The Hardest Part About Being Single is You

Chocolate candy hearts are filling grocery store shelves. Plush teddy bears smile at me while I peruse the produce section. The scent of spring attacks my allergies as I step through the automatic doors.

Single people can’t hide from the Hallmark holiday. Valentine’s Day is near.

For most of my adult life, I’ve been single on February 14. My first Valentine’s Day in college, I’d just broken up with my high school boyfriend. Actually, my first ever boyfriend.

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My newly minted independence was made all too apparent come Singles Awareness Day. But my guy friends pulled me through. One male friend, who was dating my female bestie at the time, surprised me with a rose. He said he knew the day would be hard for me. I told him I would never forget that gesture and, obviously, I haven’t. He remains a dear friend a decade later.

Another male friend, who is essentially my soulmate, gave me ridiculous greeting cards that had nothing to do with Cupid’s affairs—“congratulations on your baby” and “happy birthday” with a bikini clad woman, a palm tree, and an inappropriate joke… I have those cards ten years later.

Still, I’ve had some pretty crappy Valentine’s Days while in relationships. Sure, sure, it’s a cheesy holiday where you’re reminded, just shy of forced, to show your affection. I’d much rather receive flowers on say… a Tuesday… in the middle of fall. That’s when it really, truly comes from the heart.

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But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to celebrate at least a teeny bit. And in two relationships, I did cutesie little things for the boyfriends and bleck, V-Day wasn’t even acknowledged. (Okay, red flag, I should have high-tailed it out of there. More on that another time.)

I’m never too old to hand out cartoon, paper, wallet-sized cards that I’ve torn along the perforated edges and individually addressed to my co-workers and favorite humans. I’m always ready to celebrate Galentine’s Day.

But really, I’m okay with being single.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being in a relationship. It’s nice to have someone who I can rely on at the drop of a hat. It’s wonderful having someone to scratch my head whenever I ask (ughhhhhh, someonecomescratchmyhead) or sometimes without asking (ughhhhhh seriouslycomescratchmyhead). It takes a load off when someone can feed me after a 10-hour shift. Being sick is easier when I’m in a relationship. A lot of life is easier when I’m in a relationship. Even with the challenges and compromises dating brings.

But really, I’m okay with being single.

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So many of the accomplishments I made in the last year, so many of the milestones in my entire life have happened—have had to happen—because I’m single. Because climbing these peaks takes incredible time, energy and sacrifice. My journey has required a great amount of focus on myself.

And really, it’s all been necessary. I’ve seen too many people who need to be in a relationship to be complete. I don’t want someone else to complete me. I want to be complete by being just me.

I believe that we should fully know ourselves before we commit to someone else, but I’ve stopped trying to instill my beliefs on others. If they want to listen, they can, but they don’t have to. It’s their life to live, their happiness to create. Yet too many people haven’t stopped trying to instill their beliefs, their insecurities, in me.

The hardest part about being single? It’s you.

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Too often, in the first five minutes that I catch up with someone on the phone, I get asked, “Soooo… have you met a guy yet?” The answer I now give took me repeating it a dozen times before I finally believed it, because some days being single is hard. Some days being single sucks. Some weeks I whine about how I’m single, but then I remember all the good that being single has done for me.

And so I respond with, “Nope! I’m happily single!” I really don’t want to spend the next 30 minutes being pitied for being alone.

These are really, truly, the top responses I receive (from people I love) when I dare talk about my dating life, or lack thereof:

  1. You should just go to a bar and meet someone.
  2. Have you thought about online dating?
  3. But do you really want to have a baby when you’re 40?
  4. No one is perfect.

The hardest part about being single is you.

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I love you, dear friends, but please stop suggesting that I bring home the local drunk to scratch my head and make me dinner. Please stop suggesting I use my precious free time to click on Match.com profiles. Please stop suggesting that anyone should have an opinion about my ovaries other than me. And for the love of Pete, please, please stop suggesting I settle.

I know no one is perfect. I am not perfect. But the man who I end up marrying—in two years, five years, ten—will be perfect for me. We will be the same and different. We will be beautifully flawed. We will have our own insecurities and neuroses. We will challenge, encourage and support each other. We will place equal value in alone time and togetherness. We will complement one another. We will chase our own dreams and we will chase dreams together. We will love in a way that works for us.

