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Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Category

Lush

My word for 2022 is LUSH. It’s the sort of word I feel compelled to type in all caps and use italics for emphasis. I like that. This is gonna be fun. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the word LUSH means…

  1. “…having a lot of full and healthy growth”

I often come to the new year feeling as if I haven’t quite finished exploring the word for the previous one. In a way, this makes sense. Growth is continual, lifelong, etc. I wanted my word for 2022 to acknowledge that. My first thought was “nourish.” I wanted to look forward and continue to grow in all the things I have learned these past few years. I want to continue to have experiences and read books that explore joy, but also that feature hope, wild, alive, lucky, fun, true, and other core values.

But LUSH encompasses my underlying goal better. There is an implied immoderate quality to this word. Not just growth but a lot of growth. An abundance of growth. A fullness. All the growth I can possibly squeeze into this little pocket of time and space. Maybe I should add “rest” to that list above so that I remember that it, too, is important. Overworked and stressed out does not fit in with a lush lifestyle. Healthy is a vital part of the definition.

  1. “…covered with healthy green plants”

I am currently looking for a place in my apartment to put a huge Poinsettia that I bought in honor of my MeMaws for the Christmas season at church and gazing fondly at my faux Christmas tree. I don’t even want to think about what’s happening in the office with The Little Juniper That Could (but if I did want to think of it, I might confess that I fear its days are numbered. RIP, probably). On the porch outside, my briefly successful tomato plant has long given up the ghost (but that’s not my fault – that’s just on account-a it being not summer), but the flowers that died when I was caring for them have resurrected now that I’ve stopped doing anything, which seems unnecessarily petty of them.

When it comes to plants, I have great plans and motivation but little success. I’m going to take this part of the definition literally. My goal? Have a live, thriving plant in each room. Also, flowers on the table make me happy, so I’m going to make more of an effort to do that more often.

Don’t think I didn’t notice that they snuck in “healthy” again. I see what you did there, M-W.

  1. “…having a pleasingly rich quality”

I love this turn of phrase. Yes, I would like this to describe my life. In many ways, it already does. But wouldn’t it be amazing if just about every aspect of my life had a pleasingly rich quality? I think so. Let’s delve deeper into how to make that happen this year.

  1. “…lavishly productive: such as…”

…fertile. NOPE. Unless we’re talking about a fertile bank account. Or garden. Or birthing a book and an album. Otherwise? Nope, nope, nope.

…thriving. That would be lovely. Not just to make it through but to flourish. 

…abundant/plentiful. Are we talking about books? Trips? Friends? Coffee? Peace? Love? Kindness? Cash? To all of the above I say yes.

…prosperous/profitable. I could definitely handle a little prosperity. Let me go submit some more applications and write some more articles. What I would really like? Get paid for the work I already do in my spare time (and that I actually enjoy) so that I can ultimately spend more time doing it and also still have a place to live. #CapitalismIsTrash

…savory/delicious. I’m not sure if this means enjoying more savory and delicious things or recognizing how savory and delicious I am. Either way, I’m on board.

…appealing to the senses. As a sensory sensitive person, this is a welcome goal. Too much of my time and energy are spent having my focus derailed by extraneous, irritating sounds or that smell that NO ONE ELSE CAN SMELL BUT IT’S THERE I’M NOT IMAGINING IT BECAUSE IMAGINARY THINGS DON’T MAKE ME SNEEZE. Finding ways to better navigate (escape?) consistently assaulting environments would be grand.

…exuberant/profuse. With vigor and vitality, and without restraint. There are some areas of my life that could definitely use this treatment.

…opulent/sumptuous. Oh, gosh I love these words. Also known as rich, luxurious, lavish. Splendid. And ostentatiously so. These words make me want to crawl right into a cozy bed with scandalously soft fabrics and pillows of the exact right firmness. Or a warm bubble bath with a glass of wine and some good cheese. 

And finally, speaking of wine…

  1. “…intoxicating liquor” or “…a habitual heavy drinker”

I mean, it’s not a goal, per se (although my limoncello, while mostly delicious, could use some tweaking). But if it happens, it happens. Here’s to enjoying life a little more and worrying about what all could go wrong a little less. Just as long as I remember to hydrate.

