Do Something Everyday That Scares You

At the start of 2015 (February to be precise, the scariest month of every year), I purchased this book/diary. I brought it with me every where, and one day my boss spied it sitting out on my desk.

“So, have you gone skydiving yet?” He asked with a sly grin.

No, I thought… BUT, I have joined three different Meetup groups in Seattle; gone to a movie, and a play, and a festival BY MYSELF; and have tried octopus sushi… all within two months. I’ve also freely complimented my servers and fellow bus riders AND followed-through on 4/5 of my social commitments.

As of this nanosecond, I’ve also committed to posting a blog once a week (yes, I know everything’s been said, but it hasn’t been said by me); planned a trip to Ireland, and accepted an invitation to join a new professional organization.

OK, so this blog post is really about two weeks late… but it’s still published.

Bring me giants!

It has been proven by science that we do not give ourselves enough credit for the things we do. At least Megan-science (aka years of observation). I know some quantifiable-extraordinary people: two rocket scientists, a world-traveler, at least six software geniuses, and a plethora of brilliant artists.

I also know a 70-year-old woman who is determined to go to the gym for 15 minutes twice a week; people with chronic depression who tell the funniest stories; and a man who makes me smile every time I see him by being kind to friends and strangers alike.

They’re all my heroes.

But doubt is a powerful foe, and in spite of their achievements, my knights-in-shining-armor often let slip that they’ve lost their sheen. They fear that they’re not good enough, or not doing enough with their lives, or have missed out on something they should have been doing. They forget that between them they’ve: written a novel; moved across the country to pursue a new and better life; produced their own plays; conquered a heroin addiction; found love again; and rolled out of bed every morning to participate in the daily grind of humanity.

Doing something scary does not mean jumping out of a plane; it means sending a text to someone you haven’t seen in four years, or driving to the other side of town. It means putting a toe (maybe even two!) outside of your comfort zone and embracing the consequences. It’s an exploration of the mysterious continent: yourself.

We, and I most definitely include myself in this summation, should consider that we do not know everything, especially not how our actions affect others or how much we mean to them. And, quite frankly, we may never know … but if we can believe in ourselves, we’ll find the courage to not only skip over the molehills, but to conquer the mountains.

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Problematic People

And why you never want to stoop to their level.

People suck. Well, some suck more than others. And some have suckiness thrust upon them… usually by parents who spoil them rotten. The point is, there is always going to be someone out there who annoys the piss out of you.

Take S, a certain acquaintance who is outstandingly narcissistic and parasitic. S uses people I care about, draining them of their energies to the point where I’ve seen them neglect their own needs. is clingy. Suffocating. S is the bane of my existence.

Back in the day, after a certain amount of time spent dealing with S and feeling like the situation was only growing more intolerable, I decided enough was enough! No more Miss-Nice-Guy; I’d beat S at their own game. I’d be the one getting what I wanted all the time… damn the consequences. I started manipulating my friends, I made snide remarks behind S’ back, and I started to clandestinely exclude S from social get-togethers.  I was finally going to make myself feel better by treating S exactly as was warranted.

It worked great! … So great that I ended up alienating my friends and being viewed for a time as a cold-hearted she-dog. For all I know, there are still some who view me as such… and really, there is no one to blame for that but myself.

Oh sure, I could make excuses about immaturity and bad advice solicited from others, but to do so would be self-deceiving. In short, because I took the low road (even though I mistakenly believed I had the moral high ground), I wound up becoming someone I didn’t like and… surprise! Not many other people liked the new me either.

Thankfully, I did manage to salvage my self-respect and restore my good name, but only after leaving the S debacle alone. Full stop. At the time it felt like “giving up.” Now I realize it was sanity.

Did I ever make peace with what I had done? I’m attempting to, chiefly by writing this blog post.

People like S will always be in my life. Whether within my own family, my workplace, or other activities in which I participate. However, being the sadder, but wiser, girl I am, I now recognize that the best  course of action is to simply walk away from these people and not let petty grievances drag me down. And, if I find myself in a position where I can’t leave, clapping my hands over my ears and singing lalala  is a feasible Plan B.

Unbecoming behavior from one whom we expect to be unbecoming is, for better or worse, acceptable. Unbecoming behavior from one whom people respect and admire is shocking, if not horrifying, to behold.

If, however, some sort of confrontation does become necessary between you and your S, be direct. As a communications professional, I can tell you that “I statements” do work much better than “you-centric” finger wagging. Keep calm; don’t let your voice rise with your temper. Above all, don’t knock yourself out while knocking your head against a brick wall…. if you’re not getting through, there may come a time when you simply have to grin (with clenched teeth) and bare it. Ah, adulthood.

That said, here is today’s parting metaphor: a gnat in the ear is not worth a stinging cheek when you strike yourself while trying to rid yourself of a pest.

This Above All…

To thine own self be true.

Platypus Meggie | “Odd duck” is understatement | Still she is Happy

Recently I had a discussion with my mentor about pursuing the things that make us happy… simply because they make us happy.

Isn’t it strange, I mused, how the things that make us naturally happy as children: eating tasty food, running around like ninnies, dancing and singing with abandon, blowing bubbles, etc. are frowned upon when we are adults?

Judgement (and the fear of being judged) hangs over our balding heads:

Enjoying that brownie? You’ll regret it.

Want to get out and do something? Good for you! Staying fit will keep you from getting fat… (um, actually, I just wanted to go for a walk because)…. FAT AND LAZY! AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

Dance down the aisles of the grocery store to the music playing overhead? Sing while strolling down the street? Is there something wrong with you? What a strange person.

It seems to me that as we get older, and in theory are therefore supposed to become masters of our own universes, the less agency we truly have. We spend so much time worrying about what others think of what we do and what we say, that we risk shutting down entirely; going through our lives with the same tight-lipped, slightly disdainful expression of shopfront mannequins.

This anxiety is not without cause, mind you. I know the pressures of too many bills; student loan and credit card debt; annual rent increases; bad (and I mean BAD) genes that may strike me down in middle-age; not enough time in the day to be a functioning, social human being; concern over the welfare of my loved ones… and those are just my personal woes. There is, of course, the threat of war, melting polar icecaps, some future epidemic that wipes out 90% of the population and renders the survivors nearly feral for the first quarter century…

Whew! Hand me that blanket; I’m going to sleep for the next 100 years.

However, in spite of the sturm und drang of… existing… if you live as the person you are, you’ll be happier.

I know, I know. This sounds super trite. I’m not advocating that you quit your job to write the next Great American Novel. Instead, if you can make the commitment to yourself to write for thirty minutes every day… you’ll be better for it. Don’t do something because it’s expected of you, do it because it is what you want to do.

It’s taken me nearly three decades, and the loss of some truly incredible people, to realize that embracing ALL of who I am (slightly-OCD, lover of terrible puns and lame jokes, no-nonsense introvert, compassionate friend, musical theatre nerd, childish, self-centered brat, mature, thoughtful human being), brings me joy; even on those days when I hate what I’ve done or how I look in the mirror. Remembering and cherishing the crazy platypus that I am allows me to step back, take a deep breath, and go sing something. And I feel better.

As I expressed to my Maestra, there is a reason we describe the things we love to do as “emotional outlets.” When you plug into an outlet, you generate power; power that can light a room or an entire city block… so shouldn’t we plug into our outlets as often as we can? Even just for a quick “charge?” It’s clean, renewable energy!

No effort is wasted. Wild yeasts in the bakery make the best sourdough bread… but an empty oven will stand cold and rust and produce nothing nourishing.

Bake your bread. Blow those bubbles. Fly those “freak” flags. Be your own platypus.

Dear Friend

I’ve been thinking of the transient nature of life. Almost since I was born, I have moved every four or so years. When people ask me “where I’m from” or what my “hometown” is, I laugh. And then, after apologizing for giggling, I take a deep breath and start ticking off the locations on my fingers: Born in Washington, moved to Texas, than Cheyenne Wyoming, then Maryland, college in California, and back up to Washington. “I guess I’ve come full circle,” I chuckle, even as I wonder when the circle will break and I’ll find myself elsewhere.

The longer I stay in one place, however, the closer I am to finding “home,” because the people I encounter during this time become very special friends.  These friends are special not because they are superior to others, but because they inevitably see more of my life and who I am.

These friendships start with shared interests (theatre, choir, school, career), which then extend into shared sympathies and humors. As time passes, I inevitably grow to have an understanding with these friends; an understanding of what is said in silence; an understanding of the words beneath the words; and an understanding of their hopes and fears… past, present, and future.

And it seems strange, at times, to realize that some of these friends of whom I am thinking, are people whom I rarely engage in conversation anymore, or even see.

I suppose the nature of adulthood is that we leave things behind. The myth of adulthood is that we ever do. When someone has truly touched your heart, in any way, it lingers; like a spray of water upon your skin, even after you’ve wiped it away.

We don’t shed people and places, we carry them with us; wrapping ourselves up in a quilt of memories; each thread a link to what was, each square a fragment of recollection. These memories are imperfect, idealized, but they comfort us, and strengthen us, so we cherish them, even when they start getting a bit tattered around the edges.

It never ceases to amaze me how powerful these connections are, and how some friendships continue to endure in spite of neglect. These people re-enter our lives in “very unusual ways” : an unsolicited letter of love when we are feeling utterly alone; spending time with someone after five years apart, and feeling like it was just yesterday that you said “see ya’ around”; the voice in your head, which offers counsel during times of trouble, taking on the tones of a childhood companion.

Instances like these make me reflect that although life is transient, and I myself am never destined to remain in one place for very long, everywhere I go is home so long as a friend is there.