Feel All Your Feelings And Support What You Can

We’ve all seen that Mr. Rogers quote floating around social media, made pretty and put into its best pinterest form… and while I am trying to hold onto my optimism and indeed look for the helpers, I’m also hyper aware that EVERYTHING IS SO MUCH RIGHT NOW. It seems like almost everyone I know is either laid off, or attempting to work from home while also home-schooling, navigating the myriad of information out there about small business loans and payroll solutions, and somehow figuring out how to pivot and keep their brick and mortor businesses viable at this time (all while trying to keep their shit together.)

Personally, I’m living in a place of “Survivors-Guilt.” I’ve worked for small, family owned businesses and non-profits my entire adult life, and I feel incredibly blessed to currently have the luxury of working at home, but my heart, my anxiety and all my big feels are out there with the small business owners, the restaurants,  servers, shop clerks, hair dressers, bar tenders, self-employed creatives, and all the others in our community and around the world who are finding themselves in crisis mode right now. And like many others out there, I’m trying to navigate the best way to help.

What I have determined is that this is going to look different for everyone, but as we are all figuring out this scenario together, I wanted to share some ideas I’ve come up with of how you might be able to offer support to your community.

The biggest, and most obvious is to shop locally. This is not new information, but it IS more important than ever before. I was chatting with a friend last week who casually mentioned that she didn’t think changing her spending habits now was going to have that big of an impact on local businesses… and let me tell you, as someone who has spent their entire adult life working in small, independent businesses, spending what you can now IS going to help. I’m not saying we should all be spending beyond our means right now trying and keep our local favorites afloat, but I am saying that the small purchases may seem insignificant to you, but they DO add up. Not only that, but it’s good for morale. Most of the shop and restaurant owners that I know are yes, running businesses, but they are also so connected to the community. They do this for their customers, for the relationships they have built, they have created gathering places in the community, and the are the people who show up. Even if you are just buying a $5 greeting card… I promise, it makes a difference, not only to the bottom line, but to the shop owner’s mental health. The Business owners need us to show up (and stay at least 6 ft away.)

I also understand that in this time of uncertainty, spending on non-essential items might feel a little reckless. And with so many of us working at home, and not having to put on “real clothes” buying a new pair of pants feels a little pointless right now (especially if you are like me, and living on comfort carbs…anything I buy right now, realistically might not fit me by the time this is over, and I have come to terms with that… I suggest you do as well.) But take a moment to think about how much you might spend on eating out in a month, and buy a gift certificate, or make sure to visit a restaurant that is open for delivery or take out. (and for the love of God, tip more than you would ever have thought appropriate before. Help the restaurants stay viable, help them support their staff, and let them know you appreciate them being at work. )

Your purchases don’t have to be big, but as you are getting your essentials this month, consider trying to get them from a locally owned business. Here are a few of the things I’m opting to spend my money on this month

Dog Food, purchased from a small, family owned, local company.

Greeting Cards. April is National Letter Writing Month! If you have an extra $25, call your local bookshop, or boutique and ask them to put together a pack of their favorite greeting cards. (I promise you, the shop owners have some favorites.) This one is a double feel good, because you are supporting local, and also sending out notes… trust me, people love mail, and everyone could use a reminder that you are thinking about them.

Local Beer & Wine. This is maybe the kindest thing you can do for your community right now. With so many restaurants closing, this means that our local wineries and breweries (and also our local farmers) have lost a lot of their distribution.   I repeat purchasing local beer & wine is maybe the kindest thing you can do for your community right now, and for yourself.

Support Local Farmers. Again, with so many restaurants closing, our small local farmers are losing a lot of their weekly deliveries. Many are opening up weekly shares, and doing their best to keep the community supplied with fresh, locally grown food. By supporting local farmers you A) reduce the amount of people who are touching your food before it gets to you, and B) putting more money back into the local economy. Our local farmers live here and shop here, and the more we are able to support them, the more they will be able to grow. It feels redundant to have to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway, SUPPORT THE PEOPLE WHO GROW YOUR FOOD. Farming is hard. It is not for the faint of heart, it is not glamorous, and it isn’t overly lucrative. The people I know who are farmers do so out of love for the land, love for the community. Support these humans. We need them.

Along these same lines, support your local Farmers Market. It’s no secret that I have major heart eyes for Farmers Markets, but let me get on my market soap box here and tell you why you should too. Farmers Markets are considered essential businesses during the Pandemic because they offer access fresh, locally grown food. Most Farmers Markets accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits or SNAP, and some markets (including the McMinnville Farmers Market) have a SNAP matching program, meaning that more locally grown produce is available to the families and population that need it the most. With a surge in unemployment right now, I believe communities will be seeing more families utilizing the matching program at farmers markets. This means A) people have access to more produce, and B) Farmers are getting more money. (are you feeling all the warm fuzzies yet?!?!) But here is the thing…. Our local farmers market needs sponsors to help cover the market overhead. Farmers Markets don’t just happen. There are MONTHS of planning that go into them. There is paperwork, street closure permits, insurance, marketing, processing vendor applications, navigating how to handle the SNAP benefits, staffing, advertising, porta potties and hand washing stations rentals, infrastructure supplies, communication with the public and the vendors….Add to that this year that Markets are now having to navigate social distancing guidelines for shoppers, additional hand washing stations, additional staff and volunteers to help regulate how many people are shopping at one time/ social distancing appropriately, as well as coming up with new guidelines for vendors, having to navigate expanding the footprint of the market to facilitate social distancing etc. All of this takes resources. If you have extra to give right now, please consider donating to a Farmers Market, or other organization that addresses the issue of food equality. Currently the McMinnville Farmers Market has a $150 Market Patron sponsorship option. A contribution at this level will get you includes a $20 market gift certificate, a Farmers Market tote and a farmers market tee shirt. The McMinnville Downtown Farmers Market is scheduled to run for 23 weeks this season… so for roughly $6.52 a week you could help support the market in a huge way.

