The truth is that even if you’re double-vaccinated and have the booster, it’s likely that you will get a version of Covid.
Having all your shots will almost certainly keep you out of the hospital or worse. Of course, I’ve had every available shot.
My other truth is that my biggest risk and exposure has been where I work – and that’s been true during the course of the pandemic. It doesn’t scare me, precisely because I’ve seen people do everything right and still get Covid. I did everything right physically for a year and yet my body still slapped me confusingly and I found myself in surgery.
I tested again yesterday. As far as I know, I’ve tested more than anyone else in my personal circle. It’s important to me to know that if I have it, that I hide in a closet for a few days. I’m around unvaccinated people and the burden of giving them something that is essentially a mortality lottery ticket is a higher price than I’m willing to pay. I wish everyone would get all the shots, but that is no longer a reasonable expectation.
Be safe and be loved. Squeeze in some laughter in there, too, if you can.
I’m going to go out in a bit and reconnect with old friends.
While I’m doing it, the awesome t-shirt a fascinating new neighbor gave to me this week says everything that needs to be said: play.
A few minutes ago I was walking the trail by the hospital for a few minutes. As the spur I walked merged into the main trail, a man walked up with his cell phone held close to his left ear. I said, “Good morning!” and smiled.
To my surprise, he venomously replied, “It’s past noon!”
I flicked my wrist and looked at my Fitbit. It was 12:01.
Without missing a beat I retorted, “Have you been eating lemons?”
He stopped and said, “What do you mean by that?”
Because I am me, I answered, “You seem awful bitter. Are you okay? Do you need to talk? I have a couple of minutes.”
“No,” he said, and he kept walking.
A little further ahead, alongside the perimeter of the apartments that abut the trail, he stopped at one of the long black benches. I walked up towards him.
He turned towards me and said, “The lemon question was pretty good.”
I sat down on the end of the bench. He soon followed.
And he did talk and told me what was bothering him. After 3 or 4 minutes, I told him to wait there and I had something for him. I walked back to my car and got an old pair of headphones and walked back towards him. I half-expected him to be gone. But he was still there. I handed them the headphones and told him that if he needed a ride I would be glad to give him one.
He thanked me twice. I reached out and shook his hand. He actually smiled.
I used the simple human superpower of humor and listening to turn the lemons in his head into something else.
I’ll let him walk away for a minute before I snapped the picture.
The bright sun above me somehow seemed to shine brighter.
If you behave as if you believe you’re confident, even when you’re not, most other people believe it too. And if you wear clown shoes and talk like you’re crazy, people question you a whole lot less.
Most of the great people I know also hate something about themselves. It’s perplexing. Why is it we can see the exceptional in others but so seldom in ourselves?
As for flaws, it is impossible for you to be certain that someone else won’t find them to be endearing or fascinating. Unless your flaw is personality-driven, as when you practice hatchet-throwing in my direction.
So, stop looking at yourself that way.
If you’re not going to change it, revel in it. You’re living life for yourself, so that other people can see you for who are.
PS It is really hard to get to know a facade. Breathe fire if you can, flaws and all.
My favorite belt is older than a forgotten box of toenails. I’ve added 16″ of extra holes to it and cut it off twice. I have had a new one hanging in my closet for the day when I would be ready. Much to my shock, I had to drill eight extra inches of holes in it for it to fit properly. For any of you who are waiting for the new year to start your New Year’s resolutions, I hope you will take this tired old failure’s words of advice: you can do it without the gym, without upending your life, or feeling like a failure on your bad days. All it takes is a clear vision of what you want in life. You can pay the price and you can do it incrementally. With the right mindset, you’ll get little victories that add up. You will also have days where you feel like nothing is going right. If you start the journey and feel yourself waning, reach out to me. One of my superpowers is that I am a motivator. Love yourself and find a way to give yourself the opportunities to be who you want to be. If you’re already happy with who you are: be weird and let the fire breathe from your mouth so that people will know who you are.
