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Eternity with One Eye

View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soul Feeder Chris Wilcox

I love the new trend towards “real” in advertising. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, Cameron Russell’s vulnerable TED Talk  on being a model, Jana Jeffery’s post on body image – they all raise interesting points about what we surround ourselves with. I do question how long it will last before the ad agencies revolt and we revert to photoshopping away the imperfections. “Real” only seems to apply to models not being airbrushed, and when last I checked, models were the last people on the planet who even needed airbrushing – except for, of course, plus-sized models — size 12 skinny b*tches that they are. After all – art only imitates life, it doesn’t copy it.

The trend toward taking someone who is already beautiful and making them flawless isn’t new – in fact, it’s pretty old. 3,300 BC and Nefertiti didn’t have one damn pore on her alabaster skin. To be fair, they didn’t finish her left eye. What’s eyesight, though, when you can claim that your skin never had a zit?

Is Nefertiti somewhere thinking, “Fantastic. 3 millennia later and what does the world have of me? THAT? So much for eternal life. I’m the eternal representative of, ‘Oops.'”

How many times have you walked out of your house without your left eye, metaphorically speaking? I’ve done it.  I’ve shown up at work in mismatched shoes (not socks – entire shoes) and I’ve not just ditched putting on makeup, I’ve totally forgotten to even consider it. Of course, when I get where I’m going I typically think “Oh well,” long enough to plot a way to never leave my office for the entire day – and it usually works. Will anyone care that I don’t have on a drop of Cover Girl? Hell no.

But I will.

I’ll avert my eyes when I wash my hands in the restroom because all I will see are the dark circles and fine lines under my eyes. I will criticize how my eyelashes seem to be non-existent and that I have this one dot of an age spot high on my right cheekbone. And all that, of course, will lead to my chin, which I don’t even want to talk about, and don’t even get me started on anything below my collar bones.

Making a human inherently flawless is a collage… an art project. And women have handed over untold trillions of dollars to keep up with that project every year.  I do it every day I get dressed and go to work. I chase an ideal of What I’m Supposed to Look Like, I berate myself when I see something that doesn’t achieve the right illusion, and I bemoan my relationship to gravity.

And why? Have we done it for so long that it’s just part of our DNA?  Have we bought into some view that we’re not good enough as is? Or are we just replicating to the best of our abilities what our thoughts tell us is “acceptable”? Even though our thoughts are based on an illusion.

Do we remember Nefertiti as a powerful Egyptian Ruler, or as the pretty woman with the missing eye?

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What’s on Your Acre?

View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soul Feeder Chris Wilcox

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. If you’re a writer, it’s one of those must-haves because it has a way of making the insanity of being a writer seem less like Sandra Bullock in Gravity and more like The Breakfast Club. We all have ways we break down that someone else can identify with and raise a “me, too” hand – no one has it easy.

In it, Anne relays a story from a friend about an emotional acre. We are all born with an emotional acre, and it’s ours to do with as we please. There’s a gate at the middle that people will come in and out of. If someone dumps an oil spill on your acre, you can boot them. Same if they build a hideous garage – set fire to it and boot them. It’s your emotional acre.

Now, dear Anne also talks about this emotional acre in terms of character development. Just like you know what’s on your own emotional acre, you also need to know the acreage of your characters.

Which got me thinking. What’s on my acre?

Of course, the Southern-belle-wannabe in me immediately wants a plantation rather than just a paltry smidge of an acre. The peach and pecan orchard alone could be one acre all by itself. Why peaches and pecans? Sweet and nutty – just like me. But for the purposes of this Yankee exercise, I’ll limit it.

My sanctuary would be on my emotional acre – the  safe place that is my meditation room (hello, Eat Pray Love, reference – how many of you can I fit in this year?) where I can travel the paths of my psyche safely without judgment.  The next piece of my emotional acre is a compost pile. Why? Because that’s where I can throw all the crap to be recycled into something good.  I can give all the black tar that collects in my emotional energy field and toss it out to compost and be converted into something good – like every time I criticize myself for not making more progress (Oh Wii Oh… OHHHH oh) I can compost that thought into motivation to keep going.

So what am I growing on my emotional acre?  I’m growing strong trees that reach deep into the earth to ground me. I’m tending to a labyrinth of roses because roses were my grandma’s flower and they remind me of her strength, love and compassion for others. I’m planting things that I want to see grow into beautiful things  because they nourish my soul, inspire me and we have a reciprocating relationship of gratitude – one cannot exist without the other. Even if it’s only in my emotional imagination.

