It’s All About Me.

I am not a ME person.  I don’t like talking about me.  I don’t like people looking at me.  I don’t like people touching me.  All of that makes me really, really nervous…and twitchy.

If you have spent any time around me, you know “It’s all about me,” is something I say.  In conversations with friends, I say it.  My family jokes about it.  At my jobs, present and past, I have been known to wail,  “Come on you guys! Don’t you get it?  It’s all about me!”  When I worked at Job Corps it  was my slogan, “Look at me. Listen to me. Hang out with me.  IT’S ALL ABOUT ME.”

Obviously the reality is/was NONE of it is really about me.  It was really all about the stories, the work, the people, and the effort to make progress, take action, touch lives.

I am not a ME person.  I don’t like talking about me.  I don’t like people looking at me.  I don’t like people touching me.  All of that makes me really, really nervous…and twitchy.

Ohhh I know some of you might be thinking,  “Bull! I know Denise and she is the loudest, most talkative person in the room! Any room!”  And that’s true, too.  I can be that person. Sometimes I am that person. I mean, get me talking and I will probably tell you anything.  Take a road trip with me and you will know my life story. But having a big mouth and wanting to be the center of attention are two different things.

The real me, the one whom only my closest friends knows, recognize that even the thought of people looking at me freaks me out.  My clothes, my hair, my makeup?  That sh*t’s about anxiety.  If people HAVE to look at me at least I want to feel good about myself while they do it.

Once I found out a guy from another department thought I was pretty.  I should have thought that a nice compliment and moved on with my life.  Instead, it freaked me out.  I went out of my way to avoid that guy AT ALL COSTS.  If I had to walk by him, I may have mumbled a hello, but that’s it.  I never had a conversation with the guy.  I was too damn freaked out.

dont look
You can look at my Etsy shop from here though… Wordsmithstudios on www.etsy.com/shop/wordsmithstudios

When the subject of my Etsy shop comes up I get all twitchy.  Yes, I paint.  I sell those paintings on Etsy.  No, I do not want to talk to you about it and please don’t tell me you love my “work.”  And please, whatever you do, don’t open the gift I made for you (probably agonized over giving you) in front of me or the crowd of people here at your party. ugh.

If I have a medical scare or issue, I am not telling you. Or anyone.  Oh, hell no.  I might say something about it later in casual conversation, cause that’s Big Mouth Denise. “Yeah, I had a melanoma scare once, too” But I am not going to call a family meeting to make a health statement. Or call my mom to specifically tell her about it.  I just can’t do it.

I don’t really even want to share the little things.  My first brand new car on social media? Probably not.  Probably not the pics of the first time I run into something with my new ride either.  Or the 2nd time. Or the 3rd…Ok, there might even have been a 4th, but I’m not going to announce it.

All of those things drive my mother crazy.  She feels like she’s always the last to know everything.  She isn’t always and it isn’t personal. The only other people who know are those I run into at the grocery store or the halls at work, but do they even count?  I know, I know,  she IS my mom and feels like I should tell her stuff.  Or I should at least tell her before I tell anyone else.  I get that.  I just don’t tell people stuff in an intentional way.

I guess for me sharing  happens organically.  You know, stuff just comes out in its own way and time.  Or it gets puked out by my big mouth.  Yeahhhh, organically is a good way to describe it.

P.S. Mom, I also use curbside pick-up at the grocery store WAY more often now so no need to worry about the grocery store people at least 😉 

Four Areas of Focus

After my layoff for the first time in a long time I felt defeated.  It wasn’t just the layoff.  It was years in a toxic, unsupportive environment.  So when I walked away (or was pushed),  I felt like I was leaving pieces of myself behind me.  I was this broken hull of a shell and the pieces were falling away bit by bit all the way home.  Like Hansel and Gretel except I was walking away from the scary monster instead of toward it.

The problem was, what I was walking toward was also scary.  It was a form with no shape, and I was a shape with no form.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Restorative Justice helped me bring my life back into focus.  (See A Rebuilding Year or restorativejustice.org for more info) A restorative plan is broken into 4 parts that address Community,  Family,  Self,  and Victim (those who have been harmed.)  Those were the 4 areas that brought me back to life.

