A quivering vulnerable mess

Several weeks ago I wrote a post that I thought long and hard about publishing.  It was about the difficulties I was unexpectedly having with a transition I’d made quite a while ago.  The reason I hesitated to publish it was I laid myself pretty bare, exposing a vulnerable side I usually lock away in a deep dark secret place where no one can see it.  I sat on the post for quite a while wondering what to do.  That of itself is unusual because once I write something, I’m pretty sure about what I’ve written.  I just proofread it, miss all the spelling, punctuation and syntax errors, hit publish and never think about it again.  Until someone points out all the spelling, punctuation and syntax errors.

This time was different.  I was really shaken by the whole insurance thing and the anxiety it had brought on me.  I didn’t know if I wanted to let the world know how I’d been affected.  But once I stopped making it all about me and how I felt (never any easy thing to do because deep in my recesses I think it should always be about me) I realized that I may not be the only one going through an experience like mine.  There might be others out  there who were feeling the same way I did and having the same anxieties.

So I hit publish.  And waited nervously for my 4 readers to comment on what they saw.  A wonderful thing happened, I got only encouragement and support for the post.   It was very heartwarming to say the least.  I’m glad I took a chance and shined (wrong tense I know…shined?, showned, sheened?) a little light on the quivering mass of fear that is my vulnerability.  People can be pretty wonderful if you just let them.


45000 Personal Bests

This morning I hung out with 45000 folks.  It was a lovely way to start a Sunday morning at 730am.  You see today was the annual Chicago Marathon.  The course, as it winds it’s way through the city, usually runs somewhere in the vicinity of my house.  I can remember one year it went right by Wrigley Field.  It was really cold that year, I was wearing my Columbia jacket with the lining zipped in.  I rode my bike down with my dog Lily and we arrived in time to see the elite runners.  They are amazing to watch.  You can’t hear them as their feet barely make contact with the earth as they fly by.  It was incredible.

This year, the weather was much warmer, although not as hot as the year they had to stop the race.  The humidity was really high that year and the organizers didn’t have enough water out for folks.  This year it was dryer and there was plenty of H2O for the runners.  We learn lessons really well in Chicago.  Like how snow removal, or lack thereof, will ensure you don’t get re-elected the next time (see How Jane Byrne Became Mayor in Wikipedia).  So the organizers were very ready for conditions this year.

I had a special reason to get to the course.  My friend Stephanie was running in her hometown and for a wonderful charity (PAWS – Pets Are Worth Saving).  I donated to her fund as did others and she wonderfully dedicated each mile to a furry friend she’d known throughout the years.  My dear departed Lily was mile 8 which is where I was standing.  A nice bit of serendipity wouldn’t you say?

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to spot her.  After all, there were 45000 people running, how on earth would I be able to pick her out of the crowd?  And since I was still pretty near the front, there were coming in big groups as the crowds hadn’t had time to thin out.  I kept my eyes peeled all morning long.  But in the midst of all this pressure, I was cheering on whomever came into my eyeline.  Lots of runners put their names on their shirts so I was calling out to random people urging them on.  Lots of thank you’s came back.  The sheer magnitude of what they were undertaking was overwhelming.  I was blaming it on the sunscreen getting in my eyes, but I found myself tearing up thinking about their quest.  It was humbling to see all those people from all over the world running for themselves and any number of charitable causes.

Finally I hear my name being called out and look to see Stephanie with the biggest, most beautiful smile on her face waving at me.  I was so excited for her I started whooping it up, bad for the voice but oh-so-necessary for the accomplishment!  She finished with her personal best even with the hot conditions.  I’m so proud of her, proud of all those who even signed up to attempt such a goal.  They stuck their necks out and just showing up that morning was a win for them.  Kudos to all.

Makes me think…nah.  That’s just crazytalk.

Picking Up Where We Left Off

Recently I got to visit a dear friend of mine.  She used to live very close to me and when she wasn’t travelling we did a lot of fun things together.  She’s a fabulous connector and one of her greatest strengths is when she meets you, she remembers you and important details about you.  And she really does this in a very sincere way.  I’ve learned a lot from just being around her and how she interacts with others.

Sadly several years ago she moved back east and we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to.  We talk about once a week or so but it’s not the same.  So when we get the chance to get together, it’s really a treat for me.  This is the third time this year we’ve been able to be in the same room, which I think is the most since she’s lived here.  My flight got in pretty early on a Saturday and since her boyfriend was playing golf that day, we had several hours of uninterrupted time together.  And it was just like I’d seen her yesterday.  Only we didn’t pause to take a breath for about 3 hours!  Once we got caught up on the personal stuff we had lots of current events and political topics to microscopically examine.  We have pretty similar beliefs and philosophies so it’s like hearing yourself talk sometimes.  And when we disagree, it’s always done in an informed respectful way.  Which is so wonderful and sadly not always easy to find these days.  My Mom really gets a kick out of listening to us talk to each other, I don’t see it but she thinks it’s funny.

The bestest thing about this relationship is how non-judgmental, how supportive and how loving it is.  We truly pick up right where we left off with no recriminations if it’s been several weeks or someone forgot to call back or couldn’t talk earlier.  Friendships like that are absolutely golden.  Not all of my relationships have been this way and when I started to find friends who were, it really cast a harsh light on relationships that might have been more toxic than not.  I let those people move on without me and I’m ok with having done that.  Having fewer but really awesome people in your life is more important to me than having lots of not-so-great acquaintances cluttering up the space.

Slow as molasses

When you are single and living in a big city with no immediate family around, you surround yourself with friends who become your support system.  They become your emergency contacts, your rides to the airport, your go-tos when something breaks down.  I was a go-to recently for a friend who’d had a pipe freeze over the winter, which then proceeded to burst as she was leaving town on business.  Nice.  Try finding a reputable plumber from several time zones away.  She finally did and got the leak fixed but then had to deal with repairing the lovely hammered holes the first of 3 guys had made.  This is where I come in.  I met the drywaller at the house late one morning after talking to him on the phone confirming the time.  He assured me it would only take an hour to do the first part of it but he would have to come back to put the second coat of joint compound and paint the wall.  3 hours later he was still on first part of this process and I was panicking about being away from my office for so long.  My friend, on yet another business trip, was furious at how long this was taking out of my day.  Hey, I’ve done plenty of construction.  I remember thinking something was going to be an hour job and it took me all weekend long to complete.  But this guy supposedly does this for a living.  And don’t the home improvement shows get it all done in a ½ an hour?

Therein lies the rub.  First of all, I believed the guy when he gave me the time estimate.  I should know better.  Secondly, I realized I totally bought into the magic of the DIY shows that move heaven and earth in 24, sometimes 51, minutes.  Stuff needs to dry, measurements take time if done right, surprises happen.  Things that no amount of planning can anticipate.

Hmmm.  Now what does this sound like?  Seems like I’ve been running my career on the TV DIY schedule.  Expecting it all to happen instantaneously.  Getting not just ticked off but downright depressed when it didn’t.  You know, my Mom makes an incredible spaghetti sauce that simmers and bubbles on the stove all day long.  My Dad used to snitch out of it endlessly, leaving a trail of sauce all over the countertop.  A high compliment indeed.  I think I’ll have a career like her gravy instead of the Ragu career I’ve been expecting.

Getting out of bed

The other night I did something I haven’t done since my college days.  After a long day of working on a film, I’d fallen asleep on the couch around 830pm.  Pretty much a rockin Saturday night in my household.  I flipped off the TV around 9 and put the pjs on, turning in for the night.  The phone rang about 45 minutes later and it was a dear friend of mine who was joining another friend and her new boyfriend at a local watering hole.  She was so apologetic about waking me up but wanted me to join them.  I said no but offered a parking pass for my street so they could park without getting a ticket.  She stopped by a few minutes later to pick it up and it was then, standing at my front door in my pj’s, that I changed my mind and told her I’d be over in a few minutes.  I surprised even myself in my flip-flop.  As I was getting re-dressed and dragging a comb through my hair, I thought about why I was doing this.  I hadn’t been in town and available in 5 weekends, I hadn’t gone out for fun in forever and these particular friends were very supportive of me and dear to my heart.  Besides I had to check out this new beau.

I chuckled to myself as I walked the 2 blocks to the pub realizing I hadn’t done this since college.   I guess hanging out with the college kids recently rubbed off in ways I hadn’t expected.  2 hours later, having listened to some wonderful live music, drunk a cocktail or two and caught up with the girls, my decision to get out of bed and join my friends didn’t seem so crazy after all.  I had a wonderful time and fed a part of my soul that had been neglected of late.  Oh and the new boyfriend?  He’s a keeper.  I’m thrilled for my friend and at bit hopeful for me.

Lean on me

My iPod contains over 3500 songs on it.  I purchased my iPod used inheriting the music already on there.  I’ve also added quite a bit of music on my own. I usually listen to podcasts when I am running, multitasking as always.  Lately I’ve started listening to music.  And not to pre-planned playlists.  I’m playing the list alphabetically, never really knowing what I will hear next.  The juxtaposition the songs afford makes me laugh sometimes.  This morning it was Beyonce/JayZ followed by My Fair Lady.  And yes, I’m usually singing along louder than I realize, as evidenced by the looks I get.

Then the classic Bill Withers song, Lean On Me, with it’s opening organ chords came on.  I was immediately transported back to my teenage years, Summertime at the swimming pool, golden couple Crash and Susie and all the really cool kids hanging about.  The radio blaring much to the disdain of the golfers teeing off on the first tee just yards away.   I’m always amazed when music takes me back.  It was like it was yesterday.

This time though I listened, really listened to the lyrics.  And they blew me away.  I’ve gone through some very challenging times recently both personally and professionally.  There were moments it seemed as if I wouldn’t endure them.  Most times I felt really alone and scared.  Still do every once in a while. Especially the scared part. Hearing those lyrics made me realize I had some amazing friends and support that I’d been leaning on pretty heavily.   I’m not good at asking for help, fairly sure my tombstone will read “I’m fine”, even worse at admitting I need help and accepting it when offered.  Swallowing my pride isn’t on my list of skills.  This time around though, I’ve been leaning on whomever will let me.  I realize the lyrics could be referencing a friend, family member, God.  Who knows?  But the fourth time I’d replayed it this morning, the first verse really stuck with me –And if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow. I’ll get to tomorrow, safe in the knowledge I’m not alone.

Oh and the song that followed?  It was also by Bill Withers and was called Use Me.  But that’s an entirely different type of post for another day!