Test Anxiety

sicktummy

This photo was only partially staged.

I woke up to a dog licking my face this morning. Everyone’s favorite way to wake up, I know.  He was actually about 10 minutes behind schedule, but that didn’t derail his usual routine of kissing me and then hitting me in the face with his paw, making sure that I knew it was time to get him a cookie. Now.

I also woke up with my stomach blessedly flatter than when I went to bed. A month of remodeling projects has taken a tole on my usually healthy eating. I have been eating whatever the hell is set in front of me. Gluten, dairy and all. And don’t forget the wine- although I still consider that health food. Because I seem to have misplaced my kitchen, I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking, which means that I haven’t had any Re-Runs to bring to work with me, which means that lunch is done on the fly.

When you are working a ten hour day without a scheduled lunch, like yesterday was, it is hard enough to look cute in your high heels when inside, you are dying of starvation and you have to go pee, and at the same time, make a rational, healthy food choice. It’s not like I have time to run to the store and whip something up in the kitchen at work. It’s a plea of desperation that gets someone to go get me food. I have to keep it simple for them, right? What is more simple than curly fries? Yes I did. And I ate an onion ring too. Just one. It’s not that I had this incredible self control. It’s just that they were cold when I finally got to them and cold onion rings are just a disappointment.

I have so far abstained from drinking beer or soda, so I do still have a shred of self control left, but it’s a slippery slope and my body is begging for a reprieve from all of the sodium, fried crap it’s been getting. My stomach has felt more sick than healthy and I know it’s all due to my fabulous diet. It’s a wonder that I haven’t broken out in a face full of acne. It is time to get it together, people. Drink more water. Eat some damn vegetables. And fried vegetables don’t count!

ANYwho.  The other day, I told you about the personality test that I took. It was interesting,  and you can take it for free right here. If you are honest in your answers, the test is startling accurate and gives you affirmation that all of those traits that people don’t like in you are really just in your DNA, a part of who you are, so they either need to embrace your genetic defects or move along.  I know that sounds harsh, but I am an ENTJ and we deal more in facts than fiction emotion. My sarcasm is also a genetic defect, so find a way to deal.

I challenge you to take the test and post in the comments about your results and a favorite line or two from the analysis. I had many lines in mine that made me laugh, but by far, my favorite is: “The underlying thought running through the ENTJ mind might be something like “I don’t care if you call me an insensitive b*tch, as long as I remain an efficient b*tch”.  Hysterical. And possibly true.

A friend once came to the salon to do a training session with our salon team and gave out the personality test that labels people by color, (red, blue, green, yellow). We all took the test, and before he told us what our results were, he did a skit of each color type and we guessed, by his skit, who on staff was that color. We were right 100%Personality-Test-personality-test-18848733-560-393 of the time. We were talking afterwards and joking about how Reds are just heartless and he said, “It’s not that you don’t care, Shawn, it’s that you care less.” Wow.  He did follow that up by telling me that while reds don’t get their panties all up in a wad about day-to-day stuff, when we do have a cause we care about, we care about it ferociously. See. I DO have feelings. I just don’t get all out of control about them. You can take that test here, but note that when I did it, the blue and green colors were switched. Blues were the feelers and greens were the analyzers/organizers.

I Tweeted that “b*tch’ line yesterday and woke up this morning with a comment from Socionics, encouraging me to take their test. I did, and got a result of SLE, Sensing, Locical, Extrovert. The fun with this test is that you can create a ‘Team’ and have everyone take the test and see where people sit on your team. If you are reading this, you can join the team I created. It’s called 86,400 Seconds, so you can take the test and then search for the team and join. It’ll be a fun social experiment to see where we all sit.

Here’s another fun test to take, but you have to make your loved ones take this one too. The Five Love Languages, is really,  just another personality test, (in fact you can take it here). My dominant Love Language is Acts of Service which, really, I already knew, before taking the test. Don’t buy me gifts, don’t get mushy with words. Want to win my heart? Do something for me. Well, actually gifts and mushy words are okay, they are just not my primary preference.

Being a ENTJ, Red, SLE, Acts of Service type of person, I think that it’s interesting to take tests like this, and funny when you see yourself spelled out in black or white, but the true value is not in reading about yourself. You already know yourself. The real value is in knowing what the people surrounding you are. If I know you are a sensitive Blue, for example, I might ask you how you are doing more often, because Blues like to know that they are cared about. I also might be more careful in using my sarcasm on you, but probably not!

So, put your anxiety aside, get a fresh cup of coffee (or glass of wine) and test away. Then let us know what you are!

 

 

Another Coat of Paint

Three days ago, I told you that it was on my calendar to re-do Lizzie’s room. I wasn’t excited about it because I was tired and had just spent two weeks remodeling the salon. Her room was pink though, because she and Skyler traded rooms a few years ago. Lizzie didn’t love the pink that Skyler out-grew, but the room was bigger, so she traded. Well, after spending a few minutes saying I was just going to take the weekend for myself, then doing rock-paper-scissors over the situation, then flipping a coin, I got up and just got going on it, which was exactly what I knew I was going to do. I just had to go about it this way so I could feel better about giving up my free time for my kids… AGAIN. Reason 4, 209 of why not to have kids, Castor.

