“Your problem is you’re…too busy holding on to your unworthiness.” ~ Ram Dass

So, I talked a while ago about toxic positivity and how it was really quite detrimental to mental health since it is impossible to be ‘happy’ all of the time. Well, I’ve been looking at a lot of self-help advice lately and to be honest, have to wonder about these too 🤓. I’m here to tell you: there are some doozies out there.

Hows about a book I found that basically tell you that if you read it…and follow it’s advice to a T, you will have NO WORRIES. None. Zippo. Zilch. Really? OMG! So…if I read this gem and practice what it says, I will literally HAVE NO WORRIES? Well spank me hard. The whole world should be on board with this one. Right?? 🙄

Or, how about this advice which is literally labeled under the title “How to Improve your Life.” One tidbit is to deep condition your hair once a week and another is to have a skincare routine. OK. I’m all for these 2 things. However, I find it difficult to believe that the happiness of my life is dependent on what I do in the shower. After all, I deep condition more than once a week (which is why my hair is often ‘stringy’ but healthy 😳) and my skincare routine is consistent, but hey, I’ve still experienced ‘unhappiness’ at times. But, if you want to try to improve your life, try my skin care routine which consists of the following:

  • Wash face with one of the 15 cleansers I have accumulated over the last month because each one said they would make my skin ‘radiant’ after just the first use.
  • Tone my face with one of my 20 bottles of Witch Hazel which I hoarded because it contains alcohol and I figured there’d be a shortage during the first quarantine.
  • Re-wash my face with another one of my cleansers because now it feels a little tight and ‘sticky’ because of the coveted Witch Hazel.
  • SLOWLY open the medicine cabinet in case some of the products are jarred and start tumbling in the sink and select:  1 tube of deep wrinkle cream, 1 jar of retinol, 1 jar of collagen blend, 1 jar of hydralaunic acid, 1 jar of ‘water boost’ gel, and 1 tube of acne medication since I always have a fucking (sorry, ma…😐)  zit on my face regardless of my age.  
  • Looking like a mad chemist in a lab, I begin mixing, rubbing, slathering and schmearing all of the goop from the previous point until my face is covered with 3 layers of ‘stuff’.  
  • Find one of my 100’s of tubes of Carmex (EVERY single time I’m at Walgreens, CVS, or the ‘General’ I buy one by the cash register 🤨) and then plaster on a nice thick coat like I’m icing a cake until my lips become stuck together if I’m not careful.

Now, looking at this, I can see how my regular skin care routine makes me a better person.  So, my sweet peeps…if my life is in the shits and I find myself struggling, I’ll just do my routine a couple more times a day and I’ll be fine and dandy.  Phew. 🙄

I like this advice too:  “Start working NOW!”  Ummmmm.  OK.  Now?  Middle of the night?  While I’m on the toilet?  While I’m fixing dinner?  Just do it?  OK!  I’ll get right on that.

Another self help goodie that is packaged in various ways is this:  “Avoid negative people.”  Hmmmm.  First, a lot of times I don’t know a person is negative until I’m with them so avoiding them would be difficult unless they had a shirt on that said “I’m a negative person.  Avoid me.”  (You know…I might just make this shirt…I can see it selling 🙄).  Second, what if you work with a negative person?  Have one in your house?  Have one living next to you?  Have one in your class?  Have one at church?  You have to avoid them all the time?  We’re not talking toxic people here…just negative.  

So my question is this:  why?  Why avoid negative people?  Why not interact with them and find out why the hell they’re negative?  What bee is in their bonnet (perfect title for a self-help book…remember this one, ma)?  Maybe we need to learn to get along with all types of people and not live in a Pollyanna bubble.  Just sayin’.

Another self-help tip for y’all:  “You are your only limit.”  Heh?  Really?  Soooooooo…if I want to be President (and I’m here to tell you I’d be WAY more polite in the debates if I was 🤨 )  I’m my only limit?  I’m a middle class woman who doesn’t have any millionaire friends that can start off my campaign with lots of moolah in the coffers.  And, if I quit teaching to campaign…then lose (which I undoubtedly would since running my house is stressful enough for me)…I’m outta work?  OK!  No limits on this girl!

I like this one:  “Read a book everyday!”  Yes!  I love love love to read, so…after I take care of the 8 classes I’m teaching online this semester while starting to prepare for spring semester that will also be online but with different classes I have to develop, get my laundry done, eat and do dishes, take care of Eddie and Dottie, do my daily grooming, water the 50 plants I have, run errands, finish painting the house, mow the yard, trim the bushes, and help ma with stuff, I’ll read a 300 page book today!  No problemo.  

Maybe this would be easier:  “Quit bad habits.”  Yes, this is another one I need because I know I got them…big time.  Since I was little Professor K in her crib, I have rubbed my upper lip when I’m thinking, worried, stewing about something, etc.  It’s a 53 year habit (shutty…) and I don’t think reading 3 words is going to compel me to stop doing it.  Great advice?  Maybe.  Reasonable?  No.  We all have bad habits.  So what?  We’re human for piss sakes (see ma, I didn’t say fuck again…aren’t you proud?? 😀).

“NEVER GIVE UP!”  This is another common self-help theme out there and is great advice.  For some.  Not for me though…because sometimes I give up.  If I’m working on a project that isn’t going well…that I hate…that is causing me more stress than good…and it’s not a necessary thing I need, I give up on it.  Why waste my time?  In fact, why is it bad to quit things?  Don’t we all have to do that periodically?

