Do you remember me telling you – oh, way back at the beginning – that this blog was not my first rodeo? In fact, I might have said it was my fifth or sixth rodeo. Er, I mean blog.
Once upon a time, I had a blog here and a blog there — I was all about creating and then deconstructing – or rather, demolition.
One of my blogs was called, “Looking for Work (in All the Wrong Places)”. I’d forgotten about it but when I got a new computer a couple of weeks ago (my husband rocks!!) I transferred all sorts of interesting things into my google cloud thingy. One of them, it turns out, is an amalgamation of the entire blog. Plus bits and pieces of another blog called, “I bleed. Therefore, I write.” <<< I know! Dramatic, right?
I read through them…
Hmmm… interesting… <<< I said to myself. I didn’t know I kept that… or that!
The reason I’m sharing them here is to get a bird’s eye view of the history of 2014: The Year of Pain since the first grouping was literally written at the end of that year.
The other blog was written in 2017. Good grief, I was a blog-writin’ fool that actually kept some stuff. I legit totally forgot. So glad I found them!
As always, my intent is to share myself authentically and to have witnesses… and also… to reach out to those who are living through 2020: Their Year of Pain. Or any year. Any pain.
If you sit down to read this – be warned: It’s a looong read… not gonna lie. (Approx. 6,700 words)
Also, this is mostly for me, which is against the cardinal rule of blog writing – sorry! I’d like it as part of my story – my legacy.
If it’s not something that interests you… for feel free to mosey on by. If it is for you, I’m sorry you’re going through it. Been there, done that, and lived to tell. That is my hope for you, too.
And, so… without further adieu…
Looking for Work in All the Wrong Places.
Note: In chronological order, top to bottom.
DAY 1 – Early Autumn, 2014
Well yes, another blog. I just can’t help myself! Here’s the thing… I write, therefore I am. I gotta write. I just gotta! I keep thinking that this blog will be the one that sticks… whichever blog it was… from gratitude to depression, life stories to complaining experiments. I’m nothing if not an anxiety-ridden ADHD’er. What can I say? So, here we are again.
This time, the subject is not so near-and-dear to my heart as much as a thorn in my side: Looking for work. Ugh. We all gots ta do it… and it pretty much always sucks, unless you’re young and lucky with oodles of awesome experience and/or schooling and know someone… or any variation thereof.
In fact, I’ve been told it’s true no matter what age you are, according to Jim, my new friend the bill collector. As he asked me about my job search, he mentioned how much he hates his job but it’s the only one he could get. He’s thirty. Double ugh
So, I’ve been unemployed for approximately a year. When it first happened, I was okay with it. There was “a series of unfortunate events” that led to it… and I needed to recuperate, quite honestly.
Here’s what happened… I left my very long-term sales job to do a “heart-felt” job as an advocate for animals. That job had barely begun when some unraveling within the organization began and got very, very messy. It wouldn’t have meant the end of what “could have been” had my children and had I not been gob-smacked with the death of their father and a cancer diagnosis for one of them. They all live in California and I immediately went out there. A week turned into two, then three… and I went into a very deep and depressing hole of despair. I know that sounds dramatic but the depth cannot be understated. “What could have been” became “I can’t begin to deal with the losses, the fear AND the messiness of the work situation”. And so I walked away. My heart was broken into a million bits… it was just another loss in the pile. It took me many months to realize what I’d thrown away, not carelessly, but in an attempt at healing myself.
Do I regret it? Yes, but… I did what I thought was best at the time. I wasn’t strong enough to fight for what I’d so desperately wanted. Am I strong enough now? Perhaps. But that ship has sailed. And so… I begin again.
I am not a victim. I am a victor. An unemployed victor. If you stick with me, stay tuned for stories about online applications, personality tests, emails from strangers after seeing your resume on Monster and Indeed and walking into businesses with resumes (a dying art)…. onward, ever onward.
I am unemployed.
It is so hard to sell yourself to a new employer when your self-esteem is in the toilet. It’s in the toilet because first, I made a poor decision and secondly, I made another poor decision and third, well, you guessed it, I made a poor decision. This propensity to make poor decisions seems to thread throughout my life and for that, well, it’s been said… (see above.
Let me begin at the beginning… and by that I mean, the beginning of this situation: Four months ago, I was a new grandmother with some struggles, sure… but with many more blessings.