So, I spent Sunday packing up all of Lizzie’s belongings into boxes. It’s been nearly five years since her room has been cleaned out by our maid and let me tell you. Kids collect stuff! I recently, knowing I had this day in the works, had Lizzie go through every nook and cranny of her room, getting rid of stuff she didn’t want anymore. It’s a hard thing, when you’ve lived the childhood she has lived, to want to part with anything. When you haven’t had security OR stuff, it becomes very important to you. I explained to her that she is nearly 15 now and that the things she loved when she was 10 probably are not the things she loves now, so it’s okay to let them go. We are designed to have our interests change. We don’t have to hang on to everything forever.

She did pretty good, getting a big box of stuff to get rid of, a small box of stuff for the attic, stuff she loves, but doesn’t want in her room anymore and clearing the broken & used up into the trash. However, kids never clean like moms clean. After loading everything into boxes, I got my hubbies help with moving out the big stuff and moving her bed the center of the room. Then I had to do all of the prep work for painting, which, honestly, takes twice as long as the painting itself. Wiping molding and walls, removing outlet covers, spackling, taping. Ugh. Taping. Finally, it was ready for paint, but now it was past my bedtime. Everyone else was in their beds.

Mon2014-07-28 08.43.24day was spent painting. Of course the trim needed done and of course everything needed two coats. Of course I have popcorn ceilings, which makes painting the top edge super fun. When I first started painting, I was scared because the new color looked horrible next to the old color. Like really bad horrible. But once I got a corner done, and the paint had dried, I knew it was going to work well with the bedding I had gotten. Yay! Now if magic painting fairies could just come finish the rest. Have you ever noticed how exciting it is to paint the first coat of paint when it’s a new color, but after the first coat, you are just kind of over painting? Yeah, me either. I seriously have to force myself to do a second coat. ‘It’s good enough’ keeps repeating over and over in my head. Sometimes I wish I could just give in and listen to that little voice, but it is getting two coats, or I am running out of paint. One way or the other.

As I was up on a step stool, carefully painting around all of the adorable little popcorn bumps, I saw evidence of the last 19 years of living in our house. When the room was dark blue and originally Brett’s, then a lighter neutral when it was turned into a play room and the kids shared a room for a while. Then the pink of Skyler’s room. All layered one on top of the other, with little spots where someone has slipped and gotten paint on the ceiling or on the window frame. It got me thinking about how, for years, I was just like these layers of paint. Always putting another layer on to try to look or feel different. Trying to make people like me, love me, want to be around me. Trying to make ME love me. But, as you know if you’ve ever just reapplied fresh makeup over the top of yesterday’s application, (not that I’m confessing!) the second layer is never a good as the first was. The third is even worse. Pretty soon, you end up looking like a Tammy Faye who should probably just take a shower and start fresh.

I’ve learned that  God wants me to be more like an onion than a coat of paint. He’d rather I peel away layer after layer and get to what’s real. What is most like Him. Let go of all of the pretense, and insecurity and protection and just be who He made me to be. I think God can handle my imperfections, I don’t have to put a coat of paint on them. He’s good l2014-07-29 21.36.34ike that. He already knows who I am, so I’m certainly not fooling Him by putting on a different front.  There’s comfort in that. In getting to be who you are. I wish I had learned that lesson sooner.

ANYwho… Finally the paint is done and I can move all the big stuff in. I picked up a new desk, dresser and mirror online, so figuring out how to arrange her room took a few minutes, but once the furniture was in place and the big stuff was moved in, it was bedtime again. Day three was spent going through every last item in the boxes that I had packed up.

The beauty about going through y our kids’ stuff when they are not there to ‘help’ is that you get to make the executive decision, which I am really really good at. I managed to weed out a big bag of recycling, a bag of garbage, a box of memorabilia that will go in the attic and a bunch of stuff that I am selling/donating. I just have to get rid of it before she gets home to protest!

The bad part of going through your kids’ stuff when they are not there to ‘help’ is that you see some things you wish you hadn’t seen. All in the form of mind-numbing notes to/from friends and crap they write in the middle of their school notebooks. Ugh. One thing that is glaringly obvious is that someone needs to teach that kid to spell. I mean, if she’s going to write ridiculous things for the world to see, she may as well spell the words correctly. Don’t try to tell me that the ‘world’ was not supposed to see what she wrote. Her room is kind of like the internet. If you put it out there (or down on paper), you have to expect it’s going to get seen.  After all, you’ve got siblings, and a mother. My favorite was a little tiny piece of paper that said, “Don’t read unless your Lizzie”. Complete with improper use of ‘your’. Of course I read it, and guess what? Lizzie loves Peeta. Again. Dry heaving commencing shortly.

Anyway, the room is done and waiting for her arrival Tuesday. I still have to post all of the discards of her room online for sale and get some stuff into the attic. I haven’t cooked a meal in three days and my house needs cleaning. I’m excited that she is going to have her own space that is all hers, and not the discards of her older sister and hope she’s excited too. Of course, I fully expect that she might question where some things are that didn’t make the cut, but I think overall, she’ll be happy with the results.

 

 

Screwing Up Prayer

I am not a pray-er.

I DO pray, but I am not the person you ask to stand up in front of the congregation and deliver a prayer. I am not the person to pray over your family’s Thanksgiving meal. Heck, I don’t even want to pray out-loud over our table, set for five. If you need a person to stand up and shoot the breeze or make people think, or make people laugh, I’m your girl. If you need a pray-er, you better look in another- ANY other- direction.

The ability to deliver a good prayer (code: one that is heartfelt, touches my spirit and doesn’t make me mad, sound stupid, trite or too Holier-than-thou) is a Spiritual gift, for sure, and it is one that I do not possess.  I have a friend that can pray the most beautiful prayers over people at the drop of a hat. There is a woman at church who occasionally leads prayer during service who is the most eloquent pray-er. She often brings me to tears with the artistry of her words. She is definitely a more church-y pray-er than I am, but she has such depth and feelings in her words, and she doesn’t say stupid stuff.

I know, you are probably thinking what a bad Christian I am, and you are probably right. I swear and I think about drinking far too much to be a good Christian.  Now I think prayers can be stupid and too church-ish. Next I’ll be saying that church should quit holding out and serve REAL wine at communion. Watch out.

Let me give you just a couple of examples about how prayer can be done wrong. But before I do, please keep in mind that I am not a Pastor, clearly! I have what some would consider entry level knowledge of what the Bible actually says- confession: I have NOT read the Bible from cover to cover (I hope my Pastor isn’t reading this!). And third, my brain works in a way that doesn’t make sense to 97% of the world. This is true. I took a personality test on Sunday morning and I’m in a category that houses only 3% of the population. So you are certainly welcome to hold your own opinions about this topic and disagree with me. If you do disagree with me, you can tell me, but you should probably not try to point out all of the ways that I am wrong or get all emotional about it. My personality type doesn’t change it’s mind easily (code: Stubborn) and doesn’t really do emotional stuff.

Okay, first way to screw up a prayer: Piss me off. Do not alienate a whole population of people when you are praying, by praying that we ‘have victory in Israel’. This is a prayer I actually heard at my church. I nearly had to excuse myself, I was so pissed. Nothing starts a church service off on the right foot like sitting there silently seething.

Israel may be God’s chosen land, God may have chosen Abraham, but He chose him to establish a new nation through which ‘all the families of the the earth would be blessed’. This is back in the Old Testament. You can read it. Or Google it. That would be faster. Just because God chose Israel 4000 years ago as His chosen land, it does not mean that He wants the sh*t blown out of innocent men, women and children. Have you read the New Testament? The part where Jesus loves His enemy? Also, I think it would do many, many people good to actually read the history of Israeli’s and Palestinians. As Christians, it is easy to jump on the ‘God says so’ bandwagon, but I guess, I’d prefer to jump on Jesus’.  The one that says to love your neighbor. Even (or especially) if you hate them.

The second way to screw up a prayer: Get too church-ish. I know that everyone is at different places in their God journey, but when people get too church-y, I don’t trust them. I might get kicked out of church for saying this, but seriously? All the over-the-top, holier-than-thou prayers are like a foreign language to me. I just don’t get them. And I grew up in church. Imagine if you were a first-time church goer. You’d be thinking, “I cannot relate to these people.”  Since churches are in the business of saving lives and the only way to save a visitor’s life is to have them stick around for the second act, you probably don’t want the prayers of your pray-ers to be too over-the-top Biblical Wizard or you are just going to lose people. That is a free tip. You are welcome.

My prayers are far less filled with “Amen’s, Hallelujah’s, Blessing’s, Lord’s, Father’s, As you descended from Heaven to free us from the our bondage of sin and uncleanliness’s…”  My prayers are more conversational in nature, “God, seriously? This is what I have to work with today?” or “Please, Jesus, help keep me from saying what I am thinking right now”.  All throughout the day, just little snippets of conversation that praise, thank, ask for help, question. Keep it simple.  I get how you might need to be a little more delicate when you are praying out loud in church, but let’s not get all crazy.

The third way to screw up a prayer: say something stupid. A prayer can be going along just fine, I’m there, in the moment, feeling closeness with the Spirit, and then someone says something like, “and, Lord, we thank you, for taking our brother John home tscrewing up prayero be with you. We praise you that he is in a better place by your side.” Prayers that include stuff like this put me OVER. THE. EDGE.

I get prayer request emails from a church that I used to attend. Even though I have had a different home church for many years, I have kept my name on the other church’s prayer request list because I know many members of that church and I still feel pretty connected to many of them. Often times, there are emails requesting prayer because someone has passed away. I just got one yesterday morning and it made my teeth itch. It started, “Yesterday afternoon, Jane Doe’s cherished mother went to live with the Lord. Praise God! Please pray for her family…”

If I was Jane Doe, I’d be knocking on the door. I DO understand that after prolonged illnesses there is just a time when people are done living and ready to die. I have first hand experience with a situation like this. Yes, there is relief that the suffering has ended, but I am not celebrating. I am hurting. I don’t want you celebrating either. And often times, a long illness is not even the cause of death.  I DO understand that sometimes it is difficult to figure out what to say to someone who has lost a loved one, but if you can’t think of anything other than, “They’re in a better place now,” you should probably just leave your casserole on the front step and run.  Fast.

My favorite book on prayer is by Anne Lamott. Here’s an excerpt, but you can go get yourself a copy on Amazon too.

Lazy Days of Summer

Today was the first morning since before starting the remodel at the salon, that I have been able to sleep in until I naturally woke up and once, upon waking, that I can just lounge, without having to rush and get ready to go do something. Hallelujah. Since Fourth of July, it’s been company, moving the salon into a POD, painting the salon, getting ready for camping, camping, hosting kids from Peru and India, putting the salon back together, working, driving to Pullman and then Sandpoint, and then back to Pullman, then to Portland, then working all week. The lazy days of summer? Yeah. Not happening at my house. We just do a different kind of busy in the summer. The kind that doesn’t require nagging about homework or driving kids to school. The kind that doesn’t make me wish I were having a kidney removed.

