Ant Mansion

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Yesterday, my boys and I drove to a park nearby known not so much for its playground, but for its giant sand box also known as sand volleyball courts. On a sunny day, you can sit there and pretend you’re on a beach. In Kansas. The trees somewhat camouflage the traffic whizzing by. The sounds of traffic don’t quite have the same effect as the relaxing sound of waves breaking on the shore but the water fountains and bathrooms work. Park creds for sure. My boys happily played and created “sand soups” and buried Superman and Spiderman action figures in buckets. I brought a real paperback book, instead of using the kindle app. I took off my shoes and plopped down into the sand. I touched the novel’s pages, felt the sun on my neck and pretended we were on vacation. I occasionally needed to intervene in my boys’ play. Mainly to encourage my older boys to use a nicer, less demanding tone when asking their little brother to repeatedly haul tiny cups of water from the distant water fountain back to the sand pit to add to their gloppy sand creations. His proud and enthusiastic little brother self loved having a crucial role in the sand-building assembly line.  At one point, sand started flying everywhere. Some landed on me and traveled down my shirt. The perks of a front row seat. “Guys. No throwing sand.” I said, rather calmly. After all, we were at the beach on vacation, in my mind. Laid-back mode. I think my littlest boy had grown a little tired of the endless water trafficking and wanted to prove that he had other marketable sand skills, in hopes of a promotion. His older brother managers didn’t seem to notice. Typical. I brushed the sand out from underneath my shirt and put my nose back into my book.

All of the sudden, I started to get all kinds of itchy, especially on my back. My new book had just started to get really good. I lazily didn’t want to set it down to do the aggressive sand shaking and brushing off that I needed to do. I shrugged it off, looked up at my boys and then continued reading. Or tried to. Very shortly after, I realized something was biting me. A lot of somethings actually. Ouch. My back. My butt. Everywhere! The sand had come to life underneath my clothes. I looked down. I was sitting on top of a freaking ant mansion. And the hundreds of investors/homeowners/builders were pissed. Alarm sounding. I could just imagine them all screaming at me, “HEY! YOU! Big Woman!! Get off! GET. OFF. GET OFF OF OUR HOUSE!” I jumped up and frantically started shaking, slapping myself, trying to get the ants off of me. I attempted to do this as nonchalantly as possible. I didn’t want the guys playing sand volleyball on the court next to us to think I was cheering for them. What a giant jerk. Invading the ant’s territory, not noticing their elaborate house, errr, mansion and just plopping down. Right on top of it. Serves me right. As much as I despise the ants crawling around my kitchen window, shuffling in and out stealing my crumbs, I felt sorry for these park ants that I had unknowingly disregarded. And unintentionally invaded. This was their home court. Not mine.

On the drive home from the park, I started thinking about how powerful those tiny ants were. They had quite the impact on me. They left a trail of splotchy pink reminders of their attack on my back. They teamed up. Reacted. Fought against a giant human being. And won. Their noble efforts proved victorious. I moved. Relocated my self. You can rest assured that I looked down before establishing residency further east in the sand pit. A bunch of little bitty ants swayed this gigantic bookworm mama.

I started thinking about an ant analogy. With my body still itching from the sand maybe or ants lost in the battle. Or still fighting. There are so many times that we, as humans, are going up against giants. Giants that may have invaded our space. Our thoughts. Our beliefs. Our whole existence. I learned today in a painful, yet memorable way, that little tiny ants can have an enormous impact. When they work together. When they’re invested, united and willing to fight, their little bodies hold the potential and tiny, yet mighty power to move a giant. Against all odds. I think if the ants represent our thoughts, then they can work to sway the giant, our mind, for good or for bad. Sometimes we just need to get up and move. You can’t sit on an ant mansion for too long before you start to get uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable.

I have also recognized that sometimes I can feel like just one tiny ant, which definitely can’t build or upkeep a mansion. I couldn’t make a giant flinch much less get up and move by myself. I need a lot of ants, I think we all do. All kinds of ants. Happy crumb finders. Aggressive attacking ants. Worker ants. Encourager ants. Doer ants. Thinker ants. Dreamer ants. Brave ants. Funny ants. Passionate ants. I know that there is great power in the work of a team of ants. Tiny, seemingly unimportant yet so strong and powerful when all of us unite and work together. I know we can move the giants of this world. In fact, I have the scratch marks to prove it.

