Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Caution: The Following Text Contains Lots of Baddie Words

Back in the bright and sunny days of high school, I was in Forensics. My particular favourite individual events were Poetry, Duet Acting, Mime and Duet Improv. Our team travelled all over the state competing in tournaments, and we were pretty damn good. Oh, okay, I'll drop the modesty, we were awesome. Like, any time we didn't win FIRST place at a tournament, we were PISSED. We took this shiz frickin' seriously.

If the tournament was a local one, we'd now and again get a supportive parent coming along to watch us compete. One such time, my dear mother came to watch Zac and I do Improv. Zac and I were pretty good at Improv, not the top best, but we could usually manage to get to the Finals, though we didn't often win the trophy. That day, and the details are hazy, we must have really screwed up, because all I remember was this: Me storming out of the performing room with Zac at my heels, my mom in the back, and spitting furiously, 'We really FUCKED that up.'

Then I recall my whole world going cold as I realized my mom just heard me drop the f-bomb. Hard. Like Nagasaki hard. And cussing in my household - well, let's just say it was akin to losing my vocabularic virginity. In front of my mom.

She said nothing, but the tension was so dense I needed headlights to find the next round through it. Mom said nothing until the next morning after I'd thought it had all blown over, or maybe even she'd never heard it at all. Then she said with the same unnerving calm of a doctor phoning to tell you the results of your brain scan, 'I'm disappointed that you used such language.'

Kill. Me. Now. No really, I'd have rather she beat me with her hair dryer than use the D word on me.

Me and my friends winning trophies NOT on that day.

I had an interesting discussion going on over on my Facebook page. I asked if parents of teens swear in front of their kids and/or do they allow their kids to swear in front of them. The question was inspired by a post on Moms Who Drink and Swear's Facebook page. All these people were talking about how they 'cuss like a sailor' but don't dare allow their kids to swear. Many of them admitted to swearing directly in front of their kids but still put the Hell No to them returning the favour. So naturally I wanted to know if this was how all Potty Mouths felt on the subject.

In my most humble opinion, words are just words. And it's not the word itself that matters, it's the way it is used and the way it is received. I think swear words have a perfectly legitimate place in the lexicon and often drive a point home more sharply than many of its fellow adjectives/verbs/nouns. If I'd have growled, 'We really MESSED that up', well, my point would not really have gotten across. We didn't just mess up, we FUCKED up. Big difference.

Yet how it is taken by others is important to me. I really care about how others feel, and I try to respect everyone's beliefs and opinions. I don't see the point in offending people just for the sake of offending them. Or because I am 'free' to say whatever I want to say, despite how it may affect others. I think that mindset is insensitive, and truly the last thing I'd ever want anyone to call me is insensitive. I am usually surrounded by people who do not appreciate harsh language, and out of sensitivity to them, I refrain from using it. In general, I swear very little. Scott and I don't swear in front of our kids - yet - because we don't wish to hear them start swearing - yet. I don't often swear on my blog either, out of respect for my motherly readers (mom, step-mom, mother-in-law). My internal dialogue, however? Is pretty much a constant stream of fucks, shites, buggers, bloody hells, arses, bitches and tossers. I do draw the line though at the c-word (shiver) and the other f-word (ack!). Words referring to milady's undercarriage, if you get my drift.

Will I swear in front of my kids and allow them to swear in front of me? Yeah, I probably will. But like anything else, I expect them to understand its context and when and where it is acceptable to swear. (In front of Granny? No. Church? Please refrain. At the football player who could kick your ass? Best keep it to yourself.) I'd also prefer they not use it simply as a filler word between every other word, as some are wont to do. There is a whole rich language out there for us to use - try some descriptive nouns first, if you can, to fully illustrate your point. When all else fails, THEN cuss the shit out of that bitch.