Unfortunately, the day is going to be a busy one, although the start is deceptively relaxing. The challenge is, when you have been crazy with things that must be done, once you get your first full day off that you can do ANYTHING with, it’s difficult to decide what ONE thing you are going to do.  Lord knows I have a list of pending projects: laundry, putting camping stuff away, cleaning the garage, cleaning out the attic, tackling my desk, putting the finishing touches on the salon. And on and on.

I’ve had actually had this weekend’s activities planned since the end of the school year. I was going to use it to paint and update Lizzie’s room for her. She inherited Skyler’s pink room, and Lizzie is not a pink girl. At all. Now, she’s nearly 15 and I’m pretty sure that the pink is driving her nuts, although she’s been good not to say anything about it. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been looking for things to update her room with, thinking that when she was at camp and at my sister’s for a couple of weeks, I’d surprise her with a fresh room. Now that the time is here, and I’ve just spent hours upon hours painting at the salon (you can see before’s and after’s of the salon here), I am not nearly as enthusiastic. Like, actually dreading it.

How much more enjoyable to lay in the sun, sipping a refreshing drink and reading a mindless book, or heading to the fair for some mindless entertainment. You know, the kinds of things that lazy summers are made of. The only problem I keep running into is that this is literally my only weekend until September that is not scheduled with some other obligation, so it is the weekend that I scheduled the room makeover.

Yes, I could wait and do the room in September, but how much easier to do it while Lizzie isn’t home, needing a place to sleep, or buried up to her eyeballs in homework and school projects. So, the room it is, unless someone can tell me why it is more important to go see the cows and pigs and eat a corn dog. Or until someone tells me that my tan from camping is fading. Or until someone hands me a blended drink with an umbrella.

If I don’t post a before and after picture within the next few days, you will know that I found the lazy days of summer, and that Lizzie still has a pink room.

Death in the Family

So it’s official. After getting a bit of pool water splashed on it, my phone is dead. Well, it’s not entirely dead, but I don’t have a display, which makes it as close to dead as you can get, and it’s been two weeks, so I think it’s as fixed as it’s going to get.

People have been so helpful, suggesting rice, specific types of rice and time frames that the phone should sit in said rice. My favorites are the people who have told me that their phone went through the wash machine AND dryer and ended up drying out just fine. Thank you very much. I guess my phone is a delicate flower. It can’t even handle a little splash.

Aside from being completely out of touch with everyone and what is going on, I can’t take pictures, tell what time it is or figure out what there is to eat near me. I’ve been using paper directions to get places, for goodness sake. It’s downright archaic.

I can hear when I get a text, my phone will ring, and I do still get earthquake alerts, but I can’t see who’s texting, who’s calling or where the earth is shaking at. How am I ever going to know if the big one hits? After two weeks of trying to be patient and having dreams about my phone working (yes, I have actually had a dream that I plugged my phone in and it worked. Sad, I know.) I finally gave it a full charge up and decided to see if I could get Suri to work for me. After all, blind people use cell phones, right? So if they can manage to use them without the displays. Surely I can work this out.

After several requests, and Siri telling me that she was ‘Very sorry, but I can’t help you right now. Try agaicellphonediedn later’, I finally got her to tell me that I had 9 voice messages. She dutifully played each one. I was so excited to hear my voice mail that I didn’t even care that PODS left me two REALLY LONG automated messages. I was connected to the world again. Next I asked Siri about my text messages. She said that I had 97 messages from 19 people. Wow. Hopefully nothing urgent!

Siri then started in on the first message, which was my Twitter feed. I have Twitter set up to send me a text notification of a couple of the people that I follow on Twitter. It was pretty amazing, listening to Siri relay these messages. It sounds something like this: “Ellen DeGeneres T-Witter at Ellen DeGeneres. Check out my friend’s solo CD. Happy New Music Monday! h t t p colon back slash back slash ellen dot tv backslash 1 z y 9 j j 9″ but in Siri’s special voice and in her special way of mispronouncing things. T-Witter. Seriously. I was crying with laughter.

It got better from there, as I listened to Siri relay messages from friends and family. Cliff hangers, such as: ‘You’ll never guess who I ran into today’ – I can’t guess, and I still don’t know! Then serious texts that turned to comedy in Siri’s computer animated voice, ‘What am I supposed to do besides sit at the pool all day and drink?” OMG. This is amazing. And what is wrong, exactly, with sitting at the pool all day drinking?? I mean, as long as your phone stays dry.  And my favorite, “The cheap flight is gone. Crap. Is your phone working yet? Call me. Is your phone working? Is your phone working? Text me. Is it working yet? Crap.”

Yes, it was highly entertaining. I still think I might be heading to the store for a new phone though. After all, I need to know where those earthquakes are happening, and it would be nice to be able to take selfies again.

 

Car-Camping at Walmart

This past weekend, I drove my youngest to Cougar Quest at WSU. I don’t know why we encourage our children to like a school that is six hours away. I guess when they leave for college, I want their closet space and the only way to guarantee that is to have them be far far away. This time, though, Skyler actually drove the whole way, I just was along for the ride. She needs to practice getting herself there and back so that I can quit doing the mind (and butt) numbing drive. Brett graduated from WSU and with Skyler currently a student there, we’ve had five and a half years of driving back and forth; it’s familiar territory, to say the least.

Skyler’s apartment is all set up and waiting for school to start in August, so when we got into town at midnight, we just crashed at her place. The next morning we had breakfast and then checked Lizzie in for camp and helped (code: watched) her get her stuff all unpacked. When we were done there, we said our goodbyes and headed out for another road trip, this time to my sister’s place, which is about 20 miles north of Sandpoint, Idaho. Driving three hours  to see my sister and nephews did not sound like a ton of fun, since we were going to be turning right around after visiting for three hours to do the return trip, but it was my nephew Theo’s birthday, so we wanted to be there, or we felt obligated. Whatever.

The drive through the Palouse is beautiful, but the drive through the Coeur d’alene Indian Reservation and north from there, is stunning. Every time I do that drive, I am awed by the beauty of northern Idaho. I am also awed by their highway system. Yes. It is possible to be awed by a highway system. Oregon has much to learn from Idaho about highways. In Portland at 2:45pm, it can take you and hour and a half to get 24 miles, from my house to the Portland airport. That is if there are no accidents. When I say it can take you, I mean you better plan on it. The second you are on the Highway 26, you are in wall-to-wall traffic, lucky to be going 5 miles an hour. All lanes are full of tired, cranky drivers who don’t want to let anyone change lanes, and who wait to merge until the last possible second, because riding the shoulder will get them to their destination 12 car lengths faster.

Highway 95N in Idaho, on the other hand, is a marvel of open space. Granted, there are four people that live up in Northern Idaho, but there is a lane for each one of them, and they are building more!  I actually wonder why in the world they need all of the road that they have. Either they are planning for extreme, astronomical growth in that area, or they are wanting to make sure that the whole state can evacuate north to Canada, at the same time. Seriously, there is that much real estate available on the highway. I’m not complaining. It gives you plenty of room to dodge the deer and moose that seem determined to hit your car. Speaking of hitting your car, did you know that there are porcupine in Northern Idaho? In all my hours of driving up there, I didn’t know this, but this time we saw no less than 12 porcupine that didn’t make it across the road. FYI. Northern Idaho is where you go if you want to see a porcupine. It might be dead on the road, but you’ll see one.

AnyWHO. We drive north, see the family for a couple of hours and then hit the road back to Pullman, leaving an hour later than we had planned. After the previous day’s 6 hour drive, we are both wiped and as it starts to get dark, we are having to be more and more alert for the kamikaze deer. Finally, at one point, I told Skyler that I just needed to pull over because I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open, which makes it hard to stay on the road, let alone see the deer who are trying to play Frogger.

It was at this point that we made the decision to try out my Honda Element’s camping ability, which we have heard so much about. Did we pull into a campground? No. We pulled into the Hayden Walmart. First of all, we needed supplies, since we had not left home with the plan of camping it overnight. Second, everyone knows that Walmart is THE place to camp.

We bought our necessities, which included a pair of yoga pants and slipper socks each, two $2.50 pillows and a $10 queen sized blanket. Oh, and we each bought a bottle of water. Then we headed out to find our perfect camping spot. We drove to the edge of the parking lot, where all of the other campers were set up and found a spot that looked good. Why it looked any better than the other empty parking spaces, I’m not sure, but it did.

We parked and procwalmart3eeded to fold the back seats flat and then we had to figure out how to get the front seats flat. After a bit of struggle (Do the head rests come off? No. I guess they don’t), we figured out that if you scoot the front seat all the way forward, you can lay the back of the seat flat. Perfect. We then locked the doors, changed into our comfies and spread our blanket out and set our pillows out and laid down. Hm. Not exactly a sleep number bed. Is that a seat belt digging into my hip? We need an air mattress.

Skyler tried flipping the other direction, laying her head on the front seat, but that definitely was not going to work. She flipped back around and that is when we noticed another issue. The sunroof, which is the advertised place that you can fall asleep looking out at the stars, was lit up like an operating room by the parking lot lights. Actually, the lights were shining bright through all of the windows. God. Bless. America. We are trying to sleep here. I need an eye mask.  I took my sweater and tied one arm to the back seat seat belt at the ceiling and the other arm got tied to the ‘Oh Sh*t’ handle. That helped block some of the light on my side. Then I tied the legs of my pants in similar fashion to Skyler’s side. This is not white trash at all. If I would have had more clothing, I would have rigged up something for the front windows too, but short of stripping, we were out of options, and I did still have SOME pride left.

We laid back down in our new and improved, slightly darker car-camper. Skyler asked if she should set her alarm, which we both laughed about, since we were certain that we’d never be able to sleep with the bright light of God coming through the sun roof. We decided to just see if we could even fall asleep, because now that we’d had a shopping spree, a change of wardrobe and a decorating party inside the car, we were feeling pretty wide awake. As we’re laying there, we were laughing and Skyler was telling me that she was going to buy a Honda Element and travel the country, sleeping in Walmart parking lots. I told her that she could cross this adventure off of her bucket list, and in hysterics, she had the gall to say that sleeping at Walmart had never been on her bucket list. What?!

At some point, we actually fell asleep, only to be awakened by our neighbors in the next isle over, who’s alarm was going off, complete with honking horn and flashing headlights. Groggy, I was not at all concerned that someone might be breaking into their van. More likely, they had woken up and had to pee and opened the door without turning off the alarm. And now we were ALL awake. It took them for-ev-er to find their keys and turn their dang alarm off, but fortunately, we were able to fall back asleep.

At some point, we had new neighbors move in, next door to us, and they sat outside shooting the breeze, right at the back of our car-camper. Seriously, people. It is after 1am. Do I need to file a noise complaint? I will call the police. Right to the Walmart parking lot.

We eventually woke up again, realizing it was 6:45am and light outside. We had actually had nearly a full night of sleep. Amazing.

Some valuable lessons we learned, in the event that you decided to camp at Walmart:

1. Pick a corner parking spot. Just like an apartment, it will be the quietest possibility

2. Even with that, bring ear plugs. Walmart camping is noisy, and not all of your neighbors are considerate

3. Bring an eye mask. Being blinded while you sleep is not relaxing

4. Bring an air mattress. These seats are definitely not of the tempurpedic quality

5. Set your alarm. You might just be so comfy you sleep past noon!

Emergency 911

When I little, we moved around a lot, but for two years, when I was in kindergarten and first grade, we lived in the same house in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. It was yellow and had a scary basement that would flood every spring. As the snow would melt, the water in the basement would creep up and up and up, and then suddenly, we would wake up one morning and it would be waist deep. That basement got cursed a lot, because a sub pump would need to be brought in to get all of the water out, and then everything would need to dry out and be cleaned up, but the wet, dank smell stayed, no matter how much bleach or Lysol was used.

While living in this house, my sister and I became friends with the two girls that lived across the street from us, Jennifer & Stephanie. Jennifer was my age and Stephanie was my sister’s age, so it just worked out.

Winters in Minnesota are harsh, but that didn’t stop us from playing outside. Jennifer and Stephanie had cute, girlie snowsuits and Jennifer had white snow boots with fake fur at the top. I only remember this because I was so jealous of those boots. I had a black and navy blue snow suit and moon boots. I looked and felt ugly when I had my snow clothes on, and I’m pretty sure that was the plan, since my older sister was dressed in a similar fashion but my younger siblings had cute, girlie snow clothes. moonboots

We would go outside and spend hours turning the piles of snow in the front yard into snow forts, with tunnels and rooms with sky-lights. Then fresh snow would fall and we’d have to dig out the old fort and add on to it. Once it was as intricate as we could get it for the day, we’d hang out in there, sheltered a bit from the wind and cold of the outside, our little escape from the world. We’d spend hours in there, but eventually, I wouldn’t be able to ignore the need to use the bathroom anymore, and, doing the dance, I’d have to crawl through the tunnels out of the fort and make an awkward run for the house.  Emergency 911. I have got to go!

The coast was not clear once you reached the house, however. Remember all the snow clothes? Off would come the hat and gloves and then my frozen fingers would go after the laces on my moon boots, which had inevitably somehow gotten into knots. Once the knots were out, I could pull off my boots, which always pulled off my socks too. Next, I’d start on the belt, and snaps and velcro at the neck of my snowsuit. By now I was really dancing. Finally, I’d reach the one long zipper standing between me and getting to pee. More than once, at this point, I’d rip the zipper down and it would get stuck, about chest high, trapping me. The more I’d pull, the more stuck it would get and I would get more desperate.

At this point, one of two things would happen. Either the zipper would magically release and I’d jump out of my snowsuit, making a barefooted, mad dash for the bathroom, or, and this was the one that happened more frequently, I’d pull and pull and pull on the zipper, getting it more stuck, and when I couldn’t hold it anymore, I’d pee my pants. Well, I’d pee my pants AND my snowsuit. Of course if I actually made it to the bathroom, I could then get all bundled up and go outside again, but it was sweet relief either way. It was just more work if I peed my pants since I’d then have to get changed AND wash all my clothes and snow clothes. And maybe it was a bit embarrassing.

I started thinking about this story after I had told my youngest to do something at least five times before she did it. I was so frustrated that she had to be told OVER and OVER and OVER. I was beginning to wonder if she was special needs and I just hadn’t realized it, but then I thought of this situation from my childhood. You would think that it would only take one time of this happening for me to decide that I was going to go to the bathroom BEFORE it became a big emergency, or to pull the zipper down carefully so that it wouldn’t get stuck, but that was never the case. I guess I was a slow learner, because this did happen several times.

You will be happy to know that I haven’t peed my pants in quite a while. Of course, I don’t wear snowsuits anymore either, so that certainly helps.

 

 

T-Shirt Please

birdbybird_5

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

With nearly 800 views from people in 20 countries, I can proudly announce that I am an international blogger. I think I need a T-shirt. Then today, one of the Pastors at our church published one of my blog posts on the church website. Yes. I am kind of a big deal. Of course you need to know that one of the youth leaders approached me before church on Sunday and told me that she was really enjoying reading my blog and it kind of freaked me out. I mean, I say bad words on here. And she read them. Yikes. Time to wear dark sunglasses to church?

Knowing that people I know might actually be reading this blog makes it a little bit tempting to edit, delete, or write in a way that pleases my audience, but that was never the intent of this blog; To please the audience, I mean.  Besides, my audience has just 53 people in it, and even that small, I know I would never be able to please everyone. So why try? Haha.

I’m just going to go on continuing to tell my stories in the way that they come out. Please know, if you get offended by something I write, you are definitely not the first one that I’ve offended. Not that I’m going to go out of my way to offend you, but Skyler always says it’s not a good blog post unless someone can take offense, so I’m going with that.

 

 

 

Roughing It

So we returned from camping yesterday, so today I get to clean up all of the camping supplies and do laundry and get it all put away for our next trip. And when I say ‘I get to’, it’s like ‘I get to have a root canal’.

Camping is kind of a funny past time. Here we have perfectly good homes with power and running water and air conditioning, and we pack up everything we own and go and pretend to be homeless for a while. Let’s go see how the ‘othkahneetaer half lives’. Rough it. Except we are horrible posers if my last trip was any indication.

First, the location. We went to Kah-Nee-Ta which is on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. It is in the high desert, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sage brush, red rock and… nothing.  Where the cows and horses roam free. They seriously are not fenced and literally can be found causing a huge traffic jam, -of one car-  crossing in the road, very slowly.

