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And so it begins…

I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.

— Charles M. Schultz.

Before you read any further, hit “subscribe”. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I promise you’ll enjoy what you read. FYI, I’m horrible at keeping promises. However, blogging (or writing a future book) is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while.

After every life lesson, hilarious event, heartbreaking moment, or random incident, I’ve always thought ‘I should write a book’… mostly because everything that happens to me is ironic (at least in my head). I constantly find myself amusing (someone has to). At the end of the day I’m totally gung-ho to share; then I second-guess and doubt myself. Well, not anymore. Here’s the fun part… I no longer care.

I’m FAR from any ‘self help guru’. In fact, if you remotely think that I’m preaching to you, you’re so wrong. I’m preaching to myself. I’m healing myself. These are mountains and valleys that helped shape a ‘survival guide’, and if they enrich any corner of your life then WHEW, that is just icing on the cake (I shouldn’t have mentioned cake, since I’m currently revamping my physical-self as well).

So here’s to my multiple voices, random thoughts, and twisted humor… with a little truth, faith, politics, and political incorrectness mixed in.

  • Allison

The Claw Game

It was my favorite. A quarter bought you a chance to win an amazing stuffed animal. I was 9 years old. It was an amazing stuffed animal. Later on in life, I’d come to realize that they were cheaply made, hazardous to small children, probably contained lead, and cost 5 cents to manufacture. Either way, it was a rush to win that crappy stuffed animal, and I will own a claw machine game someday!

“I don’t gamble, because winning a hundred dollars doesn’t give me great pleasure. But losing a hundred dollars, pisses me off”.

Alex Trebek

So does dropping that stuffed animal and losing a quarter.

Back to being 9 years old. Camp Fire Girls annual campout. I think it was in the Mendocino area, at a KOA campground. Inside the campground’s little store were some vending machines, nicknack souvenirs, a Pac-Man arcade game, and a glorious stuffed animal claw game. I can’t quite explain to you… the draw that I have to this game. It’s like a slot machine for gamblers, an x-box for a teenaged boy, a chocolate fountain for a keto-dieter. There’s a glowing aura around it. Lights, music, the thrill of winning.

But this particular claw game had a ‘flaw’… well, it was a flaw for whomever owned it, stocked it, and wanted to make a profit from it. You see, the claw mechanism can be tightened or loosened. If you’ve ever played one, and thought you’d be able to snag that perfectly positioned toy, only for the claw ‘fingers’ to barely graze across the fur while you’re screaming “you didn’t even TRY”! Save your quarters. But this one. This one’s flaw was that it was calibrated too tight. Every quarter won us about 3-4 stuffed animals on each play. You couldn’t lose, and it was hilarious. So much so, that my friend and I cleaned-out the machine daily (greedy, but we were the the only kids at the campground that week). Jackpot.

I had been a 9-1-1 Dispatcher for about 17 years, and what a blessing that job was (to me, and whomever I was able to help). Imagine the rush of helping coordinate a pursuit, invoke empathy with a suicidal caller, have sergeants value your advice, and to be able to console a rape victim through a phone line. As a lump swells in my throat, and my computer screen becomes slightly blurred, I can proudly continue typing and say that God had me there for a reason. But the long shifts, daily adrenaline ‘squirts’, good stress & bad, ‘closed doors’, and several other sad factors, ended my career too soon.

For years I dismissed the smaller warning signs. Everything from minor medical symptoms, to going partially blind in my right eye because of a temporary condition that only affects Type A personalities experiencing high stress situations. So many times I felt like that unravelling stuffed-animal inside a claw game; being pulled at by a loosened claw, coaxing me to protect my mental and physical health. I ignored it. I was saving lives, needing a paycheck, and would be extremely embarrassed by my perceived weakness. I was darn good at my occupation. I loved using my brain in a way that most of the general population can’t, and had grand plans to uplift and protect my co-workers through some rough, understaffed times. During an extremely stressful shift, it was common for me to make a humorous request of my co-workers, that they make sure my future headstone says “She made us laugh”. We needed humor. We needed prayer. I knew mentally and physically that I wasn’t doing well.

The claw was tightened.