BBC News

Some of you runners out there may know who Paula Radcliffe is…an AMAZING runner from Britain who has set numerous world records including the one for the marathon which she then held for 16 years.  Now, in the 2004 Olympics that were held in Greece, she dropped out of the marathon with just 4 miles to go after veering around and trying to start back up after she stopped.  People were HORRIBLE to her after this…calling her a quitter and slandering her in the press.  Of course, this came from people who couldn’t walk from the couch to the fridge without a break, but anyhoot, they should stand in judgment.  So why did she ‘quit’ and disappoint all of her Olympic fans?  Two weeks prior she had a leg injury, the anti-inflammatory drugs made her nauseas with her food/nutrients not being absorbed, and the temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  When you run, you tack 20 degrees on the temp in terms of how you feel:  so, we had this woman who was injured, sick to her stomach, not fueled well, running a 26 mile race in heat that equaled 115 degrees.  How dare she quit.  Right?  

And finally?  “Always let out your feelings.”  Now, I’m all for letting out feelings…bottling them up isn’t healthy and pretending they don’t exist doesn’t work either.  However, you can’t always let them out when YOU want too.  What if your boss upsets you and want to cry and yell?  I would kindly suggest you wait until you are out of their office…and earshot.  K? 

Look peeps.  Self-help advice is out there everywhere and to be brutally honest with you, much of it’s crap.  Really.  It’s just someone taking a few choice words and turning it into something ‘necessary’ that we all have to do in order to be the ‘very best ever.’   You know, my belief is that the more you read ‘self-help’ advice and books, the more you feed into the fact that you aren’t OK like you are.  As if having flaws and challenges and bad days is something you should be able to avoid since the advice feeds into you thinking you have to be ‘perfect’…the ‘best’…the ‘most’…etc. all the time.  Sweetie peeps, you are never going to be all of that.  We are never going to be perfect unless we are the one who can walk on water, and we all have different obstacles, situations, environments, etc. that affect how we are at any given time.  

So, here’s my self-help advice for tailored just for you:  do the best you can, be as kind as you can, try as hard as you can, cut yourself slack when you need too, and remember that bad times don’t equal bad life.  They are simply a part of a regular life and trying to avoid anything ‘bad’ to always feel ‘good’ is not possible on this particular earth.  All of this may sound simple and not very exciting, but honestly…I think it’s way more realistic. 😃

Kristi xoxo

“In this dreamland…” ~ AC/DC

Photo by Karyme Franu00e7a on Pexels.com

So, I have a dream. A dream dream. You know…the kind of dream of what you want to do sometime in your life. And here it is…

I have a couple of years left until I can retire and I’m probably going to take it. Not because I don’t want to teach…I want to teach until the day I die…but because I’ve been teaching in some capacity since 1991 and that’s a LONG time to be doing one thing. I wouldn’t trade these last 30 years for anything! NOTHING! I’ve loved loved loved it so much (and still continue to love it 😀) and will always teach part time at some level. It’s just in my blood.

But, there is something else I really really want to do and it just hit me this past spring. Like I’ve blogged about before, I am really interested in house plants and my home is filled with them. One of these days, I won’t be able to step outside of a circumscribed path in my house without feeling as if I’m in the Amazon but anyhoot, I love them and don’t care if they take over! Since I started becoming the ‘crazy plant lady’ (yes, that’s a moniker I don’t mind 🤨), I’ve started researching so much on how plants help mental health and what a positive force they are in any home. So…

My Birkin

I want to open a plant shop! Not a huge nursery, but a store-front plant shop that carries different types of plants according to customer need and what greenhouses around the country can supply. I don’t want it to be ‘oh…there’s another pothos…big deal 🙄 shop’, but ‘OH! I’ve always wanted a birkin philodendron and here it is shop!’ I want the shop to be situated with a big glass storefront window and have lots of shelves with only the best of the plants I’m offering. Not a 1000 of 1 plant…but many of a huge variety of plants that changes week to week so there’s always something new!

THEN, I also want a small greenhouse of my own! Just so I can propagate some plants myself and also take care of what I receive better. I would absolutely love that. Finally, I want to offer classes as well on topics such as kid friendly plants, low light plants, how to take care of certain types of plants, how to decorate with plants, etc.

Now, I know what my sweetie peeps are saying: “Ummmm…Kristi…you have absolutely no business experience at all (outside of helping ma with rummage sales eons ago 🙄) so what the fuck?” (I’m not going to apologize to ma for that one…YOU all said it…😲).

So…drum roll please…I have applied to my local university’s MBA program! If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it with all of the knowledge I possibly can so my goal is to get my MBA in a couple of years and then start planning the business. AAAAGGGGHHHH! I’m so excited to start something completely ‘new’. I love school…not just teaching of course, but learning as well. Taking on a challenge like this and learning completely new subject matter is so appealing to me and I can’t wait to see if I can make this happen.

Camille Schrier, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

OK. Let’s breathe a bit. I know that when people talk about their dreams, it’s easy to think it’s just a passing fancy or something that is outside of their reach. And I agree…sometimes they are. For example, as much as I want to be Miss America, the chances are 1 in a billion. Right? 😐

However, this dream is do-able for me. You see, when my baby boy was 6 months old, I decided I wanted a Masters Degree so I could fulfill my dream of becoming a professor. I had taken Master classes in IL and earned almost all of the credits needed for a M.S. in Clinical Psychology, but after I moved to Kansas with my son’s dad, I quickly learned no colleges around me would take my graduate hours since these programs differ so much. Plus, I had my sonshine and knew I wanted to be a stay at home ma as much as possible.

After some research (pre-internet in our house 😐) I found a program that was so appealing to me: a Masters in Family Development and Education. Not only was it pertinent to my life, but I believe that our families are the foundation from which we either bloom or wither (thank you Alfred Adler for teaching me that) and so it’s important to understand their dynamics. So, I applied for the program, got in the night cohort class, and went to school for 24 months straight to earn that M.S. I would leave for classes 3 nights a week after hubby got home to take care of O, drive 60 miles one way, sit in classes for 4 hours, drive home (still 60 miles 😐), and go to O’s crib to smooch on him while he was sleeping. Then, I’d stay up and do my homework for a few hours, catch some sleep, and wake up with O. We’d have our days together and when he napped, I’d clean the house, make supper, mow the yard, etc. and then teach the other 2 nights a week at the local community college to help pay for the degree and get ‘professoring’ experience.