Family  

It started with my family.  It was the perfect time of year for that–smack in the middle of the holidays– and I was completely immersed.  I could keep busy with holiday planning and all the cheer and chaos that comes with the holidays.

In my last post I said I would be talking about dinner again and here it is.  Dinner, as much as I hated it when I was working became my grounding force.  No matter what else had gone on during the day, no matter how sh*tty I may have felt, I knew I had to pull it together and make something for dinner.  Everyone was thankful to be eating and that feedback filled me up.  Seems like a simple thing now, but at the time, it was huge.

I am also so thankful for how supportive my family was throughout my layoff.  Even when it was approaching 6 months, my husband never complained to me about money and my kids always reinforced how glad they were I was home.  My parents and extended family never implied I was being lazy; they all just supported the idea I would find something when I was ready.

Self

I didn’t lay around feeling sorry for myself.  I got to work doing things I wanted to do.  I really wanted to blog, so one of the first things I did was start my blog back up.  In the beginning, it helped me to process my situation in ways I wouldn’t otherwise have been able.  I look back at my posts now and I can see my healing pattern.

I revamped my Etsy site and painted like crazy.  Then I started reorganizing my house and cleaning things out.  I blogged about cleaning out my closets.  When I got to my own closet, I was horrified to realize I had so many clothes!  Some things I hadn’t even worn more than once and not because I didn’t want to, but because of the sheer VOLUME of things I had. (The money and time spent on all those clothes is another blog post in itself.)

Some research led me to a selling app called PoshMark.  I literally just started selling off my clothes. (You can get $5 of free credit on PoshMark if you use WORDSMITHSHOP when you sign up).  I can’t communicate the sense of relief I felt from purging my closet. It was like shedding another layer of stress every time I sold an article of clothing. I am still selling and the feeling hasn’t stopped.

Victim

In Restorative Justice, the victim is the one who was harmed and the work focuses on how to repair the harm that has been done.

I never saw myself as a victim during the time I was employed or unemployed.  I would have described myself as angry, defeated, bitter, or hurt, but never as a victim.

God Friended Me
We watch God Friended Me on CBS and Miles the main character, summed up my life during one of his podcasts.

However, when I look back objectively, I can see that I was “victimized.”  I realize that’s a strong word, but it’s also accurate. There was a significant amount of workplace manipulation and intimidation that happened in the company that I had to manage personally. My unemployment was just the grand finale.

I also accept that I made many mistakes as an employee.  Those mistakes were offset by many more highlights.  I learned more than I could ever write about in any blog and I gained more than I ever lost.  That is my truth.

However, my experiences left me scared and my fear snowballed.  The fear made me question everything and the more I questioned, the more fearful I became.  I put pressure on myself.  What if I couldn’t find a job?  Or worse, what if I couldn’t find a job I liked or that didn’t make a difference?  (I can feel my chest tightening even as I write this and relive those thoughts).   If I found a job opportunity or was approached with a job opportunity,  I would panic.  I was afraid of ending up in a situation like I had just left.

Finally, a part-time position opened at a local university that looked interesting. I did my research, applied, interviewed, and got the job.  It turned out to be just what I needed.

A bonus benefit for working there is free education. While I am part-time, I can take classes for free and if I decide to go full-time, my family can go for free.  10 years ago I started my graduate degree, but life got in the way and I never finished.  It has been something I have always wanted to complete.  The timing was perfect.

The part-time hours would also allow me to continue focusing on the Restorative Justice cases which were coming in consistently.  It was becoming clear to me that my passion for meaningful work would be found there.

Community 

Perhaps the single most important lesson I learned in the past year is that I can make a difference no matter where I am or where I work.  I don’t have to sit on boards or gain national attention or even strategize ridiculous office politics to make an impact.