And when others march across my emotional acre and disrespect it, I launch my boot into their ass and kick them out.  Not because I don’t love them – because I may very well love them a great deal – but because I love myself more.

What’s on your acre? 🙂

Namaste.

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2014 and the Commitment to Mii

View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soul Feeder Chris Wilcox

Here’s the scene: It’s December 28th. I’m at my parents’ house in Idaho Falls. My cousin, Valarie, is driving from Minnesota to her parents’ house in Iowa.

Somehow we get on the subject of weight loss.

Now, I have to disclose that my beautiful cousin has ALWAYS been a standard for tall girl beautiful to me. She’s always looked fit and drop dead gorgeous whenever I’ve seen her. She’s been an athlete and a runner for as long as I can remember, and I always just thought that the flat-where-it-should-be, curvy-sexy-beautiful thing she’s had going on for the whole of my existence was something she just did, so I was kind of shocked to be having this conversation with her.

To balance this out with my reality, I feel like I’ve struggled with my weight since I was 5, but in all reality, it’s probably only been about 20 years. (YAY! 1993 or 1994 – I’m going to blame my first ex-husband) 😉  Honestly, I would stand in my front yard naked in subzero temps during Christmas-Lights-drive-around season for an hour to get everything that jiggles to fall off my body spontaneously.  However, I’ve come to learn that the only thing that’s gonna get it to fall off and die is the whole simple hard work thing. Should be easy, right? I’m great at hard work! Now all I have to do is start the project!

Back to the conversation, Valarie and I decide on a goal – just 1/2 lb. a week. At this rate (in my head) Valarie will be at her target weight by January 8th. I, however, will be there sometime before I retire in 2046.

Of course, as any good hard worker knows, one must prepare for work, so on January 1, I THOUGHT REALLY HARD about what my preparations should be.  I’ve got to set up the space, right?  And I’m still at my parents’ house for a few more days, so let’s burn off a few calories shopping for the new TV that needs to go into said space before I can even think about exercising in it (never mind that there’s $3,000 worth of exercise equipment already in said-space, gathering dust; the right TV – oh and blu-ray player, don’t forget that – will make the space the “right space”).

The TV was hanging by January 8th, if I remember correctly.  The Wii Fit program was running the following night. I turned it on, and lo and behold, there was my chubby little Mii, waiting in the Plaza and waving.  When I clicked on it, the Wii reported it had been 1,692 days since my last check in – that’s 4.5 years for anyone who can’t do the math in their head.

Obviously, the Wii has been drinking a lot in her off time and can’t do math.

Then, I waited for the moment at which Wii said “Step on.” For those of you who have experienced the disappointed “Oh…” that the Wii produces when you step on the balance board, you may understand why my commitment to using it spiraled downward. I heard it again, and the 4.5 years of time that had elapsed since the last time I’d heard it didn’t dull the pain of it this year.

Sigh.

Over the last 10 days, Wii and Mii have continued our love-hate relationship. The good part about being Tall Girl is I have a lot of space over which to distribute all those cheese and bacon omelets I consumed when I was home over Christmas. The bad part is, my relationship to gravity produces numbers I don’t want to see anymore. Ever.  Good part – I’m conscious (entirely due to the bigger TV, I’m sure) of making better choices now, so maybe between my cousin and the disappointed Wii “Oh….” I can see my way to use the space and have everything that’s currently jiggling fall off and die. Another good part – it’s after mid-January, and I’m still working on it.

Namaste.

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Stop Staring at Me, 2014!

View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soul Feeder Chris Wilcox

2014 has arrived in all its glory, and I – being so forgetful – have reread just about everything I posted last year.

All I can say to that is, “Damn, I had such good intentions.” 😉 I really did. I thought that my plan to stay focused was a good one, that I would proceed in my Zen-like state to the amazement and astonishment of all around me and keep landing time after time in my invisible jet, red boots firmly planted, golden eagle gleaming on my otherwise red bustier, and I would finally show Superman how to make that quiche without having a soggy crust.

Laugh. Please.

I could launch into a future-looking state of how busy 2014 is going to be, how I need to keep grounded and be heart-forward rather than logic-centric if I’m going to thrive, but you know what I’m hearing in my head?

Blah-freaking-blah.

And my dragonfly said it, too.

You know what I learned last year from trying to be Wonder Woman? I take life waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too seriously when I don’t allow myself to wander into punchline territory with my sarcasm dictionary tucked under my arm.

