mistakes by the lake

sit down. let me tell you a story about ohmygod what am I doing?

Month: February, 2016

Come hang out in this mess.

“Please don’t clean for me”, my mother says before she comes to visit.  I used to ignore her, and fly into a sweeping  and Windex frenzy. At some point I stopped. I realized that no amount of cleaning would make her feel differently about me. She knows I’m not perfect, so there isn’t a point in hiding the laundry in the closet in an attempt to prove otherwise. I fly into a frenzy about plenty of other things, but that is a different story for another day.

I am fairly certain that no one feels like their perfect Instagram looks all of the time. The moments of “finished product” or mornings of picturesque coffee-scapes are fleeting. Most of the time is spent knocking coffee grounds off the scooper and onto the counter AGAIN and cleaning them up with your hand and what the HELL is the dog licking off the rug. Ew. What is that? Then, for maybe 30 seconds, the freshly cleaned counter is dappled with sunlight, and the coffee looks like art. There are no drips on the edge. Your dirty hands are not in the frame. And that’s fine. I am not railing against curated online imagery, or magazines full of perfect moments. I just know too many bloggers and stylists and photographers and event creators to believe for a moment that anyone lives like this all of the time, or even most of the time. These are beautiful, messy, real people, who are not perfect.

Our lives are full of so many moments. Some make us want to and take a picture. That is so beautiful. I want to remember that, to show everyone how beautiful this is. I don’t think that’s fake or hollow. Please, show the world a beautiful picture. But in our daily lives, it takes a little more vulnerability, not to overuse that word, but it does, to show the unhinging and the mess. To admit, even if it is to a few of your friends, that you are not feeling amazing. Tell them about a mistake. Tell them what you learned, or didn’t learn and how you totally made that mistake several more times. Let people come to your messy house. Do not apologize for your dirty car. You are living, and I think showing people that is the simplest way to build a community. Not a community of admirers, who are certain that your life is perfect, but of people who see you and know you. That feels like home. I promise. Even if it’s three people, it’s a relief.

There will always be people to judge you for being messy, for being too neat, for being boring, for being too crass or too hippy-dippy or whatever it is. I know: I have been very guilty of being annoyed with people for their “perfect lives” or “seemingly well-behaved dogs” or “ability to drink just 2 glasses of wine and not 5” or whatever it is. That has shown me two things:

  1. I was judging people based on what their lives looked like and
  2. All of those things had to do with my own insecurities.

Do what you want. Take selfies and take pictures of your perfect brunch date. Do it because you want to. When you are sitting there, though, looking through images online or in magazines or on television, remember: these images can’t encapsulate a person. These images do not change who you are. Your reactions might teach you something, like, “I am really insecure about how horribly behaved my dog is”, or “I really have a messed up view of my body if that person’s body is literally making me grit my teeth”. It’s fine. You are not a horrible messed up person. You are a person. These are other people.  I read this quote by Baba Sheikh Farid that Laura McKowen referenced in an essay:

“I thought it was I alone who suffered. I went on top of the house, and found every house on fire.”

 We’re all so hard on ourselves. We’re all on fire. I hope we can be a little messier together, and find the beauty there too. I’m trying to do my part, by sharing my mess. Seriously, I have no idea what the dog is licking off the floor. She’s gross, and she’s probably going to jump directly at your crotch when you walk into my house. I’ll live.

 

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A dog and a control freak

Let me tell you a story about a dog and a control freak.

As I write, my dog of 4 years, a pitbull/bloodhound/mutt lays peacefully on my bed. She is peaceful because she is tired. She is tired because she got up at 2:30AM, dragged me, crazy head cold and all, out to the yard under the guise of answering nature’s call. At that time, she ran, full-tilt, Kool-Aid man style into the fence, thereby releasing herself into the neighborhood. There was a rabbit. It needed to be chased. I made some sort of noise that was an attempt at whisper-screaming, which is not effective, and will still scare your neighbors. I stomped around, looking for my coat, swearing as I shoved my bare feet into my boots. Tearing out of the front door, standing under the street light with my runny nose and my unzipped winter coat flying in the breeze, I felt the familiar feeling that I get when Daisy is a monster: I had no control. I was mad. I loved her and needed her to come back.

When I first got Daisy, I would come home to find all of the photos knocked off the wall, fruit from the bowl on the table torn to shreds, mixed in with shampoo, some glass from a make-up compact, the  combo spread all over my bed.  Ah. I had forgotten to latch the crate correctly. There’s nothing to do but clean it up. Well, first, I would usually melt into a pile of tears on the floor because this was somehow my failing. I was not good at dog. I could not dog properly.

The first time she got off her leash was when I realized that I loved her fiercely. Every time she ate a thing that I loved, I learned patience and the value in not placing too much value on material items. She collected my tears in her stinky fur, watching boyfriends come and go. She moved from one apartment to the next, and finally, she rode in the moving truck on my sister’s lap, and I drove, with tears in my eyes (dangerous, btw) out of Chicago and home to Michigan.

