We Are Beautiful People

She is broken.

A misfit. She doesn’t fit anymore. The whispers surround her. You see that lady, the one at the end of the bar, her clothes were once beautiful but now are wrinkled with lingering odors.

When the men knew her name, they poured glasses of champagne, brought her lush red roses, and whispered sweet things in her ear. Now, she drinks alone.

In her dreams at night, she still stands on the stage. She’s engulfed in a cloud of cigarette smoke and wearing her favorite dress. She belts out a song with such enthusiasm that the audience rises to their feet—the best day of her life.

Soup is Better the Next Day

Soup’s hard to mess up. You can, but you can fix it by readjusting your ingredients. My life has been a lot like a soup. I’ve learned that life is complex and never simple as I pass the 56-year mark. The postman brings solicitations from AARP and Medicare. I yell I’m not old. My mind believes I’m capable of racing with the children. My legs know different. When a young man on YouTube ridicules me and calls me Old Lady, I smirk, knowing there’s a point when we all get there, even his sorry self.

Why Soup Tastes Better the Next Day (most of the time)

Letting a finished pot of soup hang out overnight means that harsh flavors soften, the ingredients have a chance to absorb the tasty broth, and everything transforms from very distinct flavors into one harmonious soup.

Christine Gallary

At ten, when I had knobby knees, it was impossible to think of marriage and sleeping in the same bed with a man. Oh, I was curious enough, but I thought the world would end before I grew up. My sister-in-law reassured me that there would be time. I kept seeing what the preachers taught, the fear speeches. I saw the cracks in the ground. Earthquakes. Wars and rumors of wars. Signs in the heavens. Yes, the world was ending, and I wouldn’t get a chance to be married or have children. I’d never had a first kiss.

“Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on.” – Vivian Maier, nanny and photographer

Life isn’t the pretty pictures you see in the magazine. Our moments, each one of them, are important. Live them. It’s not a delicate family portrait. Life is pleasure and pain. I’ve had kisses that made me weak in the knees. I have found a friend and a lover. Joy. Other moments in my life have crushed me with grief.

I was 15 when I kissed a boy for the first time. It was at a park with my youth group—a very long time ago. It was a kiss. No sparks. In those days, I’d pictured perfection, my future unfolding full of joy and happiness. I was good, kind, so I expected rewards.

I once expected a solitary perfect moment, a portrait, but life is a collage of photos. Life is the soup.

Bowls and Memories

The world was big and ready to be explored when I was four. It was also a scary place where I could fall. But the fear didn’t stop me.

There was a hole in the kitchen floor. In my two-year-old mind, it was huge. My family lived in a travel trailer. There were a hundred acres of land with pecan trees and livestock, horses, chickens, all with a nearby river and wooded area, wild enough for any child’s fantasy. The hole—I avoided it, walked around it, afraid of falling.

When I was three or four, I remember picking pecans. My first experience with money and the thrill of commerce. Power.

I remember sitting carefully on the toilet. Mom bought an adapter seat so that I wouldn’t be afraid.

Falling in holes, dropping in toilets, we can’t forget that I dove out the door. I was young. Early that morning, dad had been plowing the cornfield, and he had a bowl that he wanted me to come and get. I was happy to run to help — a good little worker. I stood on the edge of the open door, and I knew I should sit down and scoot. The steps were tall. Four-year-old little legs can’t leap the way her big brothers do, but I never realized this. So I jumped.

I jumped and missed the steps. What happened afterward is a blur. I screamed. I’d fallen awkwardly on my arm, pinning it under my body against the concrete steps. People say there’s no pain when you break a bone. Or it hurts worse if you’re an adult. I don’t know what type of weed they’re smoking because pain hurts everyone.

For fifty years, I’ve tried to convince Mom that I jumped, that Dad did not force me to run outside for the bowl, but she’s stayed stuck in the blaming. Dad will always be The Evil One. And I’m not sure where that puts me.

I had difficulties at a young age. As a kid, my life was out of my hands. Written in these paragraphs are memories, vivid. They are the squares of fabric I’ve sewn into my life. Why did I save these and shelve the others? Memories are packets, and you change them each time you examine them. And every person who sees an event will see it differently.

How do you see yourself?

Jellyfish Fun

The day before my birthday is 9/11. I forgot again this year. I went to celebrate and enjoy myself. There were others at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. It has a giant shark tank which was always my favorite, but this year l found a new love—the otter and beaver.