Whew. When I look back at that time, I still can’t believe I did that for those 2 years. But, I wanted it. I wanted a degree that was meaningful to me (after all, it’s a $35,000 piece of paper 😎) and that would allow me to teach at the college level. A month after graduation, we moved back to IL and I was hired as an adjunct instructor at the community college I had attended myself: 10 years exactly from the date I had graduated from it. It felt so so so so fucking (sorry ma…🙄) good!

Now, I’m 50+ (shutty the mouthy) and have only myself to take care of. I know I can juggle my professor-ing with student-ing and am not scared of hard work, missing sleep, and reading until my eyes pop out of their sockets. In fact, that sounds like heaven to me (I know, I know…I love school though 😁).

So, I’m going for it. I’m finishing up my application for the program and will then look at cost, etc. I have a dream and the means to achieve it…from past experience, I know I can succeed.

Photo by Alex Fu on Pexels.com

You know, I think everyone should pursue their dreams (just not Miss America or Mr. Universe if you’re 50+ like me 😐) and to hell with people who roll their eyes at you. When I started graduate school all of those years ago, an in-law told me I was ‘crazy’ (ya think?) to even try to do it with a baby. They even went so far to say I was being selfish. Heh?? It’s selfish to pursue your dream? To want more out of life? To become what you were meant to become? Me thinks not.

So, I’m taking the first baby steps I need to take to do this. Will I succeed? I don’t know. Cost of the MBA might be prohibitive…juggling teaching and learning might prove to be too much and teaching will win…etc. But I’m going to try my damnest to do what I can to reach this goal. And if you decide to do the same? I’ll be your biggest cheerleader. I promise. 🤩

Kristi xoxo

“What becomes of the broken-hearted?” ~ Jimmy Ruffin

So, the tagline of this blawg is “just being me in this bipolar life” and that’s what I need to do right now. Just be me.

See, I have a great post I’ve been working on for a couple of days almost ready to go and was going to finish it this afternoon. Instead, I feel like crud, I’m having a super shitty day, and I guess just need to talk. I hope that’s OK.

I felt pretty super until yesterday at lunch…I don’t know what I ate (and no, I haven’t been experimenting in the kitchen, ma 🙄) but it may have been some bagged salad. It tasted a little ‘off’ but not so much to stop me from shoving it down my gullet. See, I knew eating healthy would eventually backfire. So, from then until now (24+ hours later) I still feel like crap and my bathroom has been busier than usual. Charmed, I’m sure.

Anyhoot, it’s no biggie…just some ickiness, a bit of clamminess, and that general feeling of blah, but it’s my mood that’s taking a toll on me today. I think that started early this morning when I woke up from a pretty bad nightmare. It always sounds so freaking stupid when people try to explain their dreams to you because first, it bores the shit out of you and second, they never sound that bad in the light of day. This one was a doozie though…it involved black snakes laying on my bed and ma’s ex husband (that fucking bastard 😡) being the only one who could kill them for me. Hello…calling Dr. Freud. I don’t know what Siggy would make of that (however, I can guess) but I know it was really bad at the time and I was quite shook up.

So, after getting up and visiting the bathroom (yet again 😳), I finally fell back to sleep and I’ll be damned, I had another nightmare. This one was troubling as well. Thankfully there were no snakes (yes, I’m absolutely petrified 🐍) and no R (fucking bastard 😡), but instead it was all about J which is weird because it’s been almost a year now since I’ve seen him.

The whole premise was me being hunted by someone and J was the only person that could help me stay hidden away and safe. Except he didn’t. I was trying to hide myself in this area of a town that was out of the way, and I tried and tried to get him to help me do this, and he’d keep disappearing for days and days while I was trying to stay out of danger. Then, he’d come by where ever I was hiding, and instead of bringing me food or water or whatever else I needed, he would just drive away in his car and pay me no mind.

I guess I don’t need the good doc for this one…it’s a pretty easy one to figure out. But for some reason, it brought up a lot of stuff that I know I need to put to rest. And Lord knows I’m trying.

I hate that I still care so much about him, when he hasn’t spoken a word to me since the day I caught him. I know I shouldn’t, and I know it pains my ma and sis that I still have this hurt in my heart. But I do. I’m not the type of person who can say “Done…NEXT!” I wish I could. I don’t know if this is a curse or a blessing because I suppose you could argue either side, but when I love, I love so hard. So so hard. And to be honest, it’s very hard for me to understand when people don’t do the same.

The first year we were together was hellish to say the least. He was lying to me about his ex-partner and making me feel I was ‘crazy’ (not hard to do, huh? 🙄) when I would question him. His PTSD was not under control and he took a lot of things out on me that I didn’t deserve. But even though it wasn’t OK, it was “OK” to me because when you love someone (to me), you love them through the good and bad. Unfortunately, it was mostly bad. A year after we started seeing each other is when he finally cheated multiple times on me. I know there are a lot of you out there that can relate to this, and I’m so sorry you do because it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Also, I’m older and him doing this made me feel so horribly unsure about myself.

In between cheating, he would tell me it was over…he loved me. Only me. I was the one he wanted. Then, he’d be with her the next day. Literally. Now, I’ve had my heart broken before…numerous times 🙄. But J shattered it with this behavior…something I’d never experienced with another man before. Couple this with everything else going on that summer and that’s when my breakdown occurred. NO…the breakdown wasn’t his fault…but his behavior didn’t help and his cheating had further consequences I don’t talk about.

Anyhoot, a couple of months after not seeing each other, we got back together and things were so much better. He really did try and I could see that. It wasn’t perfect…not by a long shot…but I felt better with him than I had and it seemed he was feeling the same.

