Words to live by…

Sometimes (actually most of the time) life also teaches you that you don’t even know the questions and that, in fact, you didn’t study for this particular test you got handed because you expected another test entirely and you were too busy studying for that other one.

Because… life.

Go do good things and learn everything you can. Life is too short to do otherwise.


And time goes marching on…

Right across my face… until it doesn’t anymore… not sure which is more frightening for me.  Death or growing old.  Neither are good options, not sure there’s a better/worse to choose from.

And yeah, with that, is it obvious that I’m sort of feeling my age these days kids?  What with my 50th birthday bearing down on me like an overloaded Septic Pumper, driving far too fast, on a curvy mountain road, at midnight in the pouring rain, with my own mortality doing the driving, as it sends a text and checks Facebook.

There, that’s your visual of the day.  You’re welcome.  I’m a giver like that.

But anyway, yeah, feeling like I might be a bit old.  Or older than usual anyway.  And coming from the person who doesn’t ever admit to the “getting old” thing, those are big words I’ve shared.  And in a large quantity.  I know… scary shiz, ain’t it?  But the big struggle for me is that I’m truly not sure I know how to act this age… since I’ve never been 50 before…  I’m watching others do it, and they appear to be doing it much more graciously than I ever will, mainly because I’m usually one pratfall away from being drafted into the circus.  Nothing about me is ever graceful for long.  So I’m feeling my way through this one, trying on one mental attitude after another, sorting out how I’m going to do this “woman of a certain age” thing with my usual style and aplomb.  But truthfully it scares the crap out of me to be here… because I know people around me who are dying, right now, and I’m not ready for death to become a constant companion.  I’m not ready to have to bury friends.  I’m not ready to help people I love die a “good” death.

And WTF is a good death anyway?  It’s death, you’re dead, there’s nothing at all good about that.  So let’s just drop that redorkulous name for kicking it out of our vernacular, m’kay?  Thanks.

But yeah, I’m dealing with that now.  Losing more people I love.  I have become by age and survival a senior member of society.  And I’m fighting it with every thing I have and am.  Sitting here with my headset blasting Muse and Arctic Monkeys, sipping on Vitamin Water, and anxiously checking on delivery of my latest wrinkle cream/skin savior.

Yes, I’m ridiculous.  Aren’t you glad you know me?  You can at least feel superior to someone today… me:-)

And speaking of that looming sense of doom birthday, the other thing causing me stress about it is figuring out the right way to celebrate this “milestone” event.  Since, apparently having a funeral where we bury my youth in effigy isn’t something that’s “done”.

I know, right?  Who knew there were rules on appropriate celebrations?  Shocking, I tell you.  Simply shocking.  But it is what it is.

Anyway, so I’m struggling with trying to determine how best to mark this event… other than with anesthesia and plastic surgery of course, and I’m simply overwhelmed.  The beach looks tempting, but we can go there any time and it’s not exactly a big event.  Then there’s the idea of a milestone trip of some sort, but to where?  We’d like to do an adventure, but again, to where.  Of course I also love the idea of going somewhere and being pampered and spoiled with lots of good food and drinks but I’m not sure how much Bob will enjoy that.  So I’m dithering, this and that’ing the subject to death, while I get older by the second… oy!

So, yeah, expect to hear lots more about this, and yes, I doubt I’ll make a decision any time soon.  Ideas are welcomed… share away, and save some sympathy for old people… if you’re lucky you’ll be one some day.

If you’re lucky.

Or not.

Words with friends…

true-friendsSo, last week I had an old friend visiting.  We hadn’t seen each other in many years and yet our friendship seemed as though it had never been interrupted.  Conversation was easy as we recounted the years since we’d last been together, shared memories from our distant past, and spoke about our lives today.  It was a wonderful visit, enjoyable and filled with laughter and the simple joy of being together again.  But at the same time the wonderful visit was happening I also was dealing with a nasty dustup on Facebook.  (FFS – I truly exercised some poor community management with that one, am I right?!?)  Anyway, long story short:  a former classmate from high school who is newish to social media and the etiquette of thread comments, I tactfully tried to correct her and my efforts were not taken well, the rest?  Yeah, you read it, you know you did, don’t deny it.  Everybody loves a trainwreck!  Suffice to say that the entire episode simply confirmed my belief that arguments on social media are the digital equivalent of teaching pigs to dance.

I raised my blood pressure and the other party learned nothing.  Moving on.

But that incident notwithstanding, what you might or might not have noticed in my Facebook posts these days is that I’m operating less in outrage mode and more centered in kindness.  Because I want to make my social media interactions more like the IRL visit with my old friend and less like the aforementioned Facebook contretemps.  And I made this decision very consciously, some time back, because I find that being constantly outraged is tiresome in the extreme.  Honestly, it takes up far more energy than I have to give these days, it has cost me relationships with people that I care about, it diminishes the happiness I want surrounding me, and frankly it complicates my life.

Outrage, simply, is outrageous.

And yet, despite my change of course, I find that I have many friends who appear to thrive on that element I am avoiding.  For some perplexing reason they seem to want outrage to be their constant companion.  Further, and also perplexing, they choose to make personal ideology their starting point for their every interaction in their world.  Sadly, they seem to feel the need to sort their relationships with the people in their lives into categories that match their worldview today.  To preach to the choir of the people who agree with them and to attempt to sway the opinions of the people who do not.

To be clear, I do not share that need.