Here are a few things that you can do to help support your community that cost ZERO dollars, and will make a difference in someone’s life.

  • Donate blood: Numerous blood drives have been cancelled across the country due to the locations no longer being open during the Stay at Home order. Blood donations have slowed way down, but the need for blood is higher than ever. Contact the Red Cross and find a location.
  • Say Thank you. Especially to the clerks at the grocery store, any healthcare workers you know, the people at restaurants making your take-out. Say it often, and say it authentically. Let people know that you see them and appreciate what they are doing.
  • Reach out to a small business owner. Maybe you have a phone number you can text, or perhaps you are just sending a message over social media… however you reach out, just let them know you are thinking about them.
  • Post uplifting or humorous content on social media. As someone who spends a lot of time on social media for my job, MEMES are giving me life right now.
  • Like and Share Content. While you are sharing this content, go to at least 5 small business people you follow who are self-employed and like their content. Share it in your stories, make a comment. Businesses need more visibility right now. If you are scrolling online, designate 10 minutes of your day to intentionally liking, sharing, and commenting on posts. It absolutely helps these businesses and individuals.
  • Check in with your humans. It can be a quick text, phone call, video chat… everyone is handling this situation differently, and there is a lot of anxiety in the world. I’m not saying that you need to take on the anxiety or stress of the ones that you love, but they do need to know that you are thinking about them. (Even us introverts… we are mostly doing ok, but check on us too…)

AND finally, here are a few things that you can do that will ABSOLUTELY make a difference in your life right now.

  • Go outside for at least 5 minutes every day. You might just stand outside your front door, you might do this with a glass of wine in your hand, and you can absolutely do this in your pajamas, but breathe some fresh air.
  • Take it one day at a time.
  • Meditate: start with 1 minute focusing on your breath… It doesn’t have to be an epic life altering meditation, just be still, breathe, let go….
  • Move. Your. Person. –I’m struggling with this one… but I’m so thankful to all of the beautiful humans who are offering online yoga/ fitness/ meditation classes right now. Find a local person you can support, find a youtube video, walk around your driveway, bribe yourself in weird ways…. (I’m can only listen to the news if I’m working OR doing squats/ lunges… Lets be real…. Sometimes this means I’m not listening to the news, but that is also a benefit to my mental health… so…)
  • Do something creative: You do not have to be an artist or a crafter or a creative being. Make a doodle, needlepoint something, put stickers in your planner, make a nature mandala in your yard with whatever sticks/ leaves/ petals/ moss you can find. Try a new recipe! (cooking is creative you guys! ) Pull a spice or ingredient you don’t typically use out of the pantry and research a dish you can make. Write a haiku. Paint your fingernails. Take an arty photo of a houseplant, and edit it in lightroom. Creativity doesn’t fit into a box… there are endless ways to be creative, you just need to find one. Don’t over-think it.
  • Reach Out: Its also OKAY to reach out when you need some support. It’s okay to say “This sucks, and I’m not doing okay right now” If you are reading this and you feel like you don’t have anyone in your circle that you can say this sort of stuff to, reach out to me! I am a great listener.
  • Have Grace with yourself and others. We are ALL going through this. We ALL have good days and bad days (and it is sometimes its moment to moment). You don’t need to be dazzlingly productive or efficient right now, we all just need to be honest. Its okay if you are moving slowly today, its okay if you are emotional, scared, irritated, confused… its also okay to be happy. Its okay to find small joys in the every day. It’s okay to be thankful. I struggle with this sometimes (back to my survivors guilt…) But here is the TRUTH: When I look outside and see a flower blooming and it brings a brief moment of joy, that moment doesn’t take away someone else’s joy. It also doesn’t make their suffering or angst any worse. BUT it does fill my cup just a tiny bit, so somewhere down the line when someone reaches out who is in crisis or not doing well it means that I have a little bit more emotional depth to give. It is okay to feel all your feelings. Its also okay to eat your feelings… yup, that is right, I just gave you permission. And it is DEFINETELY okay not to judge yourself for eating your feelings. This is new for most of us… Its okay if you are not okay, and it’s okay to feel okay. Also some people who are not okay might be taking it out externally… thus, the grace with yourself AND others. Especially right now.

To Sum up…. Support the things that fill you up and that speak to you (for me its small business & Farmers Markets…) give yourself permission to feel all your feelings, help when and where you can, and for all that is sacred in this world, stay home as much as humanly possible and please keep washing your hands.


Tayler is the Communications Coordinator for McMinnville Economic Development Partnership. She is also a Yoga Teacher, a former Farmers Market Manager, and forever a community enthusiast. She is an introvert, so overall she is doing okay right now, but she is definitely having more in-depth conversations with her bulldog, and not entirely convinced he is happy to have her working from home.

Meanwhile I’m on the knee shaving struggle bus

You guys… It’s mid August, here we are in late Summer and I find myself wondering how is it that I’m thirty-four-year-old woman and cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to successfully shave my knees? Does anyone else struggle with this? Honestly, it feels like I missed some sort of middle-school seminar on best knee shaving techniques, and I’m constantly wondering how every other leg shaving woman out there manages to accomplish a clean knee shave. Meanwhile I am here on the shaving struggle bus. Let me just clarify, that I’m not exactly self-concious about it… I mean in spite of my VERY BEST efforts I can’t seem to figure out how to successfully shave my knees, and life goes on. But what I AM self-concious/ embarassed about is the fact that I have been shaving my legs multiple times a week for over twenty years, and apparently practice does not make perfect.