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Cozy viewing position, complete with fuzzy socks

I don’t watch a lot of movies. I like TV better, because I have time to get more invested with the characters. But I also don’t typically keep up with TV shows in real time. My favorite way to watch TV is to binge once the series finale is available on the Netflix. 

Therefore, my favorite things I watched this year aren’t particularly new. Just new to me. Actually, one of them wasn’t even new to me. So to confirm – we are 100% off the rails with this prompt (does this really surprise you?).

At any rate, here are the highlights of the audiovisual stories that accompanied my year:

  1. My Neighbor Totoro – I watched this online with Spiderfriends. It is very cute and sweet and I love it.
  2. The Magicians – This is one of the rare instances where I like the adaptation much better than the book. I don’t know if it’s because TV allows for musical numbers (Under Pressure! One of my favorite scenes!) or because just seeing the characters as others saw them made me like them better (really not a fan of Quentin in the book but in the show he’s ok) or because the actors are just so lovely (well, hello there, Arjun Gupta). Probably all of the above. But it’s one of my favorite shows I’ve watched in a long time.
  3. Once Upon a Time – I never finished this show in its entirety, so I am rewatching it from the beginning. I love a good fairytale retelling, and this is all of them in one. Plus I can leave the music that plays on the DVD’s home screen (yes, I am one of the relics who also still have a Netflix DVD subscription) running for hours. It’s so soothing.
  4. Schitt’s Creek – Another one of the best shows I’ve watched in a long time. I loooooove this show so much. It’s hilarious and endearing and helpful. If you haven’t seen anything I’ve listed and are adding them to your list, watch this one first. Or if you have seen it…you know you want to rewatch it. 

Is there a movie or show you’ve really liked this year?

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Food and wine with friends is always a good day.

The prompt for today is “best day of 2021,” so I thumbed through my planner to find the best day. I was already up to five by April, so I just decided to go top ten. In order (somewhat) of occurrence:

  1. Inauguration Day (January 20) – I am not a person who believes that political leaders (particularly milquetoast, capitalist, and/or status-quo-y ones) are the answers to our problems. I suspect that in order for someone to make it to the highest offices in our country, they’ve probably had to (and will continue to) compromise a lot and do some pretty shady things that likely do more to add to our problems than to solve them. When I vote, it’s typically for the least objectionable person who could actually win whose future speeches are the least likely to inspire me to damage whatever screen I’m viewing them on. But I enjoyed Inauguration Day. I enjoyed hearing Amanda Gorman share The Hill We Climb, and I loved watching her capture the day on Instagram. The Bernie memes still make me laugh. It’s just a day to take a breath, and it was nice to do so.
  2. Spiderweb Loves You – This virtual performance on Valentine’s Day was a poem I pieced together from text conversations with Maggie and Michelle. As with our conversations, topics ranged from favorite TV moments to the stressors of the day. I love them both a lot, and I love that Spiderweb gives us a specific space each year to love on the people who are important to us.
  3. Birthday celebrations (technically spanned more than one day, but let’s be real – there are no rules here) – Between visiting Texas Tulips and having lunch with Tammy, wine/coffee/pastry/book shopping, dinner and hangout with CM and Sarah, an All Booked Up outing with Sarah and Joan, and new shelves and delicious early dinner with Steph, Nathan, Tammy, and Matt, I was especially well loved on the days surrounding my birthday in March.
  4. Wine and pizza at Fortunata with Kim and Beth – It was the perfect evening. Friends, food, wine, live music that we definitely sang along to, getting out of the house. Such a lovely time with two of my favorite people and some of my favorite simple pleasures.
  5. Denton Community Market – Maybe I went on opening day? The day I’m remembering was at least one of the first days in April that it was open for the season. I usually avoid DCM early on (let the crowds thin out and the summer veggies show up), but this year I was excited about it. At any rate, my favorite DCM day was the one where I saw (and hugged!) so many friends in person whom I had mostly just seen virtually for the past year.
  6. Maggie and Michelle weekend!!! In late May, Maggie and Michelle came to see me! It was so exciting. We ate delicious things, chatted, and watched TV for a long, luxurious weekend. I miss them so much. The weekend was so fun we decided that it needs to be a yearly(ish) ritual.
  7. In-person gatherings – My Cookbook club, church book club, and Follow the Reader are meeting in person again! We started getting together again about mid-year, and it’s been so nice. 
  8. Spiderweb at the farm – One of CM’s friends has a farm nearby (with sheep! And donkeys!), and we were invited over to lounge in the pool, enjoy the outside and make art a few evenings during the summer. It was an amazing little mid-week reprieve. 
  9. Colorado trip! I actually took a vacation this year. I went with Spiderfriends to a cabin in Colorado where we hiked (well, they hiked. I mostly wheezed and stayed at the cabin), read, played games and enjoyed each other’s company. It was nice to take a real break (from both jobs!) for a few days.
  10. Spiderdead – So many of my best and most memorable days include Spiderweb Salon. I really love these people and the community we have together. I got to help share a friend’s poetry during our yearly grief ritual, and it was a great experience. It was my first time performing on stage at Rubber Gloves, so that made it special to me, too.