But, I was angry. Very angry. And I had a right to be. Sometimes I could push that to the side, and sometimes it came out with a vengeance. But regardless, I knew I needed to work through him cheating so blatantly and I tried very hard to do it. We had great times during the next 2 years…vacationing in Tampa (and getting to hug a penguin!), being with his kids and feeling like a little family, getting him set up in his apartment so his kids could stay with him and have their own room and all (I loved helping him decorate and get things nice), fixing dinners together, pulling the carpet off my floor and cracking up while trying to roll it up, taking Eddie to the dog park, watching the stupidest horror movies we could find, snuggling on the couch…basically, just doing the best we could.

Last summer, I really took a step back from him though. I needed too. I needed to resolve the anger that was still in my heart and also get strong enough to realize I would be fine if something happened to us. I needed that reassurance. Of course, that didn’t sit well with him and I can understand that. But I also understand that some people never try to forgive, or work to forgive, infidelity, so I thought I was ahead of the game. Apparently, I wasn’t.

Finally, last October we had a pretty bad argument and I was being really rough on him because I was worried about his son and wanted so bad for J to get him the help I felt he needed. This wasn’t well received and that was it. He was done. I caught him just a couple days later after being ghosted, and later he messaged me saying I was a day late. One day.

See, when I went to see him that Saturday, I had realized something during the couple of days we hadn’t spoken…that I had a choice I could make: I could forgive him for cheating, let go of the anger I knew was hurting the both of us, and move forward with him as a team. But, when I went to tell him this, well…you know what happened.

By saying I was a day late makes me feel like if I had forgiven him just a tad earlier, we’d still be together. Remember how those of us with bipolar ruminate, personalize, over-react, etc. I know in my brain this isn’t right…he had to have known this gal for a while…but there’s still this whisper that says I could have saved this.

I know…I know…it’s not right. I truly do understand that. He deserved anger and tears and recriminations after what he had done…and I wasn’t some shrew constantly berating him. In fact, I doubt most women would have given him a second chance, let alone the numerous ones I allowed him.

So why did I do it? Give him so many chances? Well, love I guess. Sometimes I think I’m an anomaly in that I can’t turn love on and off easily. I just can’t. Never have been able too. I ‘expect’ people who love me to love me through my good and bad, but only because I’m willing to do the same for them. It’s only fair. I also pray a lot, and every night I say “The Lord’s Prayer”. When I say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” I feel I need to take this seriously. So I try.

Maybe it’s because the ‘anniversary’ of what happened is approaching that I’m thinking about this. Maybe it’s because I’ve been single now for a while and am starting to feel lonely. Maybe it’s just because he’s not completely out of my heart yet. People have said to me: “You need to forget him…get him out of your mind…throw him away!” but I’ve been thrown away (by him ironically as well as 3 other hubbies 🙄) and I can’t do that to others.

Maybe that’s the problem. Feeling like I was thrown away after all the work and effort and forgiveness and love and patience and kindness I tried to give him for the 3 years we were together. He came from a horrible home…I wanted to make his life better…show him that there are loving people out there that really care. I wanted to make up for what he hadn’t had all his life. Yes. I’m a fixer. No. It’s not necessarily healthy, but it’s who I am. At least I can recognize it, but not acting on it is really really tough for me.

I was actually going to write a letter to him on here…you know, like I’ve done for others. It was going to be my ‘goodbye’ letter that cut those remaining threads that I have (I know he has long since moved on). But I can’t do that. Not yet. I’m just not ready. Sometimes I think he’ll see the error of his ways and call me or message me and tell me how much he still loves and needs me. Other times I get ‘real’ and understand this will never happen (IF it ever did, I’d buy a fucking lottery ticket immediately). That’s the shittiest thing about relationships: it takes 2 to make it work and 1 to make it end. Go figure.

I know I’m having a bad day and that the nightmare I had, and time of year it is, brought up some feelings I just haven’t put to rest yet. I’ve come so far in a year and am so proud of all I’ve done and accomplished. But I’m also lonely. I want someone to snuggle with. Someone to laugh with and cry with and share my plants with and talk to and feel like I’m not quite as alone in this world like I’ve been feeling. My ma is fucking wonderful and I don’t know (truly) what I’d do without her, but she also has her own life…lots of friends and social stuff and things to do every week. My sissy has a great husband and grandkids and friends and I envy her that…but in a good way…she deserves it. My sonshine is building a life with his girlfriend and throwing himself into his career…and he should be doing that (have I ever mentioned to you all how freaking proud I am of him?)! But then there’s me. The cheese stands alone. 🧀

I’ll feel better tomorrow. I’ve gotten a lot of tears out and my poor neighbor had to come over and help me un-stick a shelf from my doorway (don’t ask ) and as I was bawling to him about all kinds of stuff (when you feel shitty about one thing, others always follow) he assured me that ‘this too shall pass.’ And he’s right. It will. But right now? My heart hurts. Aches. And I’m feeling pretty durn down from being thrown away yet again in my life. I’ve never…ever…had a guy (actually, a hubby 🙄) leave me and then come back with regrets. Never. Maybe I’m just that forgettable. I hope not.

Kristi xoxo

“I am woman, hear me roar…” ~ Helen Reddy

oval brown wooden framed hanging mirror
Photo by Nadine Wuchenauer on Pexels.com

So, I’m very confused.  Yes, I know it’s not a new state for me to be in so maybe I should have said that I’m confused even more than usual.  However, that’s a very confusing sentence and I’m confused about whether or not I should have stuck a comma in there somewhere, but anyhoot, confused is what I am.  😀

Answer me this:  why are we constantly being bombarded by ‘motivational quotes’ and people’s posts that say we’re all beautiful and wonderful and talented and special, etc. but then when we say it about ourselves, we’re called narcissistic?  In other words, I’m supposed to ‘think’ I’m all of these incredible things, but if I say that I’m any of these things well then by golly, I’m being conceited.  Really peeps, does that make sense to you?

