DILIGAF?

(Apologies to those of you who don’t handle strong words… this post has them.)

Anyone who remembers the acronym in my title might be able to relate to what I’m about to discuss. Seems like, at this particular point in my life, I’m being pulled in so many different directions, being asked to “do this” or “donate my time and money to that” or “consider joining x, y, or z organization”, that I’m in serious need of prioritizing what deserves my time, attention, blood, sweat, tears…and money.

Sitting in my office during a lunch break a few months ago, I was going “into the wormhole” of YouTube and found a TED talk by a woman who seems to understand my predicament. Thing is, she knows how to handle these dilemmas much better than I do.

In a nutshell, she says when you look at all the things you’re being pulled to do, there are some you “give a f*ck” about and others you “don’t give a f*ck” about. Think of your “f*cks” as currency — either you are willing to spend them on something that is pig-896747_960_720meaningful to you (for me, that would be taking time to write or making a trip to a family graveyard for some genealogical research), or you are NOT willing to spend them on something (like going to a Pampered Chef party – I don’t cook like that!). Of course, there are some things you have to give some “f*cks” about – family obligations, etc., but for the most part, you have the choice on how you set up your “f*ck budget.”

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Tonight, I’m going to watch her video again and re-do my “f*ck budget” because I’m almost broke. Need to reallocate my f*cks, stop spending them on the things that aren’t priority in my life, and maybe save a few for something really cool down the road.

DILIGAF? I’ll let you decide that a little later…

Here’s the TED talk by Sarah Knight, bestselling author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” and “Get Your Sh*t Together”. Good stuff!

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Counting Down…

137 days left.

I have to get myself on some kind of plan, or I’m going to be quite disappointed when I reach age 50 in December. Right now, I weigh the most I have since right before my hysterectomy at age 38. Actually, if the scales are telling the truth (which, unfortunately, they usually are), I weigh more.

Ugh.

So, it’s time to get a game plan going here. I need an overhaul. A complete overhaul — mind, body, and spirit. That means, I’m going to have to get serious and focus, which is often hard to do because there are so many shiny, neat things out there to distract me from my purpose. And ice cream. And comfy couches. And exciting new projects.

This is going to be a challenge, and I’m going to need some support. And some ass-kicking. I’m going to have to make some decisions that require me to let go of some things I had wanted to take on as projects – it’s time to figure out which of those will best serve my goal… and which need to be packed away for another time.

I’m a bit unsettled about this but know it needs to be done. My life and my health in this next chapter of life depend on it.

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Besides, when December 10 rolls around, I want to be able to KICK… STRETCH…and KICK, just like Sally O’Malley. Hell, I might even buy myself an outfit and purse just like hers to wear that day.

She’s my heroine. I just love her so. 

 

New Writing Project!

UK 50mph photoHere’s a new project I’m starting up soon. It’s all about the stories of those of us who have already turned the corner at the half-century mark… and those of us who are almost there.

Wanna know more?

Want to share your story?

Check out my other blog: “Finding Fifty Project”.

Peace… and Happy Thanksgiving!

On Approaching Forty-Eight

Forty eight.

Age sixteen… for the third time.

The seventeenth anniversary of being 21.

 

Four dozen years, all packaged up in stretch denim,

Over-sized sweater, and warm fuzzy socks.

The day’s sensible shoes, taking rest in the corner.

At this point, comfort over fashion is key.

At least it is in her world.

 

Sitting at the keyboard,

Remembering her past,

Dreaming of her future.

Interrupted by the present…

Reality, asking if she’s going to do the laundry.

 

The spin cycle begins.

What have I accomplished?

Have I made the right decisions?

Will I ever be able to retire?

Should I throw in the towel?

Who the hell am I, and what do I want?

 

Stop.

Take a deep breath.

Remember what the chiropractor said.

And the counselors – all three of them.

Time to strengthen. Time to heal.

 

Forty-eight years.

Age is nothing but a number.

Time to start living your life.

Lots of questions to be answered,

So put on those stretchy pants and get to it.

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Back from the Depths…

First off, I want to apologize for not having posted here in a very long while.

Truth is, I’ve been busy — this writing thing is starting to take off now, and I’m really excited about the direction in which it’s headed.  Over the summer, I submitted two stories for inclusion in anthologies and am honored to say that both of them were accepted for publication!