On 9-11-18 it happened. I don’t remember too much of it, just that I had zero control during my meltdown on duty. I don’t remember driving home. The borderline catatonic state that followed for several days was equally intriguing, and even while having horrible confusion while experiencing it, I was able to thank God for creating us in such an amazing way that our bodies become protectively numb. This wasn’t a vehicle accident, or slip & fall. It wasn’t a compound fracture that everyone could visibly see and understand. Chest pains, shaking, tears. Try making it through all of the following Workman’s Compensation phone calls, doctor’s appointment phone calls & visits, along with the few coworkers who reached out to check on me. How do you explain it, and defend yourself, while only able to speak with one-syllable words and short sentences? I was a blubbering fool.

I argued with the first doctor’s timeline. Because I’m an expert in everything, I felt that a few weeks was enough to help me decompress enough to crawl back through the claw game prize door, and settle back in to things. Nope. The next doctor warned of relapse. I don’t have a virus! Relapse? And finally, to complete my Workman’s Comp, a County and state-chosen doctor ran a comprehensive evaluation and determined that I couldn’t return. Couldn’t return.

“In law enforcement, it’s difficult to end your career… especially when it’s TOO SOON”.

a wise (sworn) man

The mourning continued. It was like a death. My identity changed. I could be angry and keep trying to force my way back into the machine, or I could thank God for tightening the claw. When I run into department staff, half of them only recently realized that I was gone, and the other half think I’m still there. To keep the conversations short (and to prevent me from crying), I usually just give them the claw game analogy. With my hand in a claw mechanism position and movement, I explain how God plucked me out of a situation that He didn’t want me in anymore, and moved me for my protection. And while I’d love to ‘drive home’ the level of stress that this occupation can create, any more explanation than that usually makes my mascara run, and hands shake.

It’s not a compound fracture. You can’t see it. It’s still difficult in so many ways. Difficult to reach out to fellow coworkers. Difficult to respond to texts. Difficult to relive it, to explain it, or to defend myself. Consider it rude, but it hurts ripping the bandage off just to tell my story. I still mourn it. Other parts are easy. Somehow it was easy to love my enemies and show grace. Easy to say “I still love you” while hurting. It was easy to forgive several factors that lead me to that day. It was easy to accept this that is who I am, and this is the level of tolerance for what I can handle. It’s (now) easy to let go and trust that God’s got me.

I also want a pinball machine!

I Lied About It

And I felt guilt. This was a legal document. I couldn’t put down the truth; it was embarrassing. Could the State of California actually care? Odds are, you’ve probably fibbed your driver’s license weight, too.

Nurse: “Hi Allison. What are you being seen for today?” *Insert any illness (mild, chronic, Munchausen) or injury here*.

Nurse: “And how tall are you?” Whatever height, combined with my current weight, puts me into a healthy BMI range.

“Thin people are beautiful, but fat people are adorable”

Jackie Gleason

It wasn’t until about 3 years ago, when I read the following statement, that I finally cut myself some slack. Weight will be a battle that you battle your whole life. Well isn’t that special?!? Such a fun thing to look forward to. Whole life. The more that I pondered that opinion, the more I was released from the lifelong guilt of weight gain, weight loss, gain, loss, gain. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still consequences, and I’m not flippant about my health. Gain, loss, gain, loss, gain, gain, gain. It’s only getting more difficult to get it off, and keep it off. Gain, loss, gain. But, the guilt of the rollercoaster is less, and the anticipation of success has become greater. This could be a good thing.

The most vivid memories of my 1980’s/90’s childhood consist of Dad’s race car and car parts in the garage, Mom’s ceramic creations and kiln, & Richard Simmons: Sweatin’ to the Oldies. But, oh, it didn’t stop there. Who else remembers Kathy Smith, Susan Powter (google her, she’s still around), Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers (pre-Oprah), Fen-Phen, SlimFast, Dexatrim, Jazzercize, and Deal-a-Meal? You know you’re an 80’s kid when you have a dance-off-esque moment with a teammate at work; but it’s not dance moves, it’s Sweatin’ to the Oldies workout moves. And we nailed it. Even 3 different bouts of Mononucleosis didn’t turn me into a runway model (yes, 3, acute & chronic, long story). Unfortunately, this stroll down memory lane also makes me sad. My childhood consisted of a weight-rollercoaster, which would carry over into adulthood.

