Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.

Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 190–195

In other words, still waters run deep.

* * * * * * * *

Have you ever said something and wished that you could take it back or say it differently?

Yeah, me neither. Yuk, yuk.

I suppose it seems a little odd to say that “people who think I suck and all other unpleasantness” is good stuff, but let me explain.

It has recently come to my attention that not everyone loves and adores me.

It’s not that I didn’t know this already, but sometimes we are presented with experiences that are a strong reminder of that fact. Surprisingly, they are good stuff.

Thankfully, I have recovered from the initial shock of my revelation. It wasn’t a full-blown punch in the gut, but rather, a figurative blow to my pride. And my jowls. After “it” happened, I wasn’t sure whether to make margaritas or go to church, so I went straight to the hospital, and when the doctor asked me, “Are you for real?” I didn’t know how to answer. So, after getting a full psychiatric workup, the ER sent me home with discharge instructions for rest and to wake up and smell reality. 

I’m seeing my chiropractor for regular bone-crunching to help me overcome the trauma.

The bottom line is that I’m actually thankful that some folks just don’t get me. Or like me, even.

* * * * * * * *

It’s human nature for people to want to share things about themselves, and I do it here on this blog. It feels good putting my ramblings out here, but it’s also a little scary.

My writings don’t lean toward anything I feel is controversial. In fact, I will quietly slide into the nearest crevasse if there is conflict occurring anywhere near my person. I’m not saying that I don’t have very passionate feelings about important things – I do – I just choose not to discuss them in public because I don’t have the social skills that might enable me to be a worthy contributor to any debate or lively conversation regarding that stuff.

Politics and religion? You probably won’t see that kind of action here. Even if I knew you in real life and you asked what my beliefs/opinions were about either issue, I might be very vague and possibly evasive, because topics like that are rarely black and white. There are so many variables, and I find myself conflicted within each of those subjects, so I avoid chatting about them altogether.

iceberg

I’m kind of like an iceberg that way.

Plus, I’m not good at banter. Just ask the Mister.

If any of you wonderful people want to comment on my writing, that’s fine. If we could have a few laughs and talk about the funny things that have happened in our lives where we might commiserate about similar situations, and then maybe delve deeper into other things, that’s even better.

If any of you take offense to my writing (or my perspective), I would hope for constructive criticism or some sort of discussion that lends itself to a civilized conversation.

Sadly, I did receive my first negative comment here on the blog, and it was quite a doozy.

I know it’s poor form to even address it. I should ignore it. I should grow a spine, right?

The first thing I felt after reading it was a bit of shock. Mostly because I’m not used to having someone throw that kind of vitriol at me. If you look at the comment sections for just about everything I’ve written over the past year or two, there is a distinct echo. You might even notice a few cobwebs.

The comment I received was overtly hateful, but even though I know people can be cruel, I still had trouble processing the fact that a complete stranger – although safely hiding behind the anonymity of their computer – would say such mean things. And the saddest part was that – initially – I believed every word that this person wrote.

I mean, I get it. I can’t make people understand or like me. Maybe I don’t make sense, but sheesh.

I reacted without even taking a moment to ponder. I didn’t even think for a second before getting really, really angry.

And I’m pretty sure that is what the commenter intended.

It's a tramp!!

I read other blogs and news items on the internet. I’ve seen the hate and ignorance that exists in many comment sections, so I honestly don’t know why I got so upset, because it was bound to happen. I think five years is pretty decent for not receiving a single negative comment.

So, I got my sea legs and I thought about it for a little bit. I read the comment again, and realized that this person clearly did not read the post all the way through, and if they did, they did not have the slightest idea what they had just read.

And if they did read it? They have every right to say whatever. Free speech and all that.

Before I came to those realizations, I went to Facebook to share what happened (as is my usual propensity these days – what is UP with that??? Oh, yeah…human nature). As I expected, friends were supportive, and a few of those most dear reminded me of something important:

If everyone likes me, life is going to be pretty damn dull.

I suppose that for some of you, this is not a big revelation. But for others, we need to do a quick tutorial:

Imagine living in an all white house. White everywhere. Or whatever your favorite color is. The walls, the floors, the furniture – all the same color. How boring would that be?

Unless you like your house all one color – that’s totally cool.

But for me? I need the contrast.  I like different colors and shapes and patterns and sizes, and I like my people the same way. I mean, I love Tex-Mex, but do I want to eat it every single day? What if we all looked alike and had the exact same personalities?

What if everything was what we wanted or expected?

Well, there would be no Star Wars, for one thing.

LukeNo

Who would Luke Skywalker be without Darth Vader? He’d just be some dude living with his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, whining about why he can’t go to Tosche station to pick up some lame power converters.*

Without the bad stuff, would we really be able to comprehend what the good stuff is? This is the question I was reminded of by my excellent friends – a question that is probably a by-product of this quote:

If everybody loves you, something is wrong. Find at least one enemy to keep you alert.~Paulo Coelho (b. 1947), Brazilian lyricist and novelist.