Doubt Bunnies

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Last night, I went to sleep thinking how I should probably sabotage my interview for graduate school. Maybe not show up. Or just half-ass it. What am I even doing? I didn’t know exactly how to prepare for the interview, besides thinking of several questions to ask in regards to specifics of their program. Despite my stubborn nature and disdain for using my disease as an excuse, I rehearsed my semi-emotional, non-defensive response to my sub-par college G.P.A. With the lack of sleep and/or productive thinking going on, my brain began to do what it sometimes does best. Over thinks. Over thinking naturally lead to a lot of doubting. And doubting inevitably lead to me failing. Before I had even been interviewed. Well done, Captain Negative.

Friends advised me to just be honest, be myself. Really? Hmmm. Depends on the day. Will that go over well with new people, professional counselors, in fact, that have been trained to (over)analyze every verbal and nonverbal move a person makes? Rhetorical questions began exploding in my head, like those snap-pop fireworks that kids adore. Pop! POP! PoP! And just when I thought they were all done ….POP! Like the brilliant lawyer, that I am not, I had myself convinced that I would not be accepted into the program. A biased jury of one. The verdict was in: failure-ish. I determined that it would be better for our family, specifically my kids, that I didn’t get accepted. How kind. I began comforting myself following a failure that had not yet happened. A pat on the back turned into a pre-failure massage of sorts, for my ego. It actually didn’t feel so great. I think I knew that masseuse a little too well. It got awkward.

I began thinking about doubt and what it’s good for. Doubt. HA! What it is good for. Ha! Abso-lutely nothing. I decided that doubt was similar to rabbits in our yard. Yeah. Those guys. Occasionally present. They eat the flowers sometimes and tomatoes. They burrow holes. Chase the mice maybe. Do rabbit stuff. Since I needed somebody or something to take a little bit of the weight off of my shoulders, I personified doubt. Gave it a capital “D.” No middle or last name yet. It helped me feel more powerful, less fearful, a little more in control and for lack of a better word, less doubtful. So, sorry “Doubt,” you didn’t win over my thoughts the morning of my interview. I ironed my clothes. That was a challenge. I put my high heels on. I love them for fifteen minutes. And I agreed to give my whole self, so that I would be proud of my efforts, even if I failed.

A letter to Doubt (though I’m quite certain that Doubt is illiterate. Maybe Failure could teach Doubt to read? Probably doesn’t have time. Too busy.)

Hey Little bunny Foo Foo-

You dirty little devil. You burrowed under the fence again when I wasn’t looking. You’re such a spaz. A hyper rabbit darting every which way in my head. How quickly you make plans or goals seem unattainable. You are a major distraction. And you know it. See, I’m chasing you now. Instead of following opportunities, taking risks, and growing, I’m thinking about failing. Maybe I should just run back to the porch or inside. That’s what you would like me to do. Or is the chase fun for you? Zigzagging here and there. In and out of my thoughts. I’ve got my hands on my knees now, I’m trying to catch my breath.

But you really are not the smartest creature, rascally Doubt. You hope to build your nest in my head, birthing dependent little doubt bunnies everywhere. Oh, no you don’t. I am bigger than you and I have now caught my breath. You better squirm yourself under somebody else’s fence. Or go find a field. Or some woods. I know what you are and what you’re capable of. You sit quietly, waiting, still. And then when you’re noticed, you run. All I really I have to do is make one move in your direction. Or even look you in the eye, then you’re gone. That is your strength, your speed. That is your only defense. So, go! Get out of my head! You are not an intimidating aggressive bear or even a hidden snake.You are just a bother, a silly old rabbit.

I will work on the big holes in my yard, making it more of a challenge for you to squeeze your scrawny self into my space. I’m quite certain you will dig your way in again. You are awfully sneaky like that. But I’m not going to waste my time chasing you anymore. I don’t need to. I will not let you intimidate me in my own yard and make me believe that I am a failure. There is a huge difference in failing and being a failure. I will take chances, be bold, and make mistakes trying for the rest of my life. I would rather jump than tip-toe around this life. I will continue to learn and grow, even from my failures and mistakes. They won’t define me. And you won’t define me either, Doubt.

Peace out.

-The Crazy Lawnmower Girl

My Mean “Boice”

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“Mama, I don’t like that mean boice.” My little three and a half-year old told me this numerous times today. I didn’t like his whining voice either. Yes, I told him this. No, it didn’t help. He dramatically threw himself on the floor when he couldn’t do some absurd thing and got reprimanded. To be honest, I just don’t like my mean voice either. It arrives when the whining, arguing and my boys not getting along with each other has reached maximum levels. It has a stern and serious, frustrated and defeated tone to it. I’m pretty sure it’s accompanied by a mean, ugly, scowling face too, though I have not ever looked in the mirror while using this mean voice. I should probably check it out. Some days can just be rough, long and relentless. Extremely long shifts with a lot of demands. For one person. Sometimes you don’t get too many pats on the back or “I love you’s.” Some days, it feels like you, the biggest, most responsible and intelligent person, takes vicious commands from tiny irrational dictators.

