Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Fever? or Can I please be allowed to like pop music?


Okay I know... 3 posts in 3 days, right? *laughter*. This one is going to be short. I am just getting over my case of royal wedding fever. I am. I admit it. And I'm tired of other people feeling they need to (excuse the language) pee on my parade. I heard some people talking about how horrible this whole "royal wedding" fiasco is on Friday when I was in my office. I wasn't part of the conversation so I just listened. They went on and on about how much money it cost and how a small island in Fiji could have lived off that money for 10 years (okay I *might* be making that part up) and how we fought to get away from England, why should we give a damn about a stupid wedding??? What about the tornadoes? What about Don Trump? What about the starving children in Ethopia (okay I might be fibbing about that part as well)...

Um. At first I was embarrassed. I was quietly watching the ceremony on a break during my classes. I was practically in tears watching William turn to Kate at the altar and tell her she was beautiful. I held my breath when they kissed on the balcony. YES I DID! AND I am not ashamed.

You know what? I *love* romance. It's taken me WAY too long to admit that and I am not sticking it back in the closet because someone might think that makes me shallow. And for ONE day, I am going to be okay with princesses and princes and pomp and circumstance. And tradition. And I am going to marvel at the human being and the things that make us tick. I am going to marvel at the intricateness of being human.

The thing is, I look at that wedding with hope. Say what you will about the royals, I believe Diana made a difference in this world, and I believe Kate and William will follow in her footsteps. But setting that aside? For just one day, can't I believe in love? And romance? Can't I look at her dress and hold my breath at how beautiful and happy she looked? And grin about how beautiful her sister looked and wonder if it is *ever* a good idea to let your bridesmaids wear white? *smile* I want to laugh at the silly hats Fergie's kids wore. I want to get caught up in the whole damn princess drama. And, for one day? Yes, I'd like to forget about the tornadoes. And death. And starving people. And misery. For one day? I want to wash myself in hope and happiness and laughter. I want to watch that wedding over and over and smile *EVERY* SINGLE time.

Honestly? I already feel that joy fading a bit. I turned off the tv to clean today. But? I bought the new CD Shout it Out by Hanson for that fresh injection of pop silliness and happiness and it seems to be doing the trick. Cleaning today is actually fun as I dance around the house doing laundry and riding the end of the wedding joy to silly pop music :). I'm just in an incredibly delicious mood!

So yes... if you don't care about the wedding, okay. I respect that. Can you maybe return that favor? Can you maybe let me enjoy it and not roll your eyes at me or think I don't give a damn about the world? Because I do. And after a steady diet of Donald Trump and tornadoes and misery? I need a break.

Peace (and hope!)


Friday, April 29, 2011

I want to be Elaine...


I had a couple of experiences this week that made me deeply wish I was Elaine. You know... in Seinfeld? She and Jerry had a lusty romance, decided they weren't really meant for each other, so ended up being 'buddies' and spending all their spare time with each other (well when they weren't dating someone else) and on occasion, sleeping with each other, no strings attached.

I want to be Elaine.

I was talking to my friend A. about it today. I was telling him what had upset me this week and that I was feeling frustrated with myself about the situation. Essentially, I had the opportunity to spend some time with an ex. Actually, two different occasions to 'hang out' with men I had once been in a deeply committed relationship with. Men that at one time I had surely been friends with before being romantically connected. A. told me a story of a woman he had been involved with that took him 20 years before he could be 'buddies' with her. He said they are lovely friends today, but it took a long time.

The thing is? It apparently is only taking ME time. The other men in the situation have already moved on and I feel like I am left sitting in this situation where I am 'not' okay. I am 'not' ready to 'hang out'. I am not ready to be buddies. I am not ready to see them all cuddly with their new partners. And I keep asking myself what's wrong with me that I can't do this.

A. was kind enough to say to me today, that he thought that it might be that the less invested in the relationship one is, the easier it is to move on from. At first it made me smile to think that. To think that I just feel things deeply. Then I thought... hold on. What does that say about the people I choose to be involved with?

I want to be Elaine.

I want to be able to salvage a friendship from a defunct relationship. If I was once friends with someone, and we get romantically involved, and the romance doesn't work... shouldn't I be able to return to the friendship space? So far in my life, that has not happened. I mean I still 'chat' with some people I used to be involved with, and that is nice... but I'm not sure I'd say we were 'buddies'... most of those people live on the other side of the country or in another country entirely. That makes it tremendously easy to simply chat online or whatever...

Is it simply that men have an easier time of it than women? My friend D says that men tend to put things in their minds in filing cabinets. Once they are done with the drawer they simply close it and move on to the next drawer.