It seems very counter-intuitive to say that I’m doing something wrong if there aren’t people in the world who think I suck, but it makes perfect sense to have that contrast in the concrete stuff (like our immediate surroundings), the people we come into contact with, and the non-tangible experiences we have.

And also, we shouldn’t care what people think (especially those who don’t really know us). I’m still working on that one.

I teach my kids that they should treat people the way they want to be treated. I tell them that they need to understand that not everyone is happy and living a perfect existence; that the bullies they may be confronted with usually have their own issues, and instead of retaliating, they should be loving and kind.

My pre-teen and I recently had a conversation about “mean girls” and bullying. When I asked her what she would do if someone said something really mean to her or accused her of doing something she didn’t do, she said, “I would say nothing and then walk away.”

To be honest, it’s not the answer I expected, only because of my own experiential bias. She is a great example for me, so I’m going to follow her lead.

Okay, I’m going to try to follow her lead. This is a hard one for me, as I’m sure it is for a lot of people.

I guess if I could say anything to that commenter, I would thank them for reminding me that I have a lot of good things happening, for reminding me that I have a family who loves me in spite of my flaws and friends who support me and tell me to “keep doing me”. They also share some really cool quotes that make me go all “Yoda” :-)

I appreciate being reminded to see and relish the contrast that exists all around me.

Thanks again for thinking that I suck, Negative Commenter. You are Good-Ass Stuff.

* * * * * * * *

*I actually Googled how to spell “Tosche” in regards to the Star Wars reference. I am a geek and Google is my friend.

* * * * * * * *

Written to the tunes of:

“Hooked On a Feeling” by Blue Suede

“Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone

The Entire Freaking Star Wars Soundtrack

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“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent… develop a thick hide.” —Harper Lee

Well, I am totally screwed.

I’m the first to admit to having a thin skin. It’s not something I’m proud of. Some days are better than others, but there have been times – especially when I was younger and less self-aware – when I felt as though I was walking around with a permanent first-degree burn that stung like hell whenever I received any type of negative feedback.

Also? I’m introverted and feel a little socially inept in most situations. It is still hard for me to take a compliment without feeling like a fraud. My usual response to a polite expression of praise is, “No, I think you have the wrong person”.

If I didn’t have four very outgoing children who, since they are children, need some sort of outside stimulation anyway, it’s possible that I might become a hermit and a cat lady for sure. I don’t think that I would become an agoraphobic because I do enjoy the occasional outing to eat lunch or dinner, or see a movie with the kids. I also love visits to Costco, Lowe’s and Hobby Lobby, but I like to go early in the morning when there’s no one there. In spite of my introverted-ness, I really do love people. I love to talk to them and watch them. I know it’s hard to comprehend.

I don’t get it, either.

Amelie

“Amelie”

Funny thing about Harper Lee – after To Kill a Mockingbird was published and she was awarded just about every accolade possible (including a Pulitzer), she reportedly withdrew from public life because she couldn’t tolerate the pressures of fame. She was awarded a number of honorary degrees, but always declined to give commencement speeches, because, in her words, “…it’s better to be silent than to be a fool” (to which I say, “Amen, Sister”). With the exception of a few essays and letters, she never published again.

Is it because she is introverted and sensitive, too? How does one go about growing a “thick hide”?

I’m not sure if it’s possible.

I don’t give advice. I’m not an advice-giver, but I will tell you about some things that help me to roll with it a little better. Who knows? If you have the skin of an over-ripe tomato, these little nuggets might help you, too.

1. I know who my real friends are. Having an objective point of view that you know you can trust is valuable. My family and the few – but very precious – friends who really know me well have offered loads of support and encouragement when I needed it. They have also slapped me around and told me to just get over stuff that didn’t matter. Because of those who are close to me, I know I’m not alone and that others struggle with some of the same crap. It’s reassuring to know that we are all playing this poker game together.

2. Love. Love is…it’s…well…it’s hard to explain, but I know that it feels good. Here are some things that make me feel “love-y”:

  • Family and friends.
  • The cat.
  • This writing hobby.
  • Star Wars.
  • Star Wars and Cats.
  • Sleep.
  • Vacations, chocolate, and wine – not necessarily in that order.
  • Definitely NOT Facebook or Pinterest. They are evil and make me feel hate-y.
  • Facebook and Pinterest

3. Perspective. The world is a big place with lots of small stuff on it that looks big even though it’s not. I guess it’s easy to say something contrived, like, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, but sometimes, the small stuff seems insurmountable, doesn’t it? It is hard to see situations as they really are through a veil of anger or sadness or emotion. I’ve been mad/sad/emotional about something once or twice in my life, and when someone told me to count to ten, I wanted to blow them up. However, it works. It’s hard as hell to do, and I am not a pro at this by any means, but it is helpful to just stop and think for a minute. Trust me. I learned this trick from watching “Blue’s Clues”.