I imagine if I were in a communal living situation, with other mothers, that one of them would see me, hear that mean voice and intervene. Maybe offer to watch my kids while I walked to the watering hole or all the way to a mountain. I would get a quick break and return a little less defeated. My mother friends would have fed my kids a snack, recognizing that their blood sugar was low. They would probably have made me a snack too. And those awesome mama friends would give me a hug and say, “You know you are a good mama, mean boice and all.” And I would laugh. Then, my boys would come running up to me and jump on me. They would know, by my laugh, that my happy self had returned.

The thing is I realized something pretty quickly, like moments, after meeting my kids face to face. They are the only ones that possess these keys to unlock places in my heart that I never knew existed. Both the beautiful places and the really ugly, dark places. They hold amazing powers in their scrawny little skinned-up kneed bodies. And they don’t really know it. A lot of times they don’t have a clue what they are doing. They are just trying to figure out this complicated life. And they desperately need my help. Both when I am willing and able to give generously to them, and when I feel utterly exhausted. And that’s why I always feel like such a jerk on the nights when the day sucked. Or when I sucked as a mom. They are just trying to figure out how, when and where to use this massive set of keys. All the while with tiny hands and inadequate fine motor skills.

I am ever grateful for my children’s willingness to forgive me. Love me. Be patient with me. My littlest boy crawled up into my lap tonight and said, “I wike watching the Woyals with you, Mom.” Translated as “I like watching the Royals with you, Mom.” As he sat with me, I apologized to him for using “my mean boice” today. Of course, he instantly forgave me. Because that’s what these sweet little creatures know how to do best. Forgive. Thank goodness that tomorrow is a new day. Even though tonight ended in a most meaningful way for me. And the Royals won too.

Mid-life Crisis. Say WHAT?!

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I am 35 years old, “advanced maternal age,” as a younger friend pointed out, accidentally, this weekend. I was a late spring, end of summer kind- of-flowering girl, yet somehow I appear to be prematurely embarking on a mid-life crisis. Nice. In one day, I have had all of these genius ideas. (Insert sarcasm.)Please. I know they sound crazy, but I still want to do all of them. At the same exact time. My husband kindly said, “You wanna go dancing? We can go dancing.” Then he suggested I should just pick a few. Ummm. No. There are definite signs that my brain is working overtime or potentially malfunctioning? I have determined that I may be in the warm-up laps and pre-stretching phase of:

A) Having a mid-life crisis

B) I have had too little of sleep and too much caffeine today

C) A combination of the two

It’s so hard to differentiate between the two. Having experienced one, but not the other. I had hopes of living past the not-so-ripe age of 70, but it’s really not looking that great. If, in fact, you multiply your mid-life crisis age by two. And boom, there you have it. Simple math. That’s your age at death. Perhaps I will just be warming up and stretching for a while. Exciting. Oh man. I think you will soon agree. Obviously, in staying true to my extroverted self, the natural yet, not that smart of thing to do, is throw some of the pseudo-crises out there for others to read about. I have kept a few  ideas to myself, for privacy reasons, I’ll have you know, before you get all “too much information” on me. But you are reading my blog, right?

Come on. Get that leg pat drumroll going.

You may be going through a mid-life crisis (or have had too much caffeine) if….

