G’day mates! We’ve been back from down under for nearly three full weeks and I think I’m finally fully un-jetlagged. As much as every bit of me really, really dug the amazing vacation, my body certainly did not love returning to real life… worth it!
So, of course you’re dying to know how it went… because who doesn’t love hearing about other people vacations in agonizing detail???
I kid, of course! I’ll be quick.
We flew to Sydney, Australia, where we stayed in a fancy hotel on Sydney Harbour and hung with Nemo and Dory.
The next day, we put on our AMAZING matching shirts (in red, we saved blue for Vanuatu) and boarded the Voyager of the Seas.
Where we spent 12 amazing days wining and dining, reading and relaxing…
… and seeing some of the most amazing sites in the South Pacific.
Also, Seth smiled. And smiled. And smiled.
Finally, on my way home — I saw my friend Sarah (originally from Hoboken, NJ… now a resident of Melbourne) after more than 15 years AND my friend Jessi (who lived two doors down from me in the dorms at Michigan Tech and was my very first college friend) after more than 10. Insane.
It was incredible. Every second of every day. The experience of a lifetime.
But really, that’s not what I want to talk about. Or rather, what I think you want me to talk about. Because the last time we talked, it was all about the reset… the big reset. The new job, big vacation, letting go of the infertility battle.
I’m in love with my new job, the vacation was amazing, I felt legitimate relief to let go of motherhood.
And then last night. It all caught up with me. The truth came out in an explosion. Tear-filled and snot-soaked.
I can’t stop saying yes at work and I’m completely overwhelmed. As amazing as the vacation was, I felt immediately un-relaxed the second I stepped off the plane in Wisconsin. And “letting go” is a process that doesn’t happen quite that quickly — my heart is still broken and I need a lot more time and space to let it heal than I thought I would.
Damnit. I really thought I’d be fixed. And somehow, I am legitimately surprised that I am not. Yes, I am ridiculous as I sound.
One night on the cruise, while having drinks in a super fancy lounge on the tippy top of the ship, I got a *free* blog consultation with the one and only Chris Lema. I’ve never priced him out, but I’m pretty sure he charges regular people like $7,918 an hour. Approximately.
The gist of the consultation: (1) Blogging is good for you. Do it. (2) Consistently. (3) And use consistent themes.
Except Chris always tells a story, so the message was a lot longer, funnier, more interesting. You know. Lema-ish.
So here’s the deal. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be super consistent (I’m very busy and important), but I’m going to be a heck of a lot more focused. Coming soon — a legit About Me page including “best of” and all that jazz PLUS Mental Health Monday, Women Rock Wednesday, and Fertility Friday. What do you think? Are you excited? I kind of am.
Actually, I am. And not just because I have lots of post ideas, but mostly because blogging… sharing stories… is probably the single healthiest thing I do on a regular basis. When I don’t do it on a regular basis, I have nights like last night. Tears and snot. It’s good for the makers of Kleenex and producers of alprazolam… but no one else.
I love to hear other people’s stories and I love to share my own. It’s healthy, it’s healing… it’s cathartic, fun, and relaxing. It’s who I am. Maybe I didn’t change my life, really reset it like I expected, but Chris did point me home. To where I belong. Even better than starting over. Thanks, Chris.
A couple stories to get us pointed in the right direction.
My little Marshfield-based book club took a recent turn for the non-existent with the start of the most recent academic year. I suppose that’s bound to happen when you base a book club too heavily on transient people like med students and residents and young marrieds, but determined to begin anew, I started recruiting again.
After begging my friend Kristen to join (over and over and over again over oh so many coffees) she finally agreed to participate so long as she wasn’t the oldest person there.
Ugh. Not a good caveat given the people I had been focusing my recruitment efforts on. But we’re working around it. My invite went a little something like this:
“Also, rest assured that you will neither be the oldest nor the youngest there, should that be an issue for you. I am both–youngest in capacity to be socially un-awkward, oldest in nerdiness, trust me, I cannot be outdone. So just come.”
