Bravery In The Wee Hours

Ready. I prepared to hit the spider my cats had cornered in the bathroom, and I held a napkin for the clean-up—me, the tired human living with two felines who chase bugs.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Even in the middle of the night, my male cat leaps over objects to obtain prey. Like the predators they are, my two lovely beasts will stop at nothing, not even toppling lamps, to reach a moth or “water bug.” I put the last in quotes since exterminators have informed me those large critters are American Roaches.

Oh My!

It was before my coffee, and I expected to see one of the brown American visitors being the latest prey. Until I saw it wasn’t. I’d been rather blasé regarding the event because of my assumption. Seeing changed my attitude. Every inner alarm came on and I was awake. I started grabbing needed supplies and shouting commands like a drill sergeant, “I need paper towels.” I also snatched a shoe I’d slipped off after work last night.

I was ready.

I flew into the bathroom, still freaking out about seeing the massive spider in front of the two cats, and then I looked closer. Dammit! It was a black plastic Halloween spider. My cats had spoofed me.

Cats! They do the darnedest things.

Cats make me smile

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.

People Watching

Do you enjoy guessing what people are doing, where they live, or what their bad habits are? Do you people watch? I do it to pass the time.

Who are these people? Are they going to work or playing a game of dress up?

Fearless people are interesting to watch. 

Ron Perlman

From the voice of Chibundu Onuzo–I’ve missed traditional people-watching during the lockdown. Of course, we all watched people from our windows. The delivery drivers who always seemed to go to the wrong address. The mothers (and it was mostly mothers in my neighbourhood) on their school runs, herding children to the school gates. And of course, the righteous runners, cyclists and power walkers, refusing to let a global pandemic stand in the way of their fitness goals.

The Guardian, Lockdown Stole the Fun of People Watching

How to Begin People Watching by wikiHow.

  1. Find an area with the demographic that you want to watch.
  2. Go to an area that is well-populated.
  3. Sit in a spot where you’re out of the way.
  4. Set goals for your people watching if you want to learn something. (people watching is good for character studies in writing and acting)
  5. Bring a friend with you to have more fun.
  6. Wear an outfit that won’t make you stand out.
  7. Bring a notebook to write down interesting moments or people.
  8. Act like you are doing something on a phone or laptop.
  9. Think about each person that passes and who they might be.
  10. Avoid passing judgement on anyone.
  11. Observe people’s body language to pick up on their emotions.
  12. Listen to people’s voices as they talk to learn more about them.  – steps by wikiHow, italics are mine

Most of the information is simple, but there are a few reminders which I find useful such as, don’t make yourself obvious. I also like going to heavier populated areas if I can. The more people, the less likely you will be noticed, think sports events and farmer’s markets.

Remember why you are watching people. For me, this is not stalking or ridiculing people. I enjoy observing real speech patterns and true interactions as they happen. If I hear a good phrase I jot it in my phone app. These are valuable when writing fiction dialogue.

Being an actress, I find myself people-watching and I can be quite shy. 

Emma Watson

Is there anything you would add or change? Do you people watch? Or is it repulsive to you? I want to know. Leave a comment.

Shame on you

Invisible rules, unspoken. You know them. And if you don’t, you may be pulled to the side by the wise leader of the tribe because they’ll correct you. Chuckle. We have too many who think they’re hip.

Why is she tanning in winter? Is she trying to get a man at her age still? Her hair is getting so long. So out of date. I have heard this one from my mom and people at work. It goes with she’s too old to have long hair—over 40—darn rules.

The over 40 men with the flash of a car and smile—well, we know he’s on the prowl. Watch out, girls. Tsk tsk. If he was 38, he could get by with it, I’m sure.

Is it advice or shame? Be careful of the council you take.

DEFINE

According to Brené Brown, a researcher at the University of Houston, shame is an “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” It’s an emotion that affects all of us and profoundly shapes the way we interact in the world.Feb 17, 2016

How to Listen to Pain – Greater Good Science Center

Some cultures, religious or pagan, use a system of shunning. They will never look at you, talk to you, or in any way acknowledge your existence. I’ve had people attempt to dismiss me, cold shoulder me, which is an attempt to gain control. In my opinion, it’s abuse.