I’m sure there are a myriad of contributing factors such as bathroom lighting, shower configuration, the dullness of a razor blade on any given day, I cannot seem to figure out how to successfully shave my knees, and I’m kind of baffled why not.

Every time I shave my legs I approach the knees from every imaginable angle. Bottom to top, top to bottom, in from the sides, bent knee, straight knee, and after going over each knee at least seventy-five times I typically end my leg shaving session feeling confident that this time, I’ve done it. Knee hair be gone, you are no match for my attention to detail and keen shaving skills. I go on with my day, falling into my getting ready routine, and most times don’t even think of double checking my work as I’m putting on my lotion. Most days I’m running late (well exactly on time with no room for error) and like clockwork, I get halfway down my driveway, coffee in hand, mere moments to get to the office or a meeting, and the morning sun catches my left knee and the inevitable patch of knee hair, and no time to run back to my razor.

Though I like to think I am not the only adult female with this particular shaving handicap, I feel as though I might be, because I’m the weirdo who ocasionally gets into a meeting and quickly scans the room looking at all the exposed kneecaps praying that I’ll discover that I’m not the only woman who cannot figure this out.  Please Please Please let someone else have a wisp of detectable hair.  Don’t let me be alone in this…  Don’t worry, I feel super weird about it/ I’m aware that most normal people are not scanning for detectable knee hair, but if I’m walking around  most days with visible tufts of knee fuzz I really hope I’m not alone.

The good news is that living in Oregon, there are plenty of un-shaven legs around, and I’m quite confident that the general public gives zero f*@#s about my shaving inaptitude, but then again, maybe there are other weirdos out there like me looking for confirmation… If so, I’m hoping my fuzzy knee caps bring them some sort of solace. If you are out there, we’re in this together.

For a while I kept a spare razor stashed in my car for those driveway emergencies. What’s a little razor burn amongst friends? But when I got my current vehicle, a razor never made its way over from the old one, and though I lament this at least once a week, still haven’t re-supplied. Something about it seems perhaps a little vain, and definitely high maintenance (though at this point, I’m blogging about shaving my legs, being perceived as high maintenance is the least of my worries) Mostly I’ve just resisgned myself that “this is just the way it is” and I keep on driving.

In preparation for an extended trip to California this Spring, I decided to wax my legs. No muss, no fuss, no sitting on shuttle bus and wishing I had a disposible razor in my handbag.  Overall I approach waxing the same way I do finding a doctor. Out of town is best. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about supporting local, in fact my job is basically promoting and supporting local businesses. That being said, I’m not interested in running into my doctors or my waxing specialists while teaching a yoga class, waiting in line for coffee or at the grocery store. Will I get an emergency eyebrow wax locally? Sure. But if I’m waxing any other part of my body, I leave the zip code. Obviously as I sit here blogging about body waxing, I’m not self-conscious about it, and it’s not a secret, but I’m already an awkward human, and there are just some interactions I don’t have the energy to engage in. Running into the person who does my bikini/facial hair/ leg wax out in the real world is at the top of that list.

As an introvert I don’t particularly enjoy engaging in small talk in most instances, but lets face it, you cannot make it through life without engaging in at least some small talk, (particularly in a public job, networking, and standing in line at brunch…) And you  simpy cannot avoid small talk with your hair stylist, dentist or waxer (though sometimes I think it would be preferable)  which is how I discovered during my very first bikini wax that my Esthetician was sorted into the Slytherin House. Let me just stop you right there, because I know you are probably wondering how in the hell the topic of Howgwarts Houses came up at a bikini wax in the first place. (but really why wouldn’t it?)  A) because I excel at nerdy conversations, B) this is just how my life tends to go and C) I was getting ready for a vacation to California that mostly consisted of laying poolside in Palm Springs, but also included one glorious day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Of course this revelation came as no surprise, the person pouring hot wax and ripping out all my body hair identified as a Slytherin…. Go figure. (If you don’t know about the Harry Potter Houses by now, I can’t really help you) and now every time I find myself in the waiting room at the waxing salon I start muttering under my breath “Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin” (She is a perfectly nice person, and actually an excellent waxer, and I have seen her several times since.)

And actually, I went to her this spring when I opted to get my legs waxed. Under normal circumstances, I am fine with my inadequate knee shaving ability, but when attending a Social Media Conference and being surrounded by a thousand women with camera phones who were live-tweeting and instagraming every second of every day, I decided that a full leg wax was in order. And though it actually hurt more than I was expecting it to, I still think it was the best investment I made in prepping for that trip. Peace of mind, Slytherin Style. But a leg wax is an investment (time, money, and the grow out in-between is not for the faint of heart) so for 50 weeks out of the year I am left to my own devices of attempted knee hair removal.

As we are heading quickly towards Autumn and all the joys that come with it, crisp mornings, light sweaters and of course long pants, I’m looking forward to putting my knee shaving neurosis on the back burner. In the meantime, if you catch me staring intently at your knees in a meeting or at book club, or wherever please know that I’m not intenttionally being the weirdest person in the room, and also please tell me what the secret to shaving your knees is. Because some of us would really like to know, and apparently can’t figure it out.

Dead on the inside?

I have to get something off my chest. I’ve been feeling the tiniest bit like a hypocrite since my last post where I confessed to the fact that I don’t actually like to carve pumpkins. Mostly because for the past ten-ish years I’ve been giving my brother a hard time about this very thing. I often refer to my brother as “dead on the inside” (in the most loving way possible, I assure you. ) because he doesn’t like to decorate for the holidays, he hates to dye Easter Eggs, he doesn’t enjoy carving pumpkins, and then you add on things like he has never watched Dirty Dancing, and has somehow established himself as the Harry Potter expert in our family EVEN THOUGH HE HAS NOT READ ALL THE BOOKS!!! (ok this last one is maybe just a personal pet peeve of mine) All of these things contribute to the running joke of me telling him he is all dead on the inside.