When I fall in love, I promise. You’ll know. And what a lucky man he’ll be, cause I got lots of love to give and Imma love him something fierce.

I value your friendship. I love you for you. I love your significant other, whether you met at a bar or online, whether or not you choose to have children, and whether or not you’re perfect.

So please. Let’s get to the point where the hardest part about being single is not having someone to scratch my head.

She: Don’t Let Go, A Poem

Don’t let go of the one

in front of you

Who believes in herself

And the greater good,

Who still retains her authenticity

And morality

in a world of sham

And selfishness.

Don’t let go of the one

Who challenges you to think,

to be the best person

You can possibly be.

Hang on to the one

Who takes you on adventures,

Who makes you laugh,

Who opens your eyes

to see more than

What is right

in front of you.

Hold tight to the one

Who lives to get

the most out of life,

to experience all it

Has to offer.

Keep close she whose

Passion moves mountains,

Whose spirit is more beautiful

than the first bud to

Flower in spring,

She whose smile melts souls

with its sincerity.

Don’t let go of

the one who sets high

Expectations for you,

Expectations for which

She forgives you for

Falling short,

Because forgiveness is

in her nature.

Don’t let go

of she who is in love

with the idea of love,

And so loves others easily.

Hold on to her

who strives to be

No one other than

Herself.

 

 

 

 

Not a Method Actor…

I’m going unplugged for a week. I might have service where I’m going, but I might not. I won’t be looking at my phone. I won’t be bringing my computer.

I’m going to dive into the life of Alice Godwin, a woman who is haunted, lost and searching for answers and closure from the past. A poet whose ups and downs are controlled by stimulants and depressants. A role for which I googled “how to take shots” and watched videos titled things like “adults drunk for the first time,” then rehearsed in a mirror with a shot glass full of water that I somehow happened to have and nearly threw my neck out over-exaggerating my portrayal of the art of drinking tequila. A character who is in some ways like me but, clearly, unlike me in so many others.

I am going to tell Alice’s story, along with the story of three other female writers and the unsolved murder of the family that came before them. Beware “The Unspoken”—it’s as haunting as it is empowering.

Dance Your Heart Out In Hard Times

Yesterday, I went through the five stages of grief in record time. On my walk home from work, I was hustling at record speed, trying to escape the depression and anxiety setting in, when I came to a bench overlooking the mountains and Puget Sound. I stopped for a moment and was about to start up again when I decided against it. Instead, I sat on that bench and had a talk with myself.

Mother Nature is a very good teacher. The Olympics stood before me, proud, powerful and beautiful, reaching for the sky. They were happy and uninhibited. I went home and decided to spend the rest of my day being like those snow-capped mountains. I went home and danced my heart out.

Do what you have to do to take care of yourself. Once you do that, then you can be the change you wish to see in the world. Never stop fighting for good. Love with every ounce you’ve got. And always, always dance your heart out.

I will dance like a fool every day if it will help you get to tomorrow. (And yes, I do take requests.)

#makeamericalaughagain

Just a Receptionist: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

Last week, I picked up the phone at the vet clinic where I work. The woman on the other end was a potential new client, asking a myriad of questions in a rude and demeaning tone. I held my ground, opting to bat away her belittlement with kindness.

But then she followed up one of her questions with, “Oh well, you wouldn’t know. You’re just the receptionist.”

Time paused for the next half a second. I was, of course, incredulous that a human being would talk down to another human being, a stranger no less, through a speaker. But we are in the midst of a politically and emotionally charged atmosphere. True colors are flying, and they’re not always the rainbow we want to look at.

I had three options for how to respond here:

  1. Go off on a rant
  2. Correct the woman by listing off my credentials and actual job title
  3. Laugh in her face

I opted for #3. Here’s why:

1. Going off on a rant doesn’t solve anything, especially over the phone, and especially when the listener is not invested in the cause. Emotions are often irrational, and they bring a charge to a conversation that quickly crosses the line from discussion into argument.

2. I stoop down to her level if I play the high and mighty card. And, for the record, no one is ever “just a receptionist.” I have known many receptionists in my life—most of them women. Off the clock by night, they are mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, chefs, caretakers, volunteers, dreamers, travelers. On the clock by day, while listening to an earful from people on the other end of the line, they are therapists, organizers, greeters and problem-solvers. And they do this all while often being harassed, overworked and grossly underpaid.

