It’s my day….but you win

I was out running errands this weekend instead of sleeping late, and tuned into “Weekend Edition” on the radio.  One of the segments was an interview with the musician, Shakey Graves.  I had never heard of Shakey Graves, but he’s apparently a pretty good musician.  Good enough that his hometown of Austin, TX, proclaimed February 9 to be “Shakey Graves Day.”

The host of the segment asked Shakey how he would like people to celebrate Shakey Graves day.  Graves replied, “Go roller skating and buy a pet.”

That, of course, started me thinking.

So, here’s the deal.

I am proclaiming Cristy Elder Day.  

(day and time to be determined)

And here’s how I want you to celebrate:

  1. Don’t set the alarm clock — get up when you feel damn good and ready and not one second earlier
  2. Pet a dog
  3. Write a thank you note to someone who has done something for you
  4. Eat some ice cream.
  5. Or a cupcake.
  6. Watch an episode of Seinfeld
  7. Play some of your favorite songs and sing them OUT LOUD!
  8. Read some of your favorite book
  9. Take a nap

I Love Cristy Elder Day.  Can’t wait until it’s proclaimed.  I am hopeful there will be some good furniture sales.  I need an end table.

This has been on my mind

I should blog a lot more often.  Real bloggers blog more often than I do.  But, I’m not a really real blogger.  I have a job that takes up the time that I would like to have to write about all the ideas in my head.  Instead of writing, the ideas just bounce around, while I form paragraphs in my mind during my shower or my drive, but never get committed to paper or screen.  And some ideas and thoughts just bounce around, never forming enough content to become a blog of their own.

Here are the things that have been taking up my brain cells over the last three or four days:

  • Ebola – badScreen Shot 2014-10-16 at 8.27.00 PM
  • Ebola outbreak — worse
  • Ebola outbreak —  been haunting my nightmares since I read The Hot Zone by Richard Preston about 8 years ago
  • Ebola in America — inevitable
  • People who didn’t think it would be in America — naive
  • Lack of coverage of thousands dying in Africa now that Ebola is in America — shameful, but not surprising
  • NC Senate Race – terrible
  • NC Senate Race Result — awful, regardless of winner
  • Time — not enough time in a day
  • Time — going way to fast
  • Time — will I ever get to retire?
  • Time — how did I get this old?
  • Time — I don’t look bad for my age
  • Fall — I love Fall!
  • Fall — I hate this time of year as the days get shorter
  • Olive Tapenade hummus – love you
  • The Walking Dead — Yeah
  • The Walking Dead — Boo, can’t watch by myself, and now I’m by myself
  • The Walking Dead — fuck it, I’ll try to watch by myself
  • The Walking Dead — look at me, watching it by myself
  • The Walking Dead — crap, did they just cut those throats?
  • The Walking Dead — I’m glad that walkers aren’t real
  • The Walking Dead — why didn’t I take that shotgun when I left that he “gave” me for my Christmas present?
  • The Walking Dead — what am I going to do if there is a zombie apocalypse?  Who’s going to help me survive?
  • The Walking Dead — I’ll buy some canned goods to stock pile next time I’m at the store
  • New Viagra Commercial – that’s targeted at women?  huh?
  • New Viagra Commercial — wonder what the average age of a man with ED is?
  • New Viagra Commercial — wonder what the likelihood is that the next man that I date has ED?
  • Dating Again — Sure
  • Dating Again — meh
  • Dating Again — Absolutely not, men suck
  • Dating Again — Why not?
  • My marriage — *sigh*, just *sigh*
  • Work — I was a rock star!
  • Work — I have no idea what I’m doing some days
  • Work — I got this, be-yotches!  You know I do!
  • Work — I need a drink this evening
  • Me — am I doing alright?
  • Me — I’m doing alright!
  • Me — I’m a mess sometimes

So it goes.  And goes.  And goes.

I wish that I could take all that and make something of it.  Something wonderful and meaningful and grand.  I remind myself that I won’t always be able to produce greatness and that’s ok — but the act of trying eases my soul.

Future Look. Day 10.

Today is the last day of my 10 days of self-evaluation / reflection, compliments of borrowing parts of a tradition from Rosh Hashanah.  Answering a different question each night has been a good experience for me.  I was drawn to trying this out because I thought that the tradition of spending 10 days deliberately and thoughtfully evaluating the last year and my actions over the last year was a worthy undertaking.  I imagine that in Jewish tradition that this time spent in reflection helps prepare the person for today, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  I know that after the last 10 days, I am much more cognizant of the actions for which I should make amends.