Full disclosure, my brother is a wonderful human, AND an amazing public educator. I don’t think you can actually be successful or even drawn to public education and interacting with the youth of America if you are actually “dead on the inside” but I still like to give him a bad time, as is my right and my role as the pesky younger sister.

Of course, in my adulthood I have come to realize that maybe his adverseness to singing all the verses of the 12 days of Christmas while sitting in the hot tub, getting the perfect shade of neon pink onto hard-boiled egg shells, and reading scratch-n-sniff holiday books might have less to do with him being “dead on he inside” and more to do with the fact that the person initiating all of these projects was me, the pesky little sister… Le sigh. Perspective and all that jazz.

And here I am, 33 years young, realizing that I also don’t really enjoy carving pumpkins. Maybe I need to cool it on the “dead on the inside” comments, or at least acknowledge that there might be the tiniest part of my glittery, crafty, stylish and creative self that is also a little bit dead on the inside. At least I know I am in good company.

For your enjoyment: Here is a link to my brother’s podcast, in which he interviews Educators from McMinnville High School and offers insights into personalities, projects and methods of teachers in the public school system.   They are really worth a listen.

Hi there! I’m here.

Hi-ya! (insert waving emoji here) It’s me! I’m here! I could start off by apologizing for not posting on here in a year, but I’m not going to. Do I feel better when I’m writing? Yes. BUT I’m also highly aware that my creativity takes on many forms, and though I’m absolutely delighted when it manifests itself in the form of writing, I’m equally fulfilled when it take a jaunt in the form of planning out a garden, making pickles, trying new recipes, sequencing a new yoga class, cultivating a playlist for my yoga choreography, writing letters, dancing around the living room… My creativity isn’t limited to my writing, and thus, I tend to indulge the inevitable ebbs and flows.

It is very reassuring to know that when I’m in it, I have a supportive writing group and this outlet… and even when I’m not physically sitting down and typing things out there is a pretty constant narrative running in my head. I keep a notebook full of one-sentence antidotes and a list of topics I’m waiting to explore… Have I over-indulged in this particular blogging ebb? Perhaps. BUT I’m checking in now, and it feels like it is time to show up for my writing, and show up here. Hi! Thanks for being patient.

I’m feeling a rather tangible sprinkling of magic dust lately… (anyone else?) and I’m embracing it. And this magic dust is inspiring and invigorating and it’s lighting all sorts of creative sparks (yay!) So I just wanted to let you know, I have plans (writing plans, travel plans, yoga plans, life plans…) Firstly, the blog is getting a little makeover… because it is time! Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks and months. I’m also working on keeping myself accountable with my writing, which mean, posting at least twice a month through the end of 2018 (Maybe more, but no less!) and I plan on ramping up in January with a themed series I’ve got marinating.

As I’m here behind the scenes working on this transformation, I’m really trying to identify and nurture my goals as a writer and what I want Awkwardolive.com to be. I have some ideas I’m working on, but in the meantime I’d love some feedback from you. What would you like to hear more of? Is there a niche you’d like to see filled? What are your favorite types of posts? I know I can’t please everyone, but I’m embracing the collaborative spirit, and I’d like to know what sorts of things are resonating with you.

Okay, GTG, Today is my bestie’s 34th birthday, and I’m signed up to bring cupcakes to the party this weekend. Running out to the store to stock up on ingredients… (I might be baking a second cake for us to eat after the party because BROWN BUTTER CREAM CHEESE FROSTING!)

Untitled Poem, Since it is #nationalpoetryday

Everyday we have a choice

To approach things with grace, understanding…

the expectation of hope…

I often invite my students to either rest their palms up

A sign of receptivity… of openness

(To what? That is up to them.)

or with their palms facing down,

a sign of letting go.

I ask them to focus

to breathe…

and then we move onto what is next.

 

I’m beginning to wonder

if perhaps,

it is time for me to look at our relationship

and let my palms rest downward

letting go of expectations

and settling into where we are now

(which is where exactly?

I can’t quite find it on a map,

but it is starting to feel like a place I know called contempt)

 

And how did we get here

This awkward unknown that is hovering

–palpable in the air like pollen or humidity–

Generic answers where there used to be genuine interest

Self-absorption where there used to be curiosity

 

I look over at you

standing next to me, and I realize

I’d rather be here with anyone else.

Resting my palms down

and wondering

​​what is next?

I’m the girl in the dinosaur leggings

 

““Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they’re special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer, more loving person, and only attracts more love into your life.” Amy Poehler.

 

This afternoon I was running errands in these obnoxious bright green dinosaur print leggings. I’m actually a little bit obsessed with them (fun yoga tights in general) and I had just finished taking a killer barre class and was at Trader Joe’s stocking up on snacks and cheap wine. I wasn’t necessarily trying to make a statement, but as an introvert, I do find crazy pants are a sure fire way to get people to interact with you (for better or for worse.) No fewer than six people stopped me in the aisles to comment on the leggings, and as I was waiting in line one of the checker’s yelled “Hey Dinosaur, I can help you over here!”