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When did it become such a bad thing to say good things about ourselves?  I always give compliments to people and I mean every one of them I say.  I tell my students how amazingly wonderful they are (which they really are…funny thing:  every single semester for 25 years I have gotten the BEST students in the college in my classroom 😃)…I tell my son how incredibly talented he is (his photos blow me away 😮), I tell ma how beautiful she is (and she is…except for the way she does the sides of her hair…”Ma: for the love of all that is holy, don’t comb them back, just scrunchy them and let ’em go.  Just sayin’ 🙄), and the list goes on.  But if I compliment myself?

Look at what we say to people who do:  “Well, you must think a lot of yourself!”  “You’re full of yourself, aren’t ya?”  “Who do you think you are?”  “Don’t get above your raisin!”  “Remember, pride goeth before a fall!”  “Gee…you’re so self-centered!”  And on and on and on.

What the hell?  So, let me get this straight:  I’m supposed to take in the messages that I’m beautiful in my own way, understand that I have talents and things to offer, feel good about myself and have high self-esteem, but if I SAY any of these things are true, I’m pretty much looked at as an egotistical maniac?  Okey Dokey.

C’mon peeps.  I’m here to tell you something you might never have heard before.  Are you ready?  It’s OK to have pride in yourself and to talk positively about yourself and feel good about yourself.  So there.  Got it?

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I’ll start it:  I’m beautiful.  Well wait a sec…let me rephrase that:  I’m a 6 out of 10 after I take my shower, wash my face with micellar water (the freaking best thing ever…I’m going to buy stock in Garnier 😳), blow dry my shampooed/conditioned/twice rinsed/gelled hair…curl it up with my curling iron…apply my ‘blur’ moisturizer to lessen the looks of my laugh lines (a.k.a. wrinkles)…put my mascara on with a double coat and then use my eyelash curler which looks like a little S & M device…put oil absorbing powder on my face since I’m a shiny person…put on my all day lipstick (L’oreal  #50)…slather gloss over that…pick out my clothes and make sure I have something on that’s dark because I’m a ‘winter’😳…and there.  I’m beautiful.  Sorta.  🙄 (Now…I’ll bet you each a donut that ma writes a comment to me on FB saying how beautiful I am just because she’s so freaking sweet ♥).

So please Pinterest, quit telling me I am every time I open your app.  I’m average (or a tad under) but I’m OK with that.  I’m ok saying I look ok instead of saying I look like crap when someone compliments me:  “Hey Kristi…looking good!” (I heard that once…a LLLLOOOONNNNGGGG time ago but I digress).  “Hey, thanks!”  So many of us women will say:  “Aww, no I don’t!  I didn’t get much sleep last night!”  Or, they’ll point out specific things.  “My hair just won’t do anything today!”  It’s almost a given to counteract a compliment instead of agreeing with it.  BUT, we’re told that we ARE beautiful so what are we to do?

Another one:  I’m talented.  Not in the way I want to be:  on stage singing and dancing with Taron while he whirls me across the floor at Carnegie Hall, but in other ways.  Like, I’m a talented professor.   “OMG, Kristi…quit bragging!”

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Why?  I’m a really fucking great teacher (sorry ma, but remember that I said how sweet you are 😳).  It’s what I’ve wanted to be all of my life and I’m very very proud of going from being a high school ‘D’ student who barely graduated, to a Professor who earned her Master’s Degree while being a full-time mama to a 1 year old son and maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA.  School is my thing, peeps, and I’m really good at it.  📚

Is that bad for me to say?  Why?  Aren’t we supposed to have pride in what we do?  You know, I was a really fucking great waitress too while I was in college.  I didn’t have the boobs to help me get better tips, but my service was great.  Hello!  I’m bipolar and being a manic waitress is awesome!  Water glasses were filled immediately…I could handle 10 tables at once…I was quick to bring extra ranch dressing (everyone always wants more ranch…Hmmm.), etc.

And on another note…why is it wrong to be self-centered at times?  My sweetie neighbors are wonderful.  WONDERFUL.  (R, if you’re reading this, I have another succulent cutting for you 🌵).  The guy has been working hours and hours restoring a car and he’s an amazingly talented man…the car will be perfect!  We were yakking over the fence the other night and he said he felt selfish restoring this car for himself because of all the time it was taking.  I said:  C, it’s not selfish to do what you want!  To work on something that’s so important to you.

And it’s not!  What’s selfish about pursuing things you want to do?  Eating what you want to eat?  Saying no to commitments you don’t want to go too?  I’m not saying you should be so self-absorbed that you are shutting out other people, but I’m tired of treating others better than myself.  Tired of allowing them the leeway I don’t give myself.  Guess what?  I’m going to start being a bit more selfish.  And I think that’s healthy!

Look my sweetie grasshoppers, I’m not saying you should be an egotistical asshole.  But I do think you should have pride and self-assurance and a sense of being pleased about who you are and what you have accomplished.  I think it’s OK to be your own cheerleader.  To be your own support.  To be your own fan.  (I bought a fan the other day and was blown away by the price.  Get it?  I’m funny too! 🙄).

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I saw this quote on Pinterest:  “The more you like yourself, the more other people don’t.”  What the fuck?  You told me to love myself!  That I’m wonderful!  BUT, if I LIKE myself, others won’t?  So, using my deductive reasoning skills: if I actually LOVE myself, others will hate me.  Right?  Sheesh.

Why are we like this?  Why do we preach to others about how important it is to build up a high self-esteem and feel worthy and have pride in ourselves, but then put people down when they achieve it and show it?  I’m done doing that.

Look, I’m 53 years old (blech 👵) and it’s time I started saying I’m a pretty cool person.  No, I don’t think I’m awesome or amazing or the ‘best’.  But I do think I have a lot to offer…have some talent…have some things about me that are pretty boss (like my use of groovy slang and emojis) and by golly, it’s time to be proud of who I am.  For all of us to be proud of who we are.  Out loud.  🎺

Kristi xoxo

 

I’m Gonna Love Me Again” ~ Bernie Taupin

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

So, any of you who know me even just a tiddle know how incredibly much I like the film “Rocketman”.  I think I’ve watched it at least 20 times, because the music, and the inspiration of the story is just so damn good.  My favorite song is the final one called “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” by Bernie Taupin, and here are my fave lyrics from it:

Singing, I’m gonna love me again
Check in on my very best friend
Find the wind to fill my sails
Rise above the broken rails
Unbound by any ties that break or bend
I’m free, and don’t you know?
No clown to claim he used to know me then
I’m free, and don’t you know?
And oh-oh-oh, I’m gonna love me again.

Here’s why I was thinking about these words today:  one of my sweetie students wrote me and asked me how you go about loving yourself.  She said she has always heard you can’t love others unless you love yourself which is something she struggles with, and she was scared she’d never be in a relationship  because of that.  So, I’ve been thinking a lot about loving yourself.  How can you learn to do it, and why isn’t that love already there?  Also, is it really true you can’t love anyone else if you don’t love yourself.

I don’t know about you, but my love for myself fluctuates…it waxes and wanes based on what’s happening in my life.  I think it’s much more fragile than the love I have for others.  Much more conditional based on my standards.  Much more unforgiving based on my ideas.  I wonder why that is?  Why it’s such a challenge to love ourselves as openly and non-judgmentally as we do others?  Why is it I can quickly forgive another person and my love never wavers, but I just as quickly berate myself and lose self-love in the same situation?

Maybe some of it, or all of it, has to do with being bipolar.  I’m a ruminator.  An overly sensitive person.  An empath.  But the last 2 of these wonderful qualities (🙄) seem to only be for others.

I can hate myself so easily.  Years and years ago, I had a mutt named Scooter and he was 15 when I had to put him down.  For a few weeks prior to that, his kidneys were failing, he was deaf and going blind, and he had cancer.  Because of all of this, he had a lot of difficulty with bladder control and he was quick to snap at me since he couldn’t hear or see me approach before I touched him.  I had to crate him when I was gone and it was a horrible and stressful time.  One day, out of frustration, I got angry (and I’m not going to tell you specifically what I did…it wasn’t terrible but still wasn’t right) and scolded him too harshly.  It’s literally been 17 years since that time, and I still haven’t forgiven myself for it.  Seventeen years.  If someone else had done it, I would have forgiven them in a heartbeat.  Understood the frustration, the stress, the fear.  But not me.  After little Scooter was gone, I went over it and over it in my head and truly hated myself for making those couple seconds in his life crummy.

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I can think of so many other things I’ve done in my life that I’ve hated myself for, that I would have accepted in others with no loss of love at all.  I’m the first person to say that love isn’t a ‘switch’, if it can be turned on and turned off easily (meaning I love you today, but don’t tomorrow) then that’s not love.  Love is supposed to sustain us through the bad times, not suddenly go away.  It’s supposed to grow during the ‘worse’ while celebrating the ‘better’.  If it doesn’t…if it disappears when there’s a bump in the road…how can that have actually been love?

So, is it really love I have for myself if I do turn it on and off based on my behavior?  My words?  Even my thoughts?  I don’t think so.  When I’m in bad situations, that ‘love’ leaves me at a time I need it the most.  When J cheated on me, I continued to love him.  But I started to hate myself.  What was in ME that compelled him to cheat (I know this thinking is wrong NOW, but that’s what was going on inside my head at the time)?  Was I a bad person?  Ugly person?  When Hubby 3 left, I hated myself.  I would spend hours doing ‘reruns’ in my mind about fights we had and issues we should have worked on, and I criticized myself harshly and was convinced it was my fault he walked out the door (which I have since painted and it looks awesome).

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It’s sad to me how hard we are on ourselves.  My sis is the curvy one in our family and I think she is beautiful…I truly do.  But, she’s so hard on herself when she gains a pound or two.  I guess I’m the same way too though.  We tell other women that no matter what, they have a unique beauty all their own and they are special just the way they are.  Then we look in our own mirrors, and catalog our flaws one by one and say things like “Oh Lord, I hate the way I look”  or “Dammit…if I didn’t have these thighs I’d love myself so much more.”

So, if I’m hating on myself or at least not totally loving myself, can I not love others?  See, you may disagree, but I believe you can.  No matter how I’m feeling about myself, I still love others.  When I was married to Hubby 2 (keep up…I know how hard it is to remember all of these) I had periods of depression and didn’t like myself as a result of what I couldn’t do.  Hubby also disliked it when I would say how awful I felt…how down…how helpless I was.  It was hard for him to understand the organic basis of depression and in his family, when you aren’t feeling ‘right’, you hear “Get to work…it’ll help!” or “Ignore it…it’ll go away!”  But through it all, I loved him.  Very much.  How I feel about myself might affect my interactions, but I never stop loving.  Ever.

Maybe talking about having to completely love ourselves is unrealistic.  Maybe it’s simply that we should be more LOVING towards ourselves.  Maybe the key is forgiving ourselves like we forgive others.  Letting go of things and consciously catching ourselves when ruminating on them.  Allowing ourselves to make mistakes, with the understanding this is something everyone else does as well.  Talking kindly to ourselves.  Looking at our bodies and saying, “Yes…I have a belly, and thank the Lord I do.  It carried my baby boy!”  Accepting our mental illnesses that cause so many of us to feel shame, self-doubt, less self-worth, more guilt, and feeling we are less than because of them.