I had a long-term job I did really well at… but wasn’t getting the satisfaction I felt I could. This was because, in the past, I’d been spoiled working in the education system, helping adults and children with disabilities. Talk about a “FEEL GOOD” job! I remember, many years ago, someone asking me what I did for a living… and how the warmth spread through me… I was so proud, and yet humbled by this work I did.
When I moved to Canada, I expected to be able to continue my work but it was not to be (for many reasons I won’t go into here – all of them out of my control). So, I had to adapt. Long story short (and you’ll be glad I didn’t get into the specifics) I began working in the newspaper biz as an inside sales rep. I like (okay, love) talking… and that helped to make me a good salesperson (i.e. I can sell stuff you need and even some things you don’t – but you’ll think you do!). Life went on this way for quite a few years.
In contrast to the education job, when people asked me what I did for a living, I’d say I was in sales… but was secretly tempted to add: I’m an award-winning salesperson… you know, add that “award-winning” bit to make it feel more important than it was. I loved winning awards, don’t get me wrong (doesn’t everyone?)… it was an honor, of course… but… but… I so wanted to do something… more meaningful… something that changed lives.
Then I was offered the job of a lifetime… at least, it seemed that way. It was a “FEEL GOOD” job. I was stoked!
(Fast forward four months…)
Oh yeah, that’s now. *sigh*
And so, I walked away from the “Feel Good” job. But I had to work. I needed to work. What about my old sales job? Yeah, I’d do that. That was a good idea, I told myself. I was hardly in my right mind but hey, my old sales seat had barely enough time to get cold. It had only been like… ten weeks. I’d been an award-winning sales rep… surely, they’d want me back.
First of all, I need to provide a bit of a time table, which will help explain some… things… that should have been obvious to me but weren’t… since, like I say, I wasn’t exactly in my right mind.
I was good at my job, some might say “in spite” of myself. I was, they said, “a natural”. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to go back further
In 2006, after years of waiting and wading through the immigration nightmare created by the 9/11 terror attacks, I received my permanent status to live and work in Canada. Until then, it was a crapshoot of unemployment and finally, the permission to work but nobody would hire me. Well, that is, until a donut joint down the street hired me to flip pancakes, wash dishes, clean the toilets, and hold a key, all for “servers” wages and very little by way of tips (but lots and lots of donuts!). It was actually grueling work that I mostly did alone. Just me.
All work is honorable, I knew (and know) that… but I’d left a job I loved in the States as an advocate for students with disabilities. For this?
Clearly, an advocacy position at a college was not for me here in Canada. I would need to change direction.
So, when my husband told me of a temporary maternity leave opening in the accounting department in a newspaper office where he worked, I jumped at it. I had some prior experience in banking, which seemed kinda account-y. Right? Long story short, I got the job. This is not the part I want to tell you about though. It’s after that temporary assignment ended, six months later.
I’d had a taste of sitting at a desk in clean clothes, being a part of a team again… and I didn’t want to lose that. The person I’d covered for was coming back. What to do? The vast majority of the workers in this company were in sales. I’d been in retail sales when I was a teenager but never outside or inside sales like these folks. Still, I knew I could do it. I decided that I would talk to the inside sales manager. I liked her and I thought she liked me.
But first, I had to study. I went to the library and learned everything I could. I made charts. I memorized stuff about objections and closing sales. Then I went to the manager and sold myself as someone who could do the job.
I was right, she liked me and was willing to give me a chance. Within a month, I blew them out of the water. I was a natural, they said. And, I was now one of the team. I was over the moon happy!
Six years later, I received the first-ever Inside Salesperson of the Year award. Two years later, I was the first-ever to receive the award twice. That was two months before I left.
Do you see where I’m going? If not, follow me. I’d been promoted to a mid-senior position at the end of 2013 and received the second award in March, 2014. In May, 2014, I gave them notice of going to the “feel good” job working with animals in a non-profit. It was a big cut in salary but it was my love of animals that led me away (at least, that’s what I told myself).
Then that job blew up (see yesterday’s post). It had only been ten weeks since I’d left the old job. I remember going back to my sales manager and kind of laughing a little. “Oh gosh, golly, jeepers,” I said, kicking at the floor… “it didn’t work out. I know I can’t have my old job back,” (someone else was doing it) “but I could just sell, right?”
