Don’t Be Beige

Don’t be beige.

I scribbled the words excitedly in my journal like a 15 year old writing about her new crush.  So profound.  Or was it?  I can never tell with these thoughts that occur to me in the shower, or while driving around town, or while I’m half-watching Law & Order: SVU and half-making an imaginary grocery list.  (Does anyone else do that? I’d imagine it’s a normal part of life as a mom/household manager/toddler wrangler.)

Anyway… beige.  The walls in our apartment are beige. I don’t mind it.  It’s not particularly exciting, but it’s fine.  Beige is a neutral – one of the blending colors.  It’s a color that allows all the other decor to be seen. Beige is a good background because it isn’t memorable or noticeable. It does not stand out.

Don’t be beige is my new motto.  So what exactly do I mean when I say, “don’t be beige”?

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I mean show yourself.  Reveal who you are.  Don’t be afraid to live your life at full volume because you think someone else won’t like your song. In order to live a fulfilled life, you need to in full glory and magnificence, without any care for what anyone else thinks.

I think that people are comfortable being beige. Beige isn’t scary. I get that.  They feel beige is safe. It’s polite. It doesn’t offend. I tried to be beige, I tried to please people, tried to blend, tried to step back so others could have the attention.  While blending in and being beige may make others comfortable, ultimately living life this way ends in disappointment and regret.

Two major things I noticed while I was consciously camouflaging myself:

  • There is no benefit to me. – I gained nothing from stepping back, dimming my own light or quieting my passion.  Literally nothing good comes from silencing my voice so that someone else can speak.  I get no life experience, meet no new people, and receive no praise because no one sees me.  And ironically trying to please others didn’t make them like me more ore less.
  • There is no benefit to others. – The people who shine do that because of who they are. Colorful, magnetic, fun, talented. My beige-ness didn’t accentuate them. It only hid me. Worse, being beige causes me to miss out on contributing to the world in a way that only I can.

When I realized I wasn’t being my authentic self, I made a choice to be more colorful. I spoke up when I felt passionate.  I accepted invitations to parties.  I wore the sexy dress without worrying what someone else might think. Creatively, I have so much to give, and expressing that through writing, podcasting, and other venues allows me to contribute something tangible to the world.  My kids see me being silly and it shows them that they can be silly too.  I follow my own rules and beat my own drum and in the same way, peers and friends hear me telling my story and they are emboldened to tell their own.  It’s a beautiful domino effect.

These days, I have renovated my soul. There is no beige. I am memorable. I stand out. I am not a neutral, because I have a voice and I’m not afraid to be seen, and my home – and my whole world – is so much more colorful.

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Quiet Desperation

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Although well known and oft-repeated, that’s actually a misquote.  Thoreau wrote, in Walden, that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Here is the full quote, in context:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

Thoreau was talking about the void we all feel and the common impulse most humans feel to try and fill it with material things.  Walden is a journal of sorts, detailing his time in the woods and away from modern society, searching for inner peace and finding himself and new perspective there.

walden

A friend and I were discussing this “quiet desperation” quote last night, as we discussed our respective marriages and marriage in general.  Our conversation focused on the complacency that occurs after years of seeing the ins and outs and annoying habits of another human being’s existence.  I think it’s so common for husbands and wives to leave the runway together, aimed for the stars and the experience of a lifetime, only to land early on a makeshift dirt runway in a place just outside Settle Town, USA.

Is that obnoxious? Maybe so, but you get what I’m saying.  If most new brides and grooms begin the marriage with the best of intentions – which I believe is the case – how do so many of us end up in a ditch somewhere, disoriented and disheartened at what our lives have become?

I’m not even talking about 10 years in, guys.  I myself have been married for 9 years, but the trouble started brewing quite a while ago and I don’t think we’re unique in that.  I talk to so many men and women – friends, colleagues, acquaintances – who are at most, content in their marriages and at worst, extremely unhappy and in some cases, depressed.  Most of them are not seeking divorce.  They just want to live their best lives and they want to do it with a willing partner who shares their interests and passions.

[Side note: For some reason, whenever I hear the term “quiet desperation” in my head the Queensryche song “Silent Lucidity” starts playing.  Interestingly, the song is about lucid dreaming, which is being able to consciously control what happens in your dreams.  So in a way, it’s related. ]

The “quiet desperation” quote came up discussing marriage because my friend and I were connecting on some shared issues.  The others I’ve spoken with relate to the same issues and experiences, too.  Even though all these people are having this same experience, none of them (none of us) are really talking about it.  It’s a secret struggle.  There is so much irony in something so commonplace and universal being something we hold inside and keep to ourselves and work to camouflage on social media.