It is indeed just a lamp post. Above it, the December sun warms me. Whatever I’m experiencing is almost the opposite of mindfulness. I clocked out at work to walk down the hill to my car. Minutes later, I realized I was walking south on the trail. My feet must have vetoed my routine because I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I was briskly walking, listening to the creek adjacent to the trail, and lost in my thoughts. Before finishing work for the day, I had two disparate moments. The first was a surprise bit of irritation thrown upon me, an undeserved one, from someone responding to words of kindness and appreciation I had offered. Momentarily, my head filled with confusion and disappointment. The second moment was a laughter-filled conversation. When I realized I was walking on the trail, I looked up to see that lamp post illuminated by the bright sun. A congruent and companion light went off in my head. Which of the two disparate moments before leaving work do you think filled my heart? All moments can have meaning, especially if we are intuitive or paying attention. At the apex of my unintended walk, I sat on a ledge overlooking the creek below. The sun sits to the right above me warming my shoulders, even though the rest of me sits in shadows provided by a huge tree. The concrete blocks below me are cool and refreshing. The creek runs swiftly enough to babble its own language. Strangely, I feel like I know what it’s saying: flow, movement, and destination. All that kinetic energy around the low water bridge and walkway that traverses the creek. On one side, a tranquil pool that hides motion. On the other, a boisterous discharge of water trying to find its place. I know I will have to get up and walk back to my car. I think I will keep the sound of the creek in my head for a while and feel the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. I choose to remember the laughter and to forget the irritation. This walk was a stolen moment.
“Life is like looking for your phone. Most of the time, it’s in your hand.”
Today’s brooch was made from a very old badge my manager discovered last week. I wrote “252” on it. That’s how much I weighed in the picture. I’m 105 lbs. lighter now. The part that continues to remind me is the new people who come into my life. They didn’t know me as fat. A couple of them had to be convinced. That’s a strange, wonderful thought. None of them have inaccurate misconceptions of me, either, so they look at me as if I’m just X. That’s wonderful, too. It reminds me of decades ago when I changed my name; it allowed me to easily identify those who loved me for who I was without regard to my name. Not a day passes that my name doesn’t bring a question, a laugh, or a story. Having a ridiculous name saves me the trouble of needing to tell people I’m probably eccentric. (Whether I look like a professional bowler or curler is up to you to decide.) * ^
“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know” “You Say,” Lauren Daigle
All of you who can feel God’s love are fortunate. I mean that without snark. All love is housed in one’s heart. Believing that you’re loved in any form is something to strive for.
Because of my blog, people find me and read the ridiculously long and circuitous path of my life I’ve left there. It’s told higgledy-piggledy, with huge omissions and P.S.-sidepaths; it’s just the way I like it. It is both consoling and astonishing when someone discovers it and finds something worthwhile in it or me. When you commit things to writing and especially publicly, there is no return to privacy or withdrawal. It’s both faith and lunacy. As direct as I’ve been, there are hundreds of stories that I haven’t shared, mostly because of the overlap in other people’s lives. A lot of my joy and anguish are difficult to share for that reason. It’s not that I don’t want to. I’d prefer to spill it out. I can’t imagine that I’ve experienced much that a lot of other people haven’t – that’s the joy of peeking behind curtains in life. * ^
“State your truth” is such a vulnerable thing to do. Or say. I’ve become so open about it that I’ve forgotten that people need camouflage. We are all so similar in our vexations and pleasures. Knowing this at 54 is almost a superpower. But I do revel when I am able to witness someone letting the wall down and just sharing, even if it astonishes them as they do so. Sunlight and revelation bring peace. So many people are carrying secrets or thoughts of a different way to live. They don’t see the options until they see no way to continue.
“Buried emotions are always buried alive,” someone smart told me once. * ^
“Some people are empaths. I’m a telepath; people want me as far from them as possible.” – X * ^
“Hey X, do you smoke marijuana?”
