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Celebrating my birthday

19 Jun

For as long as I can remember, I have absolutely and positively loved my birthday. When Cancer is doing whatever it’s doing, or the sun is in it, or whatever is happening in my houses, I feel on top of the world! I am vibrant and joyful and sexy and smart and funny and exciting and awesome every ding-dang day leading up to my birthday. It is, without question, the best time of my entire year.

Birthday Cake 5

But I never plan a celebration because I know what will happen. As the day of my birth approaches, and we move out of Cancer and into Leo (grrr), I steadily deflate until I become a whimpering blob curled up in the fetal position watching Netflix and drinking kombucha. Well, that hasn’t happened in other years but it is possible this year.

I recall experiencing this pre-birthday slump since the year I turned 40, though it may have occurred before then and I just didn’t notice. Everything is magnified when you’re in your 40s.

The year I turned 40, I had a big party planned, and a couple of days before my birthday I canceled it — without apologies. I was a big baby. I was also a mess. Like, I kind of had a little nervous breakdown despite the fact that I had been out-of-control excited about turning 40 for the 23 or so days of June leading up to the cancellation. So, no party. No cake. No streamers or confetti. No 70s songs or even 80s songs. A month later, I invited some friends out for ice cream to celebrate my birthday. Dumb.

You see, I get depressed because I am not in the place where I think I should be at my age, or where other women I know are. And truly, I mean, thank goodness I am where I am! I could not be happier with my place! I have a job I love, I am near my family and able to see them as often as I like, I have good friends, I’m healthy and strong, and I have everything I need.

It’s what I don’t have — a partner and a family — that makes me feel as though there’s something wrong with me. There isn’t. I’m fine. Life is good. But, you know.

This year, I don’t want to let that happen. I watch way too much Netflix and drink too much kombucha every other day of the year. So I’m going to celebrate for a solid week and kick that pre-birthday letdown right the hell out!

At least I think that is what I am going to do. I have to begin tomorrow, so I’d better make some plans.

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Sounding off

5 Mar

Single Woman’s 30-day Blog Challenge, Day 6: Sound off on the quote “Every woman has the exact love life she wants”

If this means what I think it means, I’m probably going to need some therapy after I finish posting.

I’ve thought about the idea that I am choosing exactly what I want for some time regarding my most recent relationships. We have established that I do not make very good decisions on my own behalf when it comes to men because I’ve chosen some very awful people as partners, namely liars, sociopaths, addicts. These men have one thing in common: I fell hard and fast for each one of them.

I knew going into my last relationship that my partner had serious issues, and I did not for one second believe he could or would change because of me or for me. What I hoped, foolishly, is that he would feel safe enough with me to get better on his own. Ultimately that was not the case.

With him, I often wondered what it was in me that needed to be with a person like him. I mean, I knew exactly who he was and I chose to be with him. Did I think I could be a savior? Did I believe no one else would want me so I had to settle for him? I hope not, but I may hold such a belief and act on it to my detriment.

I don’t think I want a love life with a partner who frightens me or is dishonest with me, yet I have welcomed men into my life who do just that. Why have I repeated this pattern in my life, and how do I stop it? Perhaps I should meditate on the exact love life I want so I can manifest that guy into my life.

For now, I think I can rest in the fact that nobody wants to date me, with the possible exception of one libidinous oil field worker in Western North Dakota who is overly interested in my undergarments, and at least I can be relieved that I rejected him.

Being a suburbanite

9 Sep

mary-tyler-moore-opening-creditsIt is not inaccurate or unfair to say that I used to be (and maybe still am) a city snob. I moved to Minneapolis 15 years ago into an apartment just a couple of blocks from Nicollet Mall, the main street that runs through downtown. I walked to work and took the bus when I needed it. I sort of imagined myself like Mary Tyler Moore — a carefree city girl who was so excited about living in the city that she would throw her hat up in the air and twirl around. I never did that, but once on a beautiful night when the snow was falling softly, I felt like doing it.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are separated by the Mississippi River. At the widest spot in our area, it’s probably less than 1/2 mile across. A car trip from one downtown to the other probably takes 10-15 minutes. Yet, many people who live in one city rarely cross over to the other side, and you often hear people who live in one city say how much they dislike going into the other. “The streets don’t make any sense in St. Paul,” say the Minneapolis residents. “Traffic is terrible in Minneapolis,” say the St. Paul residents. It’s been that way, I’ve heard, since the cities were founded.

Two years ago, I moved from a Minneapolis neighborhood to a small studio apartment in a St. Paul. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with St. Paul. Within a few blocks of my apartment there were restaurants, a Dairy Queen, gift shops, vintage clothing stores, two grocery stores, numerous coffee shops, a hardware store, a cheese shop, a fish market, and (though I didn’t care about these) bars and liquor stores. The river and running paths were 1.6 miles from my front door. The fire station was across a busy street, so there was a lot of noise, but I adored my neighborhood.