Are you interested in trying it?  No need to wait until next year, but if you want to, sign up like I did with the website 10Q, and next year during this time, you’ll get the questions and can answer them, anonymously if you want.

And on the 10th day you can answer this question:

Question:  When September 2015 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you’ll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you’re at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?


 

I think my first reaction will be pleasure.  I will be glad that I took the time to answer the questions and document my thoughts and feelings right now, especially since this is such a changeable year for me.  There are a few years that I regard as important years in my life.  Not just important days, or weeks, or moments, but years that went far in defining the me that exists now.  My sophomore year in college, the year that I bought my first house, the year that I turned 35, and now, this year.  These years, for very different reasons, challenged me and led me to make permanent shifts and developments as a person, or an employee, or as friend or partner.  These years were not business as usual years.  This year will be one of “these years”.

And for that I am glad that I took the last 10 days to answer 10 questions.

As for my expectations of where I’ll be next year, I am actually trying to keep them low.  Ok, low may be the wrong word, because I don’t mean that I think that there won’t be any forward movement or positive things in my life.  I think that what I mean is that I’m keeping my expectations realistic.  I mentioned in one of my earlier answers that some of the best advice I have received over the last three to four months has been “you don’t have to have it all figured out right now.”  So, I’m leaving my options open and my future a little more up in the air.

Which is exciting…because while I have been reminded by answering these questions that sometimes the worst does happen, our fears do come true, the bottom does drops out, the beautiful, wonderful, magnificent truth is that I can handle it.

Next year — who knows where I’ll be?  I hope that I’m learning more, healthier, have more friends, trying something new, still laughing.

Tough question tonight. Day 9

TG-it’s almost-F.  I’ve worked hard this week and am ready to not work hard this weekend.  Or to work hard for me and not the man.  Either has the one benefit of not requiring an alarm clock.

As I am wrapping up the “10 days / 10 questions” period of self-reflection, I have to admit that the last several nights’ questions have been easy to answer.  I can’t say the same for tonight’s question.

Question:  What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year? 


 

Wow.  Not only is this a tough question, but one of the reasons that it is tough is because it highlights a vulnerability.  Having a fear of something naturally gives that thing some power over you.

It’s not hard talking about my fear of heights (terrified!) or snakes or mice (irrational fear!).  But I have other fears that are hard for me to admit because they spotlight my vulnerabilities.  Like my fear of being abandoned, my fear of growing old and being alone, my fear of ridicule, my fear of being trapped in an old and ill body with an active mind, my fear of the exact opposite….

These are the fears that have worried me, kept me up, made my stomach feel knotty.  Some of the things that I have feared have come to fruition this past year.  I have dealt with and survived my abandonment demon this year.  That bastard is currently KO’ed in the corner.  And while it doesn’t mean that I won’t have to deal with again in the future, for now, I’m good.

I’m actually better than good, because I learned that I can live through facing a fear.  I can face it, pull through it, and even flourish afterwards.  Go, me.

I want to learn it all. Day 8

My little French Bulldog, Louie, is sick today.  An unexpected trip to the vet, and much scrubbing of walls and floors, and I hope that he will be much better tomorrow now that he has had some medicine.  It means that I will sleep on the couch, however, on the alert for a quick trip to the great outdoors, if need be, during the middle of the night.  I am hopeful that I will sleep.  The good news is that I finally had a TV hung on my wall last week, so if I can’t sleep, I can get comfortable and watch some tube.  As opposed to when I was young, there are actually shows being aired during the middle of the night that might teach me something.

Which leads me to tonight’s question.

Question:  Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in 2015?


 

I want to learn about everything. I hear about at least three things a day that I wish I could delve into more. Politics, history, religion, current events, biographies.

Two topics that are currently on my list to learn more about are from the 1970s:  the Vietnam War and the peace deal between Begin and Sadat. I recently read a history of Jerusalem, but it ended after World War II and the formation of Israel. So, I would like to learn more about events that followed, hence the interest in the peace accords.  And I just haven’t learned much at all about the Vietnam War, but my step-father fought in that war.  I would like to understand more about the politic situation that led to our involvement.

Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter, Anwar El Sadat

I was a child of the seventies, and I kinda remember the turmoil of the times.  I remember the gas strikes and adults talking about inflation.  I remember Walter Cronkite being the news anchor.  I remember the news talking about people losing their jobs.  But I really didn’t pay attention.  It was elevator music to my young life; there was simply too many other things to think about, like learning how to do cartwheels, reading Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew books, pretending that I was Wonder Woman, dreaming up new adventures for Barbie.  Though I did love, love, love a good Schoolhouse Rock.  They just didn’t make one about the Vietnam War.  They should have asked Creedence Clearwater Revival to write one for them.