She makes mistakes. She gets anxious and loses it. I still love her.  Luckily, the people in my life say the exact same thing about me.

What I’m trying to say here is that Daisy is a source of comfort and frustration and in the end, I can only respond with love. I also respond with yelling, but not too much.  I have to let go of control because it’s not all me here, running things. There would be so much lost in our lives if we didn’t welcome in the things that were going to take away our tightly guarded control. Maybe for you it isn’t a dog. Maybe it’s giving in every once in a while and stepping outside of your routine. Maybe it’s falling in love even though you’ve been burned. I’m so new at this, and have so much to let go of, but Daisy is a good reminder.

Now, if you will excuse me, my sweet beam of sunshine and joy is dry heaving on my pillow. Bless her.

Self-love: A slow and annoying journey

Self-love. That sounds so nice! What do you think of when you hear those words? I think of candles.  Nothing out there says I love me like a bathtub and some scented candles. It also makes me say “this water is getting cold and I want my bed and have no patience for baths” which is a whole other problem because baths are great probably.

Candles and positive affirmations aside, there is one piece I was totally missing and now I’m pissed. Self-love takes all sorts of time. As in, you can’t tell me how much time, and I have no idea, and some days I feel like I’ve been watering a plastic ficus tree or keeping time with a broken watch. “Hello!” I say to the self-love that I apparently have been building up. “Is this thing on?”.

Oh. It takes time, you say. Shit. That is disappointing to me.

You see, it was hard to take the first steps. I ended bad relationships. I came to terms with the fact that I was restricting calories and exercising as a way of controlling my size/life/self-worth. I stopped counting calories, which was annoying, and frustrating, but after a few weeks, I was proud. Look at me, on the road to self-love. But this road? It’s SUPER LONG. Along the way there are these little towns of self-love and then there are these other shitty towns of self-loathing where I start to stare at the map, absolutely sure I am off course.

What do you do?  All I can figure for now is that on the good, positive days, I need to make a mental note that I am here and  I’m in a good place. That way, when I’m in the place where I am obsessing over last night’s pizza and beer, the fact that I slept through yoga again, and am starting to second guess almost every choice I’ve ever made, I can say “Uh huh, gotcha dude. Now, if you wouldn’t mind recalling the way we felt, I dunno, 3 days ago, when we felt like a very special and sparkley babe…yes, let’s think about that”.

Anyone else? Seriously, if there was a pill I could take or a yoga pose that would just bring on the love, I would be there, and would tell you all about it. I suspect this is one of those “journeys”?  I’m in the car, I’m liking the view out the window for the most part, but…are we there yet?!

Hello from the other side (of the lake).

Sitting in bed, with a head cold, a dog, and a very fancy frozen yogurt dinner, I decided that I wanted to go back and find my old blog. With an episode of Star Trek: Next Generation on (in addition to a very comfortable pair of Star Wars pjs, for nerdy balance) I started digging around and found www.mistakesbythelake.blogspot.com. I read the posts. I felt feelings. Damnit.  Me two years ago sounds like…me now. I was expecting to hear the voice of someone much younger or at least more naïve. Yes, I know 2 years is not a long amount of time. So much has happened though! My internal voice should sound much more sage-like and world-worn, now that I had gotten engaged, broken up, threw all the plans up in the air, moved back to Michigan and started that not-as-fun-as-it-sounds process of “self-love”. I felt like I would feel so far away from that author writing in May of 2013.

So what to do? The whole plan here was to look at that and say “Oh man, how little I knew…and now, well now my heart has been slammed around and I have this knowledge to share”. So I thought about it. I ate the rest of my froyo . I looked at the dog, which is what I do when I want answers. I just stare at her perfect dog face like it’s an oracle. Then I reread the posts. And I did some cries. Here’s what I got:

  • I know things now I didn’t know then. For example, there were things that made me think “if that happened, I wouldn’t survive”, like having to call off your wedding and  selling your wedding dress to a girl off Craigslist while you’re packing to move out of the city you’d loved for 8 years. But then I did survive. That lesson is priceless.
  • I am the same person who wants to find peace, who gets anxious, who wants very badly to love her body, and feels loved by people and knows she has about 3 times the amount of emotion that she is able to handle on any given day.
  • Here’s one: I’ve made some sort of peace with my creative process. It isn’t the art I thought I would make, which is just another way life is all “OH YOU HAD PLANS HAHAHA YOU DON’T GET THOSE” and it’s magical.

I am by a different lake now. I am still making mistakes. I am still moving forward. I don’t need to start over anymore* because I’m fine like this. Headcold, weirdo pjs, stinky dog guru…all of it. I want to tell you about it. I’m not trying to sell you my lifestyle, I promise. Like, it’s not for sale and I don’t even know what I would sell you…time with my dog oracle? Fresh nerd-wear?  Maybe (I hope) you’ll tell me about some of your stuff, and we’ll be fine together, and maybe even better than fine sometimes. Xo

*I had to start the blog over, but that’s just because I didn’t like the words “blogspot.com” for some reason.