Let’s don’t lead lives of quiet desperation any longer.  Let’s start talking to each other, and communicating with our spouses, and stepping outside the confines of the rules of marriage if that’s what it takes.  The only time that exists is the present, and it’s crap to waste it wondering if we are loved, wondering if we had married someone else, would we be vacationing in Mykonos right now instead of stuck at home washing dishes for an ungrateful partner.  That’s not life.  That’s not what life is for!

So how to we get back in the air?  How to do get out of Settle Town and back en route to our dreams and wildest fantasies (hopefully together with our chosen partners)?  Honesty!  Speaking our truth!  I think we all have to learn to be uncomfortable for a moment in order to be blissfully happy for a lifetime.

Believing we are alone is what fosters our desperation.  In truth, nothing is singular and everything is shared.  We are all connected.  We are all pieces of the same consciousness having several different (but oddly similar) human experiences.  As Thoreau said, we would be wise not to do desperate things.  We would be wise to realize that we are not alone, and the future is what we make it.

I’m rambling, so I’ll leave it there.  Namaste and happy Monday!  XOXO

 

Hitchhikers

There was a meteor shower last night.

Did you see it?  Did you notice them?  Were you, like my family, standing outside, looking up, ignoring the icy cold in order *hopefully* catch a glimpse of something magical?

We stood in the parking lot, the four of us, looking up.  We laughed and talked and danced.  Yes, we danced to stay warm.  We counted twinkles, identified constellations, and hugged each other while giggling about the possibility that if we kept our gaze up long enough, our necks might get stuck this way.

We connected and played and enjoyed each other, imagining dragons as we exhaled smoky white clouds of breath.  We talked about distant planets and galaxies and the undiscovered life that might be staring up at us at the same time.  There were jokes about aliens, stories of great Roman warriors who now live among the stars, and scientific questions about just what those stars are made of and why they appear to twinkle.

I saw one!  I was looking in the right  place at the right time, and I saw a star go from here to there, ever so quickly and quietly.  Before I could point it out to anyone, it was gone.  I mumbled a belated wish to the heavens, but the truth is that in that moment, with my tribe, I was already living my best life. What else could I ask for?

The Gemenid meteor shower came and went, and we lugged our chilly bodies up the stairs to our front door and into the warm, welcoming space we currently call home. Each of us tiptoed like baby birds to our respective nests, and without any more mention of stars, prepared for bedtime.

As I lie in bed waiting for sleep to come, I realized the depth and importance of what felt in the moment like goofiness…

Moments like this are what make childhoods worth reminiscing on.  Moments like this become memories that will amuse us, comfort us, remind us for the rest of our lives of the happy, silly time we had “that night”, looking up at the sky, cracking up at what the neighbors must be thinking about us, musing that we might be waiting for our mother-ship to come and whisk us away to the next universe. (Did we bring towels?)

Yes, the stars showed up and twinkled brightly for us, but it was we who brought magic to the night.

Shooting-Stars

 

 

X-Ray Vision

My son sprained his ankle yesterday at school.  He didn’t tell anyone and the teacher didn’t see, so no one called me.  When he got home, he told me all about his day but he didn’t mention his injury.  In the evening, when he was winding down, he finally mentioned his foot pain.  After some interrogation I got the story and proceeded to perform Mommy Triage.  Everything seemed ok, just a bit swollen, so I gave him Motrin and an ice pack.

Everything was fine.

Until.

An hour or so later, my son walked over to me and began to cry, almost inconsolably.  He was cold, he said.  So cold it hurt and he couldn’t get warm. I took his temperature, expecting a fever, but what I saw was the opposite.  His temperature was dropping.  His skin was cold and clammy to the touch.  I carried him, still crying, back to his bed.

As a mom I feel like I’m constantly walking a line between not reacting ENOUGH and TOTALLY FREAKING OUT.  There is not much in between for me, unfortunately for my calm, collected, level-headed husband.  Husband, of course, thought our son was overreacting, but I had a feeling he was telling the truth.  His tears, hot and streaming down his face, were real.  The fear on his face was real.

Externally, I tried to comfort him by saying things like “It’s going to be OK”.  Internally, I was making a list of who to call, what to ask, and what to pack for the hospital.  I called my mom, who is a nurse, and with her guiding me, checked his pulse, his temperature, examined his body for bruising, and put a heating pad in his bed to help him get warm.  After watching a couple of episodes of Transformers on Netflix, he fell asleep. I took out the heating pad and left the room, still feeling some anxiety in my gut.