I’m glad that I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on.  That wasn’t my job; my job was to be a kid.  My job wasn’t to be concerned about the economy, or peace treaties, or presidents resigning.  I hope that kids today have the same opportunity to be innocent of the wider world, at least for a little while.  The time comes far too soon when our concerns extend beyond the walls of house.  Enjoy ignorance as long as possible.

But now as an adult, it’s time to learn that which I did not learn.

Plus all those other things that strike my fancy.  And my fancy is struck often.

Improving. Day 7

I just went with my friend, Kristin, to a speaker event hosted by our shared alma mater, Wake Forest University.  Carla Harris, a Vice Chairman at Morgan Stanley and Chair of the National Women’s Business Council, delivered a talk on her “Pearls of Wisdom”.  Her talk was excellent, and she was very motivating.  She had several career suggestions that I am going to try.  She seems like she has it all figured out.

Then there is me.  Who doesn’t have it all figured out.

Which leads me to tonight’s faux Rosh Hashanah question.

Question:  How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?


 

I would like to spend more time in prayer, studying the Bible and communicating with God. While I have conversations with God in my head all the time, I don’t put a lot of time aside for prayer — deliberate praising, deliberate worship and deliberate asking for specific help. I have been much more actively engaged in our relationship in the past, and I know that I felt myself to be more calm, more relaxed and even more confident when I did.

This year, I feel like I have been in survival mode most of the year. My prayers have all been about “help me”, “comfort me”, “relieve me”, and “guide me”. I would like to spend more time praying about other people, other problems, about learning, about growing, about next adventures, about how I can help others instead of others helping me.

I love this picture. It hung over the dining table in my grandparents’ house, where we ate every Sunday lunch. Seeing it will always make me think of being with them and my family.

The best advice that I received this year that will guide me in my journey is not new and is not complicated. It was simply, “Cristy, you don’t have to have everything figured out right now.” It took a little while for that to sink in.  My first instinct when faced with my crisis (getting separated) was triage:  Stop the immediate bleeding and then see how to return everything to as close to normal as possible.

For me, that meant moving out quickly, buying a house quickly, asking myself questions about where I thought I would be in 3 years, 5 years, and trying to get everything situated just so as fast as possible.  I was working myself into a tail spin.  And then a couple of people gave me this really good advice.  “Cristy, you don’t have to have everything figured out right now.”  And when it did sink in, I was so relieved.

The plan that I had for my life was gone.  It was going to be different by necessity.  But, it was ok if I didn’t have that plan sketched out now.  Now, when my knees are still a little wobbly.  Now, when I’m still learning my options.  Now, when I’ve got more options than I had before.

I can accept that having some questions left unanswered is ok, and it means that I spend less time calling on God to help me figure out my situation and more time enjoying what I have and those around me.

By this time next year, I will be….

I got the 6th question in the series of questions for my 10 days of self-evaluation and reflection.  This one was pretty easy to answer, but has been hard for me to achieve in the past.  Is this the year?

Question:  Describe one thing you’d like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?


 

I would like to be more physically fit. I had a health scare this year, and even though the scare could have happened if I were the most physically fit person in the world, it was still a glimpse into how quickly my health could be lost. No sense in hurrying things along by not taking care of my health.

I have never, never, ever, not ever (get the picture?) enjoyed exercising. I have enjoyed active pastimes, like dancing and walking with friends, but exercise for exercise’s sake — gross.

It’s like taxes, however. Must do, or the consequences won’t be to my liking.


 

I want to do this because I want to be healthy, not only during my middle-age years, but especially during my golden years (I actually hate that term).  The people on both sides of my family live long, long lives.  I have great-aunts that lived several years past their 100th birthdays.  My paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather both lived into their late 90s.  The odds are in my favor that I have only lived half of my life.  I would like to be as healthy, pain-free and mentally competent, as possible.  Especially since I have a lot of things that I want to do in the second half of my life.

Here’s to the second half!  I have a lot more smarts and confidence going into this half than when starting the last half.  Plus, starting the second half, I’m already mobile and have credit.  Score.

Friends Are Gifts: Day 5

Day five has rolled around.  Half way there during my 10 day, 10 questions as part of self-evaluation, reflection, faux Rosh Hashanah.  Answering this question was easy.

Question:  Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.


I have had such a tumultuous year. I have often felt like nothing is under my control. This has definitely been a year that has underscored the fact that as much as we plan, as much as we envision the way that our lives will work out, it only takes one trip to the doctor, one conversation in the kitchen, one meeting at work to change the path that we previously had been traveling.