“No, I prefer the natural flavor.”
That one took him a minute to understand. * ^
I think I’ll forego a regular walk or run today and see if I can run 100 floors of stairs. That seems fair, doesn’t it? My heartbeat objects. Maybe it knows the inventory of my allotted steps in life? Either way, my heart owes me a debt for liberating it from the sheath of excess that I put on it for two decades. And I owe it an apology. I’m lucky I didn’t give up, even as I constantly failed. Until I didn’t. It’s not the path that matters so much; it’s where you end up. * ^ To a specific friend, if you read this post, a phlebotomist I met at my doctor’s appointment LOVED your catchphrase: “Nothing tastes as good as this feels.” His eyes went wide and then he laughed. “Exactly!” he said. “I’m going to steal that without question. It’s perfect.” He’s a bodyweight fitness nut and looks like a flattened barrel in his upper torso. He wanted to know my story and secrets – and I shared both your phrase and The Blue Dress Project’s catchphrase, “Choose Your Hard.” He couldn’t believe my transformation and I told him that between the bell going off in my head and seeing people like you do it with a lot more obstacles than me, that I knew I was supposed to succeed. He understood, having done it himself. Don’t be surprised if it ends up on social media. * ^ The man who taught me one-on-one how to end an altercation quickly (and violently, if necessary) recommended a browser-based productivity timer. It works crazily well. I can set it for 5-minute increments. When the alarm of my choosing sounds, it’s time to do another interval of weights and/or stairs. Because I do most of my writing sitting at the computer, it’s a great way to create thoughtless and repetitive chunks of exercise. Because of the law of increments, I can artificially get a lot of movement each hour instead of relying on my motivation. The cat hates it though, especially if he’s perched on my lap as I type. * ^ The Lexapro is working very well. So is therapy. And time passing. As the curtains of other people’s lives continue to open to me, I realize that my problems are real – but inconsequential compared to the complexities that other people are living. It’s great that some parts of my life are a motivation to people. It’s also okay that some parts should serve as a warning. None of us are pristine or untouched by trauma, loss, indecision, doubt, or wanting. * ^ My “Ask” project is working well for me. It’s failed consistently, but that failure is changing me. I can feel it and observe it as it works its way into my nature. Some of the ongoing “No” has hurt me in a way that surprised and upset me. But I’ve kept asking, feeling the wave of “No” click a meter in my head. I don’t know where the true fulcrum of some of it lies; I’ll trust my instincts when it does. Once the meter has run to zero, we have to accept the truth of whatever we’ve been asking.
Ask Ask for what you want or desire. If you don’t, it is a certainty you’ll never get it. Ask of life and ask of people. The answer, though bitter or not what you sought… It’s at least the truth. Everything starts from there Ask * ^ I walk past the place where the deceased are kept until they are retrieved for their funerals and remembrance. I walk past a lot. I’m surrounded during the day. By love, concern, fear, hundreds of individual stories unfold. How odd it is that such finality and drama barely pierces people’s consciousness. I know we have to protect ourselves or otherwise be flooded. Sometimes, though, we need to remember the hourglass sifting sand invisibly behind us. It’s a valuable motivator to know that your day is not a promise. It’s a gift, one which many of us waste on triviality. * ^ Somewhere In Time
I had another life, a Lowenstein of my own. She walks the planet, fulfilled, and not alone. The lesson is that everyone has a tightly drawn curtain. When they fling it open, there is beauty and assertion. To see someone from within their own head is a joy. It’s agony when the curtain closes again, a closure that can destroy. Every nuance and experience in life will change us, if not derange us. There is no return to the before. There is only the after and absence, paired with infinite reenactments. Time does not cure us; it erodes us. To know that somewhere in time, that your life did not branch away from you, is a breathtaking comfort and inner chime.
