When Frank was a puppy, his future did not seem very promising. According to owner Rafael Borges’ video description, when he adopted the dog, Frank was 5 months old, was not vaccinated and weighed about 7 pounds.
On Sunday afternoon I flew home from a weekend with family on a lake in Alabama. It would take about 47 pages of blogging to explain all the reasons I felt crazy stressed by the time I boarded that flight, but I did. And all I wanted to do was sit in silence with my thoughts for the hour and fourteen minute flight.
Then a guy sat down next to me. “This isn’t my seat. I’m supposed to sit over there, but someone else is in my seat.” I nodded. I liked his voice. You know how you can hear kindness in someone’s voice? I think I’m probably a terrible judge of character in general. But I get voices.
He began talking almost immediately. “I’m a therapist so I ask a lot of questions. Just tell me if you want me to stop.” “I’m a journalist so I’ve been told I ask a lot of questions too. We should be good.” I’ve also been told I ask questions to deflect the subject from anything actually personal about me. But I figured I’d let the therapist figure that out on his own.
We talked for an hour and fourteen minutes. Sixteen if you count the deplaning. I literally poured out my worries and concerns as if this was a legitimate therapy session. It obviously wasn’t. We also talked about him. And as the plane was landing he was like “So you’re pretty shady.” I laughed, “I hope you don’t say that to your patients.”
Actually though, therapists should probably say stuff like that. I mean, it’s got to be tempting. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff like fate and timing and random circumstances. I don’t exactly know where he fell in that spectrum, but I do know that I’m really glad someone took his seat.
“One of the things I tell people these days is that there is no perfect fit when you’re looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”—Padmasree Warrior (via vindikateor)
“I love the South. I love the drawl. I love the pork lard. I love too much salt and too much sweet. I love the humidity. There is a patina on Southerners. I think it is because of our very dynamic history. There’s a lot of pain that has happened in our history; a lot of mistakes made. But an unfortunate circumstance can turn into an opportunity for greatness. I think the South is great because of all the trying times—the tensions, hardships, wars, and riots. All those things really make a place… Well, for me it makes it home. There is grace in every sorrow. I think that is being Southern.”—
“Stop being a scaredy cat, realize that you’ll f**king kill it and be great at it, and chase this until you get what you want.”—This was part of a text from my brother this morning. After I got over the initial amusement regarding his use of the term “scaredy cat,” I decided I liked this quote in general for Monday morning inspiration. Practically Hallmark material.
“I sometimes believe that I don’t belong around people, that I belong to all the leap days that didn’t happen. The way light and darkness mix under my skin has become a storm. You don’t see the lightning, but you hear the echoes.” - Anna Peters
Tonight’s plans: Cold beers on a warm patio and seeing The Head and the Heart play live for the first time. I know it’s strange because I’m kinda an adult, but there’s something about summer that still makes me feel like a kid with my weeknights free for fun.
Last night I went for a run kind of late. Around 10 pm, I turned the corner near my house and because the streets were empty and we were just a few feet from my yard, I dropped Pawley’s leash and let her run ahead. It was a ridiculously humid night and so as I walked into my front yard, I pulled off my shirt so that I was only wearing my sports bra.
At that moment, Pawley took off at a full sprint and lunged into my front bushes. She’d spotted a cat. It’s important at this point that you know two things. 1) Pawley has a remarkable gift for killing things. She brings dead birds to my back door all of the time. I don’t even understand how that’s possible. 2) Pawley hates cats. With a passion most people reserve for like Satan. Or Justin Bieber.
So, as I heard the cat caterwauling (officially the first time I’ve used that word), I lunged into the bushes after Pawley. Which was how the three of us—the cat, Pawley, and myself—ended up rolling around in my flowerbed. Me screaming at Pawley, Pawley snarling at the cat, and the cat caterwauling (sorry, I wrote that entire sentence just so I could use that word again).
My neighbors’ lights switched on. Someone walked out on their porch two doors up. After all, it sounded as if WWIII was occurring in my front yard. And there I was. Shirtless. Sweaty. Screaming. And tackling an animal that looks like an overweight coyote. It’s funny how I hadn’t seen that moment coming in my life.
The cat got away. And was fine. In fact, I’m sure it will be taunting Pawley from the front yard tomorrow. Pawley ran inside happily panting about the fun wrestling match we’d had in the front yard. I casually nodded to the neighbors, put my shirt back on, and calmly walked into my home as if this were a perfectly normal Tuesday night. Because actually, with Pawley as my dog, it kind of was.