The first one — Letters for My Little Sister — is a marvelous book about menopause.  It’s filled with stories from women of all ages and walks of life from all over the world.  I’m one of those gals who never learned from my mother about these things because, quite frankly, she passed away when she was only 35.  My grandmother never shared anything, either, because I wasn’t experiencing (or even thinking about) symptoms when she was still here with us.  So when I opened this book and started reading, it felt as if I had settled in among a circle of kindreds — I poured myself a cup of favorite tea, pulled up the blanket, and started reading.  Couldn’t put it down. Several times I felt myself chuckling in acknowledgement at some of the experiences – of course, my husband wondered what I could possibly be laughing at, but he DARED not ask, for fear of what might happen (I’m pre-menopausal, you know?).

The second book — Women Awakening: Discovering Our Personal Truths — is an anthology of I Am Subject Stories that focus on women sharing how the influences of family history, body and mind, internal/external roles, and life-altering moments have helped shape their lives… and their stories.  The stories are raw, honest, risky.  I would like to meet several of these women in person some day.  Diane DeBella, the book’s editor and the creator of the I Am Subject project, has become a friend via the wonders of technology (she lives in Colorado and I’m in North Carolina), and I hope to get together with her very soon to explore some opportunities to expand on this project.

I encourage you to consider these books and their creators.  Here are links to their webpages and book information:

Cecelia Gunther — Letters for My Little Sister Book Order Page
http://thekitchensgarden.com/book-orders/

Diane DeBella — The I Am Subject Project Page
http://iamsubject.com
For Women Awakening Book Orders
http://www.iamsubject.com/diane-debella-books/women-awakening/

Here’s me… as proud as punch!
My Books Sept 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Star-Spangled… Me?

When I was young, I spent lots of time at Granny’s house.  She was a career public school music teacher and, after retirement, taught voice and piano privately. Even had a “musical kindergarten” called Rhythm Band. In her small town, everyone knew her as the spunky, creative… and slightly nutty…  lady who brought joy and beautiful music – and a bit of the unexpected – to nearly every holiday gathering in town.

Aside from Christmas… and Halloween… and Valentine’s Day… well, hell, she loved every holiday, who am I kidding? It seemed that July 4, 1976, was a challenge for her.  She went nuts, decorating EVERYTHING in sight with red, white, and blue, and honing up on her piano versions of all things patriotic.  It was insane but really amusing to watch.

Tonight, thumbing through a box of old photos, I came across one that truly represented just how geared up she was for our 200th birthday celebration. Okay, so let’s build a giant birthday cake out of boxes, wipe out the local dollar store of its miniature flags, stick the thing in the back yard, and get the oldest grandkid to dress up like Uncle Sam to pose for pictures.

Geez, the other two grandkids were BOYS, for crap’s sake!  At least she didn’t make me wear a beard. Well, they were only about four and two at the time… they weren’t tall enough to peer over the top layer yet.

Me 1976

Yep, that’s me.  Nine years old.  The curse of being the oldest was always serving as “guinea pig” for photo shoots like this. I think she secretly enjoyed this – thank goodness she never showed it to any of my friends. Ugh.

Truth is, this year, I would have given my left, er, ovary, to have climbed up on that damn cake, listening to her direct with more finesse than a Hollywood producer, “Now, wave the flags and smile, Leigh,” as she snapped the photo.  I would have sung every patriotic song I knew, if it would have meant a little more time with her.

Well, except for that awful “God Bless the USA” song.  Forgive me — if you were subjected to that song as often as I was as a kid, you’d feel the same way.  Seriously, you would. (Sorry, Granny.)

July 4, or any holiday for that matter, doesn’t quite have the same sparkle as it did when she was in charge of making them fabulous.

Living with Ghosts – Finding My Spirit

I am participating in Diane DeBella’s #iamsubject project http://www.iamsubject.com/the-iamsubject-project/. Here is my #iamsubject story.

 

“You live with too many ghosts.”

That’s what he said to me one night after seeing the title of the book, Motherless Daughters.  I was reading it in an attempt to begin processing what had been kept hidden inside for over 25 years. So I put the book away, just as I had done with several other attempts to find out exactly who I was.

On the outside, there was the confident, organized college administrator who received glowing evaluations and loved helping anyone she could, especially those who seemed to need that extra push or vote of confidence. Her door was always open, yet, on the rides home, she secretly longed for her own advisor to help make sense of everything and to tell her she was on the right track.   There was the “coach’s wife,” who attended every game and stood (literally) on the sidelines, filming her husband’s rise to fame during a winning season.  No one ever knew her name or even cared to, for that matter – she was simply “coach’s wife.”  And at a showing of the video she had created, his only acknowledgement of her efforts were, “Oh, yeah.  This is just a little hobby she has.”