I don't know. What I know is that right now? I'm still not Elaine. And I wonder, what is more healthy... taking time to process how I am feeling, or to just get over it and move on?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Mystery of it All...

About eight years ago, I gave up believing in magic and mystery. I put those ideas away like the dreamings of little girls. I chided myself for ever thinking that sort of thing existed in the first place. I determined growing up was necessary and that meant giving up the belief in magic. Or more... giving up the possibility of magic.. of mystery. Of the Great Mystery.

I found myself getting involved with people who were also convinced that there was no great mystery. There was no god. There was death. The end. And even though a great part of me screamed out in sadness... I shoved it away behind my walls and plodded along with my 'there is no god' relationships.

But it didn't last. It couldn't. Because I do believe in something more. I realize, for me? There is no real way to know what the 'something more' means, but I believe in that connection that ties all things together. That thread that weaves and connects the story. That strand of spirit that travels back to the very beginnings and reminds us there is more.

I do not claim to know what that 'something more' is. And I do not feel the need to convince those that don't see it that way, that there is, in fact, a god. I think that is something you find on your own. You are led to that awareness. You are compelled by it. At least, that is the way it worked in my life.

But I know? I will not be without it again. And in a partner? I am not sure I can connect with someone who doesn't see it. Yes, those who do not believe are compassionate. They are kind. They are loving. One of my friends who is certain there is nothing but death, is one of the most giving, honest, trustworthy and humanitarian people I know.

But just like I realize that setting the bar on McDreamy is something I am ready to seek in my life, I also realize that although I can enjoy, befriend, laugh and love someone who is sure there is no god... I do not want to partner with someone who has that belief. Because shared connection? Is magic. A shared belief in the interconnectedness of life, of some sort of divinity that ties it all together? Is part of the Great Mystery and it is who I am. When I look at someone? I want to see that shared truth. We all have our own truth. Truth doesn't have to manifest itself the same in a partner as it manifests itself for me, but I desire a partner who connects to that space in me. Because that space is important.

And while I do not know that I can bring myself back to a structured and rigid set of beliefs, I know that the wall of defense I built that kept me away from my spirit is crumbling. I know that part of why my past relationships didn't work, is because I chose men who refused to believe in any connection to Divinity. Who had no belief in Grace. Who didn't see the world as magical or mystical.  And at the time? That worked for me because I had my own issues with Grace and Divinity. These guys were scifi guys, or gameplaying guys, or comic book guys or myth-loving guys... but that is where their connection to something outside of themselves ended. They would say "there is no god" and I would concur or at least act demure.

I do not claim to have answers. I realize thinking that I somehow 'know' who/what God is for myself (and especially for someone else) is laughable. Part of the Great Mystery is that I do not know. I suppose that is what makes it faith. But I know I have a connection to that energy. And I cherish that energy and that connection. It is who I am. It is important. And it is worth seeking in myself and in a partner.

Part of my being healthy is being open to divinity and trusting the way I hear and feel god in my life. To trust in those feelings of magic and mystery is the first step in seeing myself and my connection to all there is. How that experience manifests itself? I am open to exploring. Even if that means in order to find the type of partner I seek I must let go of potential relationships to hold out for someone with whom I can share that exploration.



Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Tao of Brisket


Sooo... this weekend I was going to clean my house. Top to bottom I had it all planned. It's Sunday right now and my house is a *bigger*disaster than before I started on Friday. I spilled brisket broth all over my kitchen. If you don't know? Brisket broth is mostly fat... I've been cleaning up grease now for 20 minutes and it isn't even 9am.

I was pissed about the brisket anyhow. Stupid 20lb brisket was WAAY more brisket than I needed. I had promised someone I'd make brisket in exchange for Windows 7 and *maybe* the new Office Suite software. The only brisket available without going all over town was a 20lb brisket. I was irritated that I couldn't even fit the stupid thing on the grill. So I cut it in half, wrestled the 10 pounds of beef and spice onto the grill, closed the lid, finished spicing the other half to put on the grill 12 hours after the current piece came off and started to clean the disaster a 20lb brisket made in my kitchen (notice how I blame the brisket for making the mess, not the person cooking the brisket?). That was the moment the 'intended recipient' texted me to inform me that work was quite busy and that brisket was probably out for the weekend. I stood looking at the disaster of a kitchen and thought... "Really? REALLY? I couldn't have gotten that message, oh I don't know... maybe 15 minutes earlier before I started wrestling with the dead cow in my kitchen??????"