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I wore these leggings on a first date once. We met up in a Portland coffee shop at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, me before heading to a barre class, him before heading to an all day seminar on Social Justice. Both of us yoga teachers… he ordered a macchiato, and we talked a bit about yoga and to make the date even more Portlandia, I discovered that he didn’t have a car, and though he did have a “Real” job he wasn’t that into it and would rather teach yoga and focus on his Social Justice book club. I wasn’t sure what his reaction to the dino leggings would be, but he didn’t even bat an eye at them. I subconsciously wore them, thinking at all else they would be a conversation starter. Lord knows meeting someone for the first time at 8:30 on a Sunday, before you’ve even consumed coffee is a risky first date scenario, so it couldn’t hurt to have a built in conversation buffer. The pants were never mentioned… he drank his tiny tiny coffee and we went our separate ways.

When I was a Junior in college my roommate and I made up a song we would sing to each other as we were getting ready for bed/ hungover on the weekend mornings called “Wasteland of love.” Looking back on this, it might have been somewhat of a clue as to why we were both single at the time, but you cannot live in the past like that. I was coming off of this epic crush from the previous year, and making up a show tunes style ballad seemed like a pretty good life choice. I met the guy in a Religion class of all places, and the second he walked in the door it was one of those “I’ve got to get to know this guy” moments. He was ridiculously handsome (at least to me) and a complete nerd all wrapped into one, and by some miracle we ended up in the same small discussion group. The weeks went by, we talked about the Old Testament, and our friendship developed outside of class. We spent the weekends watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and eating pomegranate seeds, talking about Post Season Baseball, and chatting in dorm entryways until 2 in the morning. We nerded out about Star Wars, and went to a few parties, and talked politics, and finally towards the end of the school year I got the courage to send him a note through campus mail that told him how I felt about him. I mean, after two semesters of hanging out, of Instant Message conversations of constant weekend hang-outs he had to kind of already know, right? And he got the card… (which, I wish I still had it, because it was this perfectly witty thing, and I don’t entirely remember what it said on the front, but it was this whole monologue about ketchup and jiggling a toilet handle, and it was of course this really round about way of saying how much I liked him etc. etc.) So we decided we should talk in person to figure out what this all meant, and when we were finally sitting in my dorm room and I’m like trying to keep my shit together, he looks at me and says “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet.” And then kind of flopped over in this epic way like cats sometimes do , (and he had this amazing long-ish hair that that kind of flopped over this glasses) and that was basically our entire conversation about my year long crush on him… Twelve years later, and I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, but whenever I find myself in a state of dating confusion, I often flash back to that conversation. And honestly, when people ask me why I’m not dating anyone, this is often the answer that pops into my head. “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet. “

I’ve tried the whole swiping thing, and though a lot of my friends swear by it, I just cannot seem to get on board. My Freshman year of college I got a letter from my grandmother and at the end it said “look out for all the jerks and weirdos out there!” and my friends and I laughed about it at the time, but flash forward to the current dating scene, and let me tell you, there are a lot of jerks and weirdos out there! Yes, there are also nice ones, and funny ones, and I get that I should probably keep trying, but let me just set the scene of the last guy I met online. Picture it. Sicily, 1937… kidding…  We were out at a wine-bar and he spent a good seven minutes telling me this anecdotes about how he recently watched the best of Chris Farley episodes of SNL, and how funny they were, and how emotional he got because he grew up on that kind of comedy. I interjected how I could totally relate because I had recently listened to Amy Poehler’s book on a road trip, and started to get a little teary when she was talking about her last season and how it really resonated with me during that time since it was an election year and her portrayal of Katie Couric really resonated with me. And he turned to me and said “um… I don’t know who that is” and I said “Amy Poehler?!?!?!” and he got SUPER defensive and said “Hey I don’t really know authors that well ok!”

I’ve been on two “blind dates ” in my life.  Granted, this last one, the guy didn’t know it was supposed to be a set up, and I ended up spending the evening with my best friend and MY PARENTS at a dive bar in Salem, listening to a bunch of Doctors cover rock songs, and my BFF used the “countdown to St. Patrick’s Day” clock as a timer to when we could leave. The other guy got my name and phone number while he was under the influence of Anesthesia… (hashtag welcome to my life)

Then there was the guy I met speed dating. He was nice enough, well spoken, had two master’s degrees, super involved in his community, and seemed kind of like a catch. Then I get a 3 minute long voice mail at 2PM on a Friday, and he’s curious why I’m not answering my phone, and talking about how he’s going golfing but he just had some dental work done, and it had been about 10 years since he had a cavity, and how his mouth is numb and how weird it is, and he literally said “you know like when your foot goes to sleep, only its your mouth!!!” and I’m sitting there wondering why he thought I wouldn’t be at work at 2PM on a Friday, and who leaves 3 minute long voice mails rambling about dental work… and then the next day he told me he didn’t want to see me again because I was TOO rooted in my community and he thought we had different communication styles. Fact: we do.

And I get it, I think there are still some good eggs out there (which is in no way a veiled reference to my biological clock, because I do not want to have children…) and lord knows I keep putting myself out there, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening. Thankfully, people don’t seems to ask as much as they used to as to why I’m not dating anyone… When you are in your 20’s it seems as though people feel entitled to ask, and once you reach your 30s that line of questioning seems to mostly fizzle out, though occasionally it pops up, and once my brain stops screaming “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet” my second impulse is to give out the phone numbers of all the men I’ve asked out who have said no, and say “ask these gentlemen, because I don’t know!” (disclaimer, if any of them are reading this… I’m not actually that crazy or that jaded, your numbers are safe) I live in a small town, I work in a women’s clothing boutique, so let’s be honest, most of the men I meet on a daily basis are shopping for their wives. I’m putting myself out there, I’m trying to stay open, but I honestly don’t have an answer to the question “Why aren’t you dating anyone?”