  1. You want to sell your house and move to another country and live in an orphanage. Or work at the fistula hospital. Or work somewhere will you may not make any money at all.
  2. You want to go back to school for something, but you just aren’t sure exactly what you should go back to study. Hmmmm. So many choices. What do you want to be if you ever grow up? So, you apply for your Masters of Arts in Counseling. Makes sense. Help others navigate their lives.
  3. You also want to quit your job and go back to working at a coffee shop as a barista. Great tips, free coffee, lots of people to meet, talk to and remember their “regular.” That makes a person feel loved, important, and like they should leave you a big tip. Your brain can remember a grande non-fat, extra foamy latte, right?
  4. You want to buy a food truck, and start a business selling some pretty stellar tacos for a pretty unbelievable price.
  5. You want to get another dog, a big one, never a little one again. You realize that you have a small cat-like dog that wears a diaper and you also have promised your children hamsters, in a weakened desperate state. If and only if they can be more responsible. So, it’s looking like the hamsters may be waiting a while at Petland. Whew! Works out well. I didn’t want to have to get passports for them. Seems a little much. Hamsters in the overhead compartment of a plane, headed to an orphanage in a foreign country? Not. Happening.
  6. You want to wear stilettos and go dancing in Phoenix, Arizona or maybe somewhere closer, but just not Power and Light. You’ve already planned on bringing flip-flops in your gigantic purse, for that moment, about an hour after you have worn the stilettos, when you can no longer walk. Or dance. All you can talk about is how much your feet hurt. What a drag. Slide on those Reefs, girl. And get your mid-life crisis self back on the dance floor!
  7. You want to hop on a tour bus with your husband’s old band and home school your kids in that bus. Surely there is wi-fi on a tour bus?
  8. You want to put a ridiculous bumper sticker on your van…or on your food truck or on your tour bus
  9. You’re thinking about what would make a good family tattoo
  10. You want to have another child. Perhaps conceived on a tour bus. Then you can name him something really clever. Of course, he will be a boy.
  11. You want to foster and/or adopt several children. Hope the tour bus passes the home study. I may need to call on a social working friend.
  12. You want to go on a road trip to see old college friends. Which could really work out wonderfully. With the whole tour bus plan
  13. You want to sell most of your stuff. And your kids’ stuff. And your husband’s stuff, just not the guitars.
  14. You want to take a one-way trip to Hawaii. And just not tell your sister that lives there that you could only half-way afford one-way tickets. Will someone adopt our dog? The one that wears diapers, and needs $1200 in dental work? He is soooooo sweet. And will someone water our plants, especially our lime tree? Cinco de Mayo is coming up, and two limes are getting pumped.

Lastly, you want to drink a few beers while watching the Royals, sifting through ALL of these brilliant ideas, in hopes of discovering the ones that float to the top. You know the most important, foamy ones. If none of them float, you can always think of some more, right? Yep. But, please tell me a few of these ideas are amazingly doable and not just the by-product of scattered “advanced maternal age” brain thinking. I mean, it’s not like I want to buy a hot new red sports car or anything. That would just be absurd. And so impractical.

Shame. Shame. I know your name.

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You didn’t have to call out my name or even whisper it. Back then. And you knew it. I knew you were there. You had power over me. I felt you hiding. Waiting opportunistically. Then, you kidnapped me. You made me afraid. You made me not trust. I felt trapped. I looked over my shoulder. You made me think others wouldn’t like me, if they really knew me. All of me. You made me feel embarrassed, insecure. You put me on a tight leash. Pulling me this way and that way. I begged to go over there. And over there too. You stopped me. Just short of relationships. The honest, real and genuine kind. You lead me right up next to them, right under my nose, but you made me feel like they were not for me. Only for others. Not someone “like me.” I can’t have it. “Get back. Come here.” You dictated my thoughts. Yank. Tug. My head jerked back and fell down, and begrudgingly I followed your lead. Into the darkness.

Shame. Shame. That’s your name. You spearhead every pity party. The ones that nobody ever gets the invitation for. Or maybe everybody was just too busy. They already had plans, remember? They lied. Nobody chooses to go to a pity party. Ever. They suck the life right out of folks. You are there hosting, always hoping for a better turn-out. You’re accompanied by your best friends: guilt, pain, and anger. You’re at the door waiting anxiously  to pull somebody, anybody in.

Shame. Shame. I know your name. I know that horrible, awful, drowning feeling you perpetuate. All too well. I know that you don’t nurture, you don’t feed. You entice. You entrap. You starve others. You slowly kill. You attempt to conquer. You fill others with untruths. Over and over again.

I have gotten to know you, Shame. Too well. Because of an ugly disease. That I didn’t choose. Starting in the hospital, of all places. You lurk in waiting areas hoping to sneak back into rooms. Nurses, care assistants, and doctors have made me feel your presence. On their faces, in their tone of voice. In the midst of excruciating physical pain, you’re always there lurking at the door. By my bed. In the bathroom. Then, I get discharged. You follow me home in my recovering fragile body. Scared to venture out, I feel your tight collar around my neck. I could write a book on the things people have said that keep you, Shame, holding tight onto my leash. My life. Or the things that have happened, emotionally-scarring things. Resulting in more embarrassment, your favorite ally.