Girlfriends usually enjoy shopping for clothing with each other, except for my best friend. Jeans + Allison = Depression. Sometimes anger, tears, regret; then we go out to lunch. Being disproportionate doesn’t help either. Back in the 90’s, while working retail sales, I had a wonderful male co-worker who was nerdy, and a bit… flamboyant. I would consider him the original “witty & pretty”. While wrapping up a customer’s purchase, placing the receipt in her bag of clothing, and attempting to spit out “have a nice day”, my coworker buddy approached my register. Without hesitation, with lisp, and without volume control, he blurted out “how’s my girlfriend whose ass you could serve tea off of?”. I’ll just leave this story right there. You can imagine the reactions from everyone within earshot.

Fast forward to my 30’s. While I was up and away from my console at work, probably hitting the fax machine or printer, my boss calls out to me (and loud enough for the rest of my coworkers to hear). “Oh, Allison. I’m looking at Consumer Reports online. They have a new article on diets and which ones work. Come here.” So, I appease the request. “They say Weight Watchers is number 1. You’ve done that one, right? Which other ones have you done? And which diets do you want to try?”

Thanks.

Add food to the equation. Mom cooked with Paula-Deen-amounts of butter and cream (sans the racial slurs). Delicious meals were the way to a man’s heart, according to how I saw my Dad react at dinner time. He had a full stomach, and my Mom beamed with pride. Unfortunately, I married a man who doesn’t remotely think about delicacies, while I preplan (and lust) about a dinner menu, days in advance. Food, glorious food.

“It’s just diet and exercise”

said no one with a weight problem ever

I lied again. It is diet and exercise. It’s also stress, circumstance, mental state, age, situation, willpower, want, drive, addictions, health, wealth, and if the planets are aligned. Whatever the excuse or reason, deep down you know it’s still possible to reach your ‘Lie Weight’; just don’t beat yourself up over your past (or current) situation! It’s self-defeating and makes you feel even worse. For me, mindset has been the biggest issue. If you’re happy where you are, good. If you need to do better for yourself, change. Food is an amazingly fast-acting anti-anxiety drug (and ironically, exercise is the best anti-depressant). Bloated and depressed is not where I want to be.

So, yeah, I had lied. But, there has been ONE time in my life where it wasn’t a lie; even if it was only for a short time. I had made it to my DMV-declared, little white lie-weight that was listed on my Driver’s License. It was short-lived, but it happened once. The Medifast/Optavia plan was a game-changer. The State of California never came knocking at my door to weigh me, and I never had a cop question me about it on a traffic stop. It’s going to be a lifelong battle. I know that if I succeeded at that goal once, I could achieve it again.

“The best weight you’ll ever lose is the weight of other peoples’ opinions of you”

unknown, wish it was me

What are your goals and why are they your goals? What are your BS excuses and what what are your true roadblocks? Identify those before you do anything else. It is doable. Skip the Halloween candy, get your body healthy by Thanksgiving, give your family your best self, and look & feel good by Christmas. Try, try again. Keto time. I love who I am no matter the scale, but I like myself better when I’m healthy. I hate rollercoasters.

Constructive (turned introspective) Criticism

Look at her with the daily vlog, before & after success photos, inspirational blogs & memes. Who do they think they are?… acting like they’ve got it all together. This week’s sermon originally sounded like a rant, but turned into some serious introspection. Crap.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda

At the ripe age of 39, I was just about to finally finish up my A.S. degree in Criminal Justice, and all I needed was the (pain in my ass) Intermediate Algebra course, and to RE-TAKE a general Speech class. Back in the 90’s I apparently didn’t take enough interest in completing college, and instead found a major interest in boys, paychecks, and parties. It was a gruesome discovery, just a few years ago, to find out that I had earned a solid F in my first attempt at a Speech class around 1997 (odds are, I simply stopped attending class). Gazing into my boyfriend’s eyes, or inhaling a cream-cheese toasted bagel in the college’s cafeteria, completely superseded my academic aspirations.