I’ve made important connections in the local community on behalf of Restorative Justice and youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The work is meaningful, interesting, and fulfilling and I enjoy it more than I ever expected.  It really is magic. Magic that I accomplish in only 10 or 12 hours a week.  And I make my own schedule.

It’s All About Me.

The place I am in now is one of balance.  I honestly don’t feel stressed or anxious on most days. I don’t feel overwhelmed or guilty and I am not dropping balls or ceaselessly apologizing to people for missing something.   I am meeting my needs and the needs of my family.  Not only that, I have time for friends.  FRIENDS!

Bit by bit, I have chipped away at the raw, hard, shapeless form I started with a year ago and am starting to relax into this new life I created.

It’s not perfect.  I still question myself and my choices every day.  I question if I deserve to be here, to be happy, to be balanced, to be in control of my choices.  I question my ability to do my job. I question my skills, my qualifications, my potential…But I remind myself to stay in the moment and embrace it.

And I do things to remind myself to stay true.  Like, I got a tattoo with my friend Aleigh.  Something I NEVER thought I would do- the tattoo, I mean.  It was a great day.

Until next time…

We’ll need an arsenal if there is a zombie apocalypse.

America, gun violence is a thing.  Having too many guns IS A THING.  And America is known for it. Guns cannot be more important than human beings. Life is about relationships. Let’s start creating some.

Dear America,

I don’t know what’s happened to you. I watch the news and I see chaos.  I watch CNN and see clips of protests—protests I am used to watching happen in other countries—I read my Facebook feed and read friendships and families divided.  People are being deported, politicians can’t do their jobs, women are outing their harassers after (sometimes) YEARS of inexcusable behavior.  And our kids are afraid to go to school because they might get shot down as they learn their ABC’s or algebra.

Admittedly, America looks and feels a lot messier than we want it to, but I am thankful we still live in a free country.  It is nice to know that unless I am on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, just broke out of jail,  am criminally connected to the mafia or in some other gang related occupation, it’s unlikely I will ever NEED an assault rifle of any kind.

My son and I talk about that sometimes—how lucky we are.  We could have been born in a country at war like Afghanistan or Syria.  We could have been born into a country where we have NO rights like North Korea or even somewhere in Latin America where people just get murdered all the time (Wikipedia has the stats if you want to fact check). Those are places we would need an assault rifle. Multiple assault rifles and an arsenal of guns in our basement or better yet in the coat closet by the front door.  If we even had a door.  That would be a luxury too probably.   In one of those countries, we would be fighting for our family’s survival every day.

Oh, and we would need an arsenal if there were a zombie apocalypse.  I’m sure that is an argument someone will make.  Fortunately, it is still general consensus that the zombie apocalypse is not real despite how awesome the tv show is.

I know what I have described is mostly just reasonable thought and lacks statistics, so here is a short video my husband found on Facebook.  He spends a lot of time there watching cat videos since he is getting tired of the crazy shit going on in the news.  I encourage everyone, whatever you believe, to watch it BEFORE you revert to your standard go-to opinion on the gun debate.

https://www.facebook.com/Vox/videos/841874856000118/

Finished? If you are, and I hope you really did watch,  because you saw that yeah America, gun violence is a thing.  Having too many guns IS A THING.  And America is known for it.

And before you revert back to that go-to argument, America, think about how you would feel if it were YOUR son, daughter, wife, husband, loved one who was a victim of the violence?  Would you still say guns don’t kill people?  Would you still say we don’t need to change our situation?  Would you REALLY?

What are we going to do?

Desensitization is also a thing.  I dare say I speak for many Americans when I say I feel like I/we have become a bit desensitized to violence or to situations that don’t effect me directly.

I don’t play video games by the way, so we can’t blame them.

I do tend to compartmentalize things.  Sometimes that is THE only way I can manage my emotions—I put them away in a box in my head and lock them up.  My kids are safe and happy.  My world is safe and happy.  So my strategy has been to look at the TV, feel bad…and move on…

Until a few days ago, I am not even sure I would have written about something like this. Something so controversial and emotional.  Writing  about something so raw rattles at the lock on my compartment.

