or whatever here or there? Does that really make a bit of difference? And if Princess Leia doesn't look like what she did in the originals, who does it really effect? Again why does it matter? So good for you, Carrie Fischer, for putting that tweet out there. Good for you for standing up for yourself and making it clear that if your main focus is the appearance of fictional character (who happens to be played by a real person), you are not a true Star Wars fan at all. Hey you might not even be that great of a person in general.
I know I got on a little bit of soap box there for a minute but I don't apologize for anything that I said. Being a mother of a fifteen girl, I worry that my daughter will get caught up in this convaluted meaning of beauty. I don't wear make up. I have in my life but on very rare occasions. I don't understand it. I don't know what half the stuff that sits on my kid's bathroom counter is and honestly I don't really care to figure it out. It's not my thing. I don't know if it was because I was an incredibly head strong girl or if I was just too lazy to put that much effort in it but I decided a long time ago that if people were going to like me, they were going to like me for exactly what they see. The thought of putting on this mask in the morning and then removing it at night was exhausting. And then what happens when I met a boy? Would they like what they saw once I wiped my face off? Why make my life that much more complicated? Not for me but there are a lot of things out there that aren't.
The definition of beauty is a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight but isn't there so much more to it? Isn't there more to a pretty girl or a handsome boy? I am not a beauty queen by any means but I would like to think that the person I am makes up for anything I am lacking on the outside. I would like to think the kind of person I want to be makes up for the moles on my skin or the few extra pounds I carry around. I knew a man once, a handsome man. Everything about looking at him was enjoyable. When we didn't speak, we got along fabulously but when we did? He was the ugliest thing I had ever seen in my life. The moment he vomited words out of those perfectly puckered lips, I was out. It didn't matter that his hair was masterfully combed or he had an ass for days. The insides of him were rotten. So isn't beauty relative?
I have this old picture of my parents when they were younger. My mother was wearing a white dress and my father was in a suit. They were about to go to their first Prom together. They looked lovely and excited at the beginning of their lives. And how lovely was my mother with her full, dark hair! And I remember being a little girl watching my mother get ready in the morning, brushing her long hair in her nightgown and thinking I wanted to be as pretty as her one day. Now as a woman myself, I look at my mother obviously older and I still see this beautiful woman. She no longer has her long, thick hair and she's thinner now then she was then but what I see is a woman who has lived a full life. I would hate to think that people would make such cruel judgements about her simply because she is older. One day we will all be Carrie Fischer's age. We will all wear our wrinkles. Maybe some of us will have work done. Maybe we won't. Maybe we'll dye our hair or just let it go white. Maybe we'll still keep up with the latest fashions and maybe some of us will just were giant pants for the rest of our lives but shouldn't the only thing that really matter is who we are as people? I hope that I am still kind, still creative, still full of shit when I'm old and gray. I hope that I still laugh at kittens playing with each other and children dancing to music. And I hope that I'm as full of as much sass as I am today, creaky bones or not.
Because it's her birthday... I wasn't always the most conventional mother. I never joined the PTA or baked cupcakes for her school bake sale. I didn't wear the most appropriate clothing, always the mom with the tattoos wearing the tank top rolling my eyes at the moms with the sanitizer in their pockets. What I was though was the best mother I could be to my kid even I was a little wacky. I used to sing this song to her while giving her a bath because even in my darkest hours, this kid was my sunshine and the one thing that would always chase those clouds away. So, yeah, I jumped in the bathtub with her wearing all my clothes and I purposely rubbed food on my face to make the kid giggle but it was music to my ears to hear my little girl laugh. It's not so easy these days but regardless of how old she gets, she will always be my sunshine on a cloudy day... Happy Birthday, Kid <3
Sometimes it's hard to remember the amount of life you really live until your daughter who will always think of as the babe that grew in your womb turns fifteen years old. I know. That was a pretty specific example but come along with me. I always make it around to my point. We live our lives and we go through our days. We get up and go to work or go to school. We go buy our groceries and feed our cats and walk our dogs without noticing that time has gone by so quickly. I remember when I was a kid time seemed to go by so slowly. Summer used to take forever to get here. The bell felt like it was never going to ring. Christmas morning felt like an eternity away and heaven knows your birthday took even longer to come around every year. Then something strange happens when you become an adult. Not only does time seem to fly but it completely blinds you in its passing.
