I never understood the phrase “what kind of fool do you take me for?” As a child it was strange to think there might be a variety of ways one could be a fool. Now I know there are innumerable ways, incomprehensibly vast are the possibilities.
A young fool, an old fool, a stubborn fool, a blind fool, an optimistic fool, a lovesick fool… You get the idea. I suppose it should be a comfort to us that we all will embody at least one of these fool archetypes in our lifetimes.
It isn’t. In fact, my ego bristles at the thought. The mere implication that I’ve been had sends me reeling. Yet, I rush in. I take people at their word. I believe love always wins. I’m a textbook fool.
Maybe it’s not that I mind being foolish. Maybe I just don’t like having it pointed out to me. There’s the rub. It’s embarrassing to have egg on your face and worse to have to clean it up yourself because the loud accusing voices have gone eerily silent.
Fools are hopeful, generous, and sometimes make stupid choices – but I always think they have great intentions. I want to open myself up and expose my intentions. Then I wouldn’t be called a fool. I’d be called a humanitarian. Maybe if I was understood I’d be better loved.
It’s a gray day and the sky is overcast and I can’t tell what time it is because everything around me is white and pale and motionless. I’m driving aimlessly towards some forgotten destination. Daydreaming. I look up and see a tiny opening in the clouds. Just a crack, just enough to allow a sliver of yellow light to peek through. As I drive the crack gets larger and golden rays begin to rain down from the heavens. I change direction. I drive towards the light. Parking in a field, I get out of the car and walk until I am underneath the ever-widening celestial portal. I stand still and let the warm sunlight dance along my face and shoulders. Goosebumps. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I smile so hard it hurts my cheeks. I bloom like the flowers in the field, hips swaying in the breeze. I am happy. I want to stay here, engulfed in sunlight, forever. Eventually the light fades and the air gets cooler and I know I will have to drive back home. I feel at once grateful for the sun’s caress and angry for having touched it, only to lose it again. Just yesterday my whole life was gray and until I looked up I hadn’t known it could be colorful. I am angry at the sun for embracing me so, for offering me a glimpse into possibility. How can I return contented to my cold, gray life? How can I think of anything else but the few moments I spent illuminated in that field? I pass the time looking up at the sky, chasing the sun, coveting her glowing affections. One tiny opening – a crack in the clouds – has changed my very existence.
Yes, I’m quoting Tom Hanks as Coach Jimmy Dugan in the classic film A League of Their Own. The entirety of the quote is thus:
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
Now, Coach Jimmy was talking about baseball in this clip, but I think this sentiment can be applied to a lot of other things in life. The movie itself is about half the Americans who were a part of what we now call the Greatest Generation. The extraordinary women who held this country together during World War II. Their husbands went away to fight, and these women put on their big girl britches and handled it. They worked in factories, some joined the armed forces themselves and yes, some played professional baseball. We women are magnificent creatures: adaptive, nurturing, capable, with strength unexpected in common hours (to borrow from Thoreau).
Tonight – in the shower, of all places – I got to thinking more about this. It stemmed from a conversation I had earlier today about respect, dignity, equality, and all the things going on in our country and our world today, and this quote is what came to mind. Why? Because I cannot think of a single hero, a single inspirational story, a single great achievement that happened without some pain or struggle or sacrifice.
When we talk about the greatest generation (my grandparents), we talk about their fearlessness. Their work ethic, their grit. Where do you think that came from? Put simply, they had hard lives. Yes, they were happy and yes, they lived at quite an extraordinary time in America’s history, but they definitely carried much on their shoulders. Many of them were mature as kids, holding jobs and carrying a workload at school that was greater than ours (much greater than that of our children). They didn’t have the technology we have or many of the creature comforts that have made us soft. Seems to me there’s something to be said for adversity. Friction. Failure.
Nowadays there are movements to stop bullying, which I believe in and am a part of. There are movements to respect people’s feelings, and I also am fine with that. Movements to keep people from saying things. Movements to keep people from being triggered. I can’t help but wonder if we’re doing this all wrong.
Shrinking this down to include only my household, I think that in my efforts to provide my kids with a soft place to land, I may be inadvertently depriving them of their potential. I think that I am part of a generation that may be working too hard to protect ourselves and each other from the very things that will make us – and them – great. Perhaps our kids will live up exactly to the standards we set for them. Perhaps that bar is getting lower and lower all the time.
Does that make sense? Maybe not, but let’s follow the thread and unravel the sweater and see what’s left behind. My dad said something to me today about his work environment being so different than it was even 15 years ago. “What do you mean?”, I asked him. “Well, nowadays, if you say something that even slightly comes off as harsh, you hurt someone’s feelings, they’ll just quit on ya.” I am so surprised by this because Dad works in construction, which historically is a field chock-full of gruff guys who can take a bit of criticism. What – if anything – does it say about society that a man can’t correct another man’s work for fear of hurting his feelings? Are we at a point now that we cannot hear criticism or we do not wish to improve, or we shut down and quit a job each time a situation is uncomfortable? Is this what happens when every kid in a tournament receives a participation trophy? Is this what I create when I run to the school every time my kid gets picked on?
