Friday, October 19, 2018


You know that feeling you get...excitement, anxiety, anticipation....when someone is slowly turning the crank of a jack in the box?  You know what's coming, but even though you're ready for it, you're not ready for it when it happens.  When the top pops open and monkey/clown/princess jumps out.  It startles you every time, but then you smile, and stuff it back in and the whole things starts over again.  
Tinny music dink
                                            dinks along... and you just know that on the next turn its coming and you're'll get the jump, and happens again, but not at quite the spot you were preparing yourself for.

Well, that was today.  That was 9:47 today.  And I had prepared myself for sometime closer to 9:55.  And I wasn't quite ready.  Fuck.

So let's rewind....

I've gone and done this thing that some people would call brave.  I have resigned from my job.  A job that I love.  A job that I am good at.  A job that has given me the rare privilege for the last 10 years to be in the same space with people who are discovering how amazing they can be when they believe in themselves and they do hard things and they learn to love themselves as they are, even as they pursue making themselves into something new.  And it has been hard.  Even though I know it's right and it's good and it's time.  It has been really, really hard.

In a very controlled way, a little at a time I have been saying goodbye to colleagues and friends and members that have been attending my meetings for years.  I've made the announcement many times in the last few weeks.  Starting with my husband so many weeks ago with a teary, vulnerable phone call that felt like a mix between admitting defeat and declaring my independence and ending this morning with my final announcement, it was like that tiny, slow cranking of the jack in the box.  I knew what was coming and it felt good to get it out, but it hit me in a different place each time.  This morning, an unsuspecting woman in a pink t-shirt was talking about being stuck.  She was thoughtfully explaining how fitting back into her 'skinny clothes' wasn't good enough.  Not anymore.  Good enough wasn't good enough anymore.  And her words hit me when I wasn't ready.

How I managed to hold it together for another 6 minutes until I could deliver my carefully thought out departure announcement I honestly do not know.  But I did.  And it was all of things things I hoped it would be when I saved this meeting for last.

Because that's just it, isn't it?  That's the shift.  That's what I'm realizing as I challenge myself to not be stuck with good enough.  I can be happy and sad at the same time.  Ready doesn't mean I'm entirely prepared and being fearless doesn't mean I'm not scared to death.  Things can be hard and good at the same time.   

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What I know now....

After 19 married Valentine’s Days I know...

February 14 is a date on the calendar. It doesn’t always mean an actual date. A romantic thing on March 27th or August 11th or December 9th can be just as meaningful. 

Being vulnerable with your partner is harder than sleepless nights with a newborn, vacations with your in laws and tax preparation all rolled into one. But it’s worth it. 

Negotiating life whilst considering the needs of a partner is hard. Being alone is hard. Choose your hard. 

If your laundry basket has a lid, the dirty socks will be piled on top of the lid. 

It’s important to have people in your life.  Some you share. Some just for you. Be ok with that. 

If you ever hear someone remark about a dessert being better than’s because they’ve never had great sex. 

To be thrilled for your partner when they delight in what thrills them. Even if it doesn’t thrill you. 

The Eagles are great and all...but love will NOT keep you alive. You need oxygen. And vegetables. And exercise. And batteries in the smoke detectors. And good conversations about how to make those things happen. THAT will keep you alive. 

If you’re lucky, in the pursuit of what you want, you wind up getting what you need. 

Love languages are not bullshit.  Be bilingual. Rosetta Stone that shit if you have to. But learn another language besides your own. 

Be ready for the fact that the person you married will change and grow and become a new version of themselves. Be ready to adjust. You are equipped for this. You always have been. 

Pickles, mustard and olives can be polarizing forces in a marriage. They are toppings. Don’t let them be foundations. 

Balance isn’t about making things even. Balance is being able to lean way over to one side without falling over.  

Show up for things. Literally. Figuratively. In the cold. In the heat. With a good attitude. With a bad attitude. Put your whole self in. 

Always be ready with a speech when it’s time to toast your partner and never forget to say goodnight. 

Find something to do together. Besides kids.  In spite of kids. 

Know that we are all are doing the best we can. With what we have. In the moment we have it. Our lives will be made up of moments. Some of them matter more than others. 

Forgiveness is as much for you as it is for the one who receives it. 

Life is a ride you didn’t ask to be on.  Up. Down. Hard left and upside down. It’s better with someone in the seat next to you. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her...

I'm just going to jump right in here...if you need to catch up go here and here and here...but if you already know about Maria, or you've ever lost a friend before it was time for them to go...then just keep going, you'll know just what I'm talking about.

