Sued51's Blog











{November 5, 2014}   Talking to Ourselves

cartoon

Talking to Yourself

I have a confession to make: I talk to myself…a lot. I have done so since I was a child when my brother would harass me with his “talking to yourself” song and make me feel bad (and how many times in my life did people give me weird looks and tell me I was crazy…more times than I can count). But the reason I am able to confess this in such a public way now is because I’m not ashamed of it anymore. Now I realize how many people do it…a lot.

This thought struck me yesterday as I listened to a coworker: a lovely woman who I don’t think is crazy at all. And suddenly I became aware that many people I work with chatter away to themselves all day. I hear them as they use the copy machine, which is near my cube, and I listen to the mumblings that float over the walls. Is it more prevalent now than when I was young or am I just noticing it because of close working conditions? Is it an age thing? (Most of the people in question are over 40.) I’m not sure I know the answer to that, but I allowed myself to observe some of the functions this conversation seemed to provide for my coworkers (and myself):

  • We are helping ourselves get through a task (speaking the steps helps us to be involved in what we are doing). For myself, I find this especially helpful when I am doing something really boring when my mind tends to wander. It keeps me in the moment.
  • We are reminding ourselves of things. When I am interrupted, sometimes I forget that I had a planned list of things to do. “After I finish copying this material I need to put this on Joe’s desk and then stop at Kelly’s and pick up that file from her before I go to the bathroom on the way back to my desk…”
  • We “blow off steam” after an encounter with someone. “Boy, was that customer rude!” or “What a jerk!” It helps us get rid of frustration.
  • We are trying to make our own fun and keep ourselves entertained. I love hearing the little asides people mumble about conversations going on over the cube walls. They say it soft enough to not seem like they are participating in the conversation…and yet, loud enough that some people can hear and appreciate the comment.
  • Lastly, I think it relieves loneliness. Most workplaces discourage stopping by someone’s cube to tell them about an encounter that didn’t go well (or did); we are all supposed to keep our minds on our work and not socialize. And let’s face it, going to lunch with people who all sit silently around a table and look at their phones is not very satisfying social interaction.

So after writing all this I did a search and came up with this article. I guess I forgot that function of encouragement. That’s a big one.

Since it is now “okay” to talk to myself, I can at least make it work for me by making it positive instead of negative. Heck, maybe if someone overhears me congratulating myself they may join in.

All I know is that the constant chatter of people around me reminds me that I am not alone and I find it comforting.

What about you readers? Do you talk to yourself?




Stone wall

Walls Take Time to Build…and Dismantle

I am now calling myself a recovering writer, and I have photography to thank for it, but I’ll get to that later. Recovering from what you might ask? I have had a way-of-life-threatening case of writer’s block, resulting in my own personal Great Wall of China! The existence of Writer’s Block has been a topic on discussion boards and blogs for as long as they have been around…some people don’t believe the phenomenon exists. I think it does exist for some people and not for others. Some people see angels or ghosts, and some people don’t. I believe in writer’s block because I have unfortunately experienced it.

My wall has been truly impressive: years and years of perfectionism and expectations piled on top of each other, heavy and solid, leaving me unable to pick up my pen, no longer able to put words to my thoughts. Like the Tin Man, I became frozen in place.  My great wall was the physical manifestation of “missed opportunities,” a monument to my failure. Somehow I felt that building this monument was preferable to being mediocre; I suppose it gave me a “heroic” stature in my own mind. And yet… it was making me miserable not to write because it was clearly a passion or I wouldn’t have written all that I have written since a pen or pencil was put into my hand.  I couldn’t seem to resolve this problem. But then…I just walked away for a while; I did something I wanted to do instead of what I felt compelled to do. And now I hear the Ronald Reagan “presidential” voice in my head saying that it is time to “tear down that wall”! And I am seeing some daylight; I pulled out an old poem the other day and worked on it. I sat down to write this post, and not just “toss something out there.”  Thus, the title of “recovering writer.”  Now for the benefit of those readers who may be building their own wall, let me get to the “how” part. Read the rest of this entry »




Forgive me my absence. Being “time-challenged” I tend to be late for events, but working two jobs tends to make time fly in a broader way…fall already???

I had a weekend off from job number 2 and decided to take a couple days off from job number 1 and have a party! (Not really, just relax a bit.)

So I came home Friday night at the start of my four days of bliss to…a water leak in my apartment — sopping wet ceiling tiles on the floor of my closet. REALLY???