I also try to get outside of my own head, because it has come to my attention that the world does not revolve around me. I have to think of other people and their feelings. Once I’ve had some time to think, I usually see things very differently and realize that perhaps the problem is but a small scab on the knee of life.

This works pretty good unless you’re in jail for life or something.

4. I try to keep busy so that I am not sitting around ruminating about what others think. Not that I spend a lot of time doing that, but sometimes, I say something idiotic that I end up regretting, and I stew about it longer than is really necessary.

Although I’m introverted, get me talking and I won’t shut up until I’ve said something really dumb and bad, or I realize that I’ve changed the subject about a thousand times and I have no idea what my point was, or I realize that the adrenaline has gotten out of hand and I’m visibly quivering with excitement because I’m actually having a conversation – although likely one-sided – with a live adult human being who appears interested in what I have to say. Basically, I turn into Chatty Cathy on meth. This paragraph-y thing here comes pretty close, I think.

Example: At a recent social gathering, someone asked me about homeschooling.

That is a hard subject to talk about on the spot because it raises so many additional questions that are not always easy for me to answer articulately. Our reasons are not exactly black and white.

I feel good about schooling my kids at home, but some folks feel like it’s just the worst possible thing a parent could do, and apparently this person I was speaking to felt that way but didn’t let on until I had already made an ass out of myself.

Afterward, I felt really foolish and I thought about the exchange for a couple of days. I felt like I had ruined any chance of cultivating a new friendship with this person (who was actually quite delightful) and I was just sick about it. I was mad at myself, then I was sad, then I was mad at this person for being narrow-minded (which was just petulant on my part), but then decided that I needed to let it go because I would maybe only see this person once a year at this particular gathering anyway. If he thinks that I’m a loser, then I guess that’s the way it has to be. We are all allowed to feel the way we do about anything, right?

Still, it’s hard not to relive situations like that over and over and wonder how I could have handled things differently, especially when I’m lying in bed trying to get to sleep. Once the lights are off, and there is no sound except for the prominent buzzing of my foolish brain, it’s hard to relax because the thing just won’t turn off. It thinks and thinks and thinks about the most bizarre things that don’t really matter, or it will make stuff up that will never, ever happen. Probably.

*Note: Consequently, bedtime is when I employ AIR the most. I breathe in slowly, and then I breathe out more slowly. Deep breathing sounds hokey, but it really works. Although, if I run into Darth Vader in a back alley or get sucked into a Sharknado, I think I’m out of luck. Deep breathing probably won’t help in those cases.

5. Flossing. Flossing is undoubtedly one of the greatest things you can do for yourself in my honest opinion. It’s right up there with a good night’s sleep and eating nourishing food. Flossing makes me feel right. When I floss, it’s a reminder that self-care is a priority. I’m a priority, you know? So, remember to floss and do all of that other stuff that constitutes “self-care”, like nail clipping, showering and going to the bathroom when you need to. You are a priority.

6. Getting older has helped A LOT. Bring on the aging and wisdom. I’m not one of those people who dislikes birthdays, and in spite of the additional aches and pains associated with getting older, I welcome my birthday every year because it means that – hopefully – I’ve learned more about how to navigate my own anxiety. There is also a weird, increased sense of self-respect. I almost feel entitled just for living this long.

There are moments when I imagine myself as Ouiser Boudreaux from “Steel Magnolias”.

11-Steel-Magnolias-quotes

Well, maybe not. Take away the southern accent and the pearls, then add a cocktail, a pack of smokes and ten cats and I swear that’s my mother right there.

7. I try to feel good about myself. Yeah, it’s tricky. Sometimes possible, sometimes impossible. There are days when I feel a surge of self-confidence and a comfort with myself as I am. Those days are precious and few, because I wasn’t exactly raised in an environment that imbued me with those virtues, nor did I try to cultivate them in myself when I was older. I never explored their value until I’d made a lot of mistakes. I mean, A LOT.

I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t truly understand what respect was until I was well into adulthood. It was just never something I thought about. Can you imagine? I remember admiring certain people, but it was usually for the wrong reasons. I refer to that time as The Clueless Empty Shell Years. And it was a lot of years.

I didn’t get the importance of self-respect until much later.

Things are certainly different now. Funny how time and life events shape a person. I suppose that, sometimes, positive change and the self-awareness stuff comes later.

What I’m trying to say is this: When I feel good on the inside, the bothersome outside stuff doesn’t trouble me as much.

I think that’s the “thick hide” Ms. Lee was talking about.

* * * * * * * *

I hope that the sensitive folk out there find some value in the things I’ve mentioned. If not, I hope that at the very least, you enjoyed that Steel Magnolias meme. I think it’s a hoot.

Oh, and one more thing?

8. LAUGH.

* * * * * * * *

Written to the tunes of:

The “Amelie” Soundtrack

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