I'd also prefer they not swear AT me. Just as I do not intend to ever swear AT them, I'd expect the same respect. We may fight now and then, and choice words may at times flow, but really, what's the big deal? Which is worse to say, 'This is total bullshit!' or 'You're a complete waste of space!' One has the 'bad' word in it, but the other actually hurts. Scott and I have been known to throw choice words at each other in heated moments, but we forgive each other, and I'm guessing we'll forgive our potty-mouthed angels should it come to that too.

One final thought... who decides what words are 'profanity' to begin with? I laugh about it, because what is a sweary word in the US is not necessarily a sweary word in the UK, and vice versa. What constitutes a bad word anyway? One of my best friends is from Slovakia. She uses the f-word a lot, because to her, it doesn't sound like a bad word. Same with me and the word 'bugger'. It's cute, right? 'Ass' and 'shit' are quite inappropriate in the US but 'arse' and 'shite' are euphemisms. But in the UK, 'arse' and 'shite' are pretty bad, but ass and shit are euphemisms. And then I've found this, a site where people can submit bad words. Of the submissions, along with lovely little slurs like 'assclown' and 'homodumbshit' (who says that?), are 'anus' and 'vagina'. Uh, what? How are those bad words? They are biological, scientific names for body parts, you assclown. I'm quite sure the prude who submitted those words would die of heart failure if they heard my daughters refer to their vulvas or my son to his penis. Hey, Puritan, those aren't bad words!! Save your shock for racial slurs and gay bashing.

I'll end with my favourite swear-word story. On the subject of words being bad in one culture but not another, I'll never forget the day my college French professor shut the door and announced we'd be learning French swear words. She taught us merde, casse-toi, salaud and chienne. Then a girl who was from Trinidad and Tobago raised her hand and asked, 'How do you say, Grab your mother's c*nt??'

The class, previously roaring in laughter, came to an abrupt, uncomfortable silence. The teacher was speechless. The poor girl had no idea what she'd done wrong. It was single-handedly the most awkward moment of my entire life.

My hits for this post ought to be off the charts.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Advent Activities and DeBloAdMo

Activities of Christmas Past
(I miss my sewing box.)
With 29 days to Christmas ($@%?!), it's time I start getting a little bit prepared. I am so behind this year; normally I start my Christmas shopping in July or August and am fully done by November. This year, even with a very abbreviated list, I still have only half of it done. And Christmas cards? Oh geez, if these get out at all, I'll be delighted. Heck, if I even get around to buying/making them, that will be incredible. You may need to settle for an e-card - or a Facebook poke.

So, I've gotten as far as making my Advent Calendar Activities (to be blogged next month for DeBloAdMo - what other bloggers are with me on this?! I've been trying to make this a 'thing' for the past several years! At least Cheryl and Rebekkah are usually with me on this.) Here is what my little family will be doing every day of December until Christmas, alongside our little chocolate Advent Calendars lovingly sent from Scotland by Maw McFarlane.

1. Have Lolly’s Superhero/ Powerpuff Girls Birthday Party!
2. Write our letters to Santa and post them at Wee Betty’s Cafe.
3. Make Christmas cards, and deliver cards to all the neighbours.
4. Check email for message from Santa. (www.portablenorthpole.com)
5. Watch a Christmas movie and string popcorn.
6. Make gingerbread men for the Christmas tree.
7. Have a Christmas picnic in our pajamas on the floor.
8. Donate food to Hope’s Closet at church.
9. Cut snowflakes out of felt and hang them.
10. Go on a treasure hunt to find an early present.
11. Eat dinner by candlelight only with the fancy dishes.
12. Go to Super Sleepover at Mimi and Poppy's house!
13. Edible treat (while Mum and Dad are in Seattle)
14. Edible treat
15. Edible treat
16. Edible treat
17. Make a cake for Daddy’s birthday.
18. Go out to eat for Lolly’s birthday.
19. Make reindeer food to sprinkle on Christmas Eve.
20. Make donuts for the elves on Christmas Eve.
21. Paint Christmas tree ornaments to give as gifts.
22. Drive around looking at Christmas lights.
23. Make Christmas crackers.
24. Go to Christmas Eve service, then put out snacks for Santa’s sleigh team.
25. Eat chocolate gravy for breakfast and open presents!!