I did have a bit of a flirtation with one of the fill in UPS delivery men. It was always kind of exciting because I never knew when he would be on our route, and then randomly he would show up, all smiles and flirty banter, and it got to the point where my heart would kind of flutter anytime I heard a handtruck outside. My friend, who works at another boutique, started to text me when he was out on delivery so I could compose myself or put on lipstick before he arrived. Once I awkwardly dropped the signature thing and was thinking “pull it together Brisbin.” So finally, after a Summer of this, I get the text alert that he is out and about on delivery, and I calmly get a to-go cup, write my name and number on it, and make him a latte (of course it had a little foam heart on top, because that is the only latte art I can actually do, and also just because.) and I waited. I waited and waited and waited, and then I finally saw him walk by the shop, and realized that we didn’t have any deliveries that day, so he didn’t come in! Of course, I had a store full of customers so I couldn’t chase down hot UPS guy and give him the coffee/ my phone number, but had he actually come in that day, I still believe this would have been the COOLEST THING I’VE EVER DONE! But alas, I just had to sit there and somewhat pathetically drink the coffee with my own name and number on it.   (follow up… the next time he came in, I did give him my contact card, and he was totally sweet, and told me he just started seeing someone, and I said “can’t blame a girl for trying.” And then he was our UPS guy for the next 10 days in a row and I somehow managed to not be a spaz that entire time. And now he comes in sporadically and I’m mostly a spaz, but hey, at least he has my number.)

Fast Forward to now. (sitting at my kitchen table, drinking wine, still rocking the dino leggings, listening to jazz) This month for Bookclub we are reading Quiet by Susan Cain… and I’m not going to lie, I’m having a little bit of a hard time getting into it. And though we haven’t discussed the book yet, I’m kind of thinking that most of us in the group are going to say “It was interesting… but I already identify as an introvert, It was basically like reading a book about myself… and I already know that I’m like this. “ At least this has been my response to the book. There is part of me that feels like it should be required reading for extroverts, or maybe for anyone that I date (doesn’t dating me sound fun?!? I have hand outs and recommended reading about how to best get to know me and deal with my quirks… LOL) But honestly, I don’t need a book to tell me that I’m a careful thinker, that I think before I act, that I take longer to digest information and that if left to my own devices I “tend to sit around wondering about things, imaging things, recalling events from my past, and making plans for the future.” ( Quiet, pg 168)

Granted, I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but thus far the part that has resonated the most with me is a section that is talking about small talk “ In most settings, people use small talk as a way of relaxing into a new relationship, and only once they’re comfortable, do they connect more seriously. Sensitive people seem to do the reverse. They “enjoy” small talk only after they’ve gone deep”… When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chitchat just as much as anyone else. “ (Quiet, pg 152.)   This I get, this is my jam, this is the section that I’m going to highlight and put on my nametag at speed dating. This is the flyer that I’m going to hand out to all my potential suitors, this is my new mantra, This is the key to the decoder ring of my life.

I recently got blindsided by having feelings for someone… and though I’m totally in life recovery mode right now, because things didn’t work out the way I hoped they would, I have to say, that the things you don’t see coming are often times the most exciting. Anyway, I’m still kind of in the middle of it, and figuring out the day to day, but basically the blindsiding thing happened, and I decided to act on it, even though I knew it was complicated, because in this day and age, dating is complicated (per an e-mail I recently received from a dating site, the Dating Apocalypse is here… just so you know… ) life is complicated, so why not just go for it and see what happens, and pick up the pieces of your ego and self esteem later? (kidding) But really, I’m a firm believer in embracing vulnerability, and most of the time it’s scary and kind of sucky, but also awesome, and so, once again, I found myself dropping a note in the mail saying, “I’m interested” (side note… I didn’t really realize until just now that this is apparently my MO. I’m boycotting technology based dating, but damn it, Jane Austen would be proud of my snail mail declarations of love… at least I’m consistent?) and maybe putting a letter in the post wasn’t quite as cool as writing my number on a cup of coffee, but it still felt like this amazing force of forward motion.

And here is one other observation I have about being an introvert… you have to be your own advocate.I feel a little conflicted with this one, because generally speaking, as a woman, as a human, as a person, looking for love, you shouldn’t have to convince the other person that they should have feelings for you, am I right? If they don’t get why you are the cat’s pajamas (where are these antiquated sayings even coming from? I’m just rolling with is) then they are NOT your person. You shouldn’t have to explain why your quirks are charming, why your awkwardness is endearing, if they don’t get you, then onward and upward…. ONLY! I’m an introvert. And I’m slow to warm up, and it takes me a long time to process things, and establish this comfort zone, so mostly I listen and observe and think, and process, and then I end up totally surprising everyone when I just put it all out there. And then everyone is like “Her?” (Oh my God, am I Anne Veal?) because it goes against everyone’s preconceived ideas of me. I think I would have thrived at the Milford School where Children should neither be seen nor heard. ( if you aren’t getting the Arrested Development references, I can’t really help you.) And so, yes, I shouldn’t have to advocate for myself as to why I’m awesome… but sometimes it feels like maybe I actually need to. And it goes kind of goes back to that big talk vs. small talk thing… It seems so much more natural to just tell someone you have feelings for them and approach things from a larger angle before getting into the smaller and more trivial things. At least it does for me… then again, I’m kind of realizing I’m in the minority here, and basically it feels like maybe my approach to dating is kind of like living in The Upside Down. Everything is vaguely familiar, but it’s different, and you can’t get through to the people on the other side, and its maybe slightly scary. But why bother with the small stuff when the big stuff is so much more interesting?