How can anyone argue with that? Also I sent everyone a copy of the book with an invitation book mark– nothing more powerful than a guilt trip!
Maybe a year or so ago, my friend Melissa told me about how her daughter, Emily, had discounted me as a “friend” because in her mind, I was actually just Melissa’s friend. Melissa assured Emily that I was indeed her friend and I confirmed Melissa’s assertion. I am indeed Emily’s friend. She’s nine (today!!! happy birthday, little friend!) and I’m thirty, but I think if you’ve been reading along for a while, you know without a doubt that Emily is one of my nearest and dearest on account of me talking about her here and here and here and here.
Also, my therapist knows her by name. Not joking.
And third story, because three always seems like the appropriate number:
Just last week, I had a big grant due and my sister sent me a text message (filled to the brim with excellent emoji) that I showed you back here. What I didn’t show you, because it would have destroyed a surprise I had been carefully crafting for months was my response to her:
The part about my dad and my two besties over 50. That’s the part I’d like to bring to your attention today.
Because age, as big of a thing it is in popular culture, in the media, in our minds, is really of very little consequence when it comes to friendship, and I’d like to chat about that very much.
I recently went to a talk given by a woman who described herself as vintage and she said, “I see you out there in the audience– some of you have a little vintage on you!”
Vintage. I loved that.
I went to the talk with three of my friends: my dad, Marie, and Margaret.
Yes, I include my dad in the friend category and that’s kind of the point of this whole post. In adulthood, my dad is still my dad, the man I’ve loved since I was an itty bitty baby and the man who responds instantly and instinctively to the word “daddy,” but also he is my friend– he turned me on to Call To Action, a progressive Catholic organization, and we talk about the church and about social justice and kindness and generosity and love and faith and all those things like friends. Because we are friends.
My friend Marie is in her 50s and has a daughter my age. We work together and hang out besides and the 20 something years between us really makes no difference. (In fact, I suspect we’re basically married to the same man one generation apart, it’s bizarre!)
My friend Margaret is in her 70s and started off as someone my dad was friends with… but I think I can legitimately call her my friend now too. We’ve spent Christmases together, after all! I just adore Margaret and her honesty and her joy and her clearly innate ability to recognize good in people.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I made another new friend on Wednesday. Her name is Lola and she’s 11. She’s the daughter of a physician I work and he suspected that she and I would hit it off– correct! We’ve started our own little mini book club. She’s reading West of the Moon for an enrichment program at school. I picked it up at the library yesterday and we’re going to chat about it. So there’s 20 some years between us the other way… I’m super lucky to know how little that actually matters.
Why doesn’t it matter though? I mean, it always seemed like it did… growing up, when friendships were based primarily on life stage and experience, I suppose age did matter. And some of the friends I met because of life stage and/or experience are still some of my nearest and dearest even today. But that’s partly because it wasn’t always so ok with me to have friends across the continuum of age. At the age of 23 or so, I remember going out with a friend and a friend of hers, both of whom were in their 40s, for a belly dancing class and drinks afterward and despite having an absolute blast, some of my same-age-friends thought it was a little odd. I may be odd, but I’m also crazy insecure and I don’t love people knowing about it… so, you know…
Then I met people like Kristen I. and Emily W. (book club book ends, age wise), Melissa and her daughter Emily (one a little older than me, one much younger, both my friends), Michele and Marie F (co-workers sent from heaven, my two besties greater than or equal to 50), Margaret and Marie K from Call To Action (Marie was 95 when we met!), and Lola (my newest young friend). I also recently recognized my dad and my mom and my Aunt Susan and my little sister and little brother as friends. And none of it was weird. Because when friendship is based on attraction between two souls, age has absolutely nothing to do with it.
Age matters, of course, in other ways. It affects the container that houses our soul and it changes the lenses in the glasses through which our soul sees. Time puts a little vintage on them. But the soul, I believe, remains unchanged– no matter the vintage. And that’s why, now, at the age of 30, I can happily say that my friends, my dearest most amazing friends, range in age from 8 to 80. (Eighty because, sadly, Marie Kennedy passed away a few years ago. She was so incredible though, even at 95!)