We will also be starting a new tradition this Christmas, alongside our Advent Activities. I know the Elf on a Shelf thing was so last year, but I thought it was adorable, and yes, I actually LOVED all the cute photos people were posting. My mom apparently thought it was adorable too, so she has bought us one for this Christmas. She is going to deliver it to our door on the morning of December 1st with a note from Santa, telling the kids the elf is here to watch them over the next 25 days. We have named our elf Banoffee, as an homage to the overly sweet British dessert, and because according to Will Farrell, elves eat pretty much only candy and sugar.

In other new traditions starting this American year, we will do real Christmas trees instead of fake. We've always wanted to do real, but since we had a fake to start with, it always seemed like such a waste of money to go buy a real. Now that we don't have a fake one lying in a closet somewhere, we are just going to go real. I can't wait! I went looking through the trees at a shop the other day, and the smell was heavenly. I can't wait to have that smell in my house! New Google research project: Find out what kind of tree is the best.

For a while there, I was really dreading Christmas. It's expensive this year, with all the other things we have going on, but now that it's gotten cold outside (currently we have a 'wintery mix' falling outside) and lights are starting to go up on houses and decorations are in all the stores, I'm getting a little excited. It'll be a low-key Christmas this year in many respects, but I think we will have a good one anyway!  Anyway, I suppose Christmas is what you make of it; it's not about how many presents you can put under the tree, but the time you spend with your loved ones... hence the Advent Activities calendar!

Happy December, everyone!

(But before that, happy Thanksgiving! But that's a blog for another day.)

*This blog topic loosely brought to you by Mike, who mentioned I write about the Holidays.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Church Signs

I am back in the land of church signs. I must start carrying my camera around at all times.

I will post thoughtfully on church signs in the future. I especially look forward to discussing the less witty, more sinister ones.

But for now, old funny ones.

Heh heh.

My Diet May Contain 10% Ethanol

I had to go for a health assessment at Scott's work for our family health insurance. (Never had to do that in Scotland!) I was certain I'd meet all the criteria for a healthy person -- and I did -- but only just.

As it turns out, I have high cholesterol.

What? I thought high cholesterol was for older people with poor hearts and awful diets. Perhaps I'm older than I realize, and perhaps my diet is worse than I'd like to admit.

I guess if I'm honest with myself, my diet really *has* been awful since I moved here. Not really because of all the awesome fast food, because I very, very rarely eat out (once, maybe twice a month tops), but more because I've been depression-eating.

We all know what that is. We feel down, and there's nothing to do, so you open your pantry, but everything needs to be made and you can't be bothered so you eat half a bag of potato chips instead. And an hour later, you're bored, depressed, and peckish again, so you open the cupbard, but everything needs to be made and you can't be bothered so you pull down a handful of old Halloween candy. Rinse and repeat ad literally nauseum.

That's kind of how I've been eating for the past several months. A bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast only holds me for about an hour, then I snack on crackers, crisps, and pickled okra until lunch. I don't feel like making anything up, so I have a cheese quesodilla or three. Then I have a couple cups of tea, with a chocolate each time, until dinner, when I make a fairly reasonable family meal. But then the kids go to bed, and I'm feeling crap (I wonder why?) so I make a cup of hot chocolate to cheer myself up while I lie on the couch and watch Netflix until bedtime.

And then I'm surprised to find out I have high cholesterol.

Luckily my 'ratio' -- whatever that means -- is still good. I apparently have a good level of the good kind of cholesterol, because Scott and paleo have convinced me that animal fats, meats, cheeses* and eggs are healthy, but clearly the bad kind is pretty extreme too. This worries me.