I checked on Emmett every two hours until the morning, taking his temperature, feeling his skin, and watching him breathe.  I felt very strongly that he should get x-rays, since he just sprained this same ankle a month or so ago.

Early this morning we arrived at the Pediatric ER. The staff was courteous, if a bit incredulous that I wanted x-rays on what was obviously a sprain.

Fast forward to lunch time, and my sweet boy is in a splint.  He has a distal fracture of the fibula that, due to the location of the break, did not present as such.  The break is on the growth plate, which means we will see an orthopedic doctor next week to discuss next steps.  His “just a sprain” turned out to be a broken leg.

[On the bright side, his cast is red and festive.]

This was a sneaky break.  A painless fracture.  There is internal damage on a pretty important part of the body.  Fluid has pooled in his ankle and heel. The fracture wasn’t visible, so no one I talked to believed it was there. Only after looking inside did they realize how seriously he was hurt.

Considering this, I am reminded to be more conscious of others.  What I can see with my eyes doesn’t often betray what’s going on underneath.  A person may look like they have it all together when they are crumbling on the inside. They may not look to me like someone I could befriend, when we actually have a lot in common.  NOTHING is  ever what it seems on the surface. While I don’t have X-Ray vision, I do have opportunity to dig deeper. I have an obligation to look deeper.  To investigate.  To find out what’s going on in the heart, the mind, and the spirit.

Finding out about an injury is the first step to healing.  Knowing a person, really understanding them takes time, but it is the first step to helping them heal and grow.  Stepping out of comfort zones, crossing invisible lines we’ve drawn for ourselves, choosing to let go of old beliefs in order to embrace new friends.  These can only lead to good things – things like love, peace, and community.

I am grateful for this awareness, particularly at this time of year.

This holiday season, and always, may you see others –  and may you be seen – for the magical, powerful, gorgeous creature that you (we, they) truly are.

Star’s Hollow Gazing

To make the time go faster, I have been watching Gilmore Girls on my phone while I work out and it’s delightful.  Like any true GG fan, I’ve already seen the series a number of times, but that doesn’t subtract from its charm.

I didn’t like the reboot episodes or mini-series, or whatever it was officially titled.  It was too political and seemed to really strain for jokes where in the original they came fast and easy.  I’m also a fan of Logan, who in real life I’d probably think was a total tool, but I’m allowed to like him because this is make-believe.  I love the original show, all the quirky and lovable characters, the speedy dialogue and especially the obscure pop culture references.  I’ve actually learned about a lot of random things watching the show, including Pol pot, Groucho Marx, and coffee (which I don’t drink but I do like to smell).

So right now I’m watching the episodes where Luke and Lorelai dated, then broke up, and the town had pink and blue ribbons and yada yada.  There’s still some awkwardness between them and Lorelai is currently getting her coffee at Weston’s and Suki is gearing up for maternity leave from the Inn and everything is chaotic and yet somehow, in the midst of the chaos, there’s a pleasant, familiar charm.  There’s a knowing that everything is going to work out like it should.

That’s my life right now.

Everything is up in the air, or rather, all the things I’ve recently thrown in the air are orbiting, and it all feels mixed up and crazy and uncertain and yet, I’m standing here, sitting here, sleeping here in the midst of it with a deep knowing that it’s not just going to be ok, it’s going to be brilliant, and I’m not just happy, I’m inching closer and closer to that deeper knowing that comes from within, that everything is exactly as it should be.

So much of my investment in Gilmore Girls has to do with whether the characters do what I think they should do (or what choices I would make if I were in their shoes).  Predictably, I yell at the television a lot.  But there are those times when the stars align in Stars Hollow and I feel it in my gut.

So much of my own life has to do with my choices, analyzing them, questioning them, garnering feedback on what was right or wrong or stupid or perfectly planned.  Predictably, I beat myself up a lot.  But there are those times when the stars align in my life and I can feel it in my gut and my spirit.

NOW is one of those times and this week I’ve experienced ALL the emotions.  Fear, anxiety, frustration, outrage, relief, contentment, joy, hope, optimism, grief, determination and so on.  I am so excited to see where life will takes me.  I am letting go of negative things and trying new things with gusto.  Hopefully the next steps for me won’t be years of silence followed by a lackluster Netflix miniseries, but if that happens, I promise to include the entire original cast, plus some interesting cameos, fast talking and a satisfying conclusion.  Much like the original Gilmore Girls, which I’m on my way to watch.  Again.