Tuesday, September 23, 2014

No More Secrets

Thanks to my friend Melissa, I've recently fallen in love with a song called "Secrets" by Mary Lambert. I mean, I cannot stop listening to it. I guess it's been out for a while now but I had never heard it before she told me about it, which is cool because the timing is quite serendipitous for my life right now.

A couple weeks ago, I was out shopping with my good friend Sophie who always treats me to a pedicure and a trip to the mall for my birthday. While browsing in Hot Topic, I came across a pair of shoes that I'd seen there before but lacked the confidence to buy. Soph took one look at them and said "Those are so you. You have to buy them." There were two pairs left, one in my size so I slipped one on as gingerly as if I were Cinderella with a glass slipper. It fit! I held my foot up off the ground and wiggled it. "Do you really think I should buy these, even though I'm 36?" Her response was perfect, "I think you should buy them especially because you're 36. This is what I love about you." So I bought the shoes and haven't regretted it for a second!

Finding those shoes on that trip was perfect timing because only an hour earlier, while getting our toes done, I was telling Soph that I feel as if I've recently made a significant transformation into not caring so much as to what other people think about me.

When I hit my thirties, I became acutely aware of my "age inappropriateness" in that I was divorced, single and living alone in a relatively small town that I moved to just before I turned 30. I have a lot of tattoos and mostly male friends. Nothing there is anything to be ashamed of but when packed together and judged by others, it can feel otherwise.

I was raised that if you were leaving the house, you made sure your bra straps didn't show or your pants were "too tight" because those things were inappropriate and gave other people (meaning men) the impression that you were a certain type of girl. As I've aged and my body has changed, I've remained hyper aware of my appearance when I go out. It's not in a vain way, like do I look hot but that ever vague appropriateness.

Over the past few years, I had found myself looking at what I'm wearing when I leave the house (jeans with a DMB Tshirt and plaid Chucks) asking myself "Is this what a woman my age should be wearing?" It's stressful and exhausting because the truth is, this is what I want to wear. I love these Tshirts and sneakers. I'm comfortable physically and emotionally. But I look around when I'm out to eat or standing in line at a store and I see women who are more "put together" than me and I wonder what it means.

The chorus to "Secrets" includes a line that goes "I know I'm not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else, well I'm over it" and the first time I heard it, my heart sang because that's exactly how I've been feeling lately. When I looked at those incredible cat sneakers and I thought Are these meant for someone my age? my immediately next thought was Fuck it, I like 'em.

I love it when I'm out shopping with a friend and she holds something up and says "Hey, this is you!" It means she knows me well and that my personality reflects in how I dress. I think that's pretty awesome.

I've had a conversation about this with a couple of friends since posting a picture of my cat shoes on FaceBook (Most people who commented wanted to know where they could buy a similar pair for their daughter *sigh*). It's amazing to me how universal this topic is with women. Why do we care so much? Who are we dressing to impress when we go out, ourselves? Our partners? Strangers?

I've finally realized that it doesn't matter! I am who I am no matter what clothes I'm wearing. If my tattoos don't show, it doesn't mean they don't exist.

I know I'll never get to a place where I don't care what I look like at all. That's not what I'm striving for. I just want to be myself and not feel guilty about it. I'm over it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Some Pennies For My Thoughts

Yesterday, as I picked up a penny in the grocery store parking lot, I had a thought: I wonder if a person kept track of all the pennies she picked up in a lifetime, how much money would that be? Although an interesting thought, it didn’t seem practical (a baby can’t pick up change) so then I wondered how much change a person finds in the course of a year. As I dropped my new penny into my purse, I decided that would be a fantastic project to start at the new year. I keep a notebook with me all the time anyway so I could easily jot it down each time I found a coin! I tucked the idea away to explore later. 

That same afternoon, I was riding my bike in my neighborhood when I  cruised over a shiny penny. I hit my brakes but second guessed myself and sped up to keep up with my boyfriend. I started telling him my idea and then interrupted myself, “I guess I wouldn’t have to wait til the new year, would I? I could start today!”

We turned around, so I could get my second cent of the day, but although we searched and searched, we couldn’t find that dang lone coin. So I decided I’ll have to start my project the next time I find one!