Except that during the news coverage of the Florida school shooting, I saw the news clips of students talking to the news and they said things like, and I am paraphrasing, “We knew he was going to shoot up the school one day,”  and  “I wasn’t surprised when I found out it was him.”

And that BLEW THE LOCK OFF THE COMPARTMENT.  My eyes bugged out of my head.  I got mad and sad.  Mad at myself.  Mad at the media.  Mad at a system who puts guns into the hands of anyone who wants one.

Quote from Parkland School Shooting survivor, Emma Gonzales

Sad for a system who let a young man become so angry he resorted to violence to be seen…to be recognized…to be heard.

Mad at the culture who just keeps chanting that guns don’t kill people.

Except that there are too many lives lost and too many guns.

I mean, REALLY?  This is where we are now?  We have become so complacent about our fellow classmates, students, friends, humans, that this is where we are?

Can’t we all just SEE each other?  Can’t we just LISTEN to each other? Can’t we put aside the radical thoughts and look at what is best for everyone?  What is best for the vulnerable?  What will keep people safe?  (and we know it’s not more guns). 

From Author Tom Digby https://www.facebook.com/tomdigby3/posts/1445953932167458

The victims of these crimes must be heard and must be examples on which we base our future.  “I hear you” needs to be far more than a talking point on a list held on a piece of paper by our President.  We need action that creates change and change that saves lives.

I am not pointing fingers and I don’t have a solution.

But I know people aren’t evil.  We have created these situations and we need to start looking at ourselves to fix them.

Listen to the victims of the crimes.  Listen to the broken.

America, guns cannot be more important than human beings.

Life is about relationships.  Let’s start creating some.

Respectfully,  A dangerously optimistic citizen feeling dangerously close to giving up on America’s ability to do the right thing

 

 

Why I love the Super Bowl & Surprise! I am not an awesome wife.

Oh the Super Bowl.  So much hype!  I like football. Kinda. My husband, he LOVES football.  Well, aside from softball, but that will be another blog closer to softball season and will be chock FULL of sarcasm and taunting comments about watching reruns of games posted online from 2005. (Rolling eyes now.)  In fact, as I type this I hear an announcer on TV welcome him to the Australian Softball Championship!

Back to business.

My husband LOVES football.  He is a Pats fan.  Probably not a surprise.  We live in Maine…they are the best…Tom Brady is the GOAT…Belichick is someone we love to hate…They have 5 Super Bowl Championships.  What’s not to love? 

During football season, everything is scheduled around football. Every year it takes me awhile to get used to it.  I’ll plan something on Sunday and go about my business while my husband just gets grumpier and grumpier.  What the hell? 

Oh yeahhhh.  It’s football season and the game is on at 1.  Well, why didntcha tell me ya fool?  Ya Could have saved yourself a bunch of grumpycells.  So we adjust.  Kobe wants to use the Playstation?  Nope, it’s Sunday.  Dad’s watching football.  McKenna wants to watch Riverdale?  No (thank God), Dad’s got the TV. And Corey spends the rest of the day almost giddy, yelling and screaming at the television. 

That’s just how football season works around here. 

Super Bowl Selfie

I watch if I am not doing anything better.  I know all the player names and numbers.  As you read earlier, I know Brady is the GOAT.  I know who was traded and Gronk is on the injured list.  Not just because I follow them on Twitter or Instagram (I do) but because my husband just likes to share the information with me. 

I like to believe he cares that it’s me with whom he shares his precious football intel.  Being the awesome wife I am, I step up and nod my head at the right times and ask the appropriate questions.  Some of it just stays with me. 

Especially the info about Amendola and Edelman.  Cause they are hot.  Right ladies?

In reality, Corey just does everything out loud and often times, loudly.  He never stops talking.  Ever.  He walks around the house having conversations with himself.  He talks to the TV.  Talks to FB. He talks to his phone.  If I am in the kitchen, I can hear him down the hall in the bathroom yakking away. I don’t even want to think about who…or what…he is talking to in there. If he watches a funny video on his phone (he does this all.the.time) he laughs long and loud.  I am forever saying “are you talking to me?”   Probably half the time he is not.  Half the time! 