My landlady came over with her maintenance guy (another tenant) and I began removing things from my one and only packed closet to the living room: the only place I had any space. As I discovered wet journals and photo albums, I felt my stomach turn over…why does it have to be the things that I can’t replace?

We determined that there was some kind of invisible water buildup that had expended itself; there didn’t seem to be anything still leaking. Also, thank goodness it was NOT toilet water from the upstairs apartment. (This had happened before to tenants before me!) So…that was BLESSING NUMBER 1.

As I went through the wet journals, I discovered that many of those that were soaked were unused or partially used ones; only two of the wet books were actually filled with my life’s story. Most of the dripping papers were typed and printed poems, not penned material. Also, the small stack of literary publications that contained my published poetry were completely dry and undamaged…BLESSING NUMBER 2.

I was a bit teary about the photos, so my landlady offered to stay and help me get the photos out of the plastic-pocketed albums so they could dry out and be salvaged at least for scanning. It turned out only 4 albums were soaked; the rest were dry…BLESSING NUMBER 3.

We talked about people who lose everything in hurricanes and fires as we sat on the floor and cut open and discarded the photo album plastic pages. Surrounded by pictures, we talked about life in general, what we had been through, and what we were grateful about. My landlady joked as she held up some of the photos and asked me about them. “Everybody has these same photos,” she said, “Backyard barbecues, weddings, and scenery.”

At 11:00 pm, with barely a path to walk in the living roon, we finished the salvation project.

photos on floor

Photos, Photos Everywhere

Photos

A path through the photos

The next morning as I gathered up the curled photos and tried to group them by subject or timeframe to put them in shoeboxes, I found myself thinking about what I learned from the experience. I found that some pictures were generic…without the context of the other pictures from each book, where was this tree? This seashore? This sunset? Did I really need these? As part of an overall impression of a place or a trip or a moment in time, they were important, but as pictures on their own, what did they tell me?

There’s always a positive takeaway from moments like these, if you look for it. It’s just another step on the downsizing journey to learning what is important. It’s just…life.



{August 18, 2014}   Like a Bad Penny…

Punk Rock, Pet Rock

Punk Rock

You know what they say about a “bad penny”? You don’t? I had to look it up as I was writing this. Not sure it fits exactly, because it is not turning up multiple times, unwanted…but this little treasure just turned up in our recent forage through shed boxes. I had thrown it out back in the 80s, but here it was still kicking around. My father would sometimes “rescue” things we kids threw out, thinking they might be worth something or we might regret it later. I guess this was one of those items.

Of course there’s a story behind it. (Isn’t there always?) It once reminded me of a painful experience. But thanks to the blessings of perspective and maturity, it now makes me feel something completely the opposite. It now represents the love and caring of dear friends. What a difference years can make…

I thought I’d tell the story here and then toss it once again. (And hope it doesn’t return…it smells BAD! The cats think its musty mousy smell is VERY interesting, but I do not.)

Cat with Punk Rock

Mmm…smells good…

I’ll keep the details a little vague to protect the innocent. 🙂

Flashback to my club-going days: Jane, Julie and I were planning to see a former member of one of our favorite bands perform an acoustic set. We were looking forward to seeing him because the band had been broken up for while and we missed them. I don’t think he knew that I had received a phone call a few days before asking if I was coming. His friend and I had once had acknowledged but unconsummated feelings for each other. I didn’t want to be “the other woman” and he always seemed to have a girlfriend. For a long time I had held out hope that when he was done “playing the field” that we’d get together. Not sure how long it had been at that point since I had seen him, but was this the night? I started the night anticipating the reunion.

We got there a little early and our musician friend came over to chat before his set. Naturally the conversation included chit-chat on what his old bandmates and our mutual acquaintances were doing. He tossed a grenade without realizing it: his friend was engaged to be married! Julie and Jane looked at me…Luckily my face froze in a smile. I felt like it was obvious, but I guess it wasn’t, as he just kept on talking. When the smoke cleared, in walked the former “man of my dreams.” He came over and sat down next to me and Julie and Jane soon excused themselves saying they needed to get something at the store down the street.  I guess it was lucky that I already knew so I could give him my congratulations in a fairly convincing way. I even asked about some other guys he knew, making him think I might be after them!