The fact that 2021 holds so many best days for me indicates that I had a pretty good year. It hasn’t always felt that way, so this was a nice discovery.

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I read Laundry Love by Patric Richardson and Karin Miller in almost one sitting. It is delightful. I knew I would love it because I love doing laundry. I find it soothing and comforting, and it was wonderful reading the thoughts of someone who clearly enjoys it just as much as I do.

Of course the book is full of great tips, but it also contains quite a bit of insight on the textile and fashion industries. The way it places this simple, personal chore into the larger context of environmental and labor ethics is right up my alley. Yes to preferring natural fabrics over synthetic ones because they breathe better, are better for the environment and won’t melt before your very eyes if you accidentally spill nail polish remover on them (not that I’m bitter, acetate). (I’m definitely still a little bitter.) Yes to saying no to fast fashion whenever possible (which is almost always, even on a tight budget). Yes to washing and pressing that wool blazer at home because you know how to do it right. Yes to extravagant musings about the laundry room of my dreams (I have drawn floor plans) right alongside a list of the perks of the laundromat. There are even family recipes at the end because it would just be unfair to mention the downside of favorite foods (i.e., staining) without also sharing how delicious and thus completely worth the mess they are. If I were to write a book about this favorite household task of mine, it would look a lot like this.

Of course, I have comments.

Longevity

One of the benefits the authors listed of taking proper care of your clothing is that it lasts longer. At one point it was mentioned that if you care for it well, a garment should endure 50 wash/dry cycles. I realize they were likely making a conservative estimate, but since I’m not the writers and am thus not at risk of losing book sales by making extravagant claims, I’ll go ahead and do so. If you follow the advice in this book on not only caring for your clothes but also choosing pieces that are made to last to begin with, you should get way more wash/dry cycles out of them and keep the clothes you love for as long as they fit.

For example, I still have and frequently wear a skirt I bought at a thrift store in my mid-twenties. Aside from the occasional seam reinforcement or elastic replacement, it is still in great shape two decades and hundreds of washes later. Buying well-made clothing doesn’t have to be expensive. I doubt I spent more than $5 on that skirt, and it’s lasted forever. It’s just a matter of learning how to spot good quality.

Fabric Softener

I typically add a little bit of vinegar (i.e., 1/8-1/4 cup) to each rinse cycle, and that sufficiently softens clothes, towels, linens, etc. It even reduces static a little, as does using wool, silicone, and/or aluminum foil balls in the dryer, or air drying my clothes. But if I want to completely eliminate static (and I absolutely do), nothing works like fabric softener.

I know it’s bad for the environment. I know it’s bad (yes, even the free and clear kind) for humans.

I KNOW.

I also know that it’s the only thing that saves me from thousands of tiny electrocutions every time I roll over in my peppermint-scented lightning sheets at night. It’s the only thing that keeps me from flashing my ass to the world when my skirt rides up on the walk from my car to the office (PSA: I have no qualms about showing some skin. I just want it to be my choice, not my clothing’s).