Now, to understand the full weight of this revelation, we need to jump in the time traveling DeLorean and set the dial for about October 2007.  At this point, I was stuffed to the gills with guru works. I was studying said gurus with an attention previously only offered to my hair from 1985 – 1993. I had watched The Secret. I had even read Eat, Pray, Love for the love of God. I was fully prepared to have my liver smile on a daily basis. (Okay – confession –  I don’t remember if that was in the book but I know for sure it was in the movie).

And I was miserable. I wasn’t miserable because I was doing anything particularly wrong. I was miserable mostly because I thought I needed to change who I was to “be” happy, but ditching that persona didn’t allow me to deal with what was making me unhappy in the first place. It was putting silk sheets on a straw bed… nothing I could do would make it more comfortable.

Around that time, I arrived at this theory that gurus were usually cloud sitters. You know those people who tell you on some level you need to be able to separate yourself from the fray and realize you’re a spiritual being having a human experience, so you can just let all this human-ness go on around you and sit on your cloud? THAT’S a cloud sitter.

What I’ve come to realize is that while the cloud sitters have a very peaceful persona – very few of them seem to be laughing their asses off on a daily basis. And I want to laugh. Life isn’t about being miserable or seeing how much pain we can put ourselves through. I don’t know about you, but I am at my best, most productive, most confident and happiest when I’m having fun, so I’m ditching the crap that makes me feel way too serious. Life itself brings enough serious to the party. I’m going to sort through it and learn from it and then figure out what I need to hang onto and what I need to let go.

Namaste.

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Reality 2013

View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soul Feeder Chris Wilcox

Two years ago today, I arrived in Fort Worth for what would be only 15 months of non-Idaho residency. My sister and I pulled up in front of a little house just off Berry Street & University Drive, wiggled a moving truck past a maple sapling into a driveway that could only be described as perilous on its best days, and then we drove to Dee’s house in Crowley to spend the night.

But the sand is pretty – so I’ll keep it around.

So what’s ahead for 2014? I’m not sure. Here’s what I know.

I’m feeling far less “mystical” at the end of this year than I did at the end of 2011; maybe it drained away through the cracks that surfaced in my life when I was trying to force things to stay together.  Maybe it’s because I fell off the cloud that I had attached to living somewhere else and I’ve landed back where I started. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up a little or because I’ve realized that I don’t have to take life so seriously. I don’t feel a need to peel back all the layers and dig into what every last detail means anymore or what my distance from all of that means right now – maybe that’s smart or maybe that’s stupid. I’m not sure yet.

It seems like – for me and for those around me – Reality 2013 crashed in with a force that no one really expected, but we (unknowingly) were ready for it. Everything I went through – all the shit, heartache, baggage sorting, tears, laughter, friends found and lost – prepared me for the chess square I’m standing on now. Some days I’m the Queen, some days the Rook, other days, I’m just the Pawn – and may very well be the one that’s sacrificed. But the game always picks up again. For 2014 – I think it’s time to play again.

Namaste,

Chris

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Going through Baggage

View from the Dragonfly’s Back 

MomsGetReal Soulfeeder Chris Wilcox

So, I’ve spent this Mercury Retrograde in my Way Back Machine – because if an astrological event has the capacity to make you dredge up your baggage, for better or worse, I far prefer the former to the latter.  And I’ve gotten lots of opportunities to do so.

It’s so interesting to me how we account for our baggage – we know we’ve all got it but some people throw it up on the train platform soon after they unload it the first time and are able to leave it behind. I can do that with some things – like ex-husbands and shoes that pinch my feet. But I’ve gone to great lengths to decorate the baggage I stubbornly hang onto with all-weather leather and topstitched coordinating trim and handles.

So here’s how I got here.

First, I lost my driver’s license. While I’m fairly certain that it fell out of my purse at some point in the Spokane airport or on the flight back to Boise, no one’s ‘fessing up to having it. I discovered the loss of said identification when I was at the bank yesterday, and had to deposit a check into an account that I had no way to prove was actually mine – apart from the debit card attached to the OLD account I had up until October 18, when I realized there was an asshat still listed as a signatory. Then, my bank educated me to an important fact: you can’t just take someone off an account – you have to close everything and start over.

So, license-less and feeling that first flush of obsessive-what-did-I-do-with-it-ness, I politely reminded my brain that it would do no good to fly in six directions like a dragonfly and I needed to calm down.

Wait.

Fly.

6 AM Monday – Boise to Philadelphia.

And the TSA gets picky about letting you on a plane when you can’t prove who you are.