Then in May I quit my big-girl job of almost 10 years, and in July I began managing a running store in a suburb south of the city. My commute every day was 43 miles. Because I work in retail and don’t work 8-5, I never had to deal with traffic, but the distance and time and miles were adding up, so I very reluctantly decided to relocate so that I would be closer to work.

I seriously feared that I would lose ALL of my cool city girl points by moving to the suburbs. This is the land of strip malls, chain restaurants, and superstores. I live within walking distance of several gigantic car dealerships, Sears, Target, Olive Garden, and TGIFridays. It seems like everyone here drives an SUV or a huge pickup truck. I have always preferred to support small and independent businesses whenever possible, and in the city that was very easy to do.

But the fact is, there is character and personality to be found in the suburbs — you just have to be willing to look for it. Sometimes, but not always, you have to wander off the beaten path. I’ve discovered beautiful running paths, and I know there are many more to be found. I bought paint and supplies at a small(er) hardware store where the employees were all so helpful and knowledgeable. I saw two deer in the woods outside my back door. I met my neighbor, Lulu, when she had a garage sale on the weekend. “This is a nice neighborhood,” she said. “We take care of each other.”

I’ve only been in my suburban apartment for a little more than a week, so I have plenty more exploring to do. I have to say I miss the city, and I really do hope to get back there at some point. But for now, being a suburbs girl isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be as long as I keep an open mind. You won’t see me throwing my hat in the air and twirling around here though. I am sure the neighbors are watching.

Being a believer

29 Mar

Today is Good Friday. I can Google to find out why it’s called “good,” but it doesn’t really matter to this post. It never made sense that we called the day “good” when I was growing up Catholic because we had to go to church for like the fifth time in a week and be so quiet and kiss the cross and kneel a lot and say prayers and repent for our sins and everything was all sad.

When I was older, Good Friday always made me think of Mary, poor Jesus’ mother. I mean, if there was a man named Jesus and he was mocked and made to carry a cross and betrayed by his friends and then hung on the cross, that’s really sad. I felt sorry for his mother.

The whole Holy Week/Good Friday/Easter thing is weird when you aren’t a believer anymore—when you don’t believe in God. It’s just a long, quiet weekend that culminates with egg hunts and pretty dresses and chocolate bunnies and a whole bunch of “E&C Christians” getting one of their two church services in for the year. Me? I’m running 22 miles this weekend and sewing a wedding gown.

I decided a few years ago that I couldn’t believe in God anymore. I still capitalize God though, which is weird I suppose. It’s a habit.

Anyway, I had been thinking about it for a long time. I had been praying a lot asking God to please help me know that God could hear me. One day, my little Melvin kitty got very sick and had to go to the emergency vet. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him, and I was afraid he was going to die. I was very upset because I didn’t have the money to pay his veterinary bill, and I didn’t know if he would live.

Sitting there in the waiting room, stressed out beyond belief, I thought:

Normally in a situation like this, I would pray. If I got what I asked for—if Melvin didn’t die and I could find a way to pay the thousands of dollars I would have to pay for him to get better—then I would believe that God had heard me. But if that didn’t happen, what would I say? That God hadn’t heard me? That God didn’t care about me and Melvin and thousands of dollars? That it was selfish to pray for such a thing?

It bothered me that I could believe in God and say “God is so great!” if God heard me, but if it seemed that God didn’t, I had to come up with some excuse or explanation. It bothered me that if I got what I prayed for, I would thank God, but if I didn’t, well…that was my fault.

You can say I got it all wrong. You probably will say that because that’s what people say when you explain why you don’t believe in God. Anyway, in that waiting room, that’s when I decided I couldn’t believe anymore.

I really, really wish I could believe, for two reasons, neither of which are very good reasons to become a believer again:

  1. When you say you don’t believe in God, people judge you. They aren’t nice to you. They treat you like you’re an idiot. I have been turned down for dates because I don’t believe in God. Even people who never go to church and don’t want to get married seem to have a problem with the fact that I don’t believe in God.
  2. I always hear people saying (in my imagination), “If you believed in God, your life would be great. You would be happy all the time. You would not feel suicidal and you would have the job of your dreams and a partner who loved you and enough money to pay all of your bills if you believed in God.” I know that isn’t true because it wasn’t true when I DID believe in God. But I still think that.

So I don’t believe anymore, and as much as I wish I could, I just can’t. At least not now.

This is what I can believe: if there is a God and I meet that God someday, presumably after I die, that God isn’t going to be mad at me for not believing. A friend’s friend wrote this on Facebook. “I think God would high-five people who don’t believe in him rather than send them to hell. Why? Because God would understand that if he was in their shoes, he wouldn’t believe in him either.”

It’s Good Friday, and I’m thinking about my mom and sister because I think they are probably a little bit sad today just like I used to be. I know their belief is really important to them, and I love them for that. And I’m glad they still love me even though I don’t believe. 

Being sad in my heart

13 Jan

There are periods of time when, almost every day, I think about jumping into the river as I drive over it on my way to work. In the summertime, I am not so sure that the fall would kill me, but in the winter, I am fairly certain it would.