September 11, 2001, was tragic. We should not forget. We should never forget good things either. Celebrate life. Hold on to the ones you love.

Fighting

I struggle with “I am worthy of asking for help”
I struggle with “I am loved enough”
I struggle with “I can have the ability to do - the power - the authority even”
Am I enough?

I want to promote myself
I want to set boundaries - and not to back down
I want to accept all of me.

Yet, that includes my struggles and tears, and body pain.
- janetkwest.com

Emotional healing

My forest has dark shadows.

My parents make bizarre statements, “But I thought your headaches would be gone by now.” And I feel as if I have failed. So I start to explain the process of migraines and how treatments work. And the difference between the cervical spine issue. I’ve been stuck in a perpetual defense for long enough.

Exhaustion.

Next time I talk to them, I want to hear the words and not react. I don’t want to answer or explain. It’s about paying attention to my emotions. My parent’s words are not important. I have to separate the two. This is how I heal.

Turn on a light.

By naming the emotion I can plot its place on my map. Label the bastard. Nail it. When it becomes recognizable then I can see it clearly. Read The Jungle of My Emotions to understand more.

More to read –

Trigger Yourself Happy

Are you telling yourself that you never win anything? The loser. Stupid. Have to get everything the hard way. If you get any extra money, something will break. Or any other hysterically depressing life script. It’s not a laughing matter at all.

Emotions are a great navigation tool. We feel jealous, irritated, and mean if someone gets an opportunity we wanted.

Is someone bragging about their perfect marriage? An opportunity to go back to school? A moment in the limelight? Yep, we all know the feeling. So I get irritated when I hear that some celebrity has published a book. And it’s a children’s book. I pull out my collapsible podium and go at them. How dare they? What qualifies them to write anything? They are a celebrity without skills. Not fair! Your sister or coworker gives birth to a baby, and their baby is adorable—cough, cough, gag.

TELL YOUR NEW STORY

Old: I need to catch up. I need to be faster, or I will get left behind.

New: I am going at my speed. Life has varied paces. We are not in a timed race, and there’s not a finish line.

If the story of a friend’s vacation makes you want to punch her, take a hint. You want a break. Do you deserve one? Or do you think you’ve worked harder than her and you didn’t take one? Investigate your envy. Start checking your irritations instead of ignoring them. The “Not Fair” flashing alert comes on for me at times. When you feel anger, ask, “what am I missing in this?” Do I want what they have? Or the ability to have a choice?

When you feel anger, learn to question why.

Memories can be the beginning of your new story. You’ve done the most challenging part. You’ve identified what makes you jealous. Finally, you can make it into a new story, the story you want to develop. So now, let’s give it some life.

START AGAIN

Find a memory that supports your new story. I have a strong memory of enjoying work. I loved making money. It started around age three. And all the way through high school, people knew me and thought of me as a good worker. This is important since I had Fifteen years of not officially working and being told that my money wouldn’t be needed in the household. Those years in my marriage drained away my confidence. I had to pull from my memory to rebuild myself. So, I am incredibly thankful for the old votes of confidence.

I am thankful for every determined woman or man who refused to sit down and shut up when someone challenged their rights.

Energy flows to where your attention goes. And if you are driving in the fog and it’s difficult to see, maybe all you can see is the car in front of you. That’s where you look. Otherwise, you drift off the road. Your life script is your guidance. When the times are tough, you have to remember that it doesn’t last forever. That a new day will come. When someone else gets the job you wanted, remember you are just as blessed. Maybe their boss favors them. But tomorrow is a new day. That boss may not last another week, you don’t know. I’ve seen it happen. That sure thing can fall through. And yes, we have seen the sure bets collapse. If everything fails, what do you have? Your life story can’t be taken from you.

IN SUMMARY

  • Find your emotional flashing lights.
  • Examine the emotional story.
  • Use your emotions to learn what you want.
  • Build a new story with examples from your memories.
  • Repeat.
  • Keep at this and you will forget the envy and jealousy.

Sunny Side

I’ve been a blonde since as far back as I can remember. That’s how I think of myself, a blonde. I don’t say I have light hair, or I’m the one who streaks bleach through my short strands then masks on some vanilla toner. Nope. It’s a self-portrait thing. This is me, The Blonde. As a teenager, my method was a cocktail of lemon and peroxide. Then, with a bit of music, hot sunshine, and my stinky stuff on my hair, I had my own spa and salon.