It’s not like I have lived this long without facing disappointment or disruption to my life plan before. I have definitely faced many, many upheavals in my life. Deaths, breakups, major depressions, work failures…. But I have never had so many happen together in such a short period of time.

My spiritual experience out of all of this is the deepening belief that when I feel like I have no control (which in fact, I don’t), I have to rely on God. And so far, He hasn’t let me down. I have survived every twist that has come my way, despite any doubts that I might have had about my own strength.

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 6.46.49 PMAnd God has brought people into my life that have been critical to my healing and my ability to make it through difficult times, offering love and support. I am no one special, but I have special people for friends. They have special talents and gifts, and they have shared them with me. The fact that I keep expanding my circle of friends that help me grow and enrich me as a person, just at a time in my life when I need them the most, is a sign of God working in my life.

Lucky Me. Day 4

I have had a lovely day, continuing to settle into my new house, followed by dinner with some friends.  I love the weekends.

I have my fourth question for this period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  It’s a good question.  Have you, by chance, been thinking of how you would answer these questions?

Question: Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?


 

I was listening to NPR one morning when a story came on about how there were rapes taking place in many villages in India when the women and young girls went outside to use the bathroom.  The lack of any means of more hygienic way to use the bathroom was putting them at risk.  Click on the image below to read the transcript or to listen to the original broadcast.

Women shout slogans during a protest against the gang rape and hanging of two teenage girls. Beyond highlighting the rampant sexual violence in India, the crimes are drawing attention to a glaring and fundamental problem across the country that threatens women’s safety: the lack of toilets.

I was appalled by the story.  I was not naive enough to think that the rest of the world all had nice, indoor plumbing, with power flush and low flow toilets.  But it had never occurred to me that females were put at risk because of the absence of these items that I take for granted everyday.  These necessities that I expect to just be there.

When I first heard the broadcast on that June morning, I had a moment of clarity about how truly fortunate I was to live where I do and to be born into the socioeconomic level that I was.  I have problems, I have stresses, I see things around me that drive me crazy.  But I do not experience anything like this.

I have thought of this story many, many times since I first heard it.  When I have had bad days, I remind myself that I am a lucky female.

The Box — Day 3

Another day, another question in my 10 days of self-evaluation and reflection, aka faux Rosh Hashanah.  The first two questions invoked some strong emotions as I answered the questions.  But, I suppose it wouldn’t lead to true reflection if the questions were soft ball questions.  Asking things like, “Where do you like to eat lunch?” doesn’t really make you think….or maybe it does if you have strong feelings about lunch, lunch foods, lunch habits, and / or lunch places.  I don’t, so the questions that the website 10Q sends are more in line with my expectations.

Question:  Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?


 

It took me awhile to think of an answer for this question because my first inclination was to try to think of milestone birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births, etc. that took place this past year.  I couldn’t think of any that I would consider a major milestone.  But it was the 5th anniversary of my father’s death this year, and I relive that milestone each year.

My father’s death marked a major shift in the lives of my family, especially my father’s side of the family.  And while there has been healing, there will never be full recovery.

When I moved into my new house, I also moved a box of files that I brought home with me from Mexico, where my father had been living when he unexpectedly passed away.  Since the time of his death, this box has been sitting in closets, or workshops, or man caves.  Since we closed his estate last year, I had started to finally go through the box and decide what could be shredded and what needed to be saved.  After I moved, it was a project that I took on one weekend.

I only wish that my dad’s box looked so well. A trip from Mexico meant that it was very beat up.

I had looked through this box of files many, many times after my dad first died in an effort to find answers about his health and about his finances.  I knew that the box was a duke’s mixture of items — all the information on the house that he was in the process of buying when he died to a list of the #1 songs on the Billboard chart in 1965.  A single file folder could be a lot of nothing, or it could be full of valuable information.

I hadn’t gone through that box in a couple of years until this year.  And the simple act of cleaning out the box and sorting through his files had a deep impact on me.  I laughed out loud at some of the items that I found, like his application to his 50th high school reunion that took place a couple of months after he died.  On his application, he was asked to answer the question “What have you been doing the last 50 years?”  His response “Living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Yep.  And he answered the question “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” by saying “Being the best at living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Double yep.

I also felt incredibly sad as I found record of some of the times that he struggled, trying to make ends meet, and sometimes finding it hard to do.

Revisiting this box and its items, without the overwhelming grief that accompanied my first forays into its confines immediately after his death, allowed me to feel like I had spent the weekend communing in some small way with my dad.  That is a major happening, whichever way you look at it.