Jane and Julie returned and said, “We saw this, and thought of you!” It was the Punk Rock! They didn’t have much choice at a Store 24, but it was the thought that counts. Somehow I got through the night without cracking, clutching my gift, knowing my friends understood and were with me. We walked back to the car after it was over; I touched the door handle and the tears poured down unstoppable. I cried the whole ride home.

A couple of weeks later, Jane bumped into the guy on the street. They stopped and talked for a few minutes. Apparently I put on a pretty convincing performance that night. He thought I didn’t care; she told him otherwise. He said he might write me a letter, but I never saw or heard from him again. As I moved on with my life, the Punk Rock did not come along. It reminded me of something I didn’t want to be reminded of, so I threw it away. But here it is like a bad penny…

But we are SO dramatic when we are young, aren’t we? Now it is just fodder for a blog post.

 



{June 18, 2014}   Celebrity Sightings

Lately they have been happening all AROUND me but not TO me…other people telling me about their celebrity sightings. Last week John Wayne’s son came in to the liquor distributor I work for to promote his bourbon, “The Duke.” Meanwhile I was in holed up in a co-worker’s office getting some training. I had no idea he was there until after the fact.

I also just found out a TV actress came in to the restaurant where I hostess every other Saturday. It just so happens her father lives in the small town where it is located and likes the place, so they came in for a Father’s Day meal. Hmmm…it was my weekend off…missed that too.

A Facebook friend has a friend who just saw Viggo Mortensen at a store in Idaho…Aragon in Idaho, go figure…must have been filming somewhere around there. (I admit that story fluttered my heart for just a moment…though it was the farthest removed from me. I am a big admirer of him as a modern-day renaissance man.)

I was working on this post yesterday and didn’t finish it, and then — Voila! — The Daily Post topic today is “Instant Celebrity.”  Am I on track with The Universe on this?

The question The Daily Post asked is this: if you could be a celebrity, who would you be? Hmmm…That’s a tough question for me. I think it is easier to say who I WOULDN’T want to be…Alec Baldwin? Miley Cyrus? Kim Kardashian? I wouldn’t want to be anyone who is known for outlandish behavior. To me, they have no ethics, no personal integrity. But I don’t want to go off on a rant about people doing ANYTHING for attention or money; I’ll save that for another post. 🙂

To seriously try to answer the question — I would want to be a brilliant but reclusive writer (maybe Margaret Atwood or Joan Didion) or a well-off philanthropist (Melinda Gates or Oprah). But perhaps the reason The Universe has not provided me with that gift is that I wouldn’t handle it well. Maybe being famous would turn me into Alec Baldwin (EEK!) because I don’t like being the center of attention.

Going back to the actress in the restaurant…my friend told me people were approaching her and asking to have their pictures taken with her. Bless her, she obliged, but I think it would get pretty annoying trying to have a nice quiet Father’s Day dinner with a loved one who you probably don’t have much time to see, and being interrupted by fans.

Naw…I don’t think I would want to be a celebrity.

 




I had a rough week at work last week; one of those weeks that makes you take a whole weekend of doing things you love to recharge.

Saturday I had a visit with a friend I have known for 50 years. She just got back from a fabulous trip across Europe. I missed her, but she sent me pictures every day as if I were travelling with her. Priceless. There’s no jealousy on my part; she shared her trip with me and I felt happy for her. That is the way it should be with friends who love and value each other.

Yesterday was a glorious sunny day and I had an outing with a treasured old friend, one that I have known for 30 years. We have many interests in common; we both love to walk and take pictures, but we don’t live close so these events have to be planned in advance. Time flies when I am with her. When I am feeling like someone who has been transported to a hostile planet, she brings me back home. She reminds me of who I was, and still am somewhere inside, despite the fact that I may feel transplanted, lost, and downright scared. You can’t put a price on that.

Yesterday we were walking around a graveyard and found this gravestone. We both loved it, read the words aloud together and took a photo.

Gravestone for Ann Ellery

A Loving Gravestone

 

There was a silent pause as we both thought about Ann, who we never had a chance to know. But my friend said it first, “She sounds great; I would feel lucky to have those things said about me.”  In the post-feminism age, these qualities may sound laughable to some. But the description makes me think of a Jane Austen heroine, vibrant and full of life, someone who must have been fun to talk to, and valued as a friend. It’s wonderful not to have to explain this, or excuse this thinking to my friend. I know we have more than surface things in common. We have deep values about what is important…this is why we are still friends despite the changes in our lives.