I don’t need to be hospitalized. I don’t need my medication changed. I am not in danger or looking for attention. I’m sad in my heart. Depressed. Suicidal I suppose. Sometimes I feel like this almost every day. I’ve learned to live with it.

When my last relationship ended and I got sick, I wanted to die so that I could punish my ex. I know that’s stupid, 1. because he’d never know and 2. because he’d never care. The only people who would be punished, or hurt, are the people who love me, and he never did.

After I decided to keep dating, I had a new problem to deal with: how to tell men I have a disease, how to handle their rejection. I don’t feel sorry for myself because I accept responsibility for my actions, but every time a man tells me he could never deal with my health concern, I cry so hard it hurts in my arms and legs. I want to do something to make that hurt go away.

I don’t really want to die. I don’t think I need to talk to anyone or take more pills or take a bath or eat chocolate or go for a run. When I think like this, I am fully aware that I can change it; I can choose how to feel. I can feel depleted, rejected, disgusting, dirty, defeated, abused, or I can choose another feeling. I keep telling myself, “You can feel something else, Wendi.” I keep saying it and saying it.

Yesterday I was running by the river. It was cold, but the sun was out. I was about halfway through a 14-mile training run. I wasn’t running like Kara Goucher or anything, but I was doing fine. As I passed a certain spot, I wondered how cold the water is. I wondered how long it would take for my heart to stop beating if I jumped in wearing all my running clothes. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” by Kelly Clarkson was playing in my head. Ironic, isn’t it?

I don’t need you to reach out to me or pray for me or pity me or damn me to hell for being a selfish sinner. I wanted to write about this because I have friends who feel this way, too. Many of them never tell anyone. I want them to know they aren’t alone.

I will feel better. Soon. Someday. Maybe for days and days and days at a time. It won’t be because I have a date or find a partner or because something changes in my life. It won’t be because the sun shone for several days in a row or because I finished a marathon or because I lost five pounds. I will just feel better and everything will be fine. This, too, shall pass.

Today I am sad in my heart. Maybe tomorrow my heart will be better.

Being resolute

1 Jan

Just now in the bathroom at Caribou I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions, and here’s why: I don’t want to fail. Or rather, I don’t want you to know that I might fail.

Looking back on 2012 makes me really sad. Even though a lot of bad things happened, I don’t have ANY regrets, but I want to put that year behind me and start fresh. I want to live and love fully this year. I want to have new experiences. I want to make my life bigger. I want to be alone less. I want to be healthy and strong. But I’m not going to resolve to do anything except to not make any resolutions.

That said, I do have some goals for this year. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Start a marathon, finish it, and get a PR.

I’m registered to run the Big Sur Marathon in April, but I had always planned to run that with the support of my ex-boyfriend. Given all that happened in the last year with him, I decided not to do that race because I want to avoid one more memory of him. It just seems best to leave the dream of running Big Sur for another day. So I’m going to run the Fargo Marathon again in May, and this time I intend to finish it. I feel that accomplishing that after not finishing last year, especially if I can set a new personal record, will be much better for my soul.

2. Continue searching for a partner.

Maybe you all think I’m doing this wrong and I’ll find love when I stop looking for it (which I think is crap), but I really want to be in love so I’m going to keep searching for a partner. I may have lots of first dates and heartbreaks, but I might just find someone who will love me and let me love him.

3. XYZ

This is a goal I can’t really publish, but trust that if and when I accomplish it, I’ll let you know! It has to do with starting a new chapter in the story of my life.

4. Fill up my Gratitude Jar.

My friend Katie introduced me to a gratitude jar, and I started one in December. Every time I am grateful (not every day) I write what I am grateful for on a slip of paper and add it to the jar. In 12 months, I’ll open up that jar and read the papers, and maybe when I look back on 2013 I won’t feel so sad.

 

That’s it for now. Here’s hoping that 2013 is a wonderful, healthy, joyous year for all of us!

Being beautiful

30 Dec

beautifulYesterday I got like 11 hours of sleep and woke up with warm, snuggly cats all wrapped around me. After I had breakfast, I went for an 8-mile run. It was quite cold outside and the path was slippery in spots, but the run went fairly well and I felt good about doing it. I showered and went to the coffee shop, then went to the grocery store and the fabric store before finally going home to watch movies and make chili.

It was a fairly insignificant day in my life, but for some reason I felt so beautiful. Maybe it was the endorphins or the sunshine, maybe the gorgeous orange wool vintage coat I got for $20 at a shop near my apartment, or possibly it was my sassy new haircut and the frosty pink lipstick I got before Christmas. Perhaps all of those things contributed to the fact that I felt really happy to be me.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all felt beautiful (or handsome or confident or enthusiastic or special or loved or content) every day of our lives? Even on bad hair days? Even when we haven’t had enough sleep or worked out in a long time? Even when we’re upset with someone or someone is upset with us? Even when the sun isn’t shining?

Let’s try.