I fumed. I was put out! I felt sooo disrespected. It pulled up a lot of deeper issues and I could feel my frustration level escalating. But as is wont to happen lately, I'm roiling in my anger about the whole situation getting a good hatin' on and I hear a voice... well... maybe I shouldn't write that. Admitting to occasionally hearing voices in my public blog might *not* be the best choice. Still, that doesn't change what happened. I heard the sweetest, gentlest voice say to me, "MaryKatherine, stop. Just stop. Be still a moment and listen."

When I hear a voice? And that voice tells me to stop and listen? I tend to do that. And what happened when I stopped and listened was worth it. Because a feeling came over me (no, no more voices :) ) of being grateful. It started with a feeing I needed to stop being angry at the poor cow. It had already given its life, I didn't need to heap on any more anger at that poor beast. So I took a moment to thank the cow for sharing its life and its meat. Then? I got this picture in my head of what to do. Instead of being upset by who couldn't eat the brisket, I decided to be grateful to those who could. First? I invited over my friend Leanna and her husband Mike. They took care of my cat while I was gone for 2 weeks in Ohio with my dad. I invited them over for dinner and they happily accepted. Then I started to think about the 15 pounds of brisket I'd have after I trimmed off the fat and it cooked down... I decided to take some over to my friends F and R. They have been so wonderful to me and supportive. We always have a wonderful time when we get together. Another friend just had a beautiful new baby... what new mom doesn't want someone to bring them fresh brisket and the trimmings for a dinner? I realized I could take the remaining brisket to work on Monday. Every single person at my job had to make a sacrifice because I was in Ohio for two weeks. My sister and I had talked about doing something nice, and I realized this brisket? And taking all the fixings for lunch? Would be just the thing. I didn't realize when I started cooking the brisket that it was going to end up being an exercise in grace more than an exercise in cooking.

I know that life doesn't always take the path I think it is going to take. When it doesn't? I get frustrated, probably because the unknown makes me nervous.  Part of the idea of Tao is learning to go with the flow of life instead of fighting against it. And a big part of going with the flow of life? Is remembering to stop and listen and let grace in. When I do, I see the bigger picture. It turns out, this story wasn't about who didn't want the brisket, it was actually about who did. And I miss that sometimes when I get stuck in my own self and forget the bigger picture.

Being healthy means having grace when I think of others. When I take a moment of grace, I remember they are struggling as well. Often their issues are hidden and it is easy for me to jump to conclusions that aren't accurate. And as important as it is to have grace with others, having grace with myself is just (if not more) important. Not being harsh on myself, not being overly critical or perfectionistic is a way of remembering to have grace. If grace starts with me? It is easier to hold that space for others.

So, thanks 20lb brisket! Thanks for reminding me to be grateful... from the life of the cow? To the lives of the people I love and love me in return.


Thursday, April 14, 2011



I had thought I'd be angry or sad or something today. I'm sort of empty I guess. One year ago, a choice I made a few months earlier, came to its end.

I'm not blaming or pointing the finger. I was hurt by how quickly another's attention moved on. I was sad about the lack of passion or determination to shift the dynamic. I was shocked by declarations of new beginnings before official endings...

I suppose in the end, I don't always want to know that I was correct in some decisions. I want to think I am worth fighting for... that being loved by me and my loving is worth the risk. I try hard to take the high road. A year later? I feel that I am still doing that. Taking the high road. Even when I have had my moments of anger, frustration and out and out humiliation, I still say positive things and hold to some difficult but accurate truths.

And in the end... I still think it was worth the risk. I still think there was great potential and honest affection. In the end, I have days where I still wish for a different ending. But in the end, I wouldn't go back to the situation as it was... because in the end, I'm not the same person who walked down the aisle nor am I the same woman who walked away.  I have learned and continued to learn a great deal about myself;  I have learned and continue to learn a great deal about others.

I do not believe much in regrets. Wallowing in self pity or martyrdom isn't my style. In the time from beginning to end, I met some wonderful people, loved some wonderful people and today, I miss some wonderful people. Some, to be honest, were not so wonderful, but I suppose that is how life works. Some people you connect with some people you simply don't.

Today, I believe I am more loving, more capable of being loving, and more connected to my spirit. I have come a long way in a short time. I'm grateful to every single person that held my hand, laughed with me, cried with me and loved me. It's been a roller coaster year. There were many days in the last 364 when I wished I'd had a hand to hold. The nice thing, all of you that volunteered.

It's good to know that true love does exist. And it is in the hand of every person that was willing to open up his/her heart, willing to be vulnerable and honest with me and love me for who I am. I hope, in some small measure, I was able to return that to all of you.