One of my favorite things was my Die Hard ventilation shaft Xmas ornament, one I made. It even had a hole in the back of the fake ‘shaft’ to illuminate John McClane’s outstretched lighter as he crawled through. Because one of my neighbors is a Die Hard fan, I walked over and gave it to him. His face lit up. Even more in the Christmas spirit, as much as he was surprised and happy, he said, “Oh man, my mom LOVES Bruce Willis.” Without hesitation, I said, “Give it to her then and pay it forward. We can’t stand between Bruce Willis and your mom’s infatuation.” My neighbor’s son celebrated his first birthday yesterday. I’d already given him the decorated and painted ornamental box I made, for when his son is old enough to put his special things inside. I love imagining some future day when someone sees something I made and thinks about the randomness of strangers. And I think all the time about much I misjudged those neighbors when I was first around them. I like to be surprised and reminded that appearances can be so deceiving.
In my personal life, I am struggling so hard with another variant of “Choose your hard.” I’m stuck at the nexus of a decision that it is intolerably emotional. My therapist told me once to imagine that if I had died instead of surviving my emergency surgery. And from that vantage point, how hard would such a decision seem from there? She’s right. Have you heard this saying: “If you’re okay with something you shouldn’t be okay with, you’re not okay.” Experience tells me that it’s true but wisdom tells me that I’m weak. Such self-knowledge is not something that warms me.
Yesterday, I gave everything I had to try to run a mile in under six minutes. I didn’t quite make it; I missed by six seconds. Though I failed and for the last half of the mile I was sure I was going to make it, I look at six seconds and know it’s a stupidly small amount. P.S. My heart was trip hammering so hard I could s-e-e it beating through my shirt like a drum.
One of the advantages of living upstairs is well… the stairs. Between sets of exercises, I can go out and do ten floors at a time. It doesn’t take any time at all to accumulate a LOT of floors and stairs. I like to watch the law of increments add up. My goal is to do at least 50 flights of stairs by 9 a.m.
One of my favorite people recently compared me to another person and described us both as obsessive-compulsive about goals. She’s not wrong at all. This Fitbit accentuates it because I can see it in real-time.
Do y’all know what “you by default” means? It’s used by some interviewers now and it helps you figure out where not only you are in your journey, but also to measure other people in your life.
You By Default
A lot of people haven’t heard this line of thinking regarding behavior, usually involving exercise and sometimes healthier eating. It was powerful the first time it was explained to me by someone who walks the walk.
If exercise takes a lot of effort – or adds procrastination or stress to your routine – it’s not you by default. It’s something you’re doing rather than what you simply do. If you miss a day or several, it isn’t important in the scheme of things. You’ll go back naturally to it and without stressing that you might not ever return. All of us have weird and surprising enthusiasm and commitment cycles in every aspect of our life. Exercise. Diet. Love. Irritability. Dark chocolate.
If you need willpower and constant self-talk to avoid eating chips at 10 p.m. or fast food twice a day, it’s not you by default.
“You by default” becomes your natural process, one that doesn’t require a lot of cognition or secondary support to maintain. You’re active because you are an active person. You eat healthier because you are a healthier eater. You behave kindly, well, because you ARE kind. You’ve internalized natural or learned behaviors. It is possible.
You show love and lovingkindness because it’s “you by default.”
Find a way to become whatever goal or attribute you want in your life. It’s now a part of you, never to be stripped away or requiring intangible willpower. It is a type of discipline turned to automatic.
Whatever it is that you want to do or become, practice. Even if you don’t know the vocabulary to describe it. If you can overcome the natural reluctance slope that allows new behavior to become permanent, you will find that you can do this in other areas of your life, too. You will have shifted your default.
It’s also interesting from an interpersonal point of view. If people haven’t shifted their internal values, their behavior isn’t their default. They’ll revert almost every time and abandon their attempts to change. It’s not impossible, but it is a rarity.