Also to be clear, my friends span the entire spectrum of beliefs – from far left to far right – but the key word for me in describing them is the word “friend”.   Not political ally, not ideological mate, only and simply friend. And that is because, in most cases, these are people who I have counted as friends from a time before we even had an individual ideology.  Before we felt the need to make points with each other and pronounce judgments based upon our own individual litmus tests we’ve devised to separate our world into Us vs. Them.

Back when we were simply friends.

And I for one am making a concerted effort to return to that state with everyone I care about in my life.  To ignore the outrage I see around me and I do not apply any rules to those relationships other than that we remain friends.  Without need for judgment or argument, or for any disagreements we might have over philosophy or politics.  When I write or post, when I share and like, my rule for that content is always – is it kind?  Yes, of course many of my friends are quite different from me.  Yes, we quite often do not agree, in some cases about very many different things.  But still today we are friends (or so I choose to believe) and that is why I choose kindness, our shared past, our friendship, instead of looking at them through the prism of the world we live in today where we are all so wired for outrage and anger.

I am not wired for outrage.

So the point here, when you look past all of the words I’m casting about today, is be kind.  Try to look at life not as an opportunity to make points at the cost of friendship but rather a chance to enjoy each other’s differences as opportunities for learning.  And always remember that no one has too many friends.  No one.  The net of friendship is something you will need one day, but if you have turned away the friendship of the people who know you the longest you might find yourself alone when you most need someone.  And usually the ones who know you the longest are the ones who know you best and who can help you the fastest.  So knit up your relationships.  Keep them well-tended and not well-sorted. And always remember that words have power.  Words with friends have more indeed.  Always ask yourself this one question… am I being a friend?

My answer is yes, you are my friend.

Yesterday, today, and always.

My friend.

A Sandy Piece of Land…


…that’s home.

So yesterday I actually teared up a little when I finally saw the Gulf of Mexico and the first small sliver of sandy land out the window of our plane. Really. Of course I love traveling, adore trying and seeing new things and places, but I love coming home even more. And, clearly, over the last five years it’s become more and more clear to me that this weird, wild, wonderful place truly is my home and everything about me is more at peace when I’m in Florida.

Home… a word that means so many things but to me means roots, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of being in place that I do not feel anywhere else. When it comes to Florida I am a boomerang; when I’m not here a part of me longs fiercely to go back, and I get home as soon as I can. Today I am home. Thank you Florida, Lakeland, and our friends for pulling us into your warp and weave. We are home.


The things we find as we get older, and (most importantly) the things we leave behind…

time-goes-bySo Saturday afternoon while I was downtown I ended up having an impromptu lunch with old and new friends that included two people I’ve known since 2d grade and another I’ve known since high school.

Yeah, I know, what what?

Yes, it’s true, I actually spend quite a bit of time these days with people I didn’t have any connection with for over 30 years.  There’s actually been lots of reconnecting since I moved back to Lakeland in 2009.  It’s nice.  Really.  Comforting in a way.  Building modern relationships based on connections that were made years ago – remembering the curly-haired girl and knowing the woman she is today.  If you haven’t reconnected with your old friends yet I suggest you try.  It’s a different dynamic, and thank you social media for this gift, because you’re the avenue where these friendships are being built.

But anyway, I’m digressing, back to what I saw Saturday as I sat at that table and looked at faces that still look the same, just a little older, is not the people I’m with but instead the people who are not there today.  Seeing those faces, and going through my mental rolodex my eureka moment was in discovering that today I am surrounded by people who are not the people I ever expected to be there at this point in my life.  What I mean is that my circle of friends today is comprised mostly of people I never expected to be connected to today.  While we did go to school together, for the most part we were not close, more acquaintances, and in some cases we were only barely on speaking terms.  Yet today we’re very close.  We connect frequently.  We choose each other as friends today, with our long-time connection as the bedrock but not the only reason why we’re friends now.

But what’s more interesting to me are the faces that aren’t there at all.  The connections that I thought would last forever that have not.  The deep friendships that are now only passing acquaintances.  The people I thought I’d never lose that are long gone, lost to time, life, and the changes we move through as we become adults and more.

Life goes on – with or without them or you or me.

Yeah, I said that.  People come into our lives for a moment, a day, a season, or a lifetime.  Connections are built and lost.  People change.  Or they don’t.  And I’ve actually found out that some of my closest connections have not.  Changed that is.  Moved forward in life.  And let me tell you, there’s nothing sadder than adults who’re still acting like the same kids they were 30+ years ago.  That’s just damned tragic.  And It’s those connections that I’ve left behind.  Walked away.  Because life is too short.  It goes on.  And all of the teenage angst and goth unhappiness that seemed such a cool persona backintheday is more than a little tiresome here in the modern world.

Just leave it behind.  Or be left behind yourself.

Yes, I’ve done that.  Deliberately left people behind.  I’m doing it today.  I’m doing it every time I choose who I want to be surrounded by.  And yes, the missing faces are hard, because I miss the connection they represent.  But I’m always moving forward with feet in both the present and the past and I remember those spaces that are empty today but I know that for today, this me doesn’t need them.  So I don’t look back for long… because I know that there are things that are healthy and things that are not.  Just like there are people who love me, and people who do not.  And so I leave those who do not behind and move forward with the ones who do.  Because life is short.

Too short.

I love my life today. And to all my friends, most especially my girlfriends, I love you all and the connections I have to you that have so enriched this season of my life and made it so full.  Life is filled with layers and there’s no such thing as too many friends and I am blessed to have some of the best.  And my lesson for you all is to never forget to look outside of the expected when you’re connecting with people from your life.  The treasures in my life have all been found in the unexpected.

Embrace the unexpected.

The gifts you receive from doing that might amaze you.