Fifteen years ago today I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I looked into her beautiful electric blue eyes for the first time at 3:05 in the morning after 52 hours of very painful labor. I was 21 years old, just a kid having a kid with a man who I barely knew because I was hell bent on finding an unconditional love that would never leave me. She was perfect, beyond perfect, and that little angel was all mine. I looked into her little perfectly symmetrical face and instantly I became a better person because she was in my life. I look at this girl now, this young lady and I honestly don't know where the last fifteen years went. I can recall her first step, her first word, the way she once put spaghetti on her head. I can remember how she used to love cream cheese and how she loved to eat sticks of butter rather than anything else. I can see her with the pigtails I so loved and how she would instantly take them out. I can close my eyes and remember how she felt snuggled on my chest as she fell asleep, more often than not with me. I can say that it was because she couldn't be without me but really it was because I never wanted to be without her for a second. I was a kid raising a kid. I look at her and I don't know where the last fifteen years have gone. I don't know when she became so poised, so elegant, so brilliant. I don't know what morning she woke up and became so put together. I don't know when Mommy turned to Mom or when her eyes started to roll at me rather than look up at me. Time, this fleeting thing, swept away my little girl and turned her into a young woman three years from entering the world.
She said to us last night that she felt like time was moving faster. We laughed and told her it only moves quicker the older you get. I am at the point in my life that I have been an adult longer than I was ever a kid. I started working when I was 15 and never stopped. I was so intent on being an adult, I skipped my twenties and that's all right but she stands there in front of me and I don't know where time flew. I think about being a kid, trying to remember the morning I woke up and instantly knew better than my parents only to realize years later that I didn't know anything. I look in the mirror and it's crazy to me that I am closer to being 40 than I am to 30. I see the wrinkles, the sun marks, the moles that didn't always used to be there and I laugh at how little I care. I look at old pictures of me when I was young and I see my daughter, this fiery spirit ready to take on the world. All the places I have been are imprinted in each of these wrinkles and how lovely these lines have become.
So as my daughter turns 15 on her amazing journey to womanhood, I sit here next to the damn cat who just ran across my keyboard, making me curse, and take stock of the last 15 years. I have married twice, divorced once. I have raised a dog to old lady hood. I have commandeered two more furry babies. I have found jobs that I have tolerated and lost jobs that I have loved. I have gained new friends, let go of some old ones, and rekindled with a few I never thought I would see again. I have found my soul mate, the love of my life, the man I will grow old with. I have watched my parents go through financial hell and then divorce after 40 years. I watched my father fall sick and then pass on, losing the first man who ever loved me unconditionally and still feel the pain of that loss right now. I have witnessed my mother find her feet again, her own feet on her own ground. I have stepped away from my family and am trying to make amends with how far away I walked. I have found a way to share my writing without compromising who I am. I found my courage to let go and move on. But the best thing that I ever did in the last fifteen years? Her name is Madelyn Rose and she will always be my greatest accomplishment.
Because he will always be the one i go back to... it is late in the evening and there has always been something soothing about listening to Paul Simon. he will always be the best way to end my day and it's been a good day. this song just makes me happy. it makes me want to dance around my house in my underwear with my furry companions under my feet and my family looking at me like i am crazy person because those little magical moments of life are the ones we remember, the little moments full of silly, simple joy..
I've had a much better week than last so my thoughts aren't so frazzled, so fragmented. While my husband takes some time to relax downstairs and my teenage daughter is out and about doing teenage things, I have this moment to sit down and write. Night at the Museum plays on the television and Dan Fogelnest plays in my ears as my trusty furry friends sleep on the chair next to me. I got to spend the weekend with my daughter, just her and I, while the husband worked. I cherish these moments when she still lets me into her life because soon enough it will be a once week phone conversation as her life as a grown woman begins. I realized sitting with her over a cup of coffee and an egg burrito how much she has grown, feeling as if it was just yesterday I was in that hospital room, waiting to meet her for the first time. I couldn't be more proud to be her mother. For whatever accomplishments I have at the end of my life, she will always be my greatest one. It's the holiday season and I like so many others tend to get more sentimental about my life (as we should). So when I sit back and really look at all the wonderful things that I do have in my life, I am truly humbled by all the blessings that are around me. It is all right that I have lost this year. It is never for nothing. And although I will continue to be sad that this year my father won't be at our dinner table, I am grateful for the 36 years that I was blessed to have with him.
I know I complain a lot about my job as a server. I mean it is a frustrating job to say the least. It is the most unappreciated type of service job in the industry out there but there are benefits. Sometimes the holiday season only makes people grumpier and less patient, less understanding but not always. I am on my feet up to 13 hours a day doing the same thing day after day. Obviously if I could do this as a living, I would but the reality of an income always looms. Don't get me wrong. I will get there one of these days but until then a job I must as Yoda would say. Some days my patience for it is greater than others but just when I think that I've had enough, something wonderful happens. I was at work today. It was a good day, not too busy but not desperately slow. It was a good, easy paced, profitable day. A gentleman and his daughter came in and sat at one of my tables. There were pleasant, friendly, easy to serve. Tables like that alone are a blessing. The nice gentleman tells me that they would like to eat quickly so they can carry on with their Christmas shopping. I say absolutely and assure them that I will do my best to get them in and out as swiftly as I can. So they get their drinks, place their order, and all is well. I refill their waters and get them beer and bring them their check when the food arrives to move things along for them. At the end of their lunch, the nice gentleman stops me and gives me one of the best compliments a server can hear. He tells me that it is always great to out to lunch and spend time with his daughter but it is even better when the service is amazing, attentive, and kind. He thanked me for providing them such a pleasant experience and couldn't express enough how appreciative he was. I don't write this to gloat in any way but I write this because it was touching. As someone who provides a service that so often goes unnoticed, it is nice to have someone stop and tell you how you made them smile or how you made their day. I admit he took me off guard. I can't say that I was doing anything special other than just doing my job but it made me feel good that he noticed that I do really care at the end of the day. He made me tear up a bit and honestly I wish I could thank him for giving me such a wonderful compliment.
So the rest of the day, it put a smile in my step and made me want to do that much better. I couldn't wait to sit down and write about this nice gentleman. I wish the holiday season wasn't the only time where people were more generous, more willing to show each other kindness. I wish being kind was just the thing to do. I wish we could all look at each other and understand that we all fight our own battles so maybe we could give each other a break. I'm a realist, too. I understand the day to day grind is tiring but being kind will always be the better choice. The nice gentleman today didn't have to say those things to me. He and his daughter could have paid their bill and went on their way, buying presents for their loved ones, and I wouldn't have been the wiser. He didn't though. He took time out of his day to tell me how grateful he was for his experience and it means the world to me.
I've always been a hippy, probably a little bit of an angry hippy but a hippy just the same. I would love to get lost for hours in a field of flowers, dancing around in my bare feet with a flowing long dress and a crown of flowers on my head. I would love to sit for hours in a coffee shop wearing a beret, snapping my fingers to someone else's poetry. I've always believed in rainbows and butterflies. My head has always resided in the clouds. I've never felt ashamed of that softer side of me, more protective than anything. I want to believe in the best of people, to always give them the benefit of the doubt, to always offer my hand but I also understand my own jaded edges get in the way of that sometimes. I should tell the people in my life more every day how much I love them. I should tell the people that I come across that I don't know how much I appreciate them. We should all show everyone a little bit more understanding, more compassion though I know it is difficult at times, very difficult. Today was a good day, a great day. This kind gentleman reminded me that showing someone kindness is free. He lost nothing but he gave me the best smile that I've had in a while. So, to you kind sir, thank you.
Because right after Wham, this came on my playlist... and you know i didn't do it on purpose but i think it was a natural progression. I've never been a big Elton fan though I have been a fan a few of his songs here and there. this happens to be one of them. i love Tiny Dancer but i tend like the quieter hits. it's the refrain that always gets me, reminding me of how grateful i am for the people in my life that i have found. i am grateful that among all the chaos that is our lives we all have found people that love us, support us, that say it's OK when we have a bad day. when we're surrounded by gray, it's these people that are our small rays of sunshine. i thank the *insert whatever you want here* for the people i have found indeed....
This is the third start to this blog tonight. My mind is having a hard time focusing. I don't know if it is because the cats are running around like maniacs or because the television is on or if it has just been that sort of week. I won't lie. It has not been the easiest of weeks for me but I am fine. I work through it like I always do. And if I can't tell you what's wrong with me today? Well, ask me tomorrow. By then I have had a minute to figure it out. That is the most human trait about me. I don't always know why I am upset. To be fair, I don't always know why I am happy either. It's just part of being a human being with human feelings and sometimes strange triggers for either one. I don't know why we have to be so hard on ourselves. Life really isn't all that serious. What we do today doesn't always make a difference tomorrow. Take my job, for example. The tea that I served the woman who was snippy with me forgot about me two seconds after she walked out those doors. The man who smiled at me when I brought him a bag with his box was just a passing thought by the end of my shift. I'm not saying what I do isn't important... well, maybe... I am saying that the tea I served, the bag with the box that I dropped off don't exactly solve world hunger. And that's ok. What it does do is provide for my family so, in that way, I am thankful for that woman's tea. I know it seems like I just completely dismissed this career choice but I will be very honest in saying this. Waiting tables is one of the hardest jobs out there. You are on your feet for up to 12, 13 hours a day waiting on people who often don't think much of you. You work hard for your tips, making sure that your tables are well taken care of, are having a pleasurable experience because that's your job. Everyone in their life should work as a server at least once in their life. It does make you appreciate life a little bit more... or at least the value of hard work.