The ridiculousness of color and identity isn’t lost on me. So I’ve been pushing those boundaries, trying to gently explore new possibilities. But there are limits. As a child, I wished to be as dark-eyed and brown-haired as my cousins were. My mom’s youngest brother has almost black eyes, and in my memories from my childhood, his hair was dark and wavy brown.

Across the Border

A girlfriend and I decided to walk across the border from Brownsville, Texas, into Mexico. We were on vacation one summer around 2005 and had driven 18 hours to get away, to be free. This was our wild moment. So we walked our very American-looking selves into the crowd and the cars already filtering toward Mexico. Neither of us had been here before. My friend, “C,” had recently lightened her hair a lot. Ordinarily, she’s a brunette. She was 5 foot and prayer tall, with a good dose of the short person’s complex, or as she called it, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Personally, I think C just had a rough life.

Cigarettes were cheap on the other side. And it was C’s smoking habit that encouraged us to make this trip into Mexico. I was excited to do a new thing. We stepped onto brick streets and entered a narrowing old-world city. The roads were willy-nilly, and we came with no map. C became agitated, which surprised me. For all of the time I had known her, I had thought of her as bold and brash. Finally, I said we should walk on, just remember the way we came in.

Hey Blondie

While we walked through markets that were selling blankets, bags, dolls, and rugs, the male stall owners hollered in English, “Hey Blondie, Over here. You come. Buy.” over and over again. “Hey, Blondies.” Now, my friend was ready to go. And I understood. I’m sure she had been catcalled and whistled at before, but she was feeling like prey. It made me reconsider how I have been treated. The men didn’t upset me. This concerns me.

As a child, I was blondie, even to strangers. I didn’t choose my identity or my name. The culture I was born into chose my religion, politics, dress style, and education. Somewhere in all of that, I made choices. Our identities guide us. Yet, we are blind to the choices we make because of their influences.

For another version of this story read my earlier post from 2016 Profiling Me.

Sound Triggers

I had a discussion with my mom recently. She asked why we have specific generational issues, such as fear of falling. Trauma or birth? I said it probably is due to our shortcomings both in the parents and the baby. This is where forgiving each other comes in.

In truth, trauma causes so much damage it makes it hard to find the natural person. What could a child have become if there had been love and healthy interactions instead of the fear-provoking experiences. The ones who did well in school were usually the ones with support at home, encouragement. Instead, certain people feel as if they belong. They walk alongside their peers.

Trauma, nurture, or birth? Is ADHD, Autism, Addictive behaviors, or any other adaptive issue, a preventable disorder? They are complex. I was conceived by a mom from a lineage of stressed and traumatized women. Mom was tired and probably depressed. Panic attacks. Anxiety. Afraid of doing life. When I was growing up, I watched her, trying desperately to help reassure her.

Babies developing in high adrenaline flooded wombs can have underdeveloped nervous systems. 

My issue currently is annoying sounds. This is how my ADHD/Aspergers works. People are talking at work, doors opening and closing. They are more than distracting. I feel anger. Rage. It is something I’m trying to understand. Currently, I am allowed to shut my office door. I’m fortunate.

Misophonia

Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance. Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.” Their reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee. – WebMD What is Misophonia?

Earplugs and Earbuds sometimes solve a problem, listening to books or music, or sometimes I use white noise. So I’m looking at these special dBuds – earplugs as an answer.

Flawed

Humanity isn’t perfect, is what I tell people. Incomplete parents are having babies. We train them and love them with the best we have. It’s not always enough. Our hope is always to do better than the last generation, put in a little more knowledge, a bit more assertiveness, and sometimes another dose of love. Those kids have to make it.

Softness

We want to come back to the group, remember the warmth and laughter, but some of us never belonged. We didn’t know the feeling of loving arms nor the joy of being welcomed. The lack of love bleeds into our present life, making it difficult to find peace, to accept everyone around us.

We see our life as a struggle. It’s all we know. Hardship is proof that we matter. But we tire of the game.

A Little Old & A Little New

It has taken me years to learn, to heal. I have gone to therapy and read books. Each has been a step for recovery. You don’t see why you need help except that your life isn’t working. There is pain. Then, amazingly your vision clears as you learn.

I believe in learning. If you can be brave, you can heal. Only you can decide your best practices.