I began to feel a slow grating at the base of my gut each time everything I said or did was interrupted by a better, bigger story or altogether ignored. I was important, and although I had allowed myself to focus on who I was externally – defining myself based on what I did for others – inside, my spirit was withering.

It took something extremely personal, extremely physical, for me to realize that things needed to change.  That I was an individual who had a name, a body, and a spirit who deserved to be recognized and appreciated.  Most importantly, I needed to learn how to appreciate myself. In 2005, after suffering through years of painful menstrual cycles and noticing (but not addressing) a growing abdomen, I found the courage to face one of my biggest fears and have a hysterectomy.  Since Momma died, I had always had this deep terror of hospitals, knowing they were the places “where you went to and never came out of.” I also feared the simple act of going to doctors because they “could always discover some horrible disease that would end up killing you.”

Something was different this time.  For once, I didn’t feel like the terrified eleven-year-old.  I knew I was taking care of me for the first time. So, in the quiet hours of the first night after surgery, listening to my husband grumble about “having his sleep interrupted by the nurse coming in to check vitals,” I began to heal – on several levels.

He wasn’t there the morning I was released.  No, he had decided to spend the remaining time of my hospital stay at home, studying for his teaching boards.  Eventually, I decided to leave the marriage.

Jokingly, I comment to my girlfriends that I received a “two-for-one” deal when I went to the hospital – not only did I have my uterus removed, they helped me remove an a**hole as well.

Nine years later, I can’t say that I’ve completely healed from the scars of mother loss or the hysterectomy, nor have I fully discovered who, at 47, I truly am.  But I can tell you that I’ve taken some amazing steps in the journey so far.

The man I married three years ago understands that I am on a journey toward self.  Although I have the outward challenges of trying to learn how to be a good wife, stepmother, survive menopause, etc., he also respects that I have some “me work” to continue.

Hubs and I met through our love for music.  About two years ago, we formed a vintage blues band that (very surprisingly) won a competition that sent us to Beale Street, Memphis.  In the past, my voice was stifled by, “No, you can’t join a band. Why would you want to, anyway?”  Now, when I sing, I feel alive.  Powerful. Sexy. Like a woman who’s beginning to take control of her life.

"Coming out of My Box" by Bob Powell
“Coming out of My Box” by Bob Powell

One day, while having a less-than-powerful moment on the journey, I was searching for another self-help book on “taking chances.”  That’s when I came across You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. The author, Jen Sincero, exemplified to me the type of woman I was seeking to become – strong, opinionated, in-charge, creative.  I read it like a college textbook, making notes in the margins and highlighting just about every other paragraph.  I needed to come out of my protective little shell, admit and face up to my challenges, and “get the hell on with” my life.  The author sent out a request for video clips from readers, sharing why they felt they should be selected for her 8-week course.  I submitted…and was selected.  In fact, I’m finishing up the final week right now.  I’ve learned how to maintain focus on what desires and goals I want and to step out of that comfortable little box I’ve lived in for so long.  I am close to earning my B.A. in “B-A.” Heh.

That book that I hid away years ago? Well, funny how things happen.  One night, Hubs showed me a book that had been recommended by someone.  He was trying to understand and support me in my healing over Momma’s death. It was the same book – Motherless Daughters.  That loving gesture started a crazy chain of events.  I joined the author’s fan page.  She sent out a call for stories of mother loss.  I took a huge leap of faith and submitted one.  A few weeks later, she contacted me for permission to use the story in her 20th Anniversary edition of Letters from Motherless Daughters (by the way, my story is on page 162 under a fictitious name).  In March 2014, I attended my first meeting of the Triangle Motherless Daughters Group.  For the first time in 36 years, I was among sisters.  I was able to express grief, challenges, and successes and be listened to and valued. The book’s author, Hope Edelman, was also there. She signed a copy of the book and gave it to me.  Hope's NoteOn May 10, 2014, I wrote a feature story in the Greensboro News & Record about life as a motherless daughter and shared that I was starting a support group for other motherless daughters in the area.  I’ve been contacted by numerous women (and supportive men) who thanked me for helping them and who want to join the group. I hope to hold the first meeting at the end of June. Visit my website http://momlesslife.wordpress.com for more information.

Do I live with ghosts?  Of course, I do, and I’m proud of it.  They stay by my side constantly, gently coaxing me along the way.  They sit quietly by me in the evenings when I feel compelled to write.  They give me the “thumbs up” as I click “enter” and submit yet another story for consideration.  They see that I am beginning to cut those spectral apron strings and come into my own self. If I listen closely enough, I can hear them say, “Atta girl!”