I would be delighted to find a tip or trick that does what fabric softener does. I would love to eliminate it from my laundry routine. But to date, every tip I’ve tried has failed me (have a tip? Feel free to share. Bet I’ve tried it, though.). Until there is a real solution that actually works, I will continue to use fabric softener sparingly.

Multiple Wearings

The tips for refreshing fabrics so that you can wear them multiple times between washes? Great advice. Unless you live in Texas in the summer. Then you get a pass. I mean, if I only wear a sundress to go to the farmers’ market and then come right home, I will give it a vodka spritz and air it out before hanging it back in the closet to wear again. But if my outfit goes through a whole day in the Texas heat of walking a couple of blocks from my car to the office, walking a few blocks to and from lunch, walking back to my car in the late afternoon, and then running whatever errands or attending whatever meeting I have that evening, I’m going to give it a proper wash before I wear it again. It’s earned it.

Texas folk, you don’t have to be a hero. Please be advised that it’s perfectly okay not to walk around in clothes that are holding a collective three days of the August-in-Texas meat sweats that have accrued since the last time you washed them. There’s not enough vodka (for spritzing or otherwise) in the world to combat that.

To conclude, I really love this book. I look forward to referencing it for advice and entertainment in the years to come.

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Some of my favorite images from the year

Well, here it is. The end-of-the-year review. I feel like a lot has been said about the world in general, and I’m tired and a little sad tonight, so I’m not interested in recapping it (didn’t I do this last year, too? I remember being very melancholy last year at this time. Maybe that’s just who I am now.). So I’m going to go through the year I thought I was going to have, how it changed for me personally, and maybe some more things as I ramble on.

First, some goal-setting changes:
1. I love resolutions, but I maintain the flexibility to adapt them. I did this really well this year – mostly out of necessity but also because it just makes sense to set goals that way. To work toward what you want until you get it or don’t really want it anymore or figure out something you want more.
2. Instead of plotting all the short-term tasks needed to reach goals in a chart for each month at the beginning of the year, I plotted one month at a time and based the new standards for each month on the previous month’s actual accomplishment (it’s like I KNEW) (I did not know) (No one knew). I like this much better, and it gives me a much clearer picture of the real progress I’m making.
3. I took the month of December off from the reward system of checking things off. Mostly I did this to just take a break from it, which was needed. But also it gave me a chance to see what habits actually stuck when I removed the reward of a check mark or a crossed-off item. Very illuminating.

Official resolutions I made at the beginning of the year and how they went:
1. Read 120 books. I did not quite make it. But, considering that I went for about four months where I had the attention span of a gnat and couldn’t read for more than five minutes at a time (I read a total of six books during those four months), I think my final total of 96 is still pretty respectable.
2. Finish Fishbowl again – nope. Although I’ve made considerable progress.
3. Keep up with microfictions on Ello – yes…ish. I haven’t even checked lately to see if Ello is still a thing. But I have written a LOT of microfiction and short stories. I didn’t set a specific number to write every month, so I didn’t keep count, but that was the main creative writing I did.
4. Perform with Spiderweb – yes x2! I was in the last in-person show, collaborating with Sarah Ruth for Spiderweb Loves You on Valentines Day. And I had a spot in our online Spiderdead in November playing an original not-really-a-composition-but-more-like-a-prompt called Maybe Hope is a Terrible Idea.
5. Find a doctor – yes. Done.
6. Find a new dentist and eye doctor – not yet. Have people picked out to try, though, in the first few months of the new year.
7. Continue to build Pilates practice – yes, but not back with the in-person classes yet (although my studio has been great with upping the cleanliness standards and thinking outside the box and serving customers – really proud of the way they’ve done things). When we started working from home in March, I accepted a 30-day strength challenge with Jessica and Mary in my office, though, and I incorporated a lot of Pilates stuff in that and have expanded it and kept up with it pretty well. I may be able to test into Level 2 classes when I return.
8. Work – vague resolution about continuing to figure out what I want to do with my life that got put on the back burner when I was just happy to still have work.
9. Word of the year was “alive” and we know how I feel about that. So that’s that.