No, I hadn’t burned that bridge down, but I’d done my fair share of spitting on it. Not on purpose, mind you. It’s just that I’d been so excited about the prospect of working with animals that I hadn’t read the very obvious signs. I was no longer welcome.
I could say the lesson was learned and I moved on but that wouldn’t be truthful. There were two more increasingly embarrassing encounters that led to a FINAL answer: A “No Re-Hire” policy for sales reps. Done and done!
How had I let myself get to the point where I was tempted by the non-profit? (Hint: I could have continued volunteering instead of uprooting my entire life. Why didn’t I just do that?)
Quick note: You won’t catch me badmouthing my former employers… or even saying who they are. Of course, there are those reading who know me personally. All I ask you that you not mention them by name if you comment.
Anyhow, I have this book I call my “Bible” for working with others. It’s called, “Work Would Be Great (If it weren’t for the people)” by Ronna Lichtenberg. Mine is an original copy of the hard-cover edition, the pages dog-eared and highlighted. It’s *that* good. Don’t worry, this won’t be a book report. I only mention it because at some point in the last several years of working at the sales job, I forgot about it. No, that’s not exactly right. I forgot that I knew what I knew about working with others, much of it from the book.
In truth, some of it’s just plain ol’ common sense. Adult sense. Stuff we realize as we grow older and wiser. And what is that stuff that we know? Well… that people are people wherever we go… and you gotta find a way to get along. Sometimes, you gotta fake it. Sometimes, you gotta find the silver lining, even if it the only silver lining is your paycheck.
For the first several years of the sales job, I was on Cloud 9. Sales were new to me and I love learning new things. The fact that I was good at it was a bonus… and helpful since I was on commission (though there was a nominal base wage. I was super lucky in that. Not all businesses provide a base).
Things started getting tangled when some significant changes occurred: management shake-ups, being transferred to an outlying office, my closest work friend going on extended sick leave, etc. etc. etc.
I was unhappy.
Oh, boohoo. Sheesh. People get unhappy at work. Such is life. Oh, except for me. (insert big rolly-eye emoticon here.)
What a maroon (as Bugs Bunny used to say!).
I am what might be called an “expansive” personality. I do everything big. Big Happy and Big UNhappy… and let’s just say it was obvious how I felt about some things… and some people.
Enter the beginning of the end.
The last three years were also the backdrop for a lot of personal changes (and some traumas) in my life… which, as you get to know me, you’ll realize is a constant issue. This is because…(ta da!) life is difficult. Also, I am a highly sensitive person.
So, tough behind-the-scenes stuff and toughies at work = unhappy Sheryl. Unhappy Sheryl = bad juju in the workplace. And around and around it goes.
Then, I made the biggest mistake regarding my workplace unhappiness… I started talking about it. To anyone who would listen. To hear me talk, I was ***the*** unhappiest person who ever held a job anywhere (Cue dramatic music… something by John Williams will do.)
The REALITY is that shit happens and you get through it or over it. Or you quit. You know, piss or get off the pot. Or that other option, which is the route I took… talk about it for three years until everyone is bending over backwards to accommodate you… make you happy… and it’s still not enough.
Then, when someone offers you an out, especially if it’s an out that includes fuzzy animals which you love to pieces, don’t even think about it… just walk, no run, away.
I’ve mentioned before that I had volunteered for the animal place and I could have kept doing that, which would have kept me close to the fuzzies… and working at the sales job, where I did well and made good money. But I was sooooo-ooooo-oooo-ooo unhappy, you see. And that was the problem. I had forgotten the cardinal rule (paraphrased by me): Get Over Yourself!
So, that is why I am where I am. Maybe my experience will remind you why you keep on gettin’ up and cloggin’ on… day after day. Maybe it will spur you to find the good in a complicated workplace situation. I hope so!
The bottom line is that I didn’t realize how good I had it.
Such is retrospect with the knowledge of the final outcome. So much of my advice is of the “Do as I say, not as I did” variety.
OKAY, SO NOW WHAT?
It took a couple of months of reeling, fretting, praying and healing to feel strong enough to even begin to launch an employment search.
I supported my adult children as they navigated the messy business of dealing with a suddenly deceased parent, from California with them and then from my home in Canada at a distance. I did all I could to support one child who was diagnosed with cancer while I was there, another who had given birth only two months before and my son who is autistic.