Thanks y'all, (and you know who you are) that made a difficult year so endurable, so enjoyable, who helped me see truth for what it was (even when I wanted to make it rosey) and who helped me back on my feet to face the day with determination and a smile.


Monday, April 04, 2011

The Good Daughter


I'm struggling today with the concept of what it means to be a 'good daughter'. More than anything, I want to do the 'right' thing, although I know that in life, 'right' is purely perspective. I realize my struggle with making choices is often determined by my issues with perfection and with struggling between self care and being selfish.

My dad is going into surgery again today. He didn't do so well last surgery. This surgery is to remove the rest of his thyroid. I flew back to Seattle on Thursday and was just settling back in when dad called me upset on Friday to tell me they found cancer in the tumor they removed last week. I? Felt sort of numb. He told me what the doctor had said and also told me the doctor would be calling on Saturday afternoon to talk to me. After I hung up I called my sister. I couldn't get her on the phone so I started looking up plane tickets. I had planned on flying out on Sunday to be with him for his surgery on Monday (today, actually right now as I write this). Dad told me not to go. He told me he was fine. He told me he didn't think I needed to go when I had just flown home. I didn't care, I felt like the "RIGHT" thing, the "GOOD" thing to do was to be there. Isn't that what a good daughter would do?

I stopped looking for plane tickets for a moment and I sat and looked at my house. It was a disaster (still is actually). All I could think about was how tired I was. I want to state for the record... I am not a very good caretaker. I am a good manager, I am a good  cook. I am very loving, but I am not a very good caretaker. Plus? I hadn't had sleep for almost two weeks. Or spotty sleep at best. The thought of getting on that plane and flying back across the country felt overwhelming. I felt like any capacity I had to be a good caretaker was empty. But not going? Felt horrible. It felt like I was failing as a daughter. I already feel like I am failing for being so far away, now dad was about to face surgery again (after not doing so well after the last surgery) and all I could think about was how much I didn't want to get back on a plane? I kept thinking about all the 'stuff' in my office from the week I wasn't there. All the lesson plans I needed to read through all the progress reports I needed to write. And mostly? I just thought about how exhausted I was. And then? I felt bad for thinking about me. Dad is the one going through surgery. Why should I be feeling bad, what were my issues in the face of dad's upcoming surgery? SELFISH SELFISH SELFISH.

I spoke to my sister a little while later. She and I talked about my wanting to go out to Ohio and her feelings about why it wasn't necessary and why it was okay to be staying here and not flying back. And while I was relieved on many levels I still had that voice in my head that said "A good daughter would be there."

I spoke with dad's doctor Saturday morning. He explained that the surgery should be an easy one and that dad should recover pretty quickly. Assuming his heart and kidneys function okay, he should be home by Thursday of this week. His doctor is wonderful and I already wrote about how I admire and respect him, and the doc said that treatment wasn't difficult and iodine radiation was a two day process - not like chemo or other more drastic forms of cancer treatment, Most thyroid cancer cells retain this ability to absorb and concentrate iodine. This provides a perfect "chemotherapy" strategy. Radioactive Iodine is given to the patient with thyroid cancer after their cancer has been removed. If there are any normal thyroid cells or thyroid cancer cells remain in the patient's body (and any thyroid cancer cells retaining this ability to absorb iodine), then these cells will absorb and concentrate the radioactive "poisonous" iodine. Since all other cells of our bodies cannot absorb the toxic iodine, they are unharmed. The thyroid cancer cells, however, will concentrate the poison within themselves and the radioactivity destroys the cell from within. No sickness. No hair loss. No nausea. No diarrhea. No pain

I feel better about the treatment and the prognosis after talking to the doctor, and I feel like getting healthy myself (continuing my triathlon workouts, eating better, etc.) is one of the best things I can do right now... but as I sit in my office during my lunch time, writing this while dad's surgery is taking place, I realize taking care of myself is important... but I still feel bad I am not in Ohio. And I suppose that is just part and parcel for this sort of thing.

I think recognizing my guilt and not denying it, but not letting it run my life is important. It is part of getting healthy. I'm not sure I am doing the 'right' thing by not going to Ohio, but what I know? Is that continuing to see things in a RIGHT vs. WRONG or GOOD daughter vs. BAD daughter duality is not healthy. Life seems to come in shades of grey and as I learn to let go of punishing myself for what I perceive to be 'bad' I am gaining more confidence and self awareness about who I am and letting go of that image of 'perfection' to become the healthy, amazing person everyone but me seems to recognize. *smile*