As I was circling around on my bike, staring down at the pavement looking for that penny, I remembered a comment I overheard recently. A woman was giving a couple pennies to someone who was lacking change for a purchase and she said “I don’t mind giving away pennies because they’re worthless.” I kept my mouth shut but I was flabbergasted. I was thinking Does she know that 100 pennies equal a dollar? I was so amused by the comment that I Tweeted about it (#DoYouUnderstandHowMoneyWorks?). A friend immediately responded that it was a coincidence he had just looked at his retirement account and it had gained one cent that day which would equate to a $300 increase over time!

Okay, so the pennies I pick up won’t earn interest (unless I put them in the bank-note to self!) but they will add up. My collection will not be limited to coins, but I expect that’s what I’ll find the most of. However, I once found a $20 bill blowing through a Wal-Mart parking lot! Another time, I picked up what I thought was a piece of paper but turned out to be a white enveloped containing $40 cash!

I guess I technically stole that money, but in each case there was no way to track down an owner. I have definitely lost money from being careless, like being out drinking at a bar with a $20 bill in my back pocket that’s gone when I go for it next, so I know it happens to the best of us.

I’ve written previously about my habits as a “picker upper” as I like to call myself. No matter if I’m walking or driving, I’m frequently noticing abandoned treasures “Ooooh a pen!” or “Hey look, a glove!” Each time, my boyfriend’s response is the same: “Gross” and he encourages me to leave the lonely object where it lies.

It’s funny that my youngest dog has turned out to be a treasure seeker as well. On our walks, he is continuously scanning the ground for something delicious and/or fun. The day he found unwrapped Rolos underneath our bank of mailboxes, I hated to make him spit them out because it was such a spectacular find! He’s found dog biscuits under there before, so I can’t blame him for looking, which he still does every time we check the mail! He’s found balls and bones and even tried to pick up a sock once (that one, I made him leave behind). My boyfriend finds if funny and revolting at the same time. “He’s definitely your dog”, he’ll chuckle and shake his head, while Tinsley trots along carrying a soggy tennis ball he rooted out of the gutter. 

Tinsley with one of his treasures

For now, I’m looking down as much as possible when I’m out of the house, waiting for my next find! I don’t know what I’ll do with the money I collect over the next year. It will probably depend on how much it is. Maybe I’ll donate it to a charity or maybe I’ll buy myself a treat! You’ll have to stay tuned to find out! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Another Season Of Change

September first always feels like the beginning of a new phase for me. My birthday was one week ago and school used to start shortly after Labor Day so this week has always been one of transition that I look forward to. The first of this month is the official start of fall in my mind. I like fall a lot. I like wearing more clothes than summer requires, I like the cool mornings and evenings and that certain slant the sunlight has now. I first noticed it a couple weeks ago, it always happens all of a sudden that I notice the afternoon shadows seem different and I sigh Ahh, it's almost fall.

I like when it gets dark at 8pm. That seems like a reasonable time for evening. I'm a big fan of going to bed "early" and I hate it when it's light until 10pm in the summer. That encourages people to be out doing stuff when I consider that "late at night" and want to be home in my pajamas!

I realize that 8pm darkness is a precursor to 5pm darkness and I do not like that, but I believe the cycle is important. We need to have a most favorite and least favorite of things to keep us moving forward.

The visible season change is a relief to me. (We saw our first snow, in the mountains, on August 24th!) Summer in Montana has a frantic energy because everyone is trying to squeeze in their activities and parties into the short window we have for nice weather. There's always an underlying pressure of I should be outside while I have the chance whenever I'm indoors during the summer. That's why the timing of my concussion has been particularly tough on me. I've had to turn down invitations and lay inside on beautiful days and it sucks!

 I'm still working on this whole "Surrender to what is" process and I'm making progress. I've been doing an unbelievable amount of reading and writing (which I'm grateful to have the ability to do) and I've been catching up on a long list of movies I want to see. I'm working four days a week, six hours a day and when I get home I'm usually worn out and I don't do a darn thing most days. At first that made me feel lazy and anxious. Like most women, I have a never ending list of things around the house that need my attention but I've tossed it aside for now. When I feel motivated, I do something. If not, I don't. Isn't that an amazing concept?! It seems so simple but until now I'd never been able to pull it off! I'd force myself to get one more chore done before calling it a day. The change certainly hasn't been easy. Sometimes I ask for the assistance of my other half, as in "Please tell me not to worry about vacuuming" and he'll always comply!

So as I welcome fall today, I welcome change. I have the windows open and I cleaned the carpets in my bedroom, because it was long overdue and I finally felt inspired to do it! Instead of moving down the list to the next task, I'm writing this. Later I might feel anxious about not getting more done but I might not...I'm trying to take in one moment at a time.