It's worried me enough that I decided on Monday after that to get serious about my diet. I've gained a little weight - maybe between 5-10 lbs - since moving here, which I'm unhappy about, but I'm more unhappy when I reflect on how my poor eating habits of late are affecting my health. It's also highlighted for me my mental state lately too. I'm not saying I'm 'depressed' clinically or anything. I suppose in all truth I'm lonely, I'm bored, I'm cooped up in a town I don't love, and these things are affecting me emotionally and psychologically. I wear my jammies half the day. If I do get dressed, it's jeans and a t-shirt, no make-up, and a pair of glasses instead of contacts. This is so not me. I see the difference when I have a Pampered Chef party to go to, when I put on a cute outfit, fix my hair, apply my make-up and put in my contacts. I see myself in the mirror again, and I recognize the person at the party who is taking the lead, talking too much, and basking in work that she loves loves loves. THAT's me, not this slightly over-weight, frumpy, grumpy, tired, unhealthy person I'm becoming during the day.

I need to get serious about my health. The cold weather has meant I walk to school less, so I need to find another way to exercise. I'm forgoing cereal in the morning now for eggs and bacon. I'm trying to eliminate sugary/unhealthy snacking. (Though all these lovely goodies from Scotland are very tempting! All in moderation, right?) I'm trying to stick to my weekly meal plan. But mostly, I need to get in charge of my attitude. I think once I start eating better I'll start feeling more energetic and optimistic, but I also need to make an effort to be less depressed and reclusive.

Somehow the diet seems easier. And I understand more fully now how it must feel to be truly depressed. Nothing seems like more work (and possibly more useless) than trying to get out of this mental and emotional low. It's easier just to watch Netflix.

But I'll start with the food.

*Paleo doesn't officially stamp its approval on cheeses.

**The topic of 'diet' requested by Stephanie. The previous post dealt with 'loss' as requested by Alex. Your topics, people, have been a great reflection of my real life.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I attended a funeral yesterday, of a man I never knew. He was someone very special to someone very special to me. It was one of the saddest I've ever been to, not that any I've ever been to have been less than sad.

How does anyone go on after the death of someone they love? As this man's father spoke, I wondered how he will go on. What happens to your heart when you lose a child? Whether your child is a baby or a grown man, how do you get out of bed in the morning? How do you breathe?

His siblings lost their brother. How do you get through the next forever number of years without your brother less than a phone call away?

My friend lost her boyfriend. How do you move on from that? The what-ifs, the maybes, the probablies, they live on interminably. The memories, the love, the excitement, the laughing spells and the deep eyes-into-eyes looks - what happens to those? Where do you store these things in your heart without it breaking over and over and over again? Never ever wanting to forget, while the remembering crushes you continually.

I am deeply grieved by the loss of this man I never met. I am grieved for the grieving. I cannot put myself in their shoes; to do so is more painful than I am willing to feel. To imagine losing my son, or my brother, or my lover is too exhausting, too agonizing. I have the choice not to experience it.

But they don't. The choice was not theirs. Life and death play by an unfair set of arbitrary rules. I wish I knew what could be done to help ease some of this heartache for my friend, although I think the clear answer is nothing. Nothing but cruel, unforgiving, undesired time helps, and right now, time is the enemy. It is the only balm, yet it is unkind, taking with it all the beautiful and painful you want to hold on to tightly forever.

Sleep, dream, all you loved ones, retell the old stories, hold each other close, take deep breaths, eat something, and may you have moments of rest and comfort and peace amidst the black and blue sorrow of these long endless days.

To cold climes
comes springtime.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

hot tears puffy eyes

hot tears puffy eyes
love that tears hearts and tissues
allergic to cat

Dear Moneylender

Dear Moneylender
Tens and twenties will do fine.
Kind regards, 'Santa'

I'm thinking of starting a new blog... a daily haiku.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Hmm, 'Thanksgiving Thursdays' Has A Nice Ring To It.

My cheesy November meme. Rather than the whole 30 Days of Thanksgiving, I'll just cut it down to the Thursdays. Because Thanksgiving is on a Thursday, and because alliteration.