Goals I didn’t have at the beginning of the year but added and met anyway:
1. Reduce plastic use and trash production. I started putting trash day as Monday on my calendar (I needed help remembering some things – see note above re: attention span). I soon found myself finding ways to prolong it to another day to see how long I could go without filling up the trash cans. I’m up to three weeks (except in the kitchen because food-adjacent waste really shouldn’t sit in my house for three weeks but I just use smaller bags).
2. Reduce food waste – my fridge had a hard year and I think it’s on its way to dying. My freezer still works great, though, so I began freezing leftovers. I’m down to almost zero food waste, so I think that’s a habit I’ll keep even when I have a fixed/new fridge.
3. Automate shipments – toilet paper, toothpaste tabs (the Bits ones – plastic free packaging!), laundry sheets (also plastic free!), etc. I needed to take things out of my headspace this year, so I automated a lot of shipments of things I normally would just run an extra errand to get when I ran out. Now I don’t run out. Great decision – 10/10 – highly recommend.

Things I learned about myself:
1. I’m way more adaptable than I thought I was. Like…my response to chaos has mostly been to fight and thrive (relatively speaking).
2. I am very particular about who I trust. And I like that about me. I mean, I’ll extend a basic trust to most people – I don’t want into new relationships assuming they’re shady – but past that basic trust? It has to be earned.
3. I can like and get along with someone without trusting them or letting them affect me. This makes me good at standing up for other people, and I want to practice that more in the future.
4. I need to be touched. Like…regularly. I knew this already but I really really know it now.

I lost a few people I love this year (some COVID-related, some not), and that’s been hard. I also had a few heartbreaks, one in particular that was really heavy and terrible. I feel like I’m in perpetual heartbreak these days, and I don’t know how to not be. I’m really trying to seek joy in the midst of it anyway.

Finally, to end on a sort of positive note, some highlights:
1. Staying connected to Spiderweb even though it’s online and particularly to the You Are Here support group
2. Monday night text study
3. Book clubs!
4. So many artists adapting to online performance and sharing really beautiful things
5. So many local businesses adjusting to changes and finding new ways to serve customers
6. The Science of Well-Being – free course from Yale
7. Wake and Bake fundraising boxes of baked goods
8. Backyard hangouts with people who love me

Goodbye, 2020.

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Day 6 – Find Color

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy, and torment” – Claude Monet

I bought myself this painting on my 34th birthday. It’s super simple, and I’m not sure how well you can tell here, but the colors are bold and bright, and the flowers that look like etching are actually embroidery that the artist painted over. I had been eyeing it at my favorite local coffee shop at the time (RIP, Art 6) for a while, and when I went in for my celebratory fluffy drink, on a whim, I looked at the price. I expected it to be out of my price range but it wasn’t. So instead of just picking up an And She Snickers with an extra shot of espresso, I picked up a painting, too.

I brought it home and hung it immediately.

I have never considered myself a particularly visual person, but being a bit more isolated than usual for most of this year, I have been noticing how much my mood is helped by little pops of color. The most colorful room in my apartment is my office/library, and it also seems to be the room where I am the happiest. One might assume this is because I am surrounded by books, and while it’s true that that is very much what I imagine Heaven must be like, the abundance of color also has something to do with it.

(ignore the mess – observe the cuteness)

When someone asks what my favorite color is, I never have a real answer. I will say something like, “Today, it’s red,” because I like the way the shirt they’re wearing gives their skin a warm glow. Or I’ll point to something multi-colored and say, “Probably one of those.” I like all the colors, and while I have distinct preferences about where I like some colors (e.g., no yellow near my face, please – it makes me look like I’m dying), there’s no color that I absolutely detest. I find bright and deep, bold colors especially invigorating.

Especially joyful.

I’m writing about chasing joy for the 31 days of December. Click here to see the whole list.

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Day 5 – Make Something

“Beauty is whatever gives joy.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay

I have been a knitter for years, but it has taken on a life of its own during this pandemic. My knitting has become like my writing in that I have several projects started (at least one for each room of the apartment, because God forbid I actually move them with me when I change spaces). I am about a third of the way through a blanket for a friend and almost halfway through a box sweater that matches the cozy aesthetic I long to cultivate.