If I’m honest, it’s the vintage I’ve picked up myself that has allowed me to see this fact. And to recognize that maybe, even as a little girl, I had some adult friends that I ought to be a little more grateful for– Grandma Roz and CJ and Janet and Joy. As un-vintaged as I may have been at the time, my soul recognized another like it in them.
I don’t want to discount all of the time- and place- and life stage- and experience-based friendships I have made over the years– in high school, in college, in grad school. Those friendships are crazy important too. Interestingly, though, sometimes I didn’t even fully recognize the impact of the people I met in those places until later– I told you about Nicole and Dawn. But also my friend Sarah, who was my roommate at the 2001 Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference (another nerd camp for political nerds… I’ve been to a lot of nerd camps, for real), and who I still find to be absolutely, completely, and totally fascinating, inspiring, gorgeous, amazing, etc, via social media… I feel like our souls just clicked and I’ll never ever forget the girl who introduced me to what this Midwestern girl can only describe as urban A-MAZ-ING.
And perhaps that’s what it really is– Nicole embraced her curls and her intelligence and her otherness in a way I never dared in college, but I recognized her anyway. Dawn was Army-style intimidating in her camouflage fatigues and combat boots, but I recognized her anyway. And Sarah owned a bright blue wig at a fancy inaugural ball and proudly voted for Ralph Nader (and I was, gasp, a wannabe Republican at the time– silly girl, thankfully only 17 at the time), but I recognized her anyway. And the older I get, the more vintage I accumulate, the easier it is for me to recognize the lovely soul underneath the otherness, the camo, the blue wig, and that’s what attracts me now, every time.
No matter the age, the place, the time, the person.
So, thankfully, at 30, I can see Lola at 11 and know that we’ll probably talking about books until the end of my days and I can make plans to push Marie’s wheelchair around when I’m in my 70s and she’s in her 90s.
Except who am I kidding? Marie will probably be 90 pushing my wheelchair around when I’m 70. It’s much more likely to happen that way. She’s tough like that. And I’m not. Either way, we’ll still be friends.
It’s so sad for me to sit down at my computer and to log in to Under the Tapestry only to realize that all those ingenious blog posts I wrote in my head never actually made it onto the computer. Fevers’ll do that to you, I suppose. I don’t know what I had and I feel terrible for spreading it (so sorry, my darling, Michele!!) (not sorry for licking the door handle), but I’m finally feeling considerably better. With the exception of the bits of liquefied brain that are clearly trying to leak out of my head through my sinuses, I’m feeling pretty good and my grossness is significantly diminished (P < 0.05).
So onward and upword! First things first: you guys are SO freaking awesome for giving me such a positive response to my STD news. I mean… STDs, right? Ew and stuff. But you totally clapped for the clap anyway and it was awesome! Thanks for that!
But today, what I’d really like to talk about is dinosaurs.
I don’t have enough material for a real dino-focused post at the moment, but I did see a seriously sweet dinosaur hat on a little boy last week and it got me thinking…
At what age do you become “too old” to dance in and out of buildings wearing a dinosaur hat?
I passed a family headed into a building one day last week. It was a family of three. A mom and two sons– one a sullen teen or pre-teen, tall, gangly, peach-fuzz mustache, and permanent scowl. The mom looked beat. But the younger boy? He was grinning and spinning! He was dancing and flailing his arms and having a good old time on his way to the building.
He’s the one who made me light up. It was adorable!
But then I came to my question above. Because had the older boy been doing the same thing, I probably would have affixed my scowl and thought something rude about his immaturity or whatevs. Could he have done anything right? I mean, I was annoyed with him for his scowl in the face of his brother busting a move… but I’d have been annoyed if he’d busted a move himself. He couldn’t win! I was being too much a judge-y jerk!
And I thought about how that made me a total Rachel… like Rachel from Friends. And not in a good way. Rather, in the way she was in the episode where she and Phoebe go running together– Rachel taking little perfect strides, breathing in time, while Phoebe ran all arms and legs akimbo, just having fun with it.