So for my first Thanksgiving Thursday, I'm going to try to put a positive spin on missing Scotland. Right now, back home, my am-dram (amateur dramatics) friends have just closed the curtains on their first performance of Singing in the Rain. It is making me miss rainy, cold, wet Greenock so much. So today I'm going to cheer myself up by being thankful for the things I DON'T miss about Greenock!

1. I don't miss the constant awful weather. I love rainy days, but come on. A little sunshine now and again is nice!

2. I don't miss the crime. It's nice seeing the newspapers telling ordinary, unexciting news, instead of 'OAP Gets Fatally Stabbed For Watching Coronation Street On His TV Too Loud... Every Day'.

3. I don't miss the drugs. It's awesome to feel safe at night on my own. I don't have to prepare myself for dealing with possible junkies approaching me as I unlock my car, asking for money, and quite possibly ready to chib me if I say no.

4. I don't miss the expensive price of living. America's isn't great, but it's at least a little better.

5. I don't miss the petrol prices. I can fill my massive tank of a minivan on $65-70 every two weeks. That's, like, £40. My Zafira was taking £75 a week! (Though, oddly, I drove more in Scotland than I do in Arkansas, which seems totally backwards.)

There. I am trying to be positive. I made it to 5. It was actually very hard to come up with even five things I don't miss about Scotland. But I'm being positive. I'm getting used to, and kind of like, the easy-going, slow-paced, 'meh' lifestyle of rural Arkansas. For now anyway. Thankfulness and stuff!

*This post's inspiration brought to you by Kirsten McCluskey.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Are Dunbar's Friends on Facebook?

Back in high school, I remember a teacher explaining Dunbar's Number to us. At least, I'm assuming it was Dunbar she was referring to, seeing as I can't find anything that uses the same terms she did. She explained how we have different levels of friendships, and there is a general (albeit flexible) number the average person has of each type of friend. Since I couldn't find the exact drawing she used, I've created my own, from memory, using Dunbar's numbers as a guide.

I used to take this very literally and would try to place each individual friend into these categories. Who were my intimate friends? (I'm not even sure I had the capacity to understand true intimacy at 16, no offence to other more mature 16 year olds.) In fact, other graphs I've seen for Dunbar's Number include a middle number between 15-35, which if memory serves me, my teacher called that the number of 'friends' leaving anyone outside number 35 in the 'acquaintance' circle. I took that very literally too, and for years secretly considered many people 'acquaintances' who maybe were slightly closer to 'friends', simply because they were outside that magic number.

Perhaps you think I am now going to attempt to debunk Dunbar's Number based on this. Au contraire, mes amis. I am no studied anthropologist. His reasoning was based on research into brain size, the neocortex, and all kinds of junk I don't understand. I'm not disagreeing with him at all. Considering I can't find any graphs that explain the levels of friendships anyway, it may not even be Dunbar who deciphered them. He basically conjectured that according to brain size, human beings are only capable of maintaining actual friendships with about 150 people. And I think he's pretty close to right.

According to Facebook, I have 672 Friends. About half of those 'Friends' are people I have zero contact with - and that includes Facebook contact. So bringing that number down to 336, of those 'Friends' I have contact with, there are people that I know only through work but not in any kind of social setting, people I went to high school with but would probably not even recognize on the street, people I used to work with or socialize with but no longer see (and some I'd probably rather not see even if I did), people I don't particularly like but want to keep tabs on for gossips' sake, and people I genuinely like and would love to keep in contact with, but they do not acutally spend any time on Facebook and therefore I have no contact with.

I'm not going to sit down and count out what number that leaves me with, but an educated guess would be, oh, about 150 people I actually consider a friend.

In the graph, I've assigned numbers to roughly how many people fit into those very fluid categories. These numbers are determined by so many different factors that they are indeed VERY rough. Factors influencing these numbers include individual personalities, amount of contact (including online) available, size of social arena, and certainly countless others. But on average, this is probably about right.