Anyway… its been a challenging few weeks to be a single gal in McMinnville. Then, add in the fact that I had a huge fight with my father over politics, and I’m basically feeling a little lost as a single.   I mean, I should have known better than to ask him point blank if he was voting for Trump, and when his answer was “probably” I literally burst into tears. My mom immediately asked me if there was anything else going on in my life… and well yes, I’m feeling a little vulnerable, and not necessarily trusting my gut right now, but also his answer really devastated me. As a little girl you are supposed to look up to your father as this ideal, this larger than life representation of how all the men in your life should treat you. And I realize that I’m exceptionally lucky, because my dad is, without a doubt, a keeper. But finding out that he was most likely supporting a candidate that boasts about sexual assault, who degrades women, and who I view as an all around terrible human kind of destroyed me. What is that supposed to say to me as a single woman, that my father is willing to support that sort of behavior from the man who could run the country? What is that supposed to say to me, that my father is willing to support someone who could speak that way to his daughter, to his granddaughter? And how can I look at him the same way? (and then, as I was having this meltdown, my mom backed her car into my car… I can’t even make this up.)

Anyway… round back to the story at hand… it didn’t work out. (Lol, you know that scene in Dirty Dancing Havana Nights? No? Just me? “I liked this guy once… it didn’t work out. He didn’t even know I existed.” Go watch that movie immediately, if not sooner). My dad might vote for Donald Trump, and I’m just trying to wrap my head around it all.

But here is what I know for sure. I’m an introvert. And I’m witty. I’m well read, and I’m a little awkward at times. I drink Whiskey. I like to listen to jazz when I make dinner. I sing Sinatra songs to my dog a lot. I’m quirky, I probably know more about Star Wars than you do, I teach yoga, I love to hike, I don’t like IPA, but I understand if you do. When I’m stressed out I like to watch The Golden Girls, my books are color coordinated, and I hate folding laundry. I’m not a morning person, but I’m really trying to be, I don’t like mustard, but I do like pickled mustard seeds. I like to cook, I love The Red Sox, but I tolerate most sports pretty well. My idea of the perfect first date is going to the batting cages. I like action movies, and I tell it like it is. I’m a good listener and I’ll probably remember random little details about the first time we met. I’m sentimental, I hate drama, and I value authenticity. I love gardening, and pickling, and my favorite place on the planet is Tintern Abbey (Fenway Park is a close second) I like real conversations, and binge watching things on Netflix. I’m snarky and cynical and also a hopeless romantic. I hate sappy novels, I love to cook, and being creative. I quote Arrested Development at least 3 times a day, and a good Meme makes me surprisingly happy. I’m quiet, and reflective, and dorky and driven. I like to dance in kitchen, and I can’t do a cartwheel, but I do make a damn good Manhattan. And I’m in the girl in the dinosaur leggings.

 

 

“No, that is NOT a baby bump” AKA sometimes people are the worst.

Over the last few months I feel like I’ve seen quite a few stories online about body shaming, and a myriad of positive responses about how women are supposed to love their bodies, be comfortable in their own skin, and just live their best lives without having to worry about the weirdo trolls who make asinine comments about weight, looks etc. And I totally agree! And I kept thinking how blessed I was to be in such a supportive community, full of strong and vibrant women who are positive and uplifting, and quirky and wonderful… and how glad I was to be in my 30s, and to not have to deal with the middle school/ high school drama, and how great I was feeling in my body, and how I was at such a great place in my life… And then a random woman asked me if I was pregnant…

Let me set the scene: It was a Monday, and I had just finished teaching a barre class, I was pretty sweaty and  I was wearing the brightest neon purple yoga pants in all the land. I wasn’t looking glamorous by any means, but considering that I had just finished teaching, and was going to be taking another class in a few hours, I wasn’t concerned with my overall appearance. No make-up/ yoga pants is a pretty common look for me on days that I’m teaching and running errands. I did have to stop by my work for a second to bring lunch for my roommate/ co-worker, so I ran in and dropped off her salad, told her I added some tomatoes from the garden, flipped through the mail, and was getting ready to leave when the woman at the counter out of nowhere said “Oh is that a baby bump you are sporting?” UM. WHAT?   I know that I’ve never been super great at controlling my facial expressions and I’m sure the look of confusion, shock and “I want to punch you in the face” probably came across, as I somewhat stammered “um… no… No it isn’t.” And I was kind of expecting a look of embarrassment to come over her as she apologized, but she just looked at me and simply said “Oh. Well you were kind of gesturing towards your stomach, and it looks like you definitely could be pregnant, so I just assumed by your body language that you were.” No apology, no embarrassment, no remorse.

This was the part that really killed me, because sure, it’s bad enough for someone to ask you if you are Pregnant on a Monday morning right after you finish working out, but for her to then try to justify why she even said something, and pretty much stand by her ridiculous faux pas was something I wasn’t really ready for. And everything about her facial expression and her tone made it very clear that she felt entitled to make a comment like that, and it almost inferred that rather than her being embarrassed for making a mistake, I should be embarrassed about my body because how was she to know? Clearly it wasn’t her fault for opening her mouth, it was my fault for looking the way that I did.

Now, I was brought up in the generation of “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Which is fascinating to me, because the older I get, the more I find that the mother’s who were preaching this sort of behavior to us, are the ones who feel entitled to tell us exactly what they think with this unfiltered bluntness, and seem to have no concept of what is rude and what is socially acceptable. It’s like they think they are doing you this huge favor. HOW IS THIS A THING?

