What a week! As I sit here, in my toasty house, I’m relieved that the week is done. Over. Finished. There was much drama. I dealt with an overly aggressive co-worker that sent me into an emotional tailspin, the grief of a dear friend, back pain, professional luncheons, many meetings, cold weather delays, last minute cancellations, writing gigs, unexpected bills, grumpy people, organizational issues, PT appointments… and the list could go on. It’s funny though, because as soon as I start lamenting my stresses, my brain immediately jumps to guilt mode. “Cry me a river,” I think, “You’ve got it so easy! There are so many people right now, this very second, struggling to take one more breath.” There are people hearing that they’ve got diseases, holding the hand of their most precious people who are sick, hurt, hopeless. There are people who don’t have electricity, or a roof over their heads. There are people looking in trash heaps at this very second, looking for a morsel to eat, or something they could use or sell. There are people slamming on their brakes, living in trauma, or feeling so alone they don’t want to go on.
The scenarios of struggle, pain and depression in this world are endless, but I am human, and I’m not perfect. I utter a wee whine at my stresses occasionally, but I just can’t seem to wallow there. Seriously. I’m so lucky that I immediately feel guilty at my self indulgent grumbles. Maybe I should bless my ADD tendencies because I don’t tend to stay in one lane for long. I get over myself.
I worry sometimes that I tend to forget to be present in the moment, even the stressful ones. I know for sure that when I’m connecting to people I’m there, fully, aren’t I? Sometimes? I got to Friday night and was immediately glad to have that week behind me. What? That was a week of my life and I’m happy to see it gone? Is that right? It certainly doesn’t sound right as I type it.
Okay, here’s to unpacking the good things. I was a good friend this week, I hope. I sure tried to be. My heart was there. Despite it all, I got a lot of work done, both with the day job and the writing gig. I made connections for people both professionally and privately. I got some invoices sent out! I got some good PT in for my knee, and it’s getting better and stronger. Yes! I told my friends I loved them. I told my husband and my kids too. I snuggled with my dogs, however briefly, while I watched my recorded episodes of The Voice. I did an interview for someone’s project, and got a massage for the back pain. I made Amplify Austin donations to Out Youth, Spirit Reins Ranch and Austin Dog Rescue and that felt GREAT! I don’t think I gained weight this week. I made Cauliflower soup, did dishes, paid bills and am finally writing a blog post. Okay fine. It was a decent week. How bout yours?
Recharged from a lovely hike over the weekend on my favorite trails, with a favorite friend with few ill effects on the knee, I decided to do a mid week, morning solo jaunt. This park is off a two-lane road, not far from my neighborhood. It’s maybe a few hundred acres and it’s hilly, and rocky and heavily wooded. It’s got a clear creek rolling through the bottom half which is a bonus. The creek area is quite popular on the weekends with all sorts, families, kids, dogs, and even a tour of Chinese nationals was visiting last week. This is my park though. I get annoyed when all those people are there. Luckily, I take the high path where few folks know to go.
I parked my car in the parking lot. The rush hour traffic sends a steady stream of cars right by, but there was only one car. Something about it made me nervous. It was a car that had seen better days for sure, but that wasn’t it. I can’t put my finger on it. Intuition maybe? I snapped a photo of it (with license plate) and sent it to the hubs with “one car here, bout to start the trail.” He likes to know when I’m on and off. In fact, he’s even been known to do a find my phone if I took too long! So away I marched into the woods ready to enjoy my morning. About 3 minutes in, I rounded a corner to find a man on a bike. He was not a biker. It wasn’t a mountain bike. He was wearing jeans, work boots and had it parked right in the middle of a narrow part of the trail, and made no attempt to move aside, or move at all. Both feet planted firmly on the ground, a can of beer or soda or something in one hand, a gimme hat, and oozing bad vibes. “Getting that knee moving?” he drawled with a hick accent. Definitely not a biker. This situation is all wrong. Not the kind of guy who comes here for the good and wholesome mother nature fix. Wrong! Oh shit. What do I do? Do I turn right around, and turn my back on him? Do I continue forward, look him in the face, take a snapshot with my brain? Pick up a big assed rock? He’s pointing out my weakness. He wants me to know he’s already noted it. He felt predatory, and he was only feet away. “Yep. Gotta keep it moving” I say with utter confidence while looking hard at him in the face. I didn’t hesitate, though my mind was electric with danger signals. Adrenaline was giving me that tingly feeling and I was ready. I watched him very closely as I went within arms reach of him. I turned my body to look at him as I moved swiftly past. I listened hard, and turned to watch him looking back at me. He hadn’t moved, though. I was 50 yards from the traffic, but it could have been miles. There was not even a gap in the woods to see through. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and called my hubs. I acted like I was talking. I was, but to his *&&^%ing voice mail. I described the scene, where I was on the trail, the man, the bike and explained what I was doing next. This is as stupid as it feels. My mind racing. Exactly like a TV detective show. In my show though, it would be me explaining why there was a man laying in the grass.