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go” ~ Jamie Anderson

Maria used to call me when it was time to get angry.  Even before fucking cancer.  When something ridiculous had happened with our crazy boss and she needed to hear her sweary friend do justice to the injustice.  Or when her patience was running thin with a toddler but yelling wasn't going to solve the problem.  And then with the cancer.  I remember once her explaining to me quite fiercely that it was not “her illness” and I was not to call it that.  It was cancer, she didn’t want it and it didn’t belong to her.  She wouldn’t have taken it if someone offered it to her, and she wanted it gone as quickly as possible. 

So when a test came back and results weren’t what she’d hoped for or a treatment wasn’t going as planned, she’d call me and calmly explain the situation.  She’d tell me, “Nancy, I do not have room to be sad or angry or negative about this because I can’t have that in me right now.  But somebody needs to be mad, so I called you.”  I’d spit and swear and get my heart rate up and then she’d thank me and tell me it was going to be ok because she was going to live a long life and she’d be calling me for decades to get angry about all kinds of things.

But she won't call me.  We've just lost her.  And I'm not angry.  I'm very, very sad.

I'm going to her town early this week so I can just sit in her spaces.  I want to sit on Park Avenue at the Starbucks and just soak it in.  I want to visit the Goodwill Boutique where we scored epic bargains many times. I'm going to sit in Grace's plastic lawn chair that's got a Maria shaped spot worn into the seat from so many hours of love and laughter.  I don't know what it's going to be like to sit in those spaces.

I’m going to go to Maria’s church on Saturday.  I’m going to sit with her family and her friends and they’re going to talk about her wonderful, light filled life.  The pastor will likely have words about her journeying to the hereafter.  Some people will be comforted.  I want to be comforted. 

Right now I’m overwhelmed with the loss.  I’m completely distracted by the idea that we have to be here…after she is gone.  We have to be here without something we loved so much.  Here in this place.  Here in this day.  Here in this life. 

After.  This hereafter isn’t comforting to me.

It just doesn’t feel right.  And I don’t know what to do about it.  I don’t know if there’s anything to do about it.

Grief is overwhelming. It’s heavy.  All of that love that I have to give to my friend but cannot, fills up my arms and sits on my chest.

Those words of love that I want to speak to her loudly with laughter and softly into her ear, catch in my throat and can’t be swallowed down. 

Grief is love with no place to go.

So what do I do with grief?  If it won’t go away and I can’t just push through it and there’s no end in sight and things won’t ever be the same and the stages don’t seem to matter and just when I think I’m beginning to collect myself, the pieces start to fall apart again.

Grief is love with no place to go.

I’m sure I’ve just got to keep loving. Keep loving her family.  Keep loving the wonderful women friends she brought into my life.

Grief is love interrupted, but not stopped.  I’m going to rant, and ponder and be grateful and keep hating pink ribbons and text with her daughters and smile when I choose coffee over tea and wear big, big hats and tell every woman in a Talbots cardigan how they make me think of my wonderful friend Maria.

Grief goes on as long as love does.

We'll never stop missing you dear lady...we'll never stop loving you.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

She's Making a List...

So I've been sitting with anger lately and I'm discovering some things about it.  Angry is my 'go-to' emotion because I excel at displaying it for people.  I don't really have to work hard to look and act pissed off and it has the desired effect of quickly throwing up a 50 foot wall topped with barbed wire and making sure anyone who approaches me slowly backs away because there is no chance they are getting in and there's a decent chance they'd get injured in the effort.  Angry is easy, angry is efficient at achieving my desired result...GET AWAY FROM ME!

What I'm discovering is that when I act angry it's often because I need the wall, and I need it quickly.  I want to hide behind it and not show people anything.  But angry isn't always what I am.  Sometimes I'm feeling weak or frustrated.  Sometimes it's afraid or trapped.  Sometimes it's guilt or rejection and I'll be damned if I'm going to let anyone see that.  So angry builds the wall and I can safely hide behind it until the feeling passes.

I can honestly say I have no idea what it would be like to show fear to people.  To behave like I'm feeling victimized or weak.  Or sad.  It would probably take longer...sigh.  What does trapped look like?  Was does inadequate look like?  I don't even know.  Do I even want to know?

I read somewhere that emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are.  That emotions are temporary, they don't define us.  They tell us how we are not who we are.  Ugh, all of this makes me feel sick because it sounds so good and true and simple.  I even speak it to people.  I need someone to speak it to me.

I think this is another preamble.  I'm paying attention to my emotions.  I'm keeping a list of what I actually am when I display angry.  So we'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

This is not a triumphant return...

I’ve quietly let myself in the backdoor with the key I left under the mat.

I feel like I need to explain myself.  I feel like I should explain myself.  Should…that’s a burden of a word/attitude.  I haven’t been here in a long while.  I haven’t filled this space with anything new, anything at all. I have so many good excuses. I don’t have any good excuses.  When I’m being honest with myself, I know that I put things down here because it helps me to know what I think.  The act of choosing words and forming sentences and gathering thoughts gives me a chance to work through things. 

Meh…I think that was the preamble.  The disclaimer.  I think that was the part where I try and make myself feel better.

I am angry.

I am sad.

I moved to Texas and I cannot seem to find my footing.  I keep getting knocked down, slammed down, nudged aside, “Here hold this, fix this, handle this, take this on, be okay with this…and do it fast, and don’t plan on anyone helping you because you’re alone Sweetheart, you’ve started over, so buckle up.”  “Oh, and it’s a big, fat, ugly, Texas cowboy buckle that doesn’t go with anything you know…so, fuck you.”

I need to reign in that last rant or it may never stop. 

You know what I do?  I pretend to be fine because NOT being fine is inconvenient.  It’s inefficient.  And I don’t want anyone to see that happening.

I am not fine.  And it’s terribly inefficient.  But I know when I’m writing and thinking, that I’m better.  So here we go again.... 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why Cleaning Toilets and Zombies Have Everything to do with Valentine’s Day

He emerges from the powder room,
toilet brush in hand,
smelling vaguely like mint and begins to rush past me. 
He stops, turns around,
comes back to give me a quick peck on the mouth
and grins as he declares,
 “Happy Valentine’s Day Love.”

Fast forward several hours. 

As he stands at the kitchen sink,
“Want to start the movie with the girls early tonight
 so we can watch zombies when it’s over?”

This is my love language.  

I see your hearts and flowers 
and I raise you FOUR clean toilets, 
a heart shaped pizza and walking dead people! 

Valentine's Day for the win.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Not everyone understands that sometimes restarting is infinitely more difficult than beginning in the first place.  Starting over, at something you know you love doing with writing publically, is equal parts excitement, anticipation, fear and dread for me.  But they're equal parts.

So here I am...

The guru says, "The signs ARE out there.  You just have to be watching for them."  Well that's all fine and good when you have make time to look.  I haven't been making time.  It doesn't really matter why.  We all have reasons.  Honestly, I'm not even sure I was making time.  But there was a sign.  And I knew it was a sign because I couldn't stop thinking about it.  And I stopped what I was doing and went back to take a picture, because I was thinking...when I write about this, I'm going to want a picture to go with the essay so my readers can see what I saw.



Let me take you there....

Last week when I was on my run, there were hundreds of puzzle pieces strewn all over the sidewalk.  The sprinkle of tiny cardboard shapes went on for 20 yards or so, they were on and off the grass and some had fallen into the street.  I cannot explain why, but it made me so sad to see them discarded and littered all over my path.  It was such a odd thing to see on the sidewalk and I immediately began to think about how they must have ended up there.  My guess is that they had spilled out of somebody's trash.  But as they lay there, in their perfect little shapes, they didn't look like trash.  They weren't smelly or rotting or broken.  But someone had decided that they were trash.

Maybe they were broken.  How do you decide that a puzzle is broken?  How many pieces need to be missing before it's time to throw the puzzle away?  One?  Ten?  Is it more about which pieces are missing?  Maybe a puzzle is broken when a key piece is lost.  Or an edge?  A corner perhaps?  Who decides when it's time?  How do you know?

My life feels a lot like a puzzle sometimes.  So many pieces, perfectly formed in themselves, but infinitely more interesting when fitted right next to each other and assembled into the whole.  Some pieces tend to hang together and others are tricky to find sometimes, but when they snap into place, they're a perfect fit.  Some of my pieces are missing.  It happens.  Some of them go missing for long periods and never show up again.  Some pieces get found and it's like a tiny miracle.  Even though there are a few blank spaces here and there, and a few pieces with corners that have been bent and torn, the overall picture is still very clear.  Still very Nancy.

And yes, I realize that I am not a paperboard picture laser cut into tiny sections and sold for $7.99, but I've had a lot to handle lately.  I've lost some pieces of my puzzle in the last few months and that's why I was sad to see the discarded puzzle.  This puzzle had gotten to a point where somebody decided you could no longer see the bigger picture.  There were enough pieces missing that it was trash.

What's my point?  I'm not sure yet, but it has something to do with fiercely guarding the intricately beautiful pieces of yourself.  Repairing the damaged ones.  Taking extra care when handling the broken ones.  Finding a sturdy box to keep them in.  And taking a hard look at those holes where the missing pieces used to fit, and figuring out what kind of colorful thing you could carefully slide underneath, that might not be quite the same as the original, but that will fill up the empty space, and complete the picture.