In case you can’t read it, this is how Ann Ellery is described:

To the memory of Ann Ellery…

In every aspect of life, she exhibited a becoming behavior,

was sensible and quick of apprehension,

spritely and agreeable in conversation,

hospitable, charitable, sincere and pious.

 

I have to say, I don’t believe we see these qualities too often in today’s selfish greedy society, and I think we are the worse for it. But I feel lucky to know some people who wouldn’t choose to put on their gravestone achievements or job descriptions, but a picture of a treasured human being.



{April 30, 2014}   A Life of Irony

I am always reading personal development and inspirational blogs and books. I’ve tried meditation, visualization, and spirituality, and still I can’t figure out what my life’s purpose is and what I was meant to do. (PLEASE…THIS STATEMENT IS NOT AN INVITATION TO BLOGGERS OUT THERE WHO WANT ME TO JOIN THEIR PYRAMID SCHEME OF MAKING MONEY BLOGGING! I DON’T BELIEVE IN IT SO DON’T TRY TO HOOK ME.)

To bring God into it, I continue to be baffled by what he wants from me, I seem to be deaf to his messages in my life. My proof of this? My life is always full of irony. The moment I finally, after an agonizingly long time, make a decision, I am faced with an ironic response. Or my timing is off…things just don’t seem to work out.

Barricades

Barricades

My proof in point today: My to-do list had included the task — “make business cards” — for quite a while. My purpose was to use them as a tool to pick up freelance editorial work. But I wasn’t getting around to it. I finally decided to enlist the help of a friend’s daughter who is studying graphic design: good practice for her and assistance for me. On the front of the card I would advertise my services and on the back, my blogs. I finally spent the money and got them printed a couple of weeks ago.

And what happened in the meantime? One of the printers near me where I had planned to drop off a card and resume just laid off a large number of people. I was told by someone who works there…don’t bother…they won’t want your services…no work. I have been so busy working extra hours at my part-time job for the last month, as well as working on a freelance editing job and another part-time job, I have barely been able to visit my blogging community or produce blog posts. Result? Dead blog. JUST WHEN I PRINTED MY CARDS TO ADVERTISE. And now, a full-time job offer is on the table after I have been scrambling to pay my bills for a while…Although the job doesn’t involve what I THINK my talents are, I feel like I have to take it for financial stability.

What’s the message my readers? Is God telling me to give up my dreams and passion because it is not part of his plan for me or is he testing me? Based on the reading I have done, if you are following the path you are meant to follow, it will be smooth and easy. It won’t feel like constant barricades are being placed in your path. Or have I got that wrong?

I know that some of you manage to work full-time and still produce blog posts, but that doesn’t seem to be something I’m able to do. Is God it making a correction to my path or am I deluded as to what my talents are and what my purpose is?

I will move forward with the hope that there is a future I can’t foresee. In the meantime, I will try to post when I can. I’ve put 4 years into this…what’s another barricade?




How would I know, you might ask? Observation? Imagination?

I have mentioned before that I have six brothers and NO sisters. The older I get, the more I feel this as an empty hole in my life. You know how things come in threes? Easter Sunday three things made me consider the value of sisters.

Sisters

Sisters

In the morning I was going through yet another box of old photos at my mother’s house. The photos in the box I was going through belonged to my grandmother and great aunt. I had never seen many of them before, and they showed my grandmother and her sisters when they were in their twenties: on vacation, joking around and dressing up for Halloween (they are a bit older in this photo). There were smiles all around. Very different from the elderly women I remember with the weight of years on them. Looking at the photos, the closeness and the camaraderie came through. The photos made me smile and made me miss my great-aunts. Well…the great-aunts that I never got to know.

After dinner with my family, I went to the home of a friend that I call my “pseudo-sister.” We have known each other for 37 years, since we were 18 years old. When I walked in, her mother and her mother’s sisters, all in their 70’s, were singing together and recording it on someone’s iphone. They were laughing and, admittedly a little tipsy. It really made me smile. One of them had come up with an old photo from when they were girls, copied it, and gifted it to the others in a little Easter basket. They were all clearly enjoying the day despite whatever health problems they have.

After they left, when my friend and I were alone, we talked about our youth. Somehow the conversation turned to Julianne Phillips, the ex-wife of Bruce Springsteen. I mentioned the show she starred in: “Sisters.” It turned out my friend had never seen it! (We’re always learning new things about each other.) I told her how I used to watch it faithfully. I thought about that as I drove home. Did I watch the show to see what having sisters was like because I felt I missed it?