It wasn’t until a couple of months after I returned that I realized my own additional losses… of a job that sustained me and another that was supposed to feed my soul.
I was a wreck. There were appointments with my doctor and therapist. Forward, ever forward.
Reminds me of Bob Wiley (played by Bill Murray in the movie, “What About Bob?”): Baby Steps, get on a bus. Baby Steps, get on a bus. I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful… I’m doing the work. I’m baby-stepping. I’m not a slacker!
As soon as I felt able, I did all the right things to get moving. I made an appointment with a job coach, went to the library and bookstore for books on charting my course, bought a big, fat 3-ring binder for a time log, charts and journals, interesting articles on interviewing tips and the newest trends, copies of my resume and organizational stuff I would need.
Next, I registered with job sites and created a profile on Linked In. I was **all set**
And then I proceeded to detail every bit of minutia of my job search… which, in the end, landed me… nowhere. Which is why I’ve decided to just stop here and move forward. No need to rehash that junk.
ANOTHER RODEO – 2017 From the blog, “I write. Therefore, I bleed.”
If I were going to write a book about my life, and heck, I still might!… I would call it something like, “My life on a trapeze”… except, people would think I was in the circus, which honestly, sometimes it feels like it. They’d think I swing from the sky in sequined leotards and if you know me, you may picture it and laugh merrily to yourself – I just did! The truth is so much more boring.
I picture myself swinging and jumping and reaching and catching and slipping and falling and climbing back up… over and over.
Today is a “between trapezes” kinda day. I’m in the air, I’ve just let go… but not yet caught onto… if you know what I mean.
So, maybe I’m just a person living my life and having up days and down days and sicky days and sunshine days… like… oh, I don’t know… everyone else on the planet? That would be something… me! Not unique at all… say it ain’t so!
I sometimes feel like I live in labels. Hypochondria is one of my more daunting ones. The thing is, it’s really just anxiety about health…and a catch-all for “crying wolf”… as in the old Aesop fable. So many people, me included, have health issues that (put together) cause widespread pain and or other symptoms. When a cause can’t be found, what can we do?
The tests are okay (because there is no blood test or x-ray for migraine, asthma, chronic fatigue, ADHD, etc etc etc). So the doctor has to guess. We are given medication for what the doctor thinks it is… and if it works… we’ve got it (whatever “it” is) and if it doesn’t, then back to the drawing board. Talk about a crazy ride!
Last evening, my husband had a meeting and I was heating up some leftover dinner for myself. I flipped on the television and there was Dr. Phil, talking about (of all things!) hypochondria. His guest was having an “intervention” by her family. She was sick, all right (see paragraph above about widespread chronic pain, etc.) and her focus on illness and fear of dying was causing her family a lot of frustration and pain. She was doped out of her mind on God knows what… and I could see the anguish of everyone involved. I wondered if I cause that kind of anguish and at what point my family might call Dr. Phil?
I went to the Mayo clinic online site and looked up the risk factors for Hypochondria. Very eye-opening for me!
I want to save this list, so adding it here:
Risk factors for Hypochondria By Mayo Clinic Staff
Factors that may increase your risk of developing hypochondria include:
- Having a serious illness during childhood
- Knowing family members or others with a serious disease
- The death of a loved one
- Having an anxiety disorder
- Believing good health means that you are free of all physical symptoms or unusual bodily sensations
- Having close family members with hypochondria
- Feeling especially vulnerable to illness or disease
- Having parents who were neglectful or abusive
- It ended by saying that hypochondria occurs equally in men and women. It can develop at any age, even in children, but it most often starts in early adulthood.
Well! That explains it. Check, check, check. I have (had and or believe) that and that and that. Huh.
On Dr. Phil, the woman’s husband said, “Don’t be so hard on her. She knows she’s wrong and she wants to stop it but doesn’t know how.”
Dr. Phil said, “So do drug addicts!”
Note to my husband and children: Don’t call Dr. Phil just yet! I’m working on this!!
I admit it… I am a (bit of a) therapy junkie. I have seen more therapists than I care to admit… with varying levels of success.
One of my favorite therapists was a combination of all that is good and holy… and indeed, she was an Anglican (Episcopal) Priest. We called her Father Liz.