I will never forger the time that two male police officers came barging into the women’s bathroom, at a bar, at my sister’s bachelorette party. I was laying on my sister’s lap, on the floor of the handicapped bathroom stall. Feeling just that. I wasn’t high. I wasn’t drunk. I was having problems with my body, my guts, this disease. But I was rudely escorted out of the bar. While my brave sister-warriors fought for my rights, as a human being. As a woman. In a bathroom. I could hardly walk, speak or breathe through the crying. I don’t know how I made it to my van to drive myself home. I felt overwhelming amounts of shame as I drove, sobbing.  I barely let my husband hold me that night. Did I even deserve to be loved? You made me feel that. Shame. All consuming Shame.

Shame made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Shame made me feel like I ruin special occasions. Shame made me feel like I should be able to control a disease that has no conscious and acts accordingly. Shame was wrong. As it always is. I didn’t recognize it back then. Years ago. But I’ve changed.

Shame. Shame. I know your name, but you will no longer speak mine. I broke your leash, when you were out looking for your next victim. I grew stronger and smarter as you left me outside. In the cold. You will never have power over me again. My weaknesses have become my strengths. Now, I know where you live. I am not afraid of you anymore. I will tell everyone about you so they will know that you are weak. A coward. You tear others down to strengthen your straw empire. You have no strength of your own. I will fight to make sure nobody else will be stuck outside your back door. Tied up. Made to feel something that they are not. I will not let others hurt, hide or live in your lies. You mask the beautiful. Corrupt the weak. You live in the shadows and you hide from the light. I will expose you. Shame. Shame. You will never call out my name. Again.

Imaginary Margarita Restaurant

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Some nights when my boys are all snuggled in their beds, or mine, I kind of miss them, a lot. They’ve been sleeping for a few hours, so I’ve simmered down. The morning seems like a long ways away. The house is too quiet. I don’t miss them quite enough to do something crazy, like wake them up. At midnight. However, confessional time. I used to do this awful trick that I now realize was good intentioned-ish, but wrong. So wrong. I used to get bored babysitting when the kids went to sleep. Often, I would go in to “repeatedly check on” sleeping or napping kids, running into things on purpose, trying to wake them up. I mean, was it so awful that I possessed a strong desire to put in the hard work, earn my money? Actually babysit some kids. I’m not going to lie, it was always awkward trying to get comfortable on someone else’s couch, creep in their cubbard for snacks and figure out how to work their TV. Reading a book was too quiet of an activity. I didn’t want to hear all the weird sounds of somebody else’s house or cozy up to that psycho cat. I know. I know. Not all cats are sneaky and creepy. Wink. Wink.

So, tonight I pretended I owned a Margarita Restaurant. I was thirsty. And bored. And not tired yet. My restaurant specialized in “dirty” margaritas. It’s the best margarita you’ll ever have. I’m not humble. It is the absolute best. We can or actually just I can, until I hire some help, make strawberry, mango or plain lime. The secret ingredient, which may gross some out, is throwing a little olive juice in there(that is why I would never tell my imaginary customers). That’s right. On the rocks or frozen. Deliciouso. We will even bust out the home grown limes, if you’re a favorite patron. Those limes mean business. Chocolate wafer cookies or leftover homemade pretzels can be added to your margarita order. In a perfect world, I would wear whatever comfy clothes I wanted and invite all my friends to come over, while the kids were sleeping. My friends and their friends would be able to keep the fun at a reasonable noise level, as to not wake up the party poopers, those sweet sleeping children. Maybe the payment for your awesome margarita would just be helping fold clothes. Nothing creepy like underwear. But not the towels, those are too easy and my favorite for that reason.

On a nice night, you could enjoy your margarita on the deck. I probably need to add some lights out there, maybe a bug repelling candle. I should have some chips and salsa on hand too. I don’t want to be known for anything except the wicked awesome margaritas though. I will only use real fruit, you know, to make them healthier. They can be virgin too if you’re queary of Kirkland tequila or don’t drink alcohol. If my imaginary margarita restaurant is a success, which of course it will be because it’s all in my hyped-up imagination, then I may consider opening up a taco joint too. My husband makes the most phenomenal smoked carnitas and pineapple salsa. It would be safe to say that had I known about his smoking pork skills, I would have married him just for that. Those of you who have tried it know that it will turn a vegan into a pig-raising fool. Since he recently half-admitted to marrying me for my mad spelling skills, we’re even. True love is hard to find. Speaking of true love, I think my single friends could find this too at my margarita restaurant. If they wanted to, no pressure. I secretly want to be a matchmaker too. This imaginary margarita restaurant will be amazing. I do hope you’ll come sometime.