I left the shop feeling baffled, and chubby, and oh so irritated. Let me just say, that I don’t have issues with my body. As a woman, I’m quite aware of what areas I could work on, I know that I have a genetic disposition for German hips, I know how quickly my metabolism is working (or not working) and what I put into my body. I know all of these things, and I exercise regularly, and I drink a lot of water, and I eat pretty healthy… but I also eat cheese. I eat cheese, and I drink beer, and I choose all of my choices. I take 3-4 barre classes a week, I teach yoga, I walk, I run occasionally, and I am 100% comfortable in my own skin. Yes, I could work out more, I could eat less, I could cut out alcohol, I could do a LOT of things, but I am not currently, nor have I ever been bogged down by issues of my weight and low self-esteem. I’m very self aware of my own body, I dress appropriately, I love my sense of style, I don’t get hung up on things like sizes, and I embrace the fact that I have a few curves.  Overall, I think I have a pretty healthy outlook… and then something like this happens, and though it is mostly just irritating, and rude, it still put a microscopic crack in my positive body image.

Me, being sassy, living my best life.

Me, being sassy, living my best life.

And here I where I go on a little side tangent… I am 30, and I’ve recently started getting back into the dating scene. Every man I’ve dated in my adult life has at some point in conversation made a comment like “I don’t understand why you are still single!” Which I understand, is supposed to be this flattering, read between the lines, because I think you are awesome kind of compliment, but I also find it frustrating because what am I supposed to say to that? “Well… if I knew, I probably wouldn’t be single…” which just seems to confuse them even more, and really the simple answer is. Well, no one asks me out, and all the guys I ask out say no… so what is a girl supposed to do? And then it’s like “Well are they fishing for something? Are try wondering if I’m secretly crazy?” I mean, is being single SUCH a weird thing? Do I actually need to say “ I just haven’t met the right person yet, and lucky for you, because now we are on this date, and we get to try and figure out if you are the right person.” Overall, it’s not a question that keeps me up at night, I don’t lie awake and ask the universe “WHY AM I SINGLE? I JUST DON’T GET IT!” Because I’ve always been under the impression that it would happen when it happened and I have bigger things to worry about that finding a soul mate. ANYWAY… So I’m sitting in the shop and this woman has just looked at me and asked about my non-existent baby bump, and is kind of giving me this knowing look of like “isn’t this the best time of your life?” And her smugness is just pissing me off even more, because actually no, it is not my dream in life to be a mother, and yes it is the best time of my life, and it has nothing to do with the apparent burrito belly I’m currently sporting… and I’m not self conscious about my body, and I don’t care what other people think, and then with this one fleeting comment, suddenly the only thought running through my head is “Oh my god. This is why I’m single… all the men out there think I’m pregnant. This is why no one wants to date me.”

And I hate that my brain went there, even if it was for just a second. Microscopic chip, and in comes the self doubt.

Of course, I called all the friends who I knew would be offended, I vented, they consoled and told me things like “A) you don’t, and B) its your body, and it is highly inappropriate for her to make comments about it. Even if you were 9 months pregnant, if she doesn’t know you, it is NOT ok to assume and make comments, and she is insane, and people are dumb. Its never ok to say something like that.” I was consoled by their kindness, by the fact that we all agreed that people are crazy, and just tried to brush it off.

And I did. I opted not to take it personally, I opted not to dwell (I opted to do a few more core exercises) and rather than letting the situation bring me down, I decided to laugh about it. I wasn’t about to let what some stranger said about my stomach get inside my head. Flash forward a week and a half, I was back teaching barre, and I decided to tell the anecdote to my class. One of my favorite teaching tactics is to tell personal stories when we are right in the midst of doing something hard. It takes everyone’s mind off of what we are doing, it lightens the mood, and it’s a great way to bring a little authenticity to the class. I’m sharing about my life, I’m making myself vulnerable, we are on this journey together kind of stuff. I wasn’t looking for them to say “oh no, you don’t look pregnant” I was more hoping to distract them and then encourage them to keep their cores activated by saying “now everyone engage your core. Your faux baby bump, if you will.”   Everyone laughed, we made it through the hard part of class, the mood was light, and things were going great.

As we were cleaning up the mats and putting the props away most of my students were making comments about “I can’t believe someone said that to you! People can be so rude!” and I was appreciative, and thrilled to be in a group of women who seemed to understand that there are things that you just don’t say out loud to people. And then one of my students pulled me aside and said “Well… don’t be offended by this, but I HAVE noticed that you’ve gained quite a bit of weight, and it’s all kind of right around your waist and hips, and quite frankly, I think that woman kind of had a point. You do look like you could be pregnant.”

One of my students actually said this to me… I couldn’t move, I couldn’t blink, I couldn’t breath. Finally, I forced an awkward smile and continued cleaning up the studio, and hoped that I didn’t start crying before everyone left. I mean, I understand that I strive to have all of my classes be a safe environment for sharing… But really? I have never once in my life taken a class and afterwards  felt like “ You know what? That was a great class, and I’m feeling awesome, but my teacher is looking a little chubby, I should probably just let her know. Just in case she is under the impression that she is super fit…” WHO SAYS STUFF LIKE THAT? I mean, apparently I know who says stuff like that… this student of mine apparently says stuff like that… but I was so taken aback. I wasn’t telling that story so the whole class would tell me how good I looked, I wasn’t looking for them to compliment me, I was trying to open up and be vulnerable and show that I was human, and rather than a “thanks for class.” I got a “well you DID gain weight.” Again, it was this accusatory tone of “well if you didn’t look this way, people wouldn’t make comments.” I took several deep breaths. And then I took several more deep breaths. AND THEN SHE CAME BACK OVER TO ME AND RE-ITERATED HER POINT. You guys, I can’t make this stuff up. She actually came back over and said “I really hope you weren’t offended.   I know that you are really very strong… but you’ve definitely put on some weight, and I can see why that woman said that to you. You look like you could be pregnant! She had a point!” And then she walked out the door. