It’s alright.

I have spent most of my life avoiding.

Conflict, reality, knowledge, pain.

I didn’t know I was doing that.

I know it now.

The past two years of my life have been one big lesson. A painful lesson.

It’s the most important lesson I have ever learned.

Now, don’t get me wrong. At 42 I am pretty convinced I know nothing, about anything.

That’s the cool part about aging…the acceptance of your complete stupidity.

I know nothing. I am ok with that.

But here is what my life has taught me lately.

There are things that will happen to you in life that are painful. They suck. Life’s circumstances often suck. It is what it is. You can certainly try to avoid suckiness but once it gets you…you just have to deal with it.

And here is where I run into trouble. Dealing with it.

I don’t wanna.

So I don’t.

I avoid dealing by drinking too much.

OR in some periods of life, by smoking pot.

I have struggled with depression and anxiety all my life.

Ping ponging between the two.

I started reading buddhist philosophy years ago as a means of learning to control my thoughts…my obsessive thinking.  I figured if I could just learn to control my thinking, I could be happier…more content. If I could control my thinking, I wouldn’t mull over the past…leading to depression. If I could control my thinking, I wouldn’t worry about the future so much, leading to anxiety.

It didn’t work. I did not learn to control my thinking.

I read some cool books. But my thinking remains a problem.

So recently, I decided to stop seeing it as a problem.

Similar to meditation, when your mind wonders and you simply say to yourself,

“wandering”.

I am giving myself permission to think about the things my mind wants to think about.

I am not obsessing over it…getting angry at my thoughts…frustrated…or trying to numb my thoughts with some substance.

Instead I am just accepting my need to think things through.

Last week, I had a few days of sadness. Normally, my desire to fight the feelings would have brought me into a full blown depression. Instead, I just let myself feel sad. I let myself think about the things that were making me sad.

I cried. Often. Soft cleansing tears.

I gave myself permission to feel it all.

I did respectfully say to myself, “that’s not really helpful…that’s not true.” Whenever I had particularly negative thoughts.

But mostly I just waded through the emotions. I told myself it was alright.

To feel.

And I feel better again now. It’s good.

I was thinking about this today. How I had been through a tough few days and avoided slipping down the “rabbit hole”…what I have always called my depression. How I had avoided the rabbit hole by doing exactly the opposite of what I normally would have done. I was feeling kind of content and peaceful and the perfect song came on the radio at that moment. I love it when that happens. Here’s the song:

 

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What kind of friend are you?

When I was in college I had a friend.

For protection of anononmity, we shall call her Jane.

Jane was a good girl. She didn’t drink much or smoke or do drugs. She could always be depended on to drive the rest of us drunk ass fools home…if she stayed long enough…which she often didn’t. Cause she was tired and needed her beauty sleep. She didn’t like to stay up late because she liked to get up early and have some quiet reflection time.

I am not making this shit up. Only the ridiculous name Jane.

(I am sorry if your name is Jane)

(I’m not, I am not sorry)

Then Jane met…um…fuck it, this guy was a total jerk so I am gonna name him. His name is Kevin.

Kevin, if you are out there, I still hate you. Stupid Jerk.

Kevin was full of himself. Ginormous ego. All the girls wanted him and it fed him, the wanting. He was a charmer. He could get women to do all sorts of bat shit crazy stuff for him. Not me, he made me throw up in my mouth a little when he poured the charm on me. But most women wanted this guy. It made no sense.

But given my recent relationship history, maybe it does. Anyway, I digress.

So Jane fell in love with Asshole Kevin. To save time, I am just gonna call Kevin asshole from here on out.

You know what happened. Asshole cheated, lied, stole, transmitted herpes…all the things an asshole does to the sweet Christian girl who liked to get up early for quiet reflection time.

Everyone sat back and watched it happen and braced themselves for the fall out. Maybe they mentioned a little concern here and there to Jane but mostly they all just sat back and let it happen. Let Asshole ruin Jane’s life and didn’t say a word.

Except for me. I spoke up. Cause I have a huge mouth and I gave a damn about Jane and didn’t want to see her get her heart broken or…I don’t know…get herpes or whatever.

And she hated me for it. She stopped being my friend.

That was that.

We stayed friendly, we still are…20 some odd years later. I am the only the one who questioned her judgement and told her not to do it, warned her that she was stepping onto a very dangerous path. I said the words, “that guy is an asshole, don’t do it.”

And she did it anyway and I lost out.

I wonder about it. If that’s what a true friend does…sits back and waits for the fallout? Do you speak up and say, “what the hell are you thinking, honey? Pause…take a deep breath, love is making you crazy…” or do you remain silent?

I am watching, as an outsider, another sequence of questionable events take place right now. I am not involved. It’s certainly not my place to say anything. But I wonder why someone closer to the two people (neither of which are assholes, as far as I can tell) dive too fast into a potential tragedy for one or both of them…why no one is saying a word to them.

What kind of friend doesn’t say something? Come on, now…you are all saying it to each other. Why not say it directly to them? Why?

I did some crazy love induced bad decision making about a year ago. I think back now and try to remember who told me to slow down. Yep, there were some warnings. They were gentle but they were there. Slow down. Take your time. No need to make any grand decisions right now.

My brother got aggressive about it. Told me I was ruining my life. But his advice was filled with anger and self interest. I didn’t hear him at all. in fact I hated him for it. I still hate him for it a little bit. No, a lot. But not for saying something…for how he said it. The way he said it. For calling me stupid. For doubting the purity of my heart.

So maybe that’s the key. Saying it carefully and filling your words with love and care. Not anger and judgement.

Because love makes you act crazy, make bad decisions. Love starts you on fire and the flames affect your thinking.

Stupid love.

So I think a true friend has to say something. They have to say it. And they should say it with love and expect it to fall on deaf ears. Ears filled with love crazy. And then they should wait around for the moment when they have to help pick up the shattered broken pieces of their dear friend up off the floor and help them through the heartbreak part.

And when that moment comes, and sometimes it doesn’t…like the one in five million times when people commit too fast without knowing each other well enough…they are not allowed to ever say the words…

I tried to tell you but you wouldn’t listen.

Nope.

A true friend never says that.

That much I know for sure.

Be brave, dance.

I seriously love dancing.

I love music. It fills me, moves me, and makes me want to dance.

I went and watched my son in his Jazz band the other day. He has the dancing gene too. When he wasn’t playing his instrument, he was dancing. Just a little…I mean he is 13…so he’s going to be sly with his shaking leg sort of dancing…but he wanted to dance with his entire soul. It made me happy to see. He gets that from me. His bad temper, his moodiness, his passionate emotions, and his LOVE of all things dancing!

Because dancing, the desire to dance, the unavoidable inability to not dance when dance music comes on (and almost any music can be dancing music) turns on…it’s a gift that can carry you far.

I am working downtown now. My workday ends at 5PM. I get in my car and I sit. And sit. And sit. I look around me as I sit in traffic and I see people texting, tweeting or face booking or thinking or looking super grouchy and annoyed or bored or sad.

But I turn up the volume on the cheesiest music I can find on my satellite radio and I dance my ass off the whole 45 minute drive home. AS much dancing as can be done in a car while sitting. The weather was nice today and I opened the windows and the sounds of the First Wave station blasted from my car…Frankie Goes to Hollywood…then over to the top 40 station for a little Katy Perry ROAR…then off to the VINYL station for some serious Rock-n-roll VAN HALEN…I love my drive home. I know I should curse my drive home. But I can’t. It’s my dance time. I cherish it.

Yeah, I am tired. I wanna get home…make dinner…kiss my kids…but those 45 minutes of dancing in my car are fantastic.

When people look at me strangely, I look back and encourage them to dance too.

I suggest that highways create a station that you can tune to, similar to a traffic information station but this station would be all dance hits. That way all the tired post work drivers could tune into the same station and dance together….all the way home. I seriously think this is a good idea and I am going to write my congressman. Or whatever government official who handles dance request. Oh crap, the government shut down tonight. Well, maybe when it reopens.

Imagine the reduction of road rage on freeways filled with dancing businessmen? It would be amazing.

I was thinking about this idea when I remembered this video: It’s pretty perfect. The joy of dancing. The freedom of dancing. Letting your body move to music. Whatever body you have, wherever you find yourself.

Thank you SARA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4

Now, go dance people. Seriously, it’s so good for the tired soul.

See you on the highway. I will be the crazy lady dancing down 281.

PS: I am not a good dancer. I am not a trained dancer. You may laugh at my moves and I am completely ok with that.