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In other words, being as loving to ourselves as we are to others;  I guess I’m just not there yet.  But I’m thinking that might be OK because I see this as a process.  A day by day challenge.  And no matter how ‘loving’ I feel towards myself at any particular time, I still accept me for who I am.  Someone who tries their hardest, does her best to make the world around her just a little bit better, and can’t help but to see only the positive in people.

So, Bernie…I love what you wrote, and I’m working on what you ask.  I’m gonna love myself again.  And again and again and again.  But just understand, it’s a lot harder than we might think.

Kristi xoxo

Don’t Fence me In.

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Photo by Jaymantri on Pexels.com

So, my counselor and I had an excellent conversation today, and I really look forward to seeing her every week!  Yea!

Anyhoo…we are talking about relationships, because as you know from my last post, me and relationships just don’t get along too well.  Let’s put it this way:  I have a 100% fail rate for them!  ‘Nuff said.

As we were talking about the ‘why’ behind all of my relationships ending, I began to see so many of my problems lie in the fact that my boundaries are pretty poor.  In fact, if my boundaries were a fence, even a chihuahua could escape.  Easily.  Having bad boundaries makes it very easy for people to get in.  And for me to get out.

One of the many ‘wonderful’ characteristics of being bipolar is impulsiveness.  And I’m not talking impulsive as in buying a new shirt I don’t really need.  I’m talking about impulsiveness throughout every area of my life, including relationships.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve never done things half way.  I do them the entire way, and then some, or I don’t do them at all.  When I was 30-something, I was still carrying around baby weight (from a 65 pound gain…I couldn’t eat just one Oreo when I was preggers, I had to eat the whole damn sleeve) and wanted to lose it.  I called my dad who had been a runner since I could remember, and we met at a track.  I couldn’t finish an 1/8th of a mile, so I did what any rational person would do.  I signed up for a marathon.  When I started acrylic pour painting, it wasn’t enough to create a canvas or 2.  I had to buy every painting supply known to man…fix up a studio in my basement…and make so many canvases that I’ll be giving them out as Christmas gifts long after I’m in a nursing home.  See what I mean?

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I do the same thing in relationships.  I jump in…without looking…without thinking…without considering the consequences of what that jump could do to me.  Once I’m in, I’m in.  I fall too quickly.  I love too hard.  I give too much.  I want even more.  And the problem is this:  once I get outside that boundary which should be in place to protect me, I’m VERY hesitant to get back behind the little fence there is.  After all, freedom is better!  Take my Edward.  He’s such a good dog, but if I’m taking out the trash, and leave the gate open, he’ll take off and never look back.  I can tempt him with every known treat, and he’ll still value that freedom more than the safety of home.  Even though it’s dangerous!  Even though it’s unknown!  Even though something could happen to him that could cause great injury!  For some reason, being outside of a gate is so much more fun than being inside it.

Like Eddie, I want that gate open, especially in relationships!  The simple fact is, I love love.  I hope you read that correctly…let me try it again:  I LOVE love.  🙂  I love falling in lust…building up love…getting to know someone…unlocking the secrets of someone…cuddling with someone…knowing I have someone in this world just for me.  Little old me.  OK, little OLD me.

It’s intoxicating, isn’t it?  That first tug of the heart.  The first kiss you share when your heart is beating so hard you wonder if it will ever be the same again.  But like anything intoxicating, it can be so dangerous too.  1ce81319ae2fb2a691e22822a6618feb

We learn to ‘feed’ off the impulsiveness.  It becomes almost addicting.  It becomes something to us that puts us in a tunnel.  And then all we can see is that tunnel and the person in it with us.  We can’t see the dangers associated with it, just like a drug addict might not see the consequences of their use.  Our rational mind has been blinded, and our impulsive, emotional side has taken control; face it, it’s MUCH more exciting to listen to our hearts than to our heads.

Hence, people like me put up with a lot of things they shouldn’t.  After all, we slid ourselves into this tunnel, we’d better learn to like it; we ran outside the gate, we’d better take advantage of it.  So we’ll let people say horrible things to us without calling them on it.  We’ll let them use us:  financially, emotionally, and sexually, because saying no to them, trying to build up another fence while we’re out wandering around, is just too damn hard to do.  And anyway, whose got the time or tools for that?  We’ll let them cheat on us, with no consequence other than making them ‘promise’ they’ll never do it again.  We’ll let them put their hands on us, when we swore to ourselves that would never ever ever happen.

But after a while, you do get tired of this.  Tired of being in such a dark place.  Tired of exhausting yourself justifying to others your objection to leaving.  Tired of having a hollowness inside of you that nothing outside the safety of a fence will quench now.  Tired of looking in the mirror…and then looking away…because you don’t want to see, or acknowledge, the pain you can no longer hide in your eyes.  Tired of feeling less than.  Tired of feeling like a thing, instead of a person.  Tired of not being ‘you’ anymore.  You are just so fucking tired.

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Since my last relationship ended, I have come to understand that the safety of a fence is actually so much more comfortable and satisfying than running around without a leash.  I finally have gathered some tools now.  I finally have time now.  I have the know-how to build my fences, and keep them in repair.  I have the want to protect this person I’m getting to know better and better each day.  A person I’m actually starting to like.  Maybe loving myself is right around the corner.  Maybe I’m the ‘one’ I’ve been waiting for all my life.

I guess I’ve just come to the realization that I’m worth taking care of.  And if that’s not motivation to get busy nailing these boards together, I don’t know what is.

Kristi xoxo

Learning to Chill.

So, I’m in my 2nd week of working from home.  Last week, I moved all of my on-campus classes to an online learning format, and this week, I’m starting to interact within my classes, while getting my students acclimated to this new way of doing things.

