Emotional Aftershocks

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As I’ve noted, I’m not a huge fan of looking in the rearview.  Serves no purpose, gives me a bitch of a stiff neck, and completely distracts me from enjoying the present and thinking hopefully about the future.

Sometimes, though, things don’t live in the rearview, and if you’re not careful, they will sneak up and overtake you.  So what’s a girl to do?  I don’t know, but it happened to me this week and thus I have a few thoughts that I want to share.

This was my first Father’s Day without a real-live dad.  It was also my mom’s birthday.  I also needed to be in Chicago for work.  So I did what felt right at the time and decided to go early, on Saturday, so I could have some fun with college friends before work started and so I could distract myself.

Right.  I had fun, but more “fun” than fun.  I couldn’t shake the low-level feeling of sadness, mainly because it was palpable.  Loss sometimes has a weight, and it can be seen in the stooping of my shoulders and the drooping of the corners of my mouth…

I woke up Sunday morning and the tears just came.  I let them flow, took a deep breath, showered, and decided to muscle through.  I called my mom and tried to put a smile in my voice as I wished her happy birthday in one sentence and acknowledged the sharp pain of missing Dad in the next.  All in all it was a hard day.  

And now it’s over.

Life goes on.

So not that there weren’t moments of sadness over dad or guilt over running away and “abandoning” my mom on a day that was doubly hard for here, but it’s done now.  And here I am at the airport, waiting for my flight, and anxious to get back home and face my life and my house and my mom and my family and my girlfriend and my still-green pool.

I’m not sure I’m in the clear and that there still won’t be reverberations from the Father’s Day tremors…but I’ll try to keep the past in the rearview so that I can be present in my todays and preserve hope for the future.

We’ll always have hope, and we’ll always have love.

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The Bleach Stain On The Bathmat (And Other Things That Completely Don’t Matter)

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This is a story about a bleach stain on a bathmat.

I know, right?

Who the hell wants to hear about a bleach stain on a bathmat?

Worse yet, who the hell wants to tell a story about one?

Well, I want to tell it…and you don’t know it, but you probably need to hear it.

The other day, I discovered a small bleach stain on my new-ish, “expensive” bathmat ($20, Target). I was pissed, and I let the offender know it.

And as soon as I unloaded, I wanted to hit the “rewind” button.

Seriously, who the hell cares? What does it matter? And what was my point in lashing out?

The more I thought about it, the more ashamed I was. The bleach stain was caused in the process of giving the bathroom a more thorough cleaning than I’ve given it in years. And yeah, so what if I cleaned the tub and the grout and the tile and the shower curtain in the past without causing any collateral damage to the bath linens? What does it matter?

I should have been grateful for the help, the help that was generously offered, was executed with a smile…the helper who reassured me patiently during the entire cleaning exercise…and here I was being a giant a-hole about a bleach stain that no one else will ever see and has no negative functional implication on the bathmat.

It’s a friggin’ bathmat.

I know. It’s a lot to say about a small bleach stain on a bathmat (in a shitty old bathroom, I might add).

But it’s a large life lesson for me. About how and why I behave, and what does and doesn’t matter. It was a massive wake-up call about treating what is important (the person cleaning the bathroom) with the compassion and respect deserved, and about letting the things that don’t matter (a bleach stain on the bathmat) pass by without mention. What’s the point of being a jerk and making the people you care about feel crappy for doing something awesome?

Sad to say that we (or at least I) can get caught up in the crappy minutiae of life and co-mingle feelings and reactions and experiences to a needlessly negative end…so we (or at least I) should take a step back if needed, take an extra breath if needed, to channel our feelings and reactions and experiences in a positive way, to deliver results that are supportive, and affirming, and useful.

So start shaping your thinking using the power of perspective. Ask yourself if something matters and respond accordingly. And if you respond poorly, learn the lesson, ask for forgiveness, and endeavor not to make the same mistake again.

Overlook the bleach stains in life, and look the person who matters in the eye and say, “Thank you for all you do for me; I love you so much.” Isn’t that a much better way to spend a minute than carrying on like an idiot, about a bathmat?

In other news, need a good meat-free sandwich besides tuna? Try this gem:
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Mash a can of chickpeas (drain them first). Add an avocado and mash that in with the chickpeas. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in a little mayo if you like. I like a little Hellman’s Light, to give it a more spreadable consistency. I’m big into the Trader Joe’s sprouted bread now, just for fun. Use whatever you like. I like a thin layer of mayo, about 1/4 of the chickado mash, some tomato slices, and voila! A delicious meat-free lunch!