I’m such a Rachel sometimes! (Not in the enviable hairstyle kind of way, more the stick up her backside kind of way.) It would probably suit me to loosen up a bit (I know you’ve been saying that since I was like 8, mom, I know)… perhaps to drop the -el… yes, I think it’s the -el that’s weighing me down.
More Rach! More dinosaur hats! More fun! Less judgement!
But baby steps. Because I am not ready to rock a dinosaur hat on my head any more than I’m ready to bust a move on the skywalk between the Lawton and the Laird. (Busting a move in the office hallway? Maybe… so long as I’m not doing it alone.) It is something important to think about though.
Because, clearly, there’s no doing right by me when you’re an awkward teen. The thing that should probably change? My attitude. Less -el. More blog posts 🙂
Fun fact: I went through a brief period from approximately consciousness through about 8 or so where I hated, hated, hated anyone calling me Rach. And I would totally correct people. Now I totally love it and consider it a sign of natural and unforced intimacy. My sister calls me Rach. My big in grad school (because I sometimes pretend grad school is like a really effed-up sorority) calls me Rach. Some of my super sweet new Marshfield friends call me Rach. I just love it! Granted, I cannot fault those who have known me much longer for not as, to be fair, I would have ripped their heads off over it once upon a time. But now you know.
Not-so-fun fact: I had the same two teachers for sixth and seventh grade– Ms. Fisher and Mrs. Johnson. I adored those two and they had nicknames for everybody, probably because they were absolutely brilliant at making you feeling like you were welcome and loved in their classrooms. They used to call me “Ra-cha-cha” (got to admit, I didn’t love it) and sometimes it would get shortened to just “Cha” (better because my friend Em always called me Racha from the time we were like 2 and 3). One day in science class, we were reading from the textbook out loud in class and Mrs. Johnson was announcing the next reader by name. I heard her say “Chaaaaaa” so I started reading. Loudly. Confidently. Like the nerd I was then and am now.
And it was awkward… super, crazy awkward… because she said “Chaaaaaaad”, which is not even kind of my name, and rather, the name of the boy I’d been crushing on since the moment I’d walked into the Miss Dimitroff’s fourth grade. The horror! I remember the mortification distinctly, the desperation of my hurried explanations in a tiny voice (I thought you said Cha…?) and the extreme desire to disappear.
Fun-ny fact: Chad was not worth the crush. The more you know 😉
I told you about my friend Aimie last week– she’s super awesome. And now you know. The thing she invited me to last week was also awesome. So awesome that I decided it really required it’s own post.
The event was part of a campaign called Spread the Word to End the Word. The word they’re talking about? The R-word. It’s not cool to say, it’s not fun to use, and it doesn’t make for good jokes. The end.
Before the killer puppet show (don’t worry, I’ll tell you about the puppet show), a man named Jason got up and told us his story– his moment of realization about the R-word. And this is what he said (huge thanks to Aimie for getting this for me… truly, she’s awesome).
A few days ago I heard a joke that made me laugh. Actually it has made me laugh every time I have heard it (at least 50 times since grade school). The joke is “whats better that winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics? Answer: not being ret**ded” WAIT! keep reading. I am certainly not evil it has just been funny since I was a kid because of how bad it is BUT before you judge me….trust me, if that joke offended you and you enjoy sweet sweet justice…then read on. I went to the YMCA today after being quite ill with the seasons newest ailments. I somehow mustered up enough drive ( with minor remanents of bronchitis I think) to do 15 minutes of Battle ropes, a full 45 minute upper body weight training routine and 5 inclined miles on a treadmill (if you have ever seen a fire hydrant run for it’s life then you would know just what accomplishment that is for me). Feeling pretty darn good about myself I headed to the locker room. I first called my wife to boast of my accomplishments…and to give a small warning that I might pass out if I don’t sit down for awhile. I told her of my plan to take a breather and then sit in the hot tub for 5 minutes. We laughed about my lack of fitness and probability of impending embarrassment of having to be fished out the YMCA hot tub. Now off the phone and ready to relax I walked into the pool area. It was much louder than usual and there seemed to be A LOT of people in the pool for that hour. In the hot tub sat a single young man keeping to himself. I normally don’t engage the “tub sitters” when I am there, I’m just not that kind of guy. I get this odd sense of relief when the person in there is around my age and quiet. I walked down into the tub and what happened next was so unbelievable that I am taking the time to write about it here. No sooner than the water hitting my waistline the man stood up move towards me with serious sense of urgency and commitment. With his right wrist anchored on his belly he extended his hand out to me and in tone and volume that you would expect from the greatest circus ring leaders he belted ” HI MY NAME IS MATT! WHAT IS YOUR NAME!..I responded with “Hey Matt my name is Jason, nice to meet you”…in which he volleyed back “HI JASON, MY NAME IS MATT AND IT IS NICE TO MEET YOU…YES…NICE TO MEET YOU!”. The look in this young mans eyes during this remarkably animated salutation was nothing short of the most confident, endearing, genuinely inquisitive and caring look I may have ever seen. Just then a older man interrupted us and said okay Matt, back in the pool. He quickly acquiesced without any hesitation. Watching him return to the pool I then realized that the pool was full of people that required some additional attention and had unique personal challenges. Now I was alone in the hot tub watching. As I watched I literally felt my heart warm, warmer than the waters around me…so warm in fact it radiated to my face and made me smile. Now for the Amazing lesson part… I sat back for another moment by myself enjoying my appreciation for what was going on around me when it happened…It was one of those moments that I wish the whole world could experience. A young man in his late teens early twenties made his way down the stairs into the tub…now I recognize that look of supreme confidence and braced myself for the engagement I was about to have. He moved through the water quickly and with purpose. Sitting down in a hurry in the corner opposite of mine he immediately took notice of me and spoke out in a passionate tangent ” MY NAME IS PHIL, HAVE YOU HEARD OF ME?DID YOU HEAR I WENT TO STATE LAST YEAR?THERE WERE A COUPLE OF US THAT WENT TO STATE LAST YEAR?I’M SAVING THIS SPOT FOR MY FRIEND?WHATS YOUR NAME?…jason…HI JASON ..another person started to make there way into the tub… HEY THIS IS JASON..JASON THIS so and so…HE WENT TO STATE TOO..A COUPLE OF US DID …as he continued to speak the hot tube began to fill up to capacity…and Phil, one by one introduced me by name to each of them. He also told them where to all sit, where to stand and finally his friend arrived to take his place at the right hand of the GREAT STATE CHAMPION PHIL. Now the hot tub was literally filled to capacity with standing room only. I was surrounded by some of the happiest and content people I had ever had the pleasure of being around. I couldn’t help but smile as I heard them laughing and talking each other up with such sincerity and innocence. An older woman was standing outside of the tub watching this crew of AMAZINGLY CONFIDENT CHARACTERS with personalities that could fill the entire pool not to say much about the small hot tub. I had to ask… Excuse me miss…is this some type of group event are all of these amazing people from the same place and are you a volunteer? And with a smile she looked me straight in the eyes and said…yes I am a volunteer and these are the Marshfield Swimmers…The Special Olympics Swim Team. Phil stood up and announced it was TIME TO PLAY THE GAME WITH THE BALLS IN THE OTHER POOL and the tub cleared out as fast as it had filled. I was the last one to exit; meeting that woman at the top of the stairs. I had only one more question for her…where do I sign up to volunteer? She introduced me to the Team manager and quickly gathered all of the paperwork. She said last year they had 9 athletes and this year they have 16 so they can use all the help they can get! She was almost as excited as I was. She made a comment that I will never forget for as long as I live ” you know, they will look at you as a role model”..I let that responsibility settle in for a moment and responded “I think they are the ones that are the role models “…her and the manager both nodded. When I left with my paperwork in hand I sat in the car for a moment and just smiled. I could hear God laughing at me in enjoyment as if to say ” ohhh my little jug-head, you are too easy sometimes, a little inappropriate joke for the set up, a couple of my very special children for the delivery and BAM…life change….bet you wont laugh at that little stand up bit again will you?”. I know this is long post but I really felt compelled to share it here. I start next Tuesday and I cant wait…but, for those of you that know me I have to add one more thing…last year … 6 of the 9 athletes from Marshfield went to state. So as luck would have it…looks like I will be helping awesome people be awesomer! Thank you for reading and I hope it inspired you in some way.