I've always had a hang-up about best friends. I'm constantly wondering, 'Do I have a best friend? Am I that person's best friend back?' I blame elementary school. I often try to pinpoint who my 'best friends' are by thinking, 'If I were having a wedding, who would be my bridesmaids?' It's pretty pathetic. It's also pretty useless.

Because - and finally we get to the real point of this post - each friendship is so different, it's nearly impossible to place them all into one ring of the circle. Not to mention how fluid friendships are too. A person who was yesterday in our circle of 150 Friends may share a meaningful experience with us, and suddenly they are amongst one of your 15 Close Personal Friends. A Close Personal Friend (CPF) may fall out with us and the rift is so deep that they end up quickly on the outer perimeter of merely Friend, or worse, an Acquaintance. Intimates are our most stable and non-fluid members of the circle, but even they can move about. A husband, a once absolute Intimate, discovers his wife has been cheating on him, and within seconds he becomes a distant Acquaintance. Which begs the question, was he ever an Intimate at all? Was she his Intimate but not he hers? Or would she still call him an Intimate while at the same time knowingly hurting him? Is that possible amongst Intimates? Is this possible amongst friends at all?  A different subject for next time perhaps - Part 2.

Not only are people in our lives able to easily move in and out of easily-definable rings, there are people who don't fit neatly at all in any one place. Let's use a personal example. I have a friend namd Lee*. I don't see her often (I mean, when I lived in Scotland, I didn't see her often). We didn't text or call each other regularly. We were lucky to get together every few months for a single night. When we did get together though, there were no holds barred. We could easily talk about intimate details in our lives, and share things with each other we maybe didn't share with everyone else. We have an incredible amount in common with each other, and an incredible amount of things completely unlike each other. I'd say we genuinely loved each other. But after the occasional night passed, it might be three more months before we did it or even spoke again.

There is no easily-definable ring in my graph to put Lee in. She is one of those friends that fits all and none of the descriptions.

In the real world, we bond with people while simultaneously distancing from others, almost always without even realizing it. We cannot help it.  By focusing attention on one relationship we inevitably leave another behind.  We place different priorities on relationships at different times, and move around in relationships all the time. As Dunbar asserts, our minds are not capable of sustaining an unlimited number of friendships all at once. Or, to clarify, sustaining an unlimited number of meaningful friendships. That's where the Facebook subject comes in again. Are my 672 Facebook friendships meaningful? I know they are not, but does everyone realize this? I appreciate my Facebook-only friends; those people from distant odd corners of my life who comment regularly on my posts, read my blog, like my pictures and occasionally send me a PM. I really like those people and enjoy having them in my Facebook life. Truthfully though, they are not the people who I'd reach out to in their darkest moments, nor would they reach out to me in mine. And that is completely acceptable. We do not have the capacity, nor the obligation, to reach out to each and every person we know in each and every detail of their lives. Hopefully, we all have some sort of circle of CPFs who are there for those purposes. Now and again, a distant friend's plight will touch our hearts, and we will extend our empathy and care to them. But not always. And that's not bad; it's biological.

Dunbar's Number has been questioned especially in this age of social networking. Can we have more than approximately 150 friends? Possibly. Can we have an unlimited number of genuine relationships? I think not.

Prof. Dunbar isn't sold on the idea that social networks make his number outdated. The research, he says, "made us realize people don't know what these wretched things called relationships are -- and that helps explain why we're so bad at them."

I appreciate and enjoy all the good relationships in my life. I hope I recognize rightly the ones that are the most true and worthy of my special care against the ones that ought to remain pleasantly superficial. I like the varied and intricate ways my relationships flex and flow. I'd like to think that I am only getting better at these things called relationships, though I am no fool and know I fail repeatedly.

And I love that there are people in those innermost rings of my life who can accept that and love me all the same.

*I chose Lee Trotter as the example because today is her birthday, and because she gave me the topic of 'Different Friendships' to write about today.

Monday, November 04, 2013


I'm in a funk. A blog funk.