While at Kah-Nee-Ta, you can rent a room at the resort if you are really spoiled and are too much of a princess to live without electricity, or bring your RV so you can camp in style in a gravel parking lot, or do what we did and really rough it. Sleep in a TeePee on a concrete floor, complete with your own fire-pit, full sized picnic table, garbage can and a broom. No electricity. No plumbing. At least not in your TeePee. The cost for such rustic accommodations? $110 per night. Yes, we really could have stayed in a hotel room for the same price- but who wants a room with a bed? Oh, wait. We do.

In our desire to be comfortable, while homeless, we brought with a few ‘necessities’, but the thing about the things that I think I need? It is a slippery slope that can easily spiral out of control. Of course we needed air mattresses so that we didn’t have to actually sleep on the concrete, so we brought one for each kid and two for us. Of course the only reason we brought an extra is because we weren’t sure if one of the mattresses might have a hole in it and we wanted a backup. However, once we were there and inflated, we decided we may as well inflate the spare too, and stack them- for added comfort while we rough it. Then came the sheets. Yes. Sheets. You might ask yourself, “Who camps with sheets?”  To which I would reply, “Heathen! Who DOESN’T?” It is very hard work being homeless and the least I can do is have a comfy bed to crawl into at the end of my long day. I need sheets. Need. NEED.

Next up comes our cooking supplies, complete with camp stove, camp grill, tea kettle, french press and camp kitchen. Yes. We have a camp kitchen. Actually it is my husband’s and it is his biggest pride and joy, well, after his little dogs, of course. In less than thirty seconds, you can unfold this marvel and have a cook top, prep top, sink and pantry. It is not just functional, but luxurious. So much so that it was quite the attention getter, with several people stopping by to get a closer look and to ask him where he got it. I fully expect all of our friends to have acquired camp kitchens of their own by the time we ‘rough it’ again.

Then, of course are the electronics. Lamps, flashlights and a  radio are all necessities, but now we have Kindles, tablets, smart phones, iHomes and hand held video games. All were in abundance while we were in the middle of nowhere. After all, how could you ever know that it was damn hot if you couldn’t check your weather app? Of course all of these things require juice, so that means you have to bribe a group of kids with ice cream to sit over by the restrooms where there is a plug, and have them babysit your phone, but hey, small price to pay for the necessity of playing Angry Birds. Right?

The most important necessity, however, is the water cooler full of long island iced tea that I brought. I mean, if I have to suffer by sleeping in a TeePee on a double-upped air mattress with sheets, and spend the day either eating or laying in the sun hand pumping my mister to stay cool, both of which require massive amounts of energy when it’s 100 degrees out, then by all means, I can NOT forget the refreshments. Forget my pajamas or my toothbrush, sure, but do not forget the refreshments.

In all of the packing of ‘necessities’ that happened, though, I was a lot more basic than some people, which in reality made me feel really superior. Did you know that women actually bring their full bag of make-up camping? It’s true. I witnessed one woman who spent at least 30 minutes transforming her face just so she can go and roast a s’more at the campfire. There were a couple of other women that brought blow dryers and flat irons. People. You are getting In. A. Pool. Why, for the love of all things holy, are you doing your hair when you are just going to get it wet? Plus you are taking up the plug that my phone could be charging in. Get it together. Put that crap up in a ponytail holder and go fill up your juice cup. Just don’t take MY juice. That is sacred ground there.

Yeah, the whole camping thing just struck me as super silly this weekend, and now I’m home with a pile of dirty laundry, coolers to clean and camping supplies to replenish and put away. The great news is though, that I still have a bit of long island iced tea left. There are people dying of thirst all over the world. I should definitely not let that go to waste.

 

Slapped In The Face By Grace

So, yesterday, I felt like a huge jerk.

Usually, I try pretty hard to be nice to people. Well, that sounds bad. It’s not like I have to TRY to be nice to people. I’m not a total ass. I do have social skills. What I really mean is that I have sarcasm flowing through every vein in my body, so I have to watch that I don’t use that against people, thinking I’m being funny-although I AM funny. Really, I AM!!  Over the years I’ve gotten good at reading which people can be ‘played’ with. This just means that if they are sarcastic to me, they are usually safe to be sarcastic back to. If  they aren’t sarcastic to me, then they are boring. No. That’s not what I was going to say. If they aren’t sarcastic, they are still going to get my sarcasm, it just won’t be directed at them. It”ll be carefully directed at me.

Some of my most enjoyable conversations are with people like my friend Shauna (who owns Lemon Kissed, a rad jewelry company), because she gives good sarcasm. She uses sarcasm to be funny as sh*t, but she is never mean with it. Sarcasm is not a weapon that you disguise passive aggressiveness with.  Or any other mental illness.  Side note: Yes, I consider passive aggressiveness a mental illness. I say this because then, if my husband ever accuses me of being passive aggressive, I can tell him to quit making fun of my mental illness. Get it?

AnyWHO. I work at a job where you have to be ‘on’ stage, so, I have to be:

  1. In a good mood
  2. Ready to entertain with funny stories
  3. Caffeinated up to all get out
  4. Looking cute, because, A. Who wants to get their hair done by a not-cute hairdresser? and B. I stand in front of a mirror all day, and I don’t want to look at a not-cute hairdresser all day
  5. Ready to change things up to suit the audience

Most days, I can pull off the five criteria listed above without too much thought- well, except the #4 part. I already told you all about that though. I love my coffee and I’ve always got a story up my sleeve, so most days, I’m golden. Even on days when I’m a bit under the weather, or on days that I’ve got bigger things to worry about than whether someone should have bangs, or no bangs- although that’s a pretty major decision. Or on days where I’m dealing with something stressful or frustrating. When a client walks in, it’s show time.