Fast-forward to my recent second attempt at Speech 1A through our local community college. Here I am, (at that time) about to turn 40 years old. While battling debilitating anxiety (and working an insane amount of hours), I was kicking my “teenaged” self for allowing those scrumptious, college-cafeteria-toasted-bagels to be a priority back in the 90’s. Anxiety and a Speech class. Brilliant. The semester went along just fine, and I ended up passing the course with an A. Our professor was much younger than myself. Everyone sitting near me was younger than myself. I surveyed the whole classroom and everyone was younger than myself! Wait, there’s two ladies who look older. One of those two dropped out within a week. It was later revealed that the other potentially older lady (whom I thought must have at least a few years on me) was almost exactly ONE year younger. I am the eldest in the room. What did the professor just say? Ugh.

Being the eldest student in the class, working 17+ years at an occupation, and having endured almost every life experience imaginable, I thought to myself ‘what am I really going to get out of this course… other than a passing grade?’. That cocky confidence disappeared after receiving my first constructive feedback from the professor and fellow classmates. Filler words, filler sounds, ummm, uhhh, *silence*, and pushing back my bangs had all apparently filled my 3 minute monolog. And that was AFTER I had coached myself to NOT allow these things to happen! Thank goodness for having a more mature confidence, but this was an unconscious brain fart. Ummm.

“The greatest teacher, failure is.”

also Yoda

This new awareness for public speaking had created a monster. I had become critical of bloggers and vloggers… but why? Video blogging. An efficient, quicker, more eye-catching way of appealing to an audience, while expressing a view or advertisement. I have over a dozen friends and acquaintances who do fabulous, daily vlogging posts. Everything from encouragement, to faith, dancing & singing, to productivity, and simple self-awareness. Many of them have killer bodies, great personalities, and a perfectly delivered monolog. They’ve all beat me to it at getting their messages out there, and are a big influence on this very blog endeavor (so thank you). We’ve also witnessed the opposite (think ‘Miranda Sings’, but without the royalties). The random internet personalities who just don’t think it all through before they hit the ‘record’ button. Ummm, like, you know, *silence, hiiiiii, uhhhh. Ugh.

My new pet-peeve had caused me to be even more negative. For some selfish (& self-righteous) reason, I wanted to help (ex: strangle) a few of them smooth out their delivery. This caused a reawakening in self-perception and my perception of others. My occupation had also caused me to be critical and completely miss the message (I’ll add Vlog Manager/Coach to my resume someday). Why do I feel the need to micromanage? Was I subconsciously jealous? Or my controlling nature? Because we all have stupid, little nuances that bug us. Because a negative reaction is easier than a positive, supportive one? Why was I critical of someone bettering themselves and attempting to lift others up around them? Because I had zero control over my own life… Oh.

Wait… how’s my grammar and spelling so far? *ALT-F7

Truth be told, I now wish I had the confidence that they all have (and your abs, your profession, your lack of fine lines). YOU have given me motivation. I use to be critical of them… because of my own issues. Insecurities. Jealousy. Watching a vloggers’ confidence, or a motivational social media post, seeing their evolution and personal growth, knowing that it’s intended to better themselves, to make a difference, should be a good thing. And it is… even if it only reaches one person.

Soooooo, you know, uhhh, like, ummmmmm, *silence*… I was a person you reached.

“Pass on what you have learned.”

again, Yoda

What have you done recently to better yourself? We are all broken, battling, or lacking in several areas of this beautiful life that we are blessed to have, and satan wants to keep us trapped. Are you in a holding pattern? What is your immediate, knee-jerk reaction when you see someone else thrive (or having ambition to thrive)? What negative or nasty thought crosses your mind when you read a blog, or watch a vlog, and see something that could be potentially motivating (if you’d just let it)? If you can’t say (or think) anything nice, don’t say (or think) anything at all. Why let yourself think that way! Health, diet, stress, relationships, confidence, faith, jealousy, anger, education. PICK ONE… write it down, everywhere. Work on it all week. Daily. Share that word so I can pray for you, and even brainstorm with you if you’d like. Life is too short, and you are a prize.

My Best Self

“I just shaved my lower legs, my armpits, and my upper lip. You guys are getting “my best self” when we go out on Sunday”.

my contribution to a group text with 4 other close girlfriends

From the looks of my acquaintances’ social media posts, I have far less of a social life than, well… everyone. So when the opportunity for last-minute lunch date with 4 amazing women, along with some wine tasting, pops up… I get giddy. And if the opportunity arises to crack you up (at my expense), I take advantage of that, too. Constantly. Annoyingly. The above group text had started prior to going out. Five women in their 30’s & 40’s. Five stellar women, with no ill-will, no jealousy, no need for typical-chick-$%@# (I’ve legally trademarked that phrase). A group where you could be yourself. So I was.

This is my type of humor; telling my friends how special they are by advising them that my grooming regimen increased just for them. Not necessarily making fun of myself. Just slight self-degradation to make others feel better about themselves. Isn’t there a rule? If you can’t make fun of yourself, who can you make fun of? I like being the friend who quietly straightens your crown, then makes fun of my own. Stress can manifest itself in numerous ways; I could write a Pulitzer Prize novel on that topic. Personally, in times of sadness and stress, I crack jokes. In times of joy and celebration, I crack jokes. My ultimate favorite past time is to catch people completely off guard and lift their spirits.

“Humor is something that thrives between man’s aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth.”

Victor Borge

It was an extremely stressful, emotionally draining shift… so, it was a typical day in the life of a 9-1-1 dispatcher. No real breaks, and if you needed to eat something… anything… you had to take 2 chews, stuff it in your cheek, answer an emergency call, utilize the ‘mute’ button, chew a little more, swallow, un-mute button, save a life. The whole room was running on empty. Finally, a potty break. This was my chance to empty my bladder, take a few blood-pressure-lowering ‘cleansing breaths’, and look at the back of a bathroom stall door instead of 6 computer screens. My haven.

After returning to the room, getting situated in my still-warm, ergonomic, 24-hour-use rated chair, I adjusted my headset and surveyed the room. None of my partners were on a phone line or had any radio traffic… just for a moment. I had a serious question. A deep, psychological, mystery that I had never heard another soul ever discuss (and I’m fairly sure you haven’t, either). “Hey guys, question for you… do you wipe while standing, or wipe while still sitting?”

Please don’t unsubscribe from my blog quite yet.

The shock only lasted a split second, and was quickly followed by uproarious laughter, which we all desperately needed that day. My primary intent was some stress relief for my coworkers in the form of levity. My secondary intent was to see if we had all been taught the same way from our parents, if there was a guidebook out there for how to properly do it (googling it doesn’t seem wise), or if it was just because my arms are too short and my rear is too big. According to my brother, knowing this could answer a multitude of psychological, childhood questions. With a simple, random, thought provoking question, everyone’s serotonin levels increased.

“I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.”

Walt Whitman

They say confidence comes with age. Well if you add my age, with my sense of humor, you’ll get a fun, uplifting, wine-tasting day with girlfriends. Oh, last weekend. Those poor, poor girls. They definitely got my “best self” that day, and I didn’t even drink! #DD. This last year has been a fog. Only recently have I occasionally felt like my “old self”… which can be hyper and way too happy… and may severely irritate my friends and family (or anyone remotely near me). Maybe it’s hormones, or healing, or how a healthy person experiences their own natural serotonin ‘dump’. Who cares. I’ll take it.

Sometimes we just don’t have much to give. Your “best self” may barely be able to get out of bed, let alone shave your armpits. It’s easier to be rude to someone, than to lift them up. Look around for where there’s a need. Make someone laugh this week. Dig a little deeper. Your best self is who you deserve. Ponder why you wipe the way you wipe. My week’s goals are to crack a few jokes, commit a random act of kindness, and keep my ankles, upper lip, and armpits smooth.

Exactly What I Would’ve Ordered…

If God had a menu, you’d be exactly what I’d order… Wait. That sounds wrong, and I’m hungry. Ok. If you were a car, you’d be exactly what color, make, and model… No. You are just exactly the blessing that I prayed for. And you still are; even if I am an overbearing, helicopter mom who constantly worries about what you’re exposed to, how you’re feeling, or what your worries are (especially, now that you’re a teenager).