3. Laughter is the best medicine. I laughed three times over her continued barrage of insults, and then calmly directed her elsewhere, saying our clinic would not be a good fit for her.

While I believe this was the appropriate response, I will say I am terrible at standing up for myself. I will be the first to have the back of a stranger, but the last to correct someone for walking all over me. I’m working on that. But as little pacifist me hones my confrontational skills, I’m remembering to stay true to my values, not the least of which is love. I will fight for dignity and equality for all—yes, even those who put me down—but I will not enter into cyber-bullying, name-calling and haughtiness. I will fight for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, religious freedom, racial freedom, and basic human dignity. I will fight for change.

In my film premiere last night, my character—the wisest psychiatrist there ever was—says, “Change isn’t always progress, but it is evolution.”

When we vote, we vote for change. People don’t always agree with the progress of that change, but I believe politics are a lot like religion. At the heart of it all, don’t we just want good to come of it? The votes have been cast. I’m not unfriending people. I’m engaging them face-to-face to unite for the greater good. We need to live our lives reflecting the change we wish to see in the world.

I’m stepping down from my soap box now. There is a good and right part of history in the making. I’m giving you the microphone. Which side are you on?

Seattle Women’s March: Peaceful, United, Powerful

There is a good and right side of history. Today, millions of people across the globe showed they are on this side.

The Seattle Women’s March expected 30,000-50,000 people. Over 130,000 are estimated to have attended, stretching through the streets of downtown as far as the eye could see from a bird’s eye view.

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This protest was peaceful.

This protest was joyful.

This protest was powerful.

It was led by indigenous women.

The reverse side of my sign read: “Dignity + Equality for All.”

The time is now. Let’s live our lives standing for love, unity, dignity, diversity, equality, freedom, and democracy.

I’ll Be the Dandelion and You Can Call Me a Weed

“The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment.” –Unknown

When I was little, maybe 6 or 7, I used to ask my mom why certain flowers are called weeds.

Plucking dandelions from the lawn, I’d comment, “Aren’t weeds supposed to be ugly? Dandelions are pretty.”

My mom explained to me that a flower is called a weed when it isn’t wanted.

“People don’t want dandelions in their yard, so they’re called weeds.”

When a wildflower pops up among meticulously placed perennials in the garden bed, it’s an invader, unwelcomely disturbing precision. It is the harbinger of mischief in a petaled sea of peace. For where one weed grows, many will follow.

I spent a fair amount of time in the garden growing up, though not always digging up dirt to plant seeds. Sometimes I was looking for four-leaf clovers so my sisters and I could iron them pressed together between two squares of wax paper, preserving luck for generations. Sometimes I was building homes for earthworms and “potato” bugs, arranging pebbles and leaves as sofas and tables for the creepy crawlers of the earth.

My childhood was nurtured by nature, for it has been in the dirt and the grass and the trees and the weeds that I have learned some of life’s greatest lessons.

A small patch of flowers stood out to me on one of the mounds in my mother’s garden. I fell in love with the burgundy flower heads, rimmed with crimson quickly fading into vibrant yellow.

“One of many types of painted daisies,” my mother said. “A weed to some people but not everyone.”

I have seen painted daisies in various colors across dozens of landscapes, but I never came across that color pattern again. Until two years ago when I traipsed through a garbage dump in the Bahamas.

Rummaging through rubbish heaps is a regular pastime on Long Island, Bahamas, where one man’s trash really does become another man’s treasure. On a particularly blistering day, I found myself hopscotching over upturned car doors and broken mirrors heading toward a patch of grass by the dirt road. Empty glass bottles were pinched in my grasp, teetering on the brink of disaster as I scurried to add them to my growing collection in the truck bed.

As my ankles straddled a sullied plank, I looked down at the ground to plan my last jump toward freedom. There at the base of my right foot was a painted daisy, growing tall and wild and proud, echoing the colors I remembered so clearly from two decades ago.

A weed, I thought, that by any other name would smell so sweet.

There among forgotten and discarded man-made possessions grew a tenacious little flower, its wiry spirit disparaging the rolling piles of waste. An invader claiming back the land where once fields of its kind–wildflowers, weeds–likely thrived.

A protester, dreamer, leader, fighter, nonconformist.

Steadfast, virtuous, invincible.

Like the dandelion.

A weed.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” –William Shakespeare

just another adventure