I am no dainty flower. I’m athletic and strong and fairly fast (and trust me, my knee would have felt no pain in that moment). I grew up with brothers who taught me to zing a baseball, throw a football and hit hard with my fist. I know I’m a fighter. I fight back until I can take flight. I’m pretty aware of my situation. I watch people closely. Personal safety and being smart are two things I will fuss at my friends about. I am sort of a safety Suzie. Split second decisions, though. Did I make a mistake? Should I have turned around? Should I have had a stand off and not gone around him? Questions…
I immediately hung up on my voicemail call and called my friend who I had just hiked that very trail with. She answered. I explained again what happened and cut straight over to the road. I talked to her the whole way back to my car, with her saying, “I’ll come get you! Stay there!” Oh hell no, I’m tracking my ass back out of here right now. I had to walk about 150 yards on this tight, windy two-lane road, stepping out of the way of cars, so I crossed to the far side opposite of the heavy traffic going out. We talked until I was safely in my locked car and on my way home. She then ordered me to call the cops and report the creepy creep. I did so. They took a suspicious person / suspicious activity report and sent out a patrol to check it out, I guess.
My husband and I drove up to the house at the same time. I was practically in tears as the adrenaline escaped and I retold the whole story of my “almost hike”. And then, well, I was mad, really, really mad. I’ve agreed with my husband and my friend that hiking alone sans my very large and intimidating Weimeraner won’t happen again. I’ll pick partners to hike with. Safety first. I know. That creep stole my hike, though. That asshat jerked my freedom right out of my day. He took my independence and my confidence. Maybe I’m lucky, what if there’d been another dude around the bend waiting. Maybe it was a wake up call. I’m awake, dammit. And I’m pissed!
So often, I find myself smacking these keys when I’m feeling feisty. Sometimes, I mean feisty in a bad way. I write when I’m frustrated, mad at myself, mad at the world, or just feeling tired of the battle. Today, I’m definitely feisty, but it’s all good! It’s sunny, 60 degrees and beautiful! I’m not mad! I lost a pound, I gained a pound of muscle, lost an inch or two and all that Monkey business. In total, I’m 30 something pounds lighter than I was last June. I feel pretty, and happy. I’m not there yet. That’s what this blog’s about, and so much of the time it’s a struggle. Today though, good is good.
Recently, I’ve kicked up my volunteerism a notch. I’ve joined a group called Impact Austin, a group of philanthropic women who give 5 very large grants to non-profits every year. I’ve accepted a position on a Board of Directors for a charity that serves kids and suddenly, I’m so happy! I’m busy as all get out, but it feels so good to do good. It always does, but man, when you hit your forties (or at least when I hit my 40s) I started to question what kind of differences I was making in the world. My day job is business development. I am paid to build relationships and so it’s kinda perfect for me. It’s natural and easy, and luckily for me, genuine. However, am I changing the world? Am I making a difference? Okay, okay, I know that yes, I definitely make a difference to the people I work with and the clients I call on. I’ll never forget the “I love to see you walk in our door. You are always such a ray of sunshine!” compliment thrown my way one day as I walked in and had a good laugh with a client. Those moments are gifts, but really, I can’t see that the world is a hugely different place because my clients saw my sunshiney face that day.
This other stuff though, it has made me feel so fulfilled, energetic and worthwhile. I feel like I’ve grown into my own, quite suddenly. My life has taken on a sense of purpose that seems slightly different, slightly more elevated, slightly more, well, better. Good. Life is good.
It is with great thrillage that I announce that I’ve been featured on another blogger’s blog. She asked for submissions on love for the month of February, and I couldn’t resist the writing prompt. Heaven knows I LOVE so many people, and so many ideas, and so many creatures that it was very difficult to decide what to write. I had recently taken a selfie because a friend had knitted me a really cool neck warmer thingy. I was so excited that I immediately put it on and sent her a snap. When I looked at the photo, I grinned at myself. “I must laugh a lot,” I mused. And then, I was so happy that thought popped into my head. Wow! Laugh lines! Those are the best kind of wrinkles!
The incessant barking, after two hours of laying there smoldering, finally made me ginger snap. My red head was tingling with sleep deprived, and how-rude-is-this(?) rage.The next door neighbor’s 3, or is it 4, dogs were absolutely yapping their heads off. It was about 9pm so I didn’t tried not to let it bother me. By the time I climbed in bed around 10:15 or so, they were still at it. “She’ll put them in soon, I’m sure,” thought I, without much confidence. At 12:45 a.m. I’d had it! Our bedroom window is at the back corner of the house. Her dogs are maybe 20 feet away, and absolutely going ape dinky.