The glorious and hideous thing you see above is a patchwork blanket I’ve been making by knitting remnants of yarn and then piecing them together. It was just going to be a lap throw, but I significantly underestimated the sheer volume of yarn that I had that was too much to throw away but not enough to really make anything. So it just keeps growing. I wore it around my shoulders during my morning check-in with my supervisor who then insisted that it needed to make an appearance at the staff meeting later that day. It’s now the official home office blanket.

Creating something almost always brings me joy. Even if it doesn’t turn out as I planned, the creative process itself energizes me. While it’s not necessarily a cure-all for my frequent funks, it does seem to help me come up for air a bit. I guess that’s what joy is supposed to do. It’s a little light to see by.

I’m writing about chasing joy for the 31 days of December. Click here to see the whole list.

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The tree is officially up and plugged in. And that’s it. No decorations yet. Just twinkly lights. Happy.

Our small group on Monday night talks about the lesson for the next Sunday, so my appetite for Advent has been whetted. Although Advent is one of my favorite seasons, December is not usually my favorite month. It’s usually too busy. That is not the case this year, though. Events are either canceled or virtual, and I think most people have (more than usual) an attitude of just making it through to the other side.

Students have already started leaving for break, since UNT classes are going completely online for the rest of the semester. They’re welcome to stay here, but they also have the option to go home and stay with their families for the holiday season, and many have chosen to do so. Can’t say that I blame them.

This December, I have a little more time. Rather than add extra things to it (with the exception of a blog series – more on that next week), though, I’m going to focus on savoring things I enjoy.

Cozy mysteries (just re-read Publishable by Death by A. C. F. Bookens this weekend, and it was just as much fun the second time around).

The above-mentioned twinkly lights. Just staring into them. Also candlelight is nice. More sparkly-lit rooms, please.

Soups and toasted sandwiches.

Baked goods of just about any kind. Sweet, savory – I love (most of) them all.

Dancing. Stretching. Dancing again.

Playing old records while sipping warm beverages.

Practicing hope. Practicing love. Practicing joy.

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Some spinsters have cats; I have books in cute nooks.

“What a great thing, to be loved. What a greater thing still, to love! The heart becomes heroic through passion…if no one loved, the sun would go out.” – Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

THE WHOLE DAMN SUN WOULD GO OUT. So dramatic, and yet feels so accurate.

Disclaimer: This post may get wallowy. If inspiration is what you need right now, consider passing it by. Take care of you.

I know the world is a rabid hyena frolicking in a trash heap right now. I feel selfish for even noticing the comparably small things going on with me. But not dealing with them doesn’t make them go away; it just makes them mad at being ignored and keeps me from focusing or getting anything else done. So fine, here’s your attention, you nagging asshats (feelings).

The loneliness is so strong this month. It’s like a whole other person by itself. And it’s hard to talk about because, while people who know me and what might help can just express sympathy, there’s occasionally a well-meaning person who is only trying to be helpful who comes across with “You’ll find someone,” or “I know there’s someone for you” or “of course it’s going to happen someday” or “I’ll be praying for you” or some other drivel meant to be encouraging that’s just not. So I try to bottle it up and that makes it worse so I need to talk about it and I’m between therapists so here we are.

Hi.

There is no evidence that everyone gets to find love. I know this. I know it’s an unreasonable expectation. A lot of amazing people who deserve to be loved and chosen never get to be. And I think that if I can just accept that I’m probably one of those people – that this is just how life is going to be always – I could maybe get unstuck a little.

I just…really hate the idea that that’s probably true. Like…physically, violently, hopelessly hate. it.

And this is also not me fishing for compliments. My social issues are anxiety-based, not esteem-based. I experience self-doubt just like everyone else, but overall? I have self-esteem to spare. Like, for three other people, at least. I sometimes have to pause after someone gives me a compliment not because I don’t believe it but because it takes me a moment to remember that the appropriate response is “Thank you” and not “I know.”

Of course, I have a long list of things I’m working on – I love learning and growing – but I also think I’m pretty amazing already. And if my friendships and past relationships are any indication, I’d be an amazing partner. I get a good dose of the benefit of living with me every single day. And I’m always alone, so I’ve had PLENTY of time to truly bask in my amazingness.