While other therapists concentrated on my past, Liz concentrated on the here-and-now… with an eye to the future, of course (given her vocation).
There are two memories I carry in particular… one is the story of the yellow towel. It’s so small and yet, really, really big, especially in the realm of self-compassion.
All you need to know is that I was 40 years old… going through a divorce after a very long marriage… and half the furniture in our home was now in an apartment, along with my (then) ex-husband. Our children and I remained in our house, which felt echo-y and strange.
Oddly enough, my only real sanctuary in the house was the master bathroom, bathed in gold and creamy hues. Quite lovely, I thought… but… the thing is, I had always wanted a yellow bathroom. Always. Heck, I wanted yellow everything! Favorite color, you know.
I was so heartbroken about the marriage that it never occurred to me to change anything. I had left all the blank spaces as they were… just waiting for the bookcase, the table, the dresser and the husband to return to their rightful places. Never happened.
Liz was astute and intuitive. She knew what I needed before I did. She suggested I create that yellow bathroom. Make a list of what I’d need. Draw it out.
The next week, I came in with my artist’s rendering of the perfect yellow bathroom. She asked why I didn’t make it happen, for real. I said I had no money. She asked me if I had $10. I said yes, but asked, seriously, what could I do with that?
She said, “Buy a towel.”
“Just a towel?”
“But it won’t go with anything else,” I said.
So what, indeed.
She said that I’d have a beautiful, luxurious yellow towel to dry off with… and it would be the first, small thing I did just for me,
Self-compassion at its core.
And so I did… and as time went by, I added to it… until finally, I had not only a yellow bathroom but a yellow bedroom to go with it.
It was tasteful, I promise… I know you’re picturing the inside of an egg yoke… it was nothing like that. I had my yellow towels and a sun sculpture and a huge sunflower in a blue pot… lots of little things added up to something that made me feel alive and hopeful.
I keep this memory in a box under the bed. That’s where all the best memories live.
I know it’s almost hard to believe my stories. I have so many of them! Sometimes, I step back and look at them… like a collage… all those memories… some good, some bad… and a few stand out as so painful that I still can’t believe they happened to me. I’m sure many of us have these memories that we put in a box and hide under the bed.
I’m going to talk about one of mine today… and I think it helps to explain the history… my foundation… for lacking self-compassion.
His name was Dave. I met him in high school. It was a weird year. The boy I loved moved to another country for a year because his father was in the military. I was fifteen – and everything that comes with that age… like enough angst to fill an ocean.
I was creative, funny, artistic… slightly overweight… and at odds with my mother. Ho hum… big whoop… just like many teens.
Dave and I were friends. He dated a friend of mine. Then, they broke up. He asked me to lunch at his house. I went.
As I walked back to school that day, in the rain, alone and unfed, I had plenty of time to think about what happened in his house. I was not physically attacked… I do want to make that clear. (And isn’t this where some might stop reading? “Oh, no big deal. Nothing happened. Nothing to see here, folks.” Except something DID happen, obviously!) I won’t go into everything because it isn’t the point. The point occurred right at the end …
He kissed me. The doorbell rang. He shoved me in a closet and closed the door. He dealt with whoever was at the door. I waited, in the dark. He came back, opened the door and we both stood where we were. I asked why he pushed me in there and he said he didn’t want me to be seen. I asked, why not? “Well, look at you! You’re okay for a friend, but I wouldn’t want anyone to think you’re my girlfriend.”
He might as well have kicked me in the gut. It would have healed faster, that’s for sure.
It might surprise you to know… or perhaps not… that I’d always felt ugly. Nobody had to tell me… though some did… I just knew.
I was not a typical California girl. I never tanned easily, I had an hourglass shape (with many years of sand, I used to say! lol) and thick ankles. I struggled with my weight, had too many freckles, my hair was thin and limp and I bit my fingernails. (As I typed that description, I can see my younger self. It makes my stomach twist. I feel bad for her…).
There were certain times when I felt better than others. My first boyfriend never, ever made me feel anything but beautiful.
I had very pretty girlfriends who treated me as if I were just like them.
Thank God I had moments like these I could fall back on.
(Oh, and funny sub-story. I ran into Dave when I was about twenty. He stopped me and said, “Oh my GOD, you’re gorgeous!” No, seriously, that’s what he said. Thanks for nothin’, asshole! It felt so good to just turn and walk away. Putz!)