The title is a little on the extreme side, but the talk is great. And it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently—how people react to experiences. Solomon shares a story of a woman who was raped and became pregnant with her rapist’s child, and how it changed her entire life in a lot of painful ways. Years later though, when asked about her feelings toward the rapist, she said she pitied him because he’d never known his amazing daughter and grandchildren.
I’m reading a book right now by Ann Patchett called “This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage.” (To be clear, it is in no way a book about marriage. It’s a book about writing.) In it, she talks about the writer Grace Paley, who was especially full of life, and about running into her while she was in the midst of dying of cancer and how her description of fighting the horrible disease was to immediately bring up all of the nice people she’d met in chemotherapy.
Solomon ends his talk by saying that people should forge meaning from their hardest experiences, build their identity around that, and “then invite the world to share your joy.” I love this thought. Take your pain and turn it into the world’s joy. It’s a big—and tough—goal, but I can’t think of a better one to have.
“You silly little girl,
you think you’ve survived so long
that survival shouldn’t hurt anymore.
You keep trying to turn your body
bullet-proof. You keep trying to turn your heart
bomb shelter. Stop, darling.
You are soft and alive.
You bruise and heal. Cherish it.”—- Clementine von Radics
“What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”—Anne Lamott
I’ve been slowly working through reading the recent winners at the 2014 National Magazine Awards. So far this one (Best Feature Writing) has struck me as the most impressive. The story is depressing (at best) and it’s ridiculously long, but wow it’s well reported. And the writer does an amazing job of inserting himself into the narrative at perfect times so that it never distracts you from the story, but rather pulls you in deeper. Anyway, it’s definitely worth a read.
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for. It doesn’t interest me how old you are, I want to know if you are willing to risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine. It doesn’t interest me where you live or how rich you are, I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and be sweet to the ones you love. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.”—The Invitation (Oriah Mountain Dreamer)
“So many people glorify and romanticize “busy”. I do not. I value purpose. I believe in resting in reason and moving in passion. If you’re always busy/moving, you will miss important details. I like the mountain. Still, but when it moves, lands shift and earth quakes.”—Joseph Cook (via kristenmerieandacupoftea)
“Around six in the evening, I doze on my bed. The window is wide open, the gray day has lifted now. I experience a certain floating euphoria: everything is liquid, aerated, drinkable (I drink the air, the moment, the garden).”—
A few weeks ago I was in Dallas on a warm Saturday morning and went for a run. For me, running is all about relieving stress. When I run, I stop worrying. Usually, it takes about a mile to get there. And after about ten minutes of my feet on the pavement, I can literally feel the tension start to drop off my shoulders and my mind start to clear.
So, I went running. My grandmother, with whom I was staying, lives in a neighborhood that is full of stupidly large homes. One after the other. Each one more grandiose and perfectly manicured than the next. Perfect sidewalks lead to perfect lawns on perfect tree-lined streets where perfect luxury cars drive. It feels like The Truman Show, but with loads more money.
After about two miles, I realized I wasn’t remotely relaxed. If anything, I was worse than when I started. And it occurred to me that it was the neighborhood—the pristine house after pristine house. I constantly struggle with my desire to present a perfect front to the world. I guess we all kind of do. Social media exacerbates this for me. My Instagram feed looks like I live a life composed mostly of cocktails and exotic beaches. My Twitter and Facebook read like a person who is perpetually cheerful. It’s not real. You guys know that, right?
I think the phrase “it takes one to know one” is applicable here. Running past lush lawns and shiny windows and trimmed hedges made me think of all my own messes that I hide behind a Valencia filter and 140 character quip.
Living honestly seems like such a simple idea. It actually seems like it should be the easy route. To just be rather than to show. But it’s an ongoing effort for me—to reveal my messiness. And not just because covering it up is exhausting. But because I think it’s important for us humans to show we’re in this together—that we understand the dark stuff and the hard stuff because we ALL deal with it. And really, at the end of the day, that’s ok.
I don’t usually buy into the whole random list article thing, but I like this one. I think it was this line that got me:
"You’ll feel societal pressures in your 30s more than ever before, but don’t let the shoulds hold you back. You may constantly worry about how you should own a home, you should have kids, you should be married, or you should have a steady career. Drop all those expectations, and live life the way that makes you the happiest."
What I should do is remind myself of this truth every day.