No worries, I thought. That’s what passports are for, right?  I just need to get my passport from where I keep my passport and the passport will get me on the plane.

You know what’s coming next. Right! My passport was not where I thought I last left it.

Where this gets tricky is I moved last April, but (a) I wasn’t the one to pack my house, and even though (b) I remember holding my passport at some point this year, (c) I don’t precisely recall when that was, exactly. It could’ve been in Fort Worth, it could’ve been here. Who knows? And this is where the “go through the baggage” stuff begins.

Gratefully, my friend Jennie (her real name – because anyone brave enough to dive in and help me navigate my baggage deserves full credit) helped me to unload many of the boxes that filled up my house, so I called. She came.  5 hours later, still no passport, but I did manage to find both my divorce decrees, 3 copies of my birth certificate, college transcript, a savings passbook for a bank that no longer exists, college ID card, every yearbook from school and an album of wedding pictures that somehow survived what I’ll refer to as The Great Fire of 2009.

Needless to say, by the time that exercise proved futile, I had looked at, held, unfolded, opened, questioned and ultimately kept or tossed a lot of baggage that I either didn’t realize I still had or had been unwilling to recognize was keeping me in a place that wasn’t good for me.

Oh, and about 10 tubes of various lipsticks and glosses, $57, and a bottle of Body by Victoria that became Jennie’s finder’s fee. I was happier about that list than the previous one.

What made it easier? Jennie was here – and more importantly, Jennie is one of the key friends who can cut through emotional bullshit like a hot knife through butter. She’s the perfect counterpart to go through everything with me because there are few triggers for her. She can hear me say things like “But I remember where I was when I got that!” and still look at me with an expression that says, “That’s nice. Would you like to take a photo of it before I throw it out?”

Through all of yesterday’s panic and consternation, I realized one very key thing about this year: I’ve not asked for help enough. I’ve taken too much personal responsibility for sorting through my baggage on my own. And I realized how grateful, lucky and blessed to have my friends, and how much I love their help.

 

 

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Truce

View from the Dragonfly’s Back 

MomsGetReal Soulfeeder Chris Wilcox

Yesterday morning, I was flipping through one of the dozens of emails I get everyday that I rarely read – you know, those email lists you sign up for because one day a million years ago another version of yourself found resonance in something that was said – and I saw one that said “Your year’s almost up! Let’s assess.”

My mind did one of those hazy whirlpool effects that we used to see on 1980’s sitcoms when they would do a flashback. For real.

I read the title again. While it still said, “Your year’s almost up! Let’s assess,” in my mind it said “You failed. You ass.”

A year ago, I was sitting at a home this many miles away from my past and current Point A:

I was in the heart of Fort Worth. I had every intention of staying there.

I had just started Doing Things that were What I Wanted to Do. After all, that was the reason that I moved 1,566 miles away – to be selfish. To make decisions that were for me and the life I wanted to live. I started three or four classes for things I was interested in. I walked the dogs on the warm fall evenings and envisioned the life Doing Things I Wanted to Do.

And then I wrote in my journal about this life that I wanted, and I ended it with something like “My Goal is to Live My Purpose.”

And slowly life, like pebbles  dropped into a half-full glass of water, started making that happen. Problem was, my purpose wasn’t What I Thought I Wanted It To Be.

My work escalated – the work that was fine and that paid the bills but that I had stopped loving. And I said to myself that it would be okay. That as long as I stayed grounded and centered, that I could Get Through This. I could put on my Fairy Wings and grab the Unicorn by the mane – I would write every week as a way to stay on track. I could and would Get Through This because I knew What I Wanted to Do.

40 hour weeks became 60 hours that could easily have reached 70 or 80, and occasionally did. My ability to stay grounded circled around being able to wake up in the morning, and with every passing moment, the only thing I could see at the center of anything was a pile of Things that Needed to be Done. And since my job also happens to be writing, doing anything that involved staring at a keyboard and screen was like a bus man’s holiday – it became something I couldn’t even think of doing. And then the piles of “I Wants” became a trash bin I labeled “You Should’ves” and every day, I stacked another Thing I Wanted to Do in the can, a reminder that I had again failed myself, just like I’d failed every diet, relationship, and self-improvement class. I let my “I Wants” get muffled and silenced by the onslaught of “I Have To’s.”

In doing so, I declared War on myself. Everything I did was stupid, wrong, or draining. Everything, said the voice in my head, was wrong. And all my fighting would never make it right again.