Now, here's my point. Life doesn't have to be taken so seriously. I admit. Sometimes I get too upset when someone is rude with me at work. Sometimes I get my feathers all in a fuss if someone says something off to me. Sometimes it's hard to step outside myself and say, "Hey, Jes, chill the fudge out." It's that whole being human thing. I do strive to always have a level head but it doesn't always work. Sometimes you just have to let yourself get carried away so when you do come back to earth you understand that life is a series of unfortunate events that you overcome. I wish it was easier to not let the little things get to me so much but I know myself well enough to know that it isn't the little things alone. It is the cumulation of a bunch of little things that I stick away like shoving clothes in a drawer that clearly can't fit in that drawer. At some point you stuff too much and it all explodes at your feet. I understand it is my inability to be forthright with my own feelings that causes me to cry for no reason, that is the reason I shut down. I wish I was better at just telling people when I'm sad, when I'm angry, even when I'm happy but the nature of me is always and will always be a caretaker. I will gladly put you before me and not have a single complaint about it.
And that is why writing is so important to me, why I physically need an hour or two or three by myself during the week. This is the job that I would love to be doing because even though I am not physically interacting with anyone at the moment, I still feel like I have a connection to you, the proverbial you. I have to sit down with only the company of myself and remind myself that at the end of the day life is more than a series of unfortunate events that I must overcome. I have to remind myself that take away all the bullshit, take away that woman's tea and that man's bag, take away the sadness of the things I have lost, and find the beauty in all of those things. There is peace in the mundane. There is beauty in the pain. There is a line in Little Miss Sunshine that I often say to myself especially in these moments when frustration seems to be overwhelming me. "Do what you love. Fuck the rest." I think that is why I love that movie as much as I do. When I chose to leave my office job, that's exactly what I did. Life is silly, ridiculous and I know I need to learn how to better remind myself to look past all the bullshit and love what I do regardless of what I do. I'm not saving the whales or anything (yet) but I am successfully doing what I love. That other stuff is filler.
I was sitting with my daughter today having coffee. We haven't done that in awhile. Between her school and my working and then trying to push my writing forward, there hasn't been that much time to breathe. And then there's all the other stuff... the laundry, the dishes, the general upkeep, the cats, the dog, my general exhaustion. This list could go on and on and on. What is a lovely thought is a vacation but I probably won't see one of those for years, not a real vacation anyway. I feel like having two days off in a row is a vacation in and of itself. Sometimes I get so busy that I forget to check in with myself and really understand what it is I am feeling. Sometimes I get so busy trying to be everything I lose sight that my kid needs me just as much. And sometimes I get so busy trying to be a rock that I forget that I am much more like a pillow.
Yesterday afternoon while sitting with my husband and my kid, I became sad. I just felt as if all of a sudden the world was just too sad for me. When I get like that, I just shut down. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to analyze it. I just want to stay still, let the moment pass when I know that sometimes letting the words go is a healthier option. And then last night, laying in bed with my husband, that same feeling came back around. So what do to do with sadness? I am not the type to broadcast my feelings (other than on paper). I can't sit down with you and have a conversation about how I still miss my father, how my heart breaks for my dog, how much I'm going to cry when they tow that car away. I physically can't tell you how sad, how angry, how disappointed I am. I will always put the person sitting in front of me first, try to make them feel comfortable. There was a moment in my life when I understood that the tragedies that happened to me were my burden to bare, the feelings that came from those hardships were mine to sort.
So what to do with sadness when you're genuinely a happy person? Because here's the thing I am a happy person. I love to laugh and joke and tease and I smile. There are wonderful things around me all the time. There are truly wonderful people in my life that I couldn't be more grateful for. I am an introverted extrovert. I want to sing and dance with all sorts of people but honestly get real burnt out on it real fast. And I am a creative person who needs to create things,to make something new, to rearrange the furniture once a month because I need to freshen up life. And then sadness hits and it hits hard but the only thing I ever know what to do with it is to sit down at this computer or in front of my journal and write it out. So what happens when I can't? When there is laundry to do? Or dishes to clean? Or a teenage girl who needs to sit down with me? I suck it up. I wait patiently and let the moment pass because eventually it will.
The funny thing is as aloof as I may seem, I keep myself on the practical side for the sole reason that I feel too much. I feel my happiness pulsate with me. I get high with the joy in my life but sometimes this sadness is going to hit and there are no words to explain it. There are no words to make people understand that a free spirit like me falls apart inside. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to analyze it. I just want to be in that moment and feel it, then let it go. At the end of the day, I need to sit with those moments, to feel those moments because there is beauty between the lines. I get antsy if I can't sit by myself after awhile. I get angry when I feel like I put myself as the least important person in my life. I get frustrated when my writing becomes an afterthought. I love people (though generally have low tolerance for humans) but I don't always want to be around them. We all need time to ourselves, a moment to replenish our supplies, to refresh what has gotten stale within us. And I know that when I have these moments of sadness it is the creative soul in me crying out to go find a corner. I know that it's time to close my eyes, feel the things that I don't allow myself to feel, and then let them go.