I think the real-life I observed in my grandmother’s photos, the moments between my friend’s Mom and her sisters were probably more realistic than the TV show, but perhaps not? Sisters steal each others’ clothes, and boyfriends too in a not-so-perfect world. And they snitch on you and tease you just like brothers…(though not in this clip)

The Daily Post had a topic the other day: what’s on your bucket list? I couldn’t write about it, because I haven’t made one. I don’t allow myself to want trips or things that I’ll never have the money to buy. What I want to experience before I leave this earth are not places to see or things to do — they are feelings that I want to feel. I can’t change the fact that I don’t have blood sisters. But I am grateful to have my pseudo-sister. And I can continue to cultivate new relationships and continue to search for soul-sisters…

Now that’s what’s on my bucket list.




Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Imperfection

 

Does this happen to you? Books seem to appear just when you need them? And they all tie together?

A co-worker dropped this off at my cubicle with the caveat: “My friend loved this book and gave it to me…it didn’t do anything for me, but I thought you might like it…if you don’t, pass it on.”

I will admit that my co-worker and I have had book discussions, so she has some idea about what books I like to read, but…I REALLY needed to read this book…NOW.

I have been struggling to embrace and accept my imperfections for a while (including the blurry photo at the left, which I took several times. I figured as long as you can see it and read it…it doesn’t have to be PERFECT). It fulfills its purpose as is.

I recently had a get-together with some wonderful supportive friends who love me and see me as gifted, talented and creative. I read some poems for them, including one I had recently, with trepidation, brought to a workshop. I was sharing with them some of the comments (which actually were mostly good and quite helpful). I told them “when it was finished” I was going to submit it. They thought it was fine the way it was. We laughed about how nothing was ever “finished” for me. I now know why: I believe that there is ONE thing I will create that will be THE thing that will prove my worthiness…if I keep working at it and never finish it…then the magical piece of work might still exist (like believing in Santa Claus…or the Elusive Comic Book!) I guess it is my way of believing life can change overnight. Though this appears to happen to some people, it is for the most part, not true. It certainly is not something I can will or force to happen. Life happens when you live it.

This book helped me understand why I can’t create a body of work. Perfectionism is a big, bad monster for me. I am “hustling” for my worthiness as Brene Brown says in her book. (I LOVE this phrase…I picture myself walking the streets, begging people to appreciate me.)

The book is broken into ten guideposts that represent ways of thinking you need to let go of in order to embrace your imperfection and believe in your own worthiness. Guidepost #2 is “Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism”.

And my favorite (V8…knock in the head) moment while I was reading the book was when the author wrote, “I think everyone should read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist — I try to read it at least once a year. It’s a powerful way of seeing the connections between our gifts, our spirituality, and our work…and how they come together to create meaning in our lives.” WHAT?! I recently wrote a blog about that book!

I just love when the dots connect!

BTW…I submitted the poem last week…with some of the workshop suggestions. 😀




 

The cats know when I need them...

The cats know when I need them…

This prompt is timely. I am having one of those days today when I feel like a cartoon character hanging off the cliff by that one skinny little branch…

I usually have to do a LOT of different things to get out of it. A combination of activities usually does the trick.

My number one tactic is to pet and play with my cats. They always know when I need them.

Another tool is to read uplifting materials…and yet sometimes the opposite helps: singing the “blues” as the title says. I listen to sad music, cry and get it out of my system. A couple of songs that are guaranteed to make me cry: “Sparrow” by Simon & Garfunkel or Lyle Lovett singing “Texas Trilogy.” (Below is the original version…couldn’t find a YouTube video of Lyle Lovett performing it. The last song in the trilogy, Bosque County Romance, is the one that sets me off.) A sad movie can do the trick as well.

Walking is always good or yoga, or meditation using a positive message like “God loves me” or “Serenity” or “Abundance” can help.

Writing about it: blogging and knowing that others feel the same makes me feel less alone. Writing/reading a gratitude list. I still haven’t completed the whole alphabet but I work on it periodically.

Sometimes looking at old pictures of happier times can make me smile. Taking new pictures is sure to get my attention off of myself and my life and onto an activity I enjoy.

Finally, just going about my day and being present during simple tasks can sweep the blues away and allow me to toss them in the bucket and look forward to tomorrow.

It IS Friday after all. 🙂



et cetera
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