Hubs was dropping in and out, I could tell by his nose music. (sorry hun) When I finally snapped, I uttered some colorful words and stomped to my closet. I put on something and marched out the front door, afraid I’d set my own dogs to barking in their bedroom (laundry room, we just call it their room so they’ll feel special), but I was steaming! I stomped over there, it was cold that night, my way lighted by her random hodgepodge of Christmas lights (still up AND on) and every light streaming from every window, including the garage. I knocked on the door (it’s got glass in it, so you can kinda see inside). Nothing. I knocked harder. Waited. Nothing. I heard some rattling and her dogs making such a huge racket outside that I thought about opening the gate and chasing them away down the street. Sigh. I love dogs, and would never do that. I rang the bell. Nothing. I double, then triple-rang the bell. I could hear it. Why the hell couldn’t she? EVERY light was on, and candles were burning on the mantle. Then finally, I saw her coming from the direction of her kitchen. She peeked out. I, leaning against the wall, arms crossed to control my shivering, bed head, BIG frown, waited. She tried to open the door. Obviously it was locked with a key. She walked away, I considered banging, kicking and yelling, but waited just to see. Sure enough, she came back and opened. “Can you please bring your dogs inside?” I utter because that’s all I trust myself to say. “Oh, sorry, yes. I’m feeding them, that’s why they’re going nuts.” Uh, what? I turned and walked away, befuddled and annoyed. They’ve been doing this for the last 4 or 5 hours.
You can probably tell that this is NOT the first time we’ve had issues with that neighbor. I’ve stood in my back yard at 3:30 in the morning, in my underwear, yelling at the top of my lungs over the privacy fence (jokeville, what privacy?), “Hey! Neighbors!!! Hey! Hellllloooooo! HEY!” trying to get their attention during a rowdy-ass party on their back porch just feet away from my bed, to no avail by the way. I’ve never called the cops, but I was tempted the most recent dog night. We both had a full day of work the next day, and our son had to be at soccer practice at 6:30a.m. for goodness sake. She took the dogs in, but the adrenaline from the encounter, and the 2 hour work up time meant that I couldn’t sleep for an other couple of hours. A comfortable confronter, I am not. I am killing these keys typing hard, again, I’m all worked up about it. Sigh.
Life’s too short. The next evening started much the same. We came home from dinner about 8pm.
Her dogs were going nut-balls. We could hear them in every part of our house. Tonight, even my hubs was annoyed. “Just call the cops tonight, you gave her a shout last night” he said. “Why Always Me?” I asked, quoting my most un-favorite Liverpool player, Mario Balotelli. I chuckled at my wit.
They finally stopped about 10pm, but not before I started searching for noise machine apps. I found one called “White Noise.” I bought it and started playing all the sounds, of which there are many, and many of which I find baffling (at least for sleeping). There are all manner of rain and rain storms, but the crashing thunder would jolt me awake like it does in real life. How about the boat swaying? Imagine waves lapping against the side of a wooden boat, then the creaking noise it makes as it rolls side to side. Sounds like a door on a rusty hinge from a horror movie… uh NO. How ’bout water dripping? Seriously, like the old form of torture. Water dripping. And dripping. Plop plop plop. What? Campfire noise. Yes, a fire sound. Can you imagine waking in the middle of the night to a crackling fire noise? Grandfather clock is the tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. Please, just stop it! Then there’s the more benign ones like heart beat, Tibetan Singing Bowl, but still, Cars Driving, Airplane Travel, Dish Washer, Hair Dryer, Vacuum Cleaner, Chimes, Clothes Dryer, Frogs At Night and even Cat Purring.
There’s a wee section of color sounds. Color sounds? You may choose from White, Brown, Pink, Blue and Violet. They all have different tones, and over tones. I like the Brown sound. I hate the name of my “white noise” though. Really? Brown? There are plenty of pretty colors they hadn’t used yet. Why not Perwinkle, or Green? Yellow, Red, Black? Ginger?? Why brown? It just brings up ugly connotations. I’m sleeping like a baby though. Let me say, it sits on my night stand, and sounds like a constant fan blowing very quietly. It’s really almost imperceptible. The first night I had it turned up too loud and every time I rolled over, I thought, “What’s that?” Now, that I’ve dialed in my volume, it’s working like a charm. I don’t really think it would keep the yapping out, but for some reason, I’m sleeping better than I have in a very long time. A good thing came from a bad neighbor. Hey, and sleep is supposed to help you lose weight, right? Bonus!
I’m a smooth sleeper. I’m down with the brown sound. Yeah.