The vital characteristic I seem to be missing, though, is that one where you fall in love with someone and they fall in love with you, too. Don’t know how that works, really. Everyone I’ve loved, even if they considered it for a little while and gave it a shot, soon found someone else they’d rather be with. My most successful achievement thus far in a romantic relationship has been placeholder. That’s another thing I’m amazing at. Apparently.

An obvious solution is just to add “loves me madly” to my list of things I’m drawn to in a partner. I mean, it’s now on my list of things I require to agree to actually be in an exclusive relationship with someone, because it’s only fun if it’s mutual. Which is why there’s currently no relationship to speak of. But drawn-to doesn’t always wait around on choose-to. Those are different animals.

I don’t know – can other people control who they fall in love with? I don’t know how to do that. The list of adjectives I’m drawn to – kind, thoughtful, loyal, smart, funny, passionate, creative, interesting, etc. – is a result of observing the common characteristics of people I’ve loved. It’s not like I sit down with a checklist and make sure they match up to it and THEN allow myself to feel things. Feelings have a mind of their own, and once mine show up, they move in and bring their grandma’s furniture with them because they know they’re gonna sit for a spell. They are hard to get rid of. They’re the rude party guest who doesn’t get the hint that it’s time to go even after I’ve turned out all the lights and opened the door to make it super easy for them to walk out.

I suspect other people cannot control this either. How else do you explain the motley collection of humans who have expressed having feelings for me? They don’t fit my list at all. They’re drawn to the things in me that I am actively trying to correct or change for the better. They’re either dull, or complacent, or mean, or aggressively conservative (this is the most baffling. Have we even met? How in the world could a person with their priorities even be drawn to, much less want to partner with, the person I am or the person I am becoming?).

I’m not asking for answers or a solution or sympathy. Just needed to get it out of my head a little. Let’s see if I can find a tidy ending. Um…I guess if you’re feeling the same way…you’re not alone?

Except…you are. We both are. Maybe forever. Sorry, friend. I know. It really sucks. *hugs*

Welp. So much for tidy.

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My first small, imperfect peaches of the season. 

My word for the year is “alive.” The universe is hilarious.

I had a few thoughts about how this would go. There were a lot of lofty quotes that came to mind and many goals I made that I thought would contribute to a more vibrant existence. I had no idea how often I would have to fight to actively choose living over becoming stagnant or something else.

Today I read Joy the Baker’s post on turning 39, and so much of it resonated with me. I can list the accomplishments I’m proud of and many things I do well, but most days I can’t help but feel that I, too, have been left behind – that I missed a turn somewhere that would have taken me down the path toward those Big Life Goals™ that I just assumed would come along as soon I was ready for them. I also love her curiosity and her intention to set aside the small life story in exchange for embracing the things that sparkle – to “do them badly, then less badly, then maybe almost well.”

When our church decided to start meeting remotely, we didn’t hesitate or put it off a few weeks to figure it out. Our pastor told council, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” He didn’t mean, of course, that doing a bad job at online services should be the goal. Only that it needn’t wait until we had all the information to do it expertly.

As you can imagine, this is not my modus operandi. I am all for jumping off the cliff (metaphorically); I just want to be armed with a gigantic parachute of relevant knowledge before I do.

But I started the year with a commitment to come alive, so whether I know what I’m doing or not, here I am, doing it badly but consistently. This looks like a lot of different things:

To bake and eat the cake that I’ve been craving for a month rather than just think about making it.

To dance, enjoying the way my body – this body, the one I have right now – feels when it moves.

To choose to spend money in a way that actually makes a difference in my life and the lives of others rather than contributing to the greed of entities that exist to homogenize us.

To play Chopin. And also Joplin. And also brand new things that no one but me has ever heard.

To sing, even when there’s no one to carry the harmony.

To eat my veggies and stay hydrated.

To seek out the people who love me well and stop worrying about those who don’t.

To discover how much time I have when I cut out all the things that don’t really matter.

To discover exactly which things do matter so, so much.

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