Puzzle pieces

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I don’t really like doing puzzles. That’s a nice way to say, “I hate doing puzzles.” Especially the 3000 piece doozies of say, a lush forest. Just a lot of trees, maybe with dew on their leaves. Oh, and the sun shining through the branches. Oooooh la la. No. I would rather just go walk outside and look at a whole forest, instead of forcing together all these minuscule green and brown look-alike cardboard pieces of trees. And more trees. The hot air balloon puzzles are pretty spectacular, I know, they have differing bright colors. I just say no to those guys too.

I used to nearly go crazy trying to put all of my kids’ puzzles together at the end of the day. You know, to get organized. So, they could dump them all out first thing in the morning. I know it is good exercise for kids’ brains to build, do puzzles, smart thinking stuff. They just take me a looooong time to complete. If I ever do complete them. I have found that drinking beer or wine actually does not help my brain kick into “puzzle mode.” Come to think of it, I may be missing whatever part of the brain it is that specializes in completing puzzles. It may be the same part that helps you play a guitar. Maybe it’s in there, just really weak. It’s going to stay atrophied, virtually non-existent.  I’m not about to go strengthening it, if that entails doing a bazillion puzzle push-ups. No, thanks. If you locked me in a room and told me that my life depended on me completing a 500 piece puzzle, I may just start eating the puzzle pieces to choke myself. Put myself out of my own misery. Or something. Because I’m going to fail. And I would rather choke than get uber frustrated in my final moments trying to jab and bend pieces to fit into a space that wasn’t intended for them. I also know how to use the chair to perform the Heimlich if I changed my mind. Choking on puzzle pieces sounds pretty awful. I guess I’ve always been good at exaggerating.

Despite my disdain for puzzles, they make great analogies for life. I often feel like a human puzzle piece. You might know the one I’m talking about. That one that looks like it could fit into the corner over there or into the middle of that weird lizard puzzle. Or look, it’s going to kind of work in the puzzle of the world too. I’m not sure if everyone feels this way. Like you have all these different groups of people who you’re trying to fit into. All of the time. Your family, old friends, work friends, mom friends, neighbor friends, your husband’s friends, new friends, church friends, even Facebook friends. Groups. Groups. And more groups. I guess it’s a good problem to have. Maybe. But it’s a hell of a lot of puzzles to be fitting into. Sometimes, I forget which puzzle I am even in. I look around. Ack. All of the pieces look the same. How I am supposed to act, what is my role in this puzzle. Oh, don’t be so honest in this puzzle or so loud. Or inappropriate. Just simmer down. Be a tree. Okay. Wait. I would rather go find another puzzle. To try to fit into. Where I can be jagged, that weird heart shape, whatever. I just don’t want to cram myself in and be uncomfortable if I don’t have to.

I think as I get older, I feel less and less pressure to jab and bend and not fit into certain puzzles. I am a thrift store puzzle of sorts. Maybe you live with yourself long enough to realize that it’s not worth the struggle. I sadly meet young kids, ten to twelve-year olds, all of the time, that tell me they have no friends at school. One even asked me this weekend, “will you be my best friend?” It’s rather heartbreaking. Every Time. Of course I will be your best friend for the next two hours or so. How sad that a spunky little twelve-year-old has to ask a newly met 35-year-old to be her best friend. In the hospital. A lot of times, I want to pep-talk these sweet souls about how kids and grown-ups alike can be flat-out insecure. And take it out on you. Or just be cruel, mean and unfair. Bitter and unhappy. For no damn reason at all. Or maybe for a lot of reasons, that have nothing to do with you. Hang in there. People may or may not get better, but you will grow stronger in who you are. Put on your headphones and turn your music up. Loud. They may not like you, but seriously, why would you want a person that acts that way and treats people that way to like you?

Case and point. A coworker saw me after I helped with a procedure and said in a snarky, condescending tone, “are you just the happy train?” Wow. How to reply to that one. Yep. I have a Bachelors in being the happy train. If you only knew about the next room I was going into. There were so many responses, yet so little time. Not that the doctor cared how or what my response would be. So, “Yep, I am the happy train and I will gladly give you a free ride tonight. Seems like you could use one.” Unfortunately, I had to roll my “happy train” into that awful next room. And no, I’m not always a happy train. But, at work, I will do just about anything to help kids feel a little better, a little happier, a little more loved on. A little less like a puzzle that’s missing so many pieces.