The kids loved it Jason’s story. Naturally. And I was left grinning from ear to ear. It’s a big deal– to be able to change your mind, your outlook, your world-view because you realize that there’s a better way. Too cool!
And after that awesome story, some puppets told the rest!
Hairy and Company and their human friends told some stories, sang some songs, and made us all laugh and cheer. Aimie and I laughed especially heartily when we realized that someone had turned an awkward hybrid of our friend Michele and me into a puppet. A puppet named Dudley.
Dudley was shy at first, hesitant to even introduce himself to all of us. Then he did, “Hi! I’m Dudley! I have problems and I wrote a song about it!”
Hi, I’m Rachel! I have problems and I write a blog about it!
Oy, that was poignant 😉
But seriously, I was thrilled at the message these kids were getting. To be yourself, to respect others, to be ok with differences, because really, we’re all a little different in a lot of different ways. And they loved it! They sang the songs and danced and cheered for those crazy puppets. They clapped for Jason and yelled out responses to questions. It was so great!
And the biggest message? Mental capacity is just one tiny way in which we might be different from someone else. One. Of millions… billions… trillions even! So respect it, limited or not, and look for the things that make others special.
Have you ever felt like you had so many things to do that you all you could do was nothing?
Of course you have. Who hasn’t?
I kind of feel like that right now, except not about things to do (well, kind of about that too, but that’s not the point ), but about things to say…
I am BURSTING right now with things to tell you! Bursting to the point that none of the words want to wait their turn! And those impatient words are trying so desperately to get all over my screen that it’s turning into the crab in the bucket phenomenon and I am paralyzed.
Since nothing else is working, I’m going to let the words come and see where we go. (Out of the bucket, you crabs!!)
First, not posting yesterday nearly destroyed me. I worked late (unnecessarily so, more on that another day), did lots of stuffs around the house and yard, made some phone calls and emailed some friends, canned 5 quarts of homemade enchilada sauce (you should seriously invite yourself over to my very homely home for enchiladas sometime– it’s good stuff!), and then finally sat down with my computer (at something ridiculous like 11:30 pm– I am nearing 30, this is WAY past my bedtime) with the intent to pound out a crappy post and put it out there just so that I didn’t break my own arbitrary rules about posting Monday through Thursday.
Let me say that again: I planned to pound out a crappy post just to say that I posted, because it was Wednesday. And I told you I would post on Wednesdays. Lame.
Are you offended? You should be, dear reader! You deserve much better from me! My (almost) apologies for the crappy thing that (almost) happened.
Anyway, some of the many, many things I am dying to discuss with you…
After posting about the 23 Things, I keep seeing examples of these ideas at play in my life– over and over and over again– and I’m pretty excited to tell you about them. Nothing more satisfying than supporting evidence! (Except chocolate. I would gladly accept chocolate in lieu of evidence.) I’m also excited to tell you a story about stories and to share with you some of the information from my “Personal Interest” folder…
Finally, I am super excited to announce a little series I am going to call “Profiles in Awesome.” I know a lot of really, really awesome people (not to be sexist, but women especially) that have eaten too much humble pie and I think I need to tell you about them. But most importantly, I want them to tell you (and the whole world!!) about themselves, so I’m going to do interviews! I can’t wait!! (Of course, I am making a lot of assumptions here… and really just hoping that people will answer my interview questions. I think they will. I can be persuasive. And I will guilt trip you (MS) if you try to tell me no. Guilt always works. Guilt and jalapeno poppers. And maybe a promise of relative-anonymity. Anyway, I’m determined to make this work!)
And while you’re here– please throw a Happy Birthday shout out into the universe for my SASsy friend!!