But for all my bravado at twenty… his words and the words of too many others loomed large in my head. I have a photo of myself at about 25… and I’ve always hated it. No, that’s not right… hate is too strong a word. Plus, it also has a story with it – it’s a shorter story, though. (You may thank me later.)
My first husband, our children and I were visiting his grandparents for a party. We were told it was dressy. At the last minute, changes were made and it was outdoors-casual. We didn’t know and showed up in church clothes. So, already felt awkward. Someone asked me to stand under a tree, which I did, and they snapped a shot. Oh my goodness… I looked horrible. My hair was permed, a look at the time that I never, ever rocked… and my dress was a little too tight and I was wearing pearls, of all things, and to top it all off, was looking off to the side. I hated that photo with a vengeance.
I hadn’t seen it for years but several years ago, my daughter added it into a family photo album she made me for Mother’s Day… and she said I looked beautiful. (I weep at the thought of it!) I took it into my therapist and told her what happened. She asked me to look at that photo as if it weren’t me… another young woman, perhaps… who felt out of place and nervous… and for the first time, I really looked… and felt kindness towards myself. You know… she *is* beautiful. She always was. So, today I celebrate what I look like… big or small… gray or dyed… make-up or bare-faced… bundled-up or nekkid… I AM BEAUTIFUL.
Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen. – Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby
It’s kinda funny quoting someone on that because it’s so obvious. Anyone could have said it exactly the same way. I mean, duh, right? I started understanding it, as a concept, when I was in my teens. Back then, it was all about my diet. Everything was all about my diet back then. And… who’da thunk it?… I was a glutton for sugar. So, it would seem fitting that knowing this, I would avoid sugar.
I was the only one in my family with a weight problem… I could have followed their lead… eat fresh and healthy… we didn’t even fry tortillas in our house… we grilled them… but, no… I’d go out and buy my own sweets.
Later, when I was old enough to have my own home (and family) I was diagnosed with migraines, I was told that one of the big triggers was (you guessed it) sugar. I had even more control over what was in the house then. Did I stop having sugar in the house? Uh, no.
It (self-sabotage) affected other parts of my life, as well, including decisions, big and small. When everything within me screamed, “No! Don’t do that!”… I did it, anyway. Then, when it was revealed that it was a poor decision, I beat myself up and allowed others to do the same. The more, the merrier!
I am reminded of a real-life example that feels important to remember right now, as I am searching for a job. It’s story-time, folks. And, as I have so often said before, this is a repeater story. Some of you might have heard this before. If so, skip to the end of the story. I’ll give you a visual cue. Look for the *. LOL
I was twenty-one, just married, and a teller at a bank in town. I liked being a teller and as an aside, I met a bunch of neat people…even some famous ones… like Esther Rolle (Good Times! Dy-no-mite!) who drove into my lane of the drive-through (this was before ATMs… remember those thingy’s you put your checks or money into? Then it sucked through a vacuum deal-e-o to the teller behind the window? Wow… those were the days!) Anyway, like most young employees, I’d hoped to be promoted someday… and as it turned out, I was. On a Friday, they called me into the President’s office and asked if I’d be interested in working the Customer Service desk which was a higher-paying, more cushy position where you got to sit down – big plus in teller world – and help customers reconcile their checkbooks. Back then, we had checkbooks. LOL So, they asked and I was thrilled. Of course, I said yes. I was to start on Monday.
The next day, Saturday, we had a reunion with my dad’s family. We were meeting at a park that I’d known all my life. It was huge with a lake in the middle where my grandfather and I had been fishing since I was a little girl. Recently, it had been updated, upgraded, and renamed. Before, it had been acres of hilly grasslands, docks for fishing boats, and a pebbly beach. Now, there were concrete pathways that wove throughout the property, covered picnic areas, and a white, sandy beach. One of my younger cousins brought a skateboard. My (then) husband loved skateboards and was eager to show off for me. I showed him what I could do, too… which wasn’t much. Someone – was it me? – got the bright idea to have us both get on the skateboard and ride down one of the new – and steep – concrete pathways. You know, together. At the same time. So, up to the top we went.
It probably goes without saying that this wasn’t a good idea.