About two decades ago (Oh My Gosh) I was a young, naive, dream-filled 20-year-old. Fairy tales, invincibility, no cellulite. At that time, my top goals were:

  • Any “make big money quick” (scheme) occupation
  • Marry the perfect husband/future father of my children
  • Pop out a big, strapping, handsome boy (okay, I didn’t want him big & strapping WHEN I popped him out, just later) #c-section

“If men knew how women pass the time when they are alone, they’d never marry.”

O. Henry

When Jake was just a few years old, it was time for me to trade-in my Ford F-150 for something more practical; with more seats for all those bonus children that I was going to pop out. I found it. My red Ford Expedition. Deep red. My favorite color. Seats 8; for the additional 3 c-sections I was planning, and maybe someday even adoption (to add to the family, not to give them up).

Seats 8. For a while, Jake was the safest toddler on the planet; safely buckled in the second row, center spot, booster seat. The rest of the seats would never be filled. Plans changed, marriage changed, life changed. I’d have one-shot at this parenting “gig”.

Being an only-child… this kid can’t “win”.

On this particularly fateful evening, I picked up Jake from his Dad’s house. There he was, buckled up all safe & sound, second row, center seat. Just the two of us; my only child. We both loved to sing and laugh on our drives, and tonight wouldn’t be any different. He was a crack-up, and still is to this day. After a few giggles, I softly turned on the stereo and concentrated on my surroundings while driving at dusk.

“Fuc%’in”

Hmm? Did I hear him correctly? I turned down the stereo further.

“Fuc%’in”

Yes, I did hear that correctly; coming from the booster seat in the center row, center seat, and from the only other person in this gigantic, gas-guzzling SUV. EVOC was my forte’ in POST Academy, so you can only imagine the flawless maneuvering of this 5,500 pound sport-utility vehicle into the nearest parking lot (which was ironically, a church).

Car in ‘park’, seatbelt thrown off, head spinning like “The Exorcist”, I flung my upper-body into the backseat. “What did you just say? Where did you hear that? That’s a horrible word. I don’t ever want to hear that again!… Jake! Do you understand me?!?”

Now here is where I want you to envision the cutest blonde haired, blue eyed, toddler. Almost angelic. If he could have a glowing halo above his blonde-ness, he would. Buckled up perfectly in his booster seat; second row, center seat. He looked at me like a deer in the headlights, and now his lower lip was quivering.

Both of his arms were extended slightly in front of him; hands in a fist, elbows bent. The thumb on his left hand was extended upward (like a hitchhiker), and so was his right thumb. He pitifully looked down to his left extended thumb, and while twitching it ever so slightly, Jake softly finished singing, “… here I am, here I am.”

“Wait, what are you singing?”

The lip was still quivering, as this poor child had no clue why his mom completely lost her mind. “Where is func%’in? where is func%’in? Here I am. Here I am”. That toddler’s halo was brighter than ever, but his annunciation of “th” needed work. Thumbkin’s name can sure take a turn when coming out of a toddler’s mouth.

I can thankfully look back and say that Jake hasn’t given me nearly the amount of heartache that some of my other friends have endured with their teens; and I’m fairly confident that he won’t. Right now, every morning news show has a blurp on “teen vaping”. Black market THC pods, vapor-damaged lung tissue, kids in a coma. Jake comes home and tells me (daily) how students vape in every bathroom during every break, and several students will take a THC drag smack-dab in the middle of class (which makes one of my undiagnosed multiple personalities want to drag each one of these offenders to juvie… by their hair). I’m too hard on him.

“Be nice to your children, for they will choose your rest home”

Phyllis Diller

He’s almost 16. I’m hard on him for common-sense life skills (which is probably my fault for not instilling certain things at an earlier stage). Time management, efficiency, communication. But this is the ONLY aspect of his being that I want him to work on. He’s never smoked, drank, or kissed. Calm down, Mom!