Further down the rabbit hole, I think about the stories I’ve read or heard about great women in history. Strong women. (Women in particular because that’s who I identify with. Powerful, defiant, rebellious ones – well, for the same reason.) Fiery. Fierce. Independent. Defiant. The world changers. WHY were they so strong? HOW did they become so? WHAT was so important to them that they were willing to risk their lives? WHY are we still talking about them today? Would we know their names at all if they hadn’t experienced some injustice that lit a fire within them to reshape their world?
Would ANY of these women have made history without first being told they couldn’t?
In a word… no.
I put it in perspective for myself and ask the same questions. Would I be me if I hadn’t been hurt before? Would I feel so triumphant if I hadn’t had to figure out how to claw myself up from rock bottom? Would I be so passionate if no one who spoke to me was ever allowed to hurt my feelings? I think not. Granted, a certain amount of fire is in my blood, and I was more or less “born this way”, but I don’t think I would be this version of me if I hadn’t had to go a few rounds in the ring.
I think that kids learn resilience from standing up. I remember some parts of my own childhood and the feeling of pride that swelled in me when I finally conquered something I had been working on for ages. I don’t believe I would have felt that pride – or felt anything at all – if someone had done the hard work for me. Now, I have this thought when I watch my own kids struggling. Of course I want to run to them when they are frustrated about trying something for the twentieth time. I want to reach down, swoop them up in my arms, complete the task for them and make it all better. If I’m honest, though, that’s got nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. I want to make ME feel better. I want to soothe my OWN heartache. I want to keep myself from hurting because when they are upset, of course I feel it.
I’ve resolved to hike up my boots and get the fuck over that.
You see, before they can stand, they have to be allowed to fall down. We do them no favors by shielding them from ugly and uncomfortable parts of life. In fact, we do them a great disservice. We underestimate their capabilities when we don’t let them handle difficult tasks on their own. They need to find their own voices, and then they need to figure out what they want to use those voices to say. Without adversity, they cannot ever truly discover who they are and why they believe what they do.
Life is hard for all of us. It’s a struggle. It is, and I know it is, and I am not making light of that or trying to minimize it in any way. There are big hurdles for each of us, and each journey is different. Divorce. Death. Sickness. Pain. Heartache. I have been hurt a lot in my life, many times by people I love and trust. That’s very hard to go through. It’s hard to heal from. Hard to talk about, and hard to forgive. Hard to move forward, hard to grow, and hard not to get stuck in resentment or bitterness. The hard, though, is part of the journey. Without the trials, there couldn’t be triumph. We cannot be victors if we are unwilling to step into the skirmish for fear of having our feelings hurt.
(I say this with love, as I am one of the MOST sensitive souls out here. I’m not advocating for rudeness, but I know that rude people exist. My kids will either crumble into dust at their first unpleasant conversation, or they will know how to handle it and feel secure in themselves. I want them to be bold and confident and capable. That’s what I’m getting at with all this.)
I want my kids to know that life is good, that it’s full of love and light and good people and potential and promise. There’s another side to that coin, though. I also want them to know that life is grind and sweat and conflict and strife and it’s fucking hard. I never want to see them hurt. I do want to see them succeed – and I want to see fire in their eyes when they do. I’d much rather have world-changers as kids than comfortable semi-adults who can’t handle confrontation. It’s SUPPOSED to be hard. After all, the hard is what makes it great.
When I get attached to a musician or band or song, it’s about the lyrics. Yes, the music has to sound good, but the ones that sneak up behind me and capture my heart are the ones that have clever lyrics and tell good stories.
Vacation is coming. I cannot WAIT to post about vacation in a historic city and being there with proper adults – no kids!
Bright, shiny things. I keep them in my treasure box and I pull them out sometimes, and instead of just enjoying how bright and shiny they are, or the joy they brought me once, I study them and wonder if they are still as fond of me as I am of them.
We choose friendships and form relationships based on what we subconsciously think of ourselves. Aim high. Aim higher.
My son thinks time travel is possible and I hope he always believes in things and hopes in his own abilities and has faith in his fellow man to accomplish great feats together.
It takes courage to be so vulnerable.
How can writers be so insecure and so vain at the same time?
Debt is an illusion. So is power.
No judgment, but it’s ironic when a famous person who’s had lots of plastic surgery and other enhancements says “just be yourself”. Like, yeah… how did that work out for you?
Running is hard. I love it, and it kicks my ass, and I feel like such a warrior when I finish. Doesn’t matter the terrain or mileage. Just challenging my belief system about how strong I am (or am not), how far I can go, how fast I am, it’s an incredible feeling.
Sometimes late at night I just sit here and read memes and laugh until I get a Charley Horse in my abdomen.