It finally occurred to me that everything I was dreading, hating, not accepting could actually be central to my purpose. And that thought was akin to a bleach cocktail after cheesecake with cyanide sauce.

I thought, in all of this, the dragonflies had abandoned me – when in reality, like being pushed out of the nest, they had taught me to fly, but letting them fly for me would do nothing to strengthen my wings. I had to fly on my own.

 

 

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Finding A Self-Care Mode

View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soulfeeder Chris Wilcox

Yesterday, I read a random post on Facebook from someone I’m connected to via a women’s group. We’ve never laughed together, clinked wine glasses in a toast or to my knowledge been in the same state, but what she said struck a nerve. And not in a good way.

It went something like “We all need days where we just give in and indulge. This afternoon, I put on my fuzzy bathrobe, sat down on the couch and watched a movie, and then I read a book. What do you do for self-care?”

My first thought was, “I read crap posts like that and go back to work.”

Not my best first thought of all time, admittedly. My mind’s eye imagined her beaming face in a big, purple bathrobe (why purple?), eating chocolates out of a huge box (and not gaining an ounce, by the way), laughing randomly with that I’m-tossing-my-Pantene-perfect-hair-back motion under a spotlight, and only rising from the couch to turn her rainbow on outside and go pet her unicorn.

And then I heard Mr. Wickham’s voice from Pride and Prejudice saying, “Jealousy. You like her life better, and you can’t stand that.”

I always have a tinge of jealousy when I read posts where people seem to have all the flexibility in the world to do whatever they want and live at the end of the Rainbow where unicorns frolic. During my career, my average week has been 50 hours (during some stretches closer to 70 hours) and my frolicking is limited, at best.  So what’s a workaholic to do when self-care comes to the forefront?

Self-care is also wrapped in reality. When I ignore self-care, my benefits are weight gain and spontaneous fever blisters (2 in the last three weeks – front and center on my top lip), and now have the added feature of high blood pressure (did I mention that I also had my yearly doc visit?).

So self-care has to be a part of my reality. And fast. And like any workaholic, I want the plug-n-play version – 15 minutes to Zen and on my way, right?

I’m rolling my eyes as I type that because while I want that reality, I know it’s not that easy.  My current self-care mode is (really unhealthy) comfort foods and sleeping – not exactly at the top of the list of healthy habits, and it’s results are creating a reality that I don’t want and cannot permit to continue.  So I need to find a new mode.

I’m on the hunt for healthy comfort foods and a framework for reality that fits with my word nerd desire to work. I love yoga, and will have my yoga corner established in my soon-to-be-completed sanctuary space in my house in the next few weeks. Is that all I need?  We’ll see.

What does your list look like?

Namaste.

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Letting Go Before the Glue Sets

View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soulfeeder Chris Wilcox

I’m destroying a kitchen floor right now.

Well, not RIGHT now, but as I write this, my sister and I, with pry bars, hammers and brute force have removed about 80% of the kitchen floor in the house that will soon be my home again. It all started when I decided that moving from Fort Worth back to Boise left me with a prime opportunity to make changes before the movers put all of my stuff in. The plan was simple enough: new paint everywhere and new floors in the living area of the house.

And then the subject of the kitchen floor came up.

Ever since I bought the house, the kitchen floor has always been higher than the rest of the floor, and while there were clues as to that reason, I didn’t want to dig or know why. I was fine with it. It’s a floor. Who cares if there’s an inch or so difference between that floor and the rest of the house. The higher the floor, the closer to God, right? Not to mention the fact that I’ve dealt with the variance for several years and just accepted it. It had ugly vinyl tile on it that my mom and sister peeled up in a few hours the first day we went in to start tearing things apart. Perfectly good particle board rested below it’s surface.  And then there was a one inch lip between the kitchen and the living room. Who cared? Not me! I’m inventive. I’ll just figure out a way to put enough of something under that one inch to make it a nice, graceful slope and we’ll stay on schedule.

And then two and a half weeks ago, my dad said, “You know, you could take  a look at that floor and see if you can get someone to tear it out.”  At the time, I replied, “Dad, I don’t care if there’s a dead body under there. I do not have the patience or inclination – or the cash – to find out what’s under that particle board.”

Then three days after that, my sister said, “You know, we could just tear up one sheet of particle board. What  could it hurt?”

The previous owner of the house had always used it as a rental, so I’d assumed that the “Fastest Way Possible” method of home repair became the norm at my little house when I bought it. It didn’t bother me then. Now, it bothers the crap outta me.