First, I know some people are complaining greatly at having to social distance, and that’s understandable.  It’s boring.  Inconvenient.  Tedious.  But, I just have to remember that it’s keeping me, and my family, away from the virus as much as possible.  And so importantly, that the healthcare workers on the front line…the business owners who have had to shutter their operation…the people that have been laid off indefinitely…those are the ones truly making sacrifices.  Some that will last the rest of their lives.  How sad that is…and how thankful I am to only have to stay home and teach online.  I’m blessed.

Having said that, I’m not good with inactivity.  Being bipolar, I’m used to UPS and DOWNS.  And to be honest, there’s not much in-between for me.  Actually, just not in terms of mood, but for everything.  I either love a food or hate it (beets and iced tea come to mind).  Want to watch a movie 100 times (Rocketman!!), or turn it off after the first 10 minutes.  Decide to buy that shirt the minute I see it, or pass it by with a small ‘blech’.

So activity is the same way.  If I get up and started, I can do so much and feel mega-productive.  But, if I allow myself to laze around a bit, I feel even more lazy and then guilty about being lazy and then feeling guilty about feeling guilty about being lazy.  Yes, it’s a circular trap I find myself in, and it perpetuates itself like rabbits.

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What is ‘lazy’ exactly?  And why does it have such a bad connotation in our society?  It doesn’t matter what word you use to describe it (idle, sluggish, slow, etc.), being lazy goes against what we are told to do:  and that’s to get things done!  Multitasking is the new way we need to go about our days!  Right??  If we aren’t doing at least 2 or 3 things at once, we’re not doing enough; we’re just couch potatoes.  Loafers.  A lazy-bones.   And look on Facebook.  People try to ‘out task’ others by listing all they did that day.  “I got my house re-plastered and painted by 6:00 a.m.  And now I’m getting ready to run a quick half-marathon before finishing the book I’m writing.”  “Oh yeah?  Well, I did all of that as well, except I ran a full marathon, the book I’m finishing is a tome, and I did 23 loads of laundry too.  But whatever.”  Sheesh.  When did it become a status symbol to knock ourselves out so much?

I’m learning that lazy isn’t a bad thing after all.  Being slow is OK.  Idle.  I’m tired of tiring myself out all of the time!  I’ve been working since I was 16 years old, and have tired myself out for the great majority of my life.  I cut the grass more times than necessary.  I vacuumed the living room even when it didn’t need it.  There were only a few dishes in the sink, but by golly, I did them, because God forbid they wait until more are added.

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And what did that get me?  Not the martyrdom I wanted.  It got me nothing.  Well, nothing beyond being able to say “Look what I did today.  See…I’m not lazy!”  Does anybody remember what my backyard looked like in 2006?  Or that my rugs were extra fluffy a few years ago?  Or that my dishes still had a bit of yolk on them last week?  Probably not.

I think I know where this came from.  My self-esteem has never been great; as I’ve mentioned, I was always different from other kids and making friends was really hard.  So, I started to believe that to fit in or make friends, I had to DO SOMETHING in order to show my worth.  It wasn’t enough just being me. I had to GIVE.  Sometimes it was an over-abundance of time I gave.  Or presents.  Or money.  Or energy into proving “LOOK AT ME!!  I DID ALL OF THIS FOR YOU!!  NOW DO YOU SEE HOW AWESOME I AM?”

The problem with this is you start to understand it’s never enough.  And you start to feel resentful of the fact YOU feel you have to give.  But where is that resentment directed?  Towards the people YOU feel you have to give too.  So unfair to them.

My mother-in-law from Hubby #2 (my son’s dad) was perfect.  Martha Stewart perfect.  So busy…productive…self-sacrificing along with being a perfect gardener, cook, parent, and believe me, the list goes on.  She’s an amazing woman and I love her so much still, but she was a hard act to follow.  Especially since we lived right next door to her and her accomplishments were seen everyday.  To feel worthy of hubby, I felt I had to keep up.  Do just as much, if not more, to show I was ‘just as good.’  Or even just plain old good.  I’d be exhausted by the end of the day, and not feel any sense of accomplishment.  Just wondering if I did enough and being frazzled about what the next day would bring.

In my last relationship, I knew something was wrong from the start.  I have great intuition and usually trust it.  However, my heart just happens to be so much stronger, and it often prevails in romance.  Because he was still in love with his ex, and was still in touch with her regularly (although I was told I was paranoid when I’d ask him about it), I truly believed that if I did enough…gave enough…proved myself enough, it would be the catalyst for him to love me instead.  So I did.  I gave all I had.

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Literally.  All of my energy and time and emotion and forgiveness and money and gifts and home and everything else you can think of.  And you can see where that got me; after all, I’m writing this as a single woman.  When we broke up (well, when I walked in on him with another woman…I guess that could be considered a break-up), I reminded him of all I did give him.  I fancied the idea that if he remembered all of my sacrifices, he’d realize my value.   He didn’t.  It was all for naught.

Now I’m trying really hard to work on understanding my value comes from me; from just being me.  Not from what I give or what I do.  But for who I am with the person…what I feel for them…what they feel for me.  I don’t have to ‘buy’ my worth; dammit, I’m worthy as I am.

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So I’m learning that it’s OK to be ‘lazy.’  To read on the couch for hours and get lost in a book.  To cuddle with my pooches and nap with my arms around them.  To putz around in my sewing room and take my time making something; not just to get it done and checked off a list, but to enjoy the process of cutting and sewing and creating with the fabric.  To scroll through Facebook and see my past students show off their new baby.  I think these things are more meaningful and more memorable than making sure my check-list is a tad longer than yours.

And with relationships?  Yes, of course I’m still going to give (when my Prince Charming arrives).  But I’m going to give of ‘me’…of who I am.  I’m not going to work and work and work so he can say:  “Wow…I need Kristi because she does this and gives me all of that.” I want him to say:  “Wow…I love Kristi for the woman she simply is.”

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard those words before.

Kristi xoxo