I came to the realization long ago, that we all want our children to turn out better than us. Time for me to be a little more lenient with this kid. Jake is already a better person than I’ll ever be. Let him mess up. Let him suffer without immediately consoling him. Time for me to up my game and be a better example. Hold myself to a higher standard. Accomplish some major goals. Learn some new life skills, myself, at the age of 40. Just be a better person.

Guess I wont be singing or hand-signaling “Where is Thumbkin” during my next road-rage incident.

Best Case of a Worst Case Scenario

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Some may argue that your destiny is 100% in your control. Some say it’s completely by chance, and the rest will proclaim that it’s already written. No matter what your philosophy of this topic is, YOU are completely in control of your reactions to said situations.

The ironic part about that last sentence, is that observers may not completely understand the magnitude of your situation, because of how graciously you handle it. This is a problem for me lately, as I want my observers to know that I was hurting, but that I’m also not a victim. Grace, prayers, and time heal. I’ll get back to that…

My kid is 15. As a Sophomore in High School, Jake started this year off with a little more confidence and direction (thank God). He has a pretty solid routine, with a 50/50 split of time between Mom & Dad’s houses. I’ll admit, the Helicopter Mom in me watches his every move, emotion, and reaction… and it’s so hard for me to not wrap him in bubble-wrap. In my opinion, Jake’s no “worse for the wear” when it comes to the consequences of his parents’ past decisions. Do I wish the divorce never happened? Quite often. I’m just thankful for a good kid.

The oddest compliment was thrown at us while at a Parent/Teacher conference about 8 years ago. While Jake’s father and I sat at desks & chairs that were FAR too small for us, the teacher must have caught-on to a fact she hadn’t known all school-year. “Wait”, she said in reaction to a comment of mine. “Jake comes from a split home?”. She further went on to explain that she’d never seen such a balanced, well-mannered child come from a broken marriage, and concluded by giving us a “good job” compliment. Ouch, and thank you? (I’m not exactly sure what this teacher saw in students from divorced parents, but I chose to take this as a positive point). I’ve held on to this statement and reflected on it regularly. We must be doing something right. Prayers of protection and guidance work. Not bad-mouthing your ex in front of your child also works. Jake’s grades aren’t perfect, but he’s a gentleman, he’ll make a bum feel like a millionaire, and I’m fairly sure he’s going to change the world (if he hasn’t already). Right now, it’s the best case of a worst case scenario.

“I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford. Then I want to move in with them.”

Phyllis Diller

A few days ago, I sent a compliment to a girlfriend of mine via Instagram. Recently, she’s been posting vlogs and uplifting quotes & ideas, and many of her points & memes strike a nerve (good & bad). The good ones reassure and validate, and the bad ones motivate me to shift my direction. During our exchange of messages, I vaguely said ‘thank you’ for motivating me with something uplifting during this extremely metamorphic stage of my life. This may have worried her, as she extended love, prayers, and support in response. Ok, time to elaborate a bit more… so I shared the last year of my life with her (2-3 years in reality); how I lost my occupation of 17+ years to a stress-leave/workman’s comp case, how much I’ve healed, and how fragile and heartbroken I was (and occasionally still am). But also how thankful I am that God lifted me up and away from something that was slowly (or quickly) killing me, how much I needed to heal, and that there’s a greater story about to be written (all blogging puns intended). At the end of our exchange, she was glad that I was doing well. I realized that this season of my life was, again, the best case of a worst case scenario.

Occasionally, I’ll run into the familiar face of a coworker, or get a comment response on a posted social media picture. “Oh you look so relaxed”, “how’s the stress-free life?”. Comments like those spin me into a tizzy, when they should be taken as a compliment. My life was turned completely upside-down. I could go on & on about injustices, sobbing, mourning the loss of my job, limbo, and lack of communication. I choose not to. Trust me, I want to spill it all, but re-living it to validate myself doesn’t help me heal. Just because someone doesn’t play the ‘victim’ doesn’t mean they aren’t a casualty. I was sent home from my shift almost exactly 1 year ago, and as much as it occasionally stings, I’m at peace. It’s being introspective and playing the cards you’re dealt.

This epiphany derailed my way of thinking. Even though I’m outwardly not playing the victim, was I internally doing so? That’s affirmative. So right now, this week, I’m choosing to let that go. Get ready for some ego-boosting selfies. What things do you possibly take the ‘wrong way’? What are you holding on to, that prevents you from graciously accepting a compliment? How can you choose to make the best case of a worst case scenario?

Maybe what people see in my face is less stress. Maybe I am healing. Or… maybe it’s Costco’s collagen peptides kicking-in, the slathering of Avon’s old-lady nightcream, or maybe, just maybe, the mere thought of Botox?

An Introduction…

Thank goodness for Blog templates, and STAR WARS Episode IV blaring in the other room.

Do you really, truly care who I am? Odds are, you probably already know me. The old me. And maybe the new me. No, it’s not a multiple personality disorder (that wasn’t part of the diagnosis); it’s a past season, and a new, blessed, better season of my life.

The Meat & Potatoes

  • Born and raised in Stockton, CA, two awesome parents who exemplified a respectful marriage, eldest sibling, tomboy childhood (by today’s standards).
  • Pissed-away my time in college, enjoyed working, grew up.
  • Married, kid, loss, divorced, single, broke, injured, chronic everything, God, learned, married, devoted, trials, prayer, blessed.
  • Anxiety, breakdowns, Keto, cellulite, therapy, Discernment, grace, marriage, parenting, step-parenting.
  • Christian, geek, STAR WARS, punting-sized lap dog, tattoos.
  • 9-1-1 Dispatcher for 17 years, remarried someone 14 years my senior, unintentionally starting a brand new life at age 40 (ironic).

I start many endeavors, and complete even less… and so authoring a blog is something I have wanted to do for a while (along with wearing a 2-piece bathing suit and not nauseating the spectators). In conjunction with dramatic physical and mental changes… publishing my own blog would be another triumph in ‘adulting’.

This Blog

  • “You should keep these thoughts to yourself, and keep a private journal”. Ummm, no. I journal all the time. Mostly at a therapist’s advice, or a daily diary to help with my diet. SUBSCRIBE. Here’s your chance to roll your eyes, laugh, gain something, or pity me.
  • “There’s no topic that readers will find interesting”. Oh, you’ll relate. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not to next week’s post, but someday… You’ll relate.
  • “Who’s actually reading this?”. My hope is that you’ll smile, you’ll relate, or you’ll at least just read it and move on. Or, if you’ve been curious how I’ve been doing, this will fulfill your curiosity.
  • “What are you actually accomplishing?”. I’m doing it. I’m setting a goal, not caring what people think, hoping to heal myself, heal others, and continue being a figurative vigilante. See that list above entitled “The Meat & Potatoes” about me? Those are all the topics that you’ll be entertained with while wasting 2-5 minutes, reading these profound blog posts.

I’m not funny. What I am is brave.

Lucille Ball

I love photography. In fact, that was my first, official, real-world job. The interviewer lied about my age (17) to get me hired ASAP. JCPenney’s Portrait studio. I became manager in 6 months (they fired the manager, and were probably hard-up for a replacement). My point in sharing this? I still love capturing family and child portraits, and get constantly told “you should do this full-time”. Uhh, no. I’ve unfortunately been too afraid of people’s opinions (you’ll sense a theme here soon). What if they hate the product? Nope, can’t do this for a living.

Irony is my middle name. Actually, it’s Ann. Legal name changes cost over $400, so my middle name will always be Ann. We all face irony daily, and we usually hear that puzzled internal, sarcastic voice say “really?!?!?!” when faced with certain situations. Hence, my ‘want’ to start writing. But… “What if they hate the product?” again rears it’s ugly head.

Those are my absolute biggest flaws. I doubt myself. I care too much, and not enough about myself. I care what you think, what you feel, how you perceive me, how you perceive my household, what you say about me. I care how you feel about yourself, I want you happy, I want you safe and successful. I still care and love unconditionally.

It took being pulled away from my occupation of 17+ years, to look introspectively. I now just love (even) more, and worry less. How exciting to realize that you can still be gracious and giving, while no longer caring about negative opinions? Whew, my friends… I’m feeling better already.

On my tombstone, make sure it reads “she made us laugh”

self