My floor contained the original vinyl from 1978, particle board, ANOTHER layer of vinyl, ANOTHER layer of particle board, and then the ugly vinyl tile that my mom and sister tore out. The bottom layer of particle board was glued and nailed to the 1978 vinyl, and the second layer of particle board was glued and stapled to the first.  What makes it even more precious is the 4×8′ sheets aren’t laid the same directions – they’re crossed, which leads to a seam of some sort with nails, staples and glue every 4 feet, no matter what you do.

The floor, through no fault of its own, is hanging on when I want it to let go. I’m irritated that someone would take such a stupid shortcut that was more expensive in the long run to “fix” a floor. And now it’s taking pry bars and hammers and sore shoulders and brute force to get it to let go. And this experience is exactly what I needed right now.

How many times have I packed down and covered up something that I should let go of?

A floor or a bruised nail under nail polish, or it old resentments, fears and other things that are no longer serving me under a wash of things we call Life: jobs, tasks, grocery shopping, Facebook. Busy things that keep me distracted from doing the work to let go.

I don’t want to hang onto fear, resentment or any negative feeling in place of doing the work now. I want to always take those feelings and give them their due time in my psyche – and then let them go before they get glued down.

Here’s to tearing up your floors.

Namaste.

Dragonfly Image source via

Floor image via author

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Friends, Reality and Mandy Patinkin

View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soul Feeder Chris Wilcox

I have amazing friends.  I’m lucky for that. The people in my life are all there for reasons that most days I cannot yet fathom because – to quote Wayne & Garth – “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy!” At my best, I strive to be so, but it’s at my worst where I question their sanity. Luckily, even at my worst, I have a few who will still tell me stuff I don’t want, but need, to hear, which this week equated to something like “I’m not sure what to name this version of your personality, but I hope, for everyone’s sake, that it crawls back into the hole it came out of.”

I don’t know what I’d dub this personality’s name either. To say that I’m not dealing very well with the amount of stress I’ve been under, even under incredibly positive circumstances, is the understatement of the century. I’ve gained 18 pounds in 4 months, and have been unable to muster a truly enthusiastic moment of “YAY ME!!!” for everything that’s in front of me now. I can chalk it up to the move, the insane project I  decided to do at my house amid all of this, the stress at work, missing the life I had in Texas or returning to a life that I feel less hopeful about – any one of those things is enough.

But – reality is – I don’t want to feel this way. I want to feel happy and grateful about everything that’s transpired.  My friends have all suggested different things – a gratitude journal, meditation, wearing a rubber band on my wrist that I snap whenever an overwhelming thought creeps over me… but they all feel like Things To Do right now, not like Things that Will Help Me.

So I’ve been trudging through the day to day, dragging myself on planes and off again, usually landing at a hotel; however, on this latest trip, I got to stay in the safe haven that is my Denver friend’s home. We’re six months to the day apart in age, and thanks to her persistence in cracking my work veneer with her amazingness, she is one of my best friends. We had a Tuesday night glass of bubbly to celebrate work and the changes that lay ahead, and that left her standing at the edge of the cave in which I’ve been ensconced.

Fortunately, she always brings a light, and leaves part of the candle with me every time (even when, at first, it might look like a stick of dynamite). And the following day, we were graced by Inigo Montoya himself, and he brought a whole new light to the conversation.

On Wednesday, we were fortunate enough to attend an event with her where Mandy Patinkin was the keynote speaker. In his first 60 seconds, he admitted that he didn’t really know what he was going to say to the 900 or so people in the room, but he knew that he was privileged to be there, and so were we.  Not because we all got to see him, or because he got to speak with us, but because we all were privileged to be able to attend a luncheon to benefit the work of a Denver charity. He said something like, “I don’t know why I was born to the life I had, to the parents I had, to the work I’ve been able to do, but I was. And it’s a privilege to be able to be here today to combine all of that to help others.”

I looked at my friend just as she looked at me, and it was one of those synchronistic moments where we knew that there were Bigger Reasons that I was there. I needed to hear what he had to say. I was reminded that messages are delivered by many different messengers.

In no uncertain terms, I’ve been struggling to find joy and have gratitude for what is now in front of me, and it’s manifesting in my being temperamental, forgetful, and empty. While I know it’s because I’ve been treating the Things I Need to Do to Help Me like just One More Thing, not clinging to gratitude has also brought with it a truckload of guilt over not feeling grateful.  Which was summed up best in a statement over champagne Tuesday night: “You know you’re the only one whose not happy for you, right?”

That’s a candle I need to go sit with.