And it doesn’t stop there.  He is constantly asking questions. Which he directs at me, mind you, like I have the answers.   Out of the blue he will ask me things like, “What’s so weird about prime numbers?” “What’s the world’s population at now?” “What is the glacial melt rate?”

20 years ago, I probably would have humored him, engaged in these conversations.  “Jeez, I don’t know. Blah, blah, blah, I read somewhere, heard somewhere…”  Now my answer is more like a look.  An incredulous look that says, “Really, you’re asking me?  Because I know the answer to that?” If anything comes out of my mouth it is usually. “Google it.” or “I bought you an Alexa for that shit.”

He could also just want to share some amazing fact with me.  He’s a really smart guy.  The smart phone has opened up his spongey-fact hungry brain. He is always learning new things and impressed by the information that comes across the amazing machine in his hot little hands. 

I am not as smart or as impressed by my smart phone.  I like shoes and pretty things.  So when he does his impressive intake of breath, ready to impart the impressive fact he just learned–I know it’s coming. I can stop that shit right there– I don’t even have to look up when I say, “NOPE.  I don’t care.”   

So, full disclosure, I am definitely NOT the awesome wife stated earlier. That sentence was all about me feeling good in the moment.   

But I digress.  This is not about me or my man.  We are talking about the Super Bowl here.  The game of games!  

I only kinda like football, but I love the Super Bowl. 

There are actually many things NOT to like about the Super Bowl.  The commercialism.  The obscene amount of money invested in making it happen and keeping people safe and advertising.  All of that money could probably feed several third world countries. 

But, put that aside and look at your FB feed, Instagram, Twitter.  Look at the news, pictures on your phone, the selfies you might have taken with your families.  Then take your magic wand and delete the rioting Philly fans from after the game. They don’t count in this scenario. 

I bet what you see are lots of smiling faces, food, beer, comradery.  Perhaps some of those friends haven’t seen each other in awhile, haven’t watched anything together in awhile, haven’t gone out in awhile and the Super Bowl was an excuse to do all of those things.  I think that’s what makes it special. 

Superbowl Party 2017

It is for us. We usually do something for the Super Bowl.  The past couple of years we have had people over to our house.  Do you know how often we do that?  I think I can count the number of times we have people here on one hand.  We live in the boonies on a private road in the woods.  We don’t even really know HOW to entertain!  We have people over and it’s like the sky is falling.  Corey is running around talking to anything in his vicinity and I am a cleaning maniac.  We don’t know what to do with ourselves. But we do it for the Super Bowl, it’s fun, and it takes us a year to recover.  

And this year’s broadcast was weird.  All of it.  I don’t think it was in the cards for the Pats to win anyway.  The commentary was bad.  Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels?  Annoying.  Not to mention they got every call WRONG.  If they said the call should be one way, it would undoubtedly be ruled the opposite. Then they would spend the next five minutes trying to justify their bad judgement. 

And the commercials…there were a few funny ones; however, there were a few which left me  scratching my head.  How exactly does driving a Dodge Ram compare you to Martin Luther King, Jr?  Our friend drives a Dodge Ram and he couldn’t tell us either.  Sooo newsflash!  Buying one won’t enlighten you. Or earn you a special day. You have to ACTUALLY be awesome for that. 

Brady didn’t catch that pass.  Then the Eagles ran the exact play perfectly.  I don’t know…seemed like an omen.  And Malcom Butler didn’t play?  Man, that was a conversation we got to have every time the camera flashed to him standing on the sideline. 

And hey, the Pats didn’t win, but they’ve already won 5 times. 
A piece from WorDSMITHstudios
on Etsy.com

Their loss was our gain, because we got to see our friends and we had so much fun talking and laughing about all those weird things.  Oh, how we laughed!  And that’s all that matters to us in the end.  

The laughs and the smiles and the food and the fun. 

Because in the end, we were together.  I forget the rest.