I could talk about seeing my life play out in slow motion… well, actually, what I saw in slow motion was my (then) husband flying ass-over-tea-kettle above my head. See, I’d stepped off the skateboard… oh gosh, now I need to explain, don’t I? About 1/ 4 of the way down, I yelled to him, “I’m getting off!” He’d yelled, “NO! Don’t do that!” I didn’t listen. I stepped off, he flew over me, and my knee, which was already missing half a kneecap, slammed into the pavement, along with the rest of me. He’d landed on the grass but was also a little worse for the wear.
We hobbled back to the picnic area, told our hilarious story and everyone had a laugh at our expense.
By Monday morning, I couldn’t get out of bed. I had to call into work and explain why… and, uh, let’s just say they gave the job to someone else.
* (For those of you who skipped the story.)
That happened… oh, about 30 years ago. I still remember it like yesterday. Lesson learned? Not quite.
PS: I don’t even have a “moral to the story” because I’ve continued to get in my own way for decades… up to and including… um… about four months ago. I had a niggly little feeling, ignored it, and did what I wanted to anyway. But that’s a story for another day.
Cankles: I didn’t realize I had them until high school. Actually, I didn’t realize I had them even then… but I was told I did. And, they were called something different… AND… I found out in a most unusual way.
Let me explain…
It was my “friend” Ken… he picked me up after school… and after I settled in his car, he handed me a magazine, open to a page with an egg on it. Not just any egg… but my favorite pantyhose egg… and not just my favorite pantyhose egg… but one with a difference… Could I spot the difference, he asked, laughing?
Maybe I should begin with this… in the 1970’s, there were L’eggs pantyhose. They came in eggs. Every girl wore them and I was no exception. I remember… suntan was my favorite color. My legs were always five full shades darker than my freckled skin… but I digress.
The magazine he handed me was Mad, the iconic satire of all things pop-culture. So, Ken hands me the magazine and I stare at it, unable to spot the difference. Another friend gets in the car (don’t remember his name)… and Ken pulls the magazine from my hands and gives it to him. They both are laughing historically and in a conspiratorial way that makes me feel like I’m missing the joke of the century.
I can still remember that snapshot moment when I understood. I had the magazine in my hands again, Ken looking over at me from the driver’s seat, the other guy leaning up from the back seat… the egg, instead of saying L’eggs… said L’oggs.
I looked up at them and Ken said, “It’s your legs! Logg legs!”
Nicknames can be fun… 😦
As a kid, I was called Freckleface Strawberry a lot… named after the popular “kool-aid style” drink crystals. I had tons of freckles. No tan for this California girl… ugh. Less flattering was “Sheryl the Barrel”… okay, I was a little round… … and once, “Fat pig without a brain in her head.” It was said during a particularly difficult time in my 30’s.
Make no mistake, words do hurt. Don’t tell me that what other people think isn’t important… or that bullying doesn’t come in many, many forms…
Obviously, my self-compassion project (which is what I renamed my blog this morning! 🙂 ) has a beginning point. I picture it as a well… and way down there in the murky darkness is a place where all the old shinola is kept. Like words that were said to me… and laughter at my expense… about things I had no control over and couldn’t change if I wanted to…
And so it begins. I take one old tape out at a time, examine it and decide if it’s worth keeping. Most of the crap down there won’t be… but I have to look at it… and like a hoarder, I will want to keep some of it, even if it’s rotten to the core… because it’s comfortable and familiar. But I know I have to let go…
So yeah, I have cankles. So what?
I remember back in the 1980’s, one of my favorite actors, Kathy Najimy (Sister Act and Veronica’s Closet) gave an interview for TV Guide and I liked it so much I wrote in and my letter was published several weeks later. I know I kept it somewhere but for some reason can’t find it now (disappointing!). So, I’ll have to paraphrase what she said. It was something like, “Yeah, I have fat legs, but they reach the ground…” and she went on to talk about blessings and how some people aren’t as lucky and blessed as she has been. True, that. The topic of bullying will (most likely) be addressed at a later time. One thing (one day) at a time. I will end with a quote by Kathy… she’s really a hero of mine: I just say that at any weight, you should love your life.
So there you go, my friends and readers! This has been a glimpse of what I was thinking and writing about from 2014 – 2017. Does it matter now? I’m not sure.
If anyone has gotten down this far, perhaps you’ll tell me.
Otherwise, see you with words, a photo, or a poem from this century tomorrow!