Shunning often involves implicit or explicit shame for a member who commits acts seen as wrong by the group or its leadership.

Shunning

These forbidden activities, taboo behaviors are from a period when we needed shame-based boundaries. We needed the community to survive. Love, with its short-lived blush, planted you into a family and gave you a home. Over the years, you and your family became one. We still want to belong.

When slapped with shame, I feel angry. There’s a tinge of rejection. I want to fight and cry out, Unfair. I hurt, and like any creature, I long for safety. We must find our center. Do you have someone or something to cling to, even if it is a poem?

My one thing was the sunrise. Could you read about it here? Touchstones and Totems

For Those Who Feel Helpless

Heart wrenching. Yeah, that’s what it’s been.

After talking to a coworker about current events, I felt her pain. We have both lost people we love to Covid. When my mom broke her hip and was in the hospital, my brother and I couldn’t see her. Visitors were limited to two – my dad and his pastor. They were the only ones who could be there. These rules keep us safe, but they are heavy on the heart. It’s worse if your family has Covid because no one is going inside.

Without physical contact, how can we be of service to others? I’m no doctor or nurse who can treat a Covid patient. I write. I talk with friends and family. I pray for people in the world and those close to me. I can intend to do good. I can hold space for love and healing.

The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged.

Ovid, Roman poet

What can we do?

To some, a prayer or a word of encouragement isn’t their thing. I hear you. Action is your cure. So, take action. Join a team with a cause. Don’t use this time as an excuse for immobility. Frozen injustice is still injustice. We participate in the not caring, by turning away. And yes, I know – I am guilty at times. Satisfaction is around the corner. Read, The Keys to Life

Intention, Holding Space, What?

Action is force. It shows you have power, which is why we need action after a tragedy. A hurricane hits the coast, and people volunteer to help. It’s only after years and years of losses when the feeling of injury has set up house. This is when our power is dragging. When our batteries are low, we can’t muscle another show of strength. The next generation can fight. There may be a way to prevent power outages in our society.

If we are together, as a team, then we’re making a pact. In the old days, these contracts were sacred. As kids, we would save each other a seat on the bus or in the cafeteria. These are examples of holding space. And we can keep each other strong.

“It takes two flints to make a fire.”

Louisa May Alcott (Novelist)

I’ll keep sharing my thoughts with you. And I’ll continue reading yours. Thank you for being here with me.

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

Short Vacations

iPhones and other modern tech have benefits. Sometimes this is missed in the hate slam of everything we call modern. It’s like the current trend of gender shame and race shame. My phone is a tool.

Memories

An App created the video above. I also have an App that helps me correct grammar and spelling. Could I live without these? Certainly, but in this day, it wouldn’t be wise to leave my writing in its raw draft form. So, I use my tools.

Take a break

Rest is helpful. I need to slow down and let my mind wander. I would love a two-week vacation in Europe again or even Colorado. A long stretch to rest gives plenty of time to sigh, let go, and genuinely forget about work. But it’s not always possible. So, take a short vacation. And have fun anyway.

Life is for living.

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 –

The Balance of Living

Today seems like a good day for taking it easy. I believe it’s good to find balance in each day. I want to work, rest, be generous, and remember to find the “awe” of life by watching a sunset or doing things I enjoy.

Life is about living. As soon as we stop and plop ourselves onto a couch, our purpose is gone. Well, I think you know what happens next. It’s the downhill roll. I want to live and be full of the energy of growth. Keep going. Learn new things. Go to new places. Or do stupid stuff. Have fun in this life.

I KNOW it’s not easy. And I’m sorry for those who are struggling. We need to keep trying. I will, and I hope you will be here with me.

#Thankyou for being here with me. Could you show me your fun and happy pictures? #happypictures

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.