Hiya! Let me start by saying, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated! I’ve been SO busy. Like, STUPID busy. I can’t even talk about how busy I am because I’m so busy. And that’s life, and I’m blessed and I know it, so I’m not fussing. Here’s what’s on my mind tonight:
Johnny Depp’s advice to Kate Moss on how to handle fame. “Never complain, never explain.” Brilliant. Perfect. I’ll be honest and say that I do not think Johnny Depp is a genius, or even a man who reads books. And yet, he so succinctly stated something that I feel should be every person’s mantra, not just celebrities. This thought led to so many others…
I’m quitting Facebook. Permanently? I don’t know. I like keeping up with old and far away friends, but that’s really all it’s good for. I do know that it’s a time suck, it allows too many people to see into intimate parts of my life. Parts that, when I’m honest with myself, I realize should be shared with my husband and kids and those closest to us. This new “bare it all” version of society has blurred lines and dissolved boundaries of decency, privacy, and even civility. There are people who have made me very uncomfortable in conversation because they literally inquire about personal details of my life, even when I say I’d rather not share them. And saying I’d rather not share them? Oh, the horror. The usual response is an audible gasp, a stomping of feet, or if the conversation is a digital one, a revocation of “friend”ship. I shouldn’t feel forced to tell you about my new job, my hair cut, or anything else about my life unless I WANT to. It’s ridiculous and I’m over it.
I’ve been doing a meditation challenge with my buds Deepak and Oprah (see here: https://chopracentermeditation.com/home). The meditation is a 21 Day Challenge I received in an email and I must say, I like a challenge. The idea of my mind as a quiet, peaceful place sits right on the line between “shut the front door” and “get the heck outta here”. It’s not an easy task. Not impossible, maybe. But definitely not probable. Still, I am trying. I have missed two days, but I will begin again tonight. I hope to update you all at the end of the 21 days.
I also just finished Louise Hay’s book “You Can Create an Exceptional Life” (see here: http://www.hayhouse.com/details.php?ref=149&id=7621). A timely gift from my mom, a pleasant surprise on a rainy day. I read it in 3 days and I think I may read it again. Many of the opinions and ideas resonated with me. Thoughts are things and we create our reality. Yes, I believe that. I more than believe that, I have seen it to be true. Loving others is paramount. Yes, I believe that as well. Highly recommend reading this book.
Sort-of related to the previous, I am becoming more aware of myself. My thoughts, intentions, actions, create the life around me. All the time I am sending out vibrations into the universe that, in turn, sends back vibrations that match. (Simply stated, I know, but this is my simplest understanding.) I am learning about being true to myself, being my best and highest version of me, and manifesting my greatest dreams and desires. (Not including Liam Hemsworth – see below.) As a Christian sometimes I wonder if these things conflict with my religion, but they do not seem to, and so far what I have read “feels” very true to me. Does that make sense? I want to always be growing, and moving forward, and I believe that I am. I want to shake off negatives and swim in positives, possibilities, opportunities, and learn to receive all good things. I say affirmations, I have a vision board, and I write in a gratitude journal. If nothing else it certainly makes my soul feel light. Many times I drive to work and use that time to say thank you for all my blessings, thank you for all the blessings on their way to me today, and I laugh out loud. Literally. These exercises have made me a happier person, more accepting of myself and others and more open to life’s grand possibilities, in a short amount of time.
Liam Hemsworth. Wait, who? Yeah I know, he’s so young and his older brother is super hot but I can’t help who my brain decides to insert into my mid-afternoon-nap-dreams. So me and Liam (love that name) walked around my town, holding hands. Oh my gosh, the paparazzi? How did they know you were here? Am I going to be in the tabloids? I wish I had brushed my hair. Ah, dang it Miley’s calling me. (In my dream she’s friends with my little sister.) This is inappropriate. I know it is. Beyond you being ruggedly handsome and (I imagine) quite a good conversationalist, I’m married and old enough to have been your babysitter. Sigh. But I’m infatuated. Yes, let’s hold hands. Let’s go to my grandma’s birthday dinner and say hi to my family. Let’s go skydiving. … I woke up from this dream highly amused, and then a little bummed. I love my husband with all my heart, but I do so miss the excitement of falling in love with someone. The electricity you feel when your skin brushes theirs. I love being in love. Some days I miss being young and dumb and making bad choices. Thank goodness for Oreo-fueled afternoon dreams.
Be the kind of friend you want to have. So simple. For me, a sort-of epiphany. I can be gossipy and get offended easily. I can be guarded and bristly and short with people. But I wouldn’t like it if they treated me that way. My brother and sister-in-law went somewhere together this weekend. I know because they asked my husband to feed their cat. But they never told ME where they were going?! Ugh. Oh, wait. I am doing that thing that I just mentioned in the Facebook paragraph. Light bulb moment! So I intend to treat my friends with loving kindness and courtesy. You get back what you put out, and this is something I didn’t even know I was failing at.
FOOD. My food processor died so I need a new one to make protein pancakes. I went to Target and couldn’t find one I wanted at a reasonable price. Then, I thought I’d get one at a yard sale but that thought kinda grosses me out. So… I’m using the blender for now, it’s not great but it works. I have posted a FEW photos to instagram, but that’s it. I can’t wait to get some time in the kitchen to post some yummy new recipes! I’ve given up soda, I vacillate between paleo and vegan dieting right now, and I can’t get enough kombucha.
The photo below is my new desktop background. It speaks to my soul.