This week has been a bit of a different story. This week I’ve had a ton of stuff to deal with.

There’s this little remodel project that I’ve been under a tight deadline for so I’ve spent two long days taking the salon apart and then two long days working followed by painting until late at night, each night having to clean the salon up again just enough so that we can be open the next day. Then I knew that once I got to Thursday night, I also had to be ready to go camping, meaning all groceries, camping gear and clothes need to be packed and ready to go for our one big family (and big group of friends) vacation of the summer. Yes, it was bad timing, right in the middle of the remodel, but the trip was scheduled and then the flooring people said they only had three days available in July to do our floors, so I just have to make it work.

Then there’s still the on-going Mom, heart attack thing. Very fortunately, she is out of the hospital and the doctors were able to put in two back-to-back stints so her artery that was 95% blocked is open. Unfortunately, she still needs to take care of the one that is 60% blocked. It’s still a weird situation to know how to deal with, so it’s a bit stressful.

Then, to top it off, I’ve been Holy-heck-I-want-to-throw-up-sick, and I don’t have the time to just stay in bed until I feel better. First, there’s the tight deadline with the remodel, but I also am already off of work for almost a week because of my vacation and the remodel so I can’t just be missing two more days of work. My clients will revolt. They have roots, ya know? I’ve had a ton of friends and my son and husband helping, but I can’t just let them work while I go and dry heave for a few hours.

All of this is not to induce pity, Lord knows, I am not interested in being crowned Queen of the Pity Party.  Just simply to say I’ve not been at my best. Not even close. I’ve tried to maintain a somewhat normal sense of humor, which has been difficult when I’m sleep deprived but trying to paint in the lines AND not throw up into the paint tray. It takes some concentration, which makes it hard to be on my “A” game.

So then, I come in to work to get some more painting done and Castor, who is all excited about the remodel, starts showing me new shelving and reception desks that he’s found online. He’s very excited but I was about as uninterested as I could possibly be as I was focusing on breathing and not heaving. I did mention that I wasn’t feeling good, and I was still trying to feign interest in what he was showing me, but honestly, I wasn’t trying that hard. I just didn’t have it in me. At one point I walked away and he just got kind of quiet and got ready to leave for the day, telling me to have a good night. Yes, I’ll have a good night, I’m going to be up on the ladder smelling paint fumes, trying to keep from turning into a puke dragon.

He left and I started painting. I’m doing the trim work, which is the slowest, worst part, and reflecting on what a jerk I had been to Castor. It’s not that I said anything in particular that was horrible, but I was short, and rude, and knew that I totally and completely owed him an apology. I stewed about it, beating myself up, because control freaks never like losing control, and I had just behaved in a way that showed that I sometimes lose it. Damn. Now he knows I’m not perfect. Not like THAT was a real possibility.

About the time I was finished with the trim and had mentally berated myself into thinking I was the worst human ever, I heard a car and looked up to see Castor’s truck. Great. He’s probably coming in to tell me he’s quitting because he can’t work for such an unreasonable witch. It was an actual thought. This, however, is where I got slapped in the face by grace.

He walked through the door and tentatively (I would have been tentative too after how I’d behaved), said, ‘Hey,’  while carrying in an armful of painting supplies. I was taken aback. ‘Hey,’ I answered. ‘What are you doing?’ He told me that he was coming to help me paint, ‘if that was okay’. Now I was stunned and horribly ashamed and completely humbled. I will admit that I might have cried. A lot. Much more than a guy is comfortable with. I don’t think he’ll ever compare me to a ‘Four-Star General’ again. I told Castor that I had been sitting there since he had left, feeling like a complete ass and knowing that I owed him a huge apology. The absolute last thing that I expected when I saw his car was that he was coming to help me. Not after how I had acted.

I have told this story at least six times, including this time, and each time, including this one, I get to this point and I’m crying all over again because he responded to my ugliness with such grace that I continue to be humbled. I would love to think that I would have responded in the same way, but I don’t know that I would have.  It’s difficult enough to not take someone’s bad behavior personally, but to witness someone seeing past the behavior and responding to the person (who is clearly in Stage Four Ugly) with such grace, was about as big of a lesson as I think I could have ever have gotten. I feel humbled and blessed to have witnessed it because Castor taught me a lot about kindness, friendship and grace.

Of course I wish I could have watched that scene unfold as an innocent third party, instead of as the protagonist, but then, the lesson would not have been learned so well, would it have been?commandcenter

To my friend Castor, who taught me what real grace looks like, I would like to publicly say, I am still not considering the reception desk that looked like a spaceship, if in fact it does actually look like a spaceship. I don’t actually recall what it looks like, if I’m going to be in full disclosure. But if it does, you know I don’t do Star Trek, Star Wars or anything else Sci-Fi, so a spaceship “command center” is going to be off limits.  That being said, I sincerely thank you for your help, and I really am sorry for being such a jerk. You didn’t deserve that, just as I didn’t deserve your grace.

Footnote: Within an hour of writing this post, I came across this amazing article on grace that goes so hand-in-hand with what I wrote, that it was almost like God was putting an ‘AMEN’ into my life. I thought I’d share it with you too.

 

 “Grace is having a relationship with someone’s heart, not their behavior.”  ~People of the Second Chance