I just feel completely uninspired to write anything of interest. My life has slowed down a lot, leaving me with little to talk about. I have one topic on my mind that I am longing to write about, but I know once I open that floodgate, I'll never be able to close it again. I'm not ready yet to explore that topic in words yet. (Teaser!)

So it leaves me with little else to write about. I still think about Scotland daily, but I can only write about how much I miss it so much before I start to bore my readers.

It's November, and I'm not doing an official NaBloPoMo, but I could use a theme. So I've got one. But I need your help.

Those of you who read regularly (and there appear to be roughly 77-102 of you, based on my stats report), leave me a comment with one word or topic. It can be as ridiculous and outlandish, or as serious and mundane, as you like. I will then take those words and topics and dedicate a post a day on them during the month of November. Help me spark my creativity, develop some content. Give me a challenge.

I know most of you read my blog via Facebook, so it's okay to leave your comments there, though I'll always prefer comments on the blog itself, for posterity! I promise I won't skip any subject you name. I will find something (good or bad) to say or discuss
regarding it.

Inspire me. Aaaaand... GO!

Sunday, November 03, 2013


This video breaks my heart. Plus the boy in the video is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Oh how vividly I recall those emotions from those god-awful days. That paralyzing emptiness after a painful breakup. The way your body feels so numb you can barely breathe or walk or draw your legs over the side of the bed in the morning. All the memories that torture you, all the dreams that snicker at you. The future you saw for you and him shattered, leaving a hollow nothingness in front of you. The sobs that erupt from your core without the least warning at the wrong times. The eyes so puffy and sore from tears and insomnia that your entire world is enveloped in a blurry fog the next day. The playing the scene over and over, the weeks before over and over, the entire relationship over and over, wondering what you did wrong, how it must be your fault, how you must be incapable of being loved, how naive you were. How after all this you would take him back in a second if he just came to your door in the dead of night and begged for you to. Thinking it must be a mistake, this can't be happening, not again, not to me.

I say I'm thankful those days are over for me, but who really knows? Worst case scenarios happen. Listening to another song in the car the other day, I became overwhelmed with fear and panic imagining how I'd survive if I lost Scott. What if years down the road, our relationship were to break down so irreparably that he were to leave me, or I him? I don't see that happening now, but the very thought of what life would be like if it did brought me right back to those painful moments in my past where my life abruptly stopped, and I suffocated. Tears stung my eyes as the song played, and all I wanted to do was take my man in my arms and make him crush me with his promises to love me forever and never leave me.


Normally in November I would take part in NaBloPoMo. I've done it for years (though I'm fairly sure I've never succeeded), but this year I've opted out. Instead of feeling chained to a commitment to blog every day of the month of November, I'm just going to try and blog as much as I can. After all, I have days like yesterday, where I wake up, I go to my daughter's soccer game, followed by an end of season party, then come home to work on Pampered Chef things and prepare for a party which I leave the house at 4 for, have the party, come home late, watch a few episodes of The League with my husband, spend a couple of hours talking afterwards and not getting to bed until after midnight. Where was the time to blog? I could've worked it in if I needed to, but I didn't need to, so I gave myself a break. It's nice to give yourself a break.

However, I like the concept of NaBloPoMo. Make writing a habit, and you get better at it. I don't always sit down with something in mind to write. Usually it's just the opposite. Often I have no idea what to say when I sit down in front of my laptop, or I do have things in my mind I want to write about, but they are so big I don't know where to start, or I don't think I have the time to give it all the justice the topic deserves. Sometimes though, just sitting down and writing whatever comes out can end up being something worthwhile. It can be therapeutic, and it can illuminate and clarify feelings and ideas I didn't even know were waiting to be developed.

So with that, while I'm *not* doing NaBloPoMo this year, I'm still going to do it, without the guilt or the worry that I didn't blog on any given day. Last year I gave myself the theme '30 Days of Thanksgiving'. I have no theme this year as of yet, but we'll see what happens anyway. Watch this space. It may or may not be worth it.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Simplicity & Satisfaction: Lessons Learned from The October Dress Project 2013

The October Dress Project is OVER! This morning, I put on jeans, a tunic that I brought over from Scotland (sleeveless but woolly like winter), a velvet jacket and my brown flats, and I felt AMAZING. No stripes. No black and white. A top I can comfortably breastfeed in. I didn't even care that my hair wasn't fixed; I was just happy to be in something else.

Last year, post-ODP, my lesson learned was Simplicity. I made it my theme for 2013 to learn about Simplicity. And boy did I. After the project last year, I started clearing things out - clothes, junk. In January, Scott and I made the official decision between us to start applying for immigration to the US, and I did more clearing out. By June, we had eliminated nearly all of our worldly goods, retaining only what fit in twelve suitcases (two per flying passenger) and a few boxes to be kept in Scotland in family members' cellars. In this past year, I have learned a lot about Simplicity. I've learned I can do without a lot of things I once thought necessary. Aside from material things, I also took the theme to mean simplicity in my personal life. I allowed myself to cut back from certain things while still in Scotland to focus on what really matters. I made the choice to NOT get involved in so much when I moved to Arkansas. Instead of filling my entire life with so much that I hardly had time to think, I decided I would simplify my commitments to one or two things that really mattered to me. I've kept this, though with the time constraints I'm already under, it doesn't seem so. I now have only one business (The Pampered Chef) instead of three, no volunteer organizations (though I've been tempted by the PTA and Girl Scouts), and the kids are in one after school activity only. Though Pampered Chef and soccer have managed to take over my life (in a good way), they are my only commitments, and it feels pretty good. The simple life for me could certainly be simpler, but my lesson has been well-accepted and I'm learning.

This year, my post-ODP lesson must be about Satisfaction. If I look back over my last 31 days, the overwhelming feeling would be dis-satisfaction. Dissatified with my wardrobe and my lack of everyday household 'stuff' that I'm used to having at my fingertips, I've felt grumpy and unhappy. I think it's time to learn to be Satisfied with Simplicity. I started off so happy with having so little, but as school projects and costumes and Christmas decorating come up, and I don't have all those little bits and bobs I used to have, I've become unhappy with what I (don't) have any more.

I remind myself that we have started COMPLETELY over. This is the most complete re-start of my life. Moving to college, I still had all my stuff. Moving to Scotland I had some stuff, but Scott had the rest. Moving to Scotland WAS difficult; I remember a feeling similar to this one now, when all I wanted to do was draw or paint something and I had no art supplies. I remember having Scott drive me (because I couldn't drive yet) to the Arts, Crafts and Hobbies shop on Cathcart Street, where I purchased a drawing pad and a box of pencils - because I didn't even have pencils. Yet only about a year later, I had everything back again that I wanted. It took time, but before I knew it, my house and life were materially furnished.

This time next year, I remind myself, I'll probably be back to normal. I won't be in the kitchen stirring up a cake mix only to realize I don't have a cake pan (which happened a few weeks ago). I won't need to buy a blender with my grocery shopping so I can make soup (like I did yesterday). I'll have summer AND winter clothes. It just takes time to rebuild your life.

I am so very, very thankful and lucky when I think about it really... some people lose everything, not by choice, but by horrible circumstance - fire, theft, unemployment. We are not so bad off really. We got to choose to let go of our belongings and we got to choose what we wanted to keep.

So this upcoming year, starting now I guess, my new Life Theme is Satisfaction. Like Simplicity, it goes much further than clothes and belongings. I started a learning process about simplifying everything in my life. Now I begin the journey of being satisfied with my life. That will inevitably include satisfaction with my small but growing group of friends, my small but growing business, myself and all my shortcomings, my children and their shortcomings, my husband who, though he would deny it, has one or two shortcomings, and my faith which is simply short-in-coming and small but not growing.

Remarkably it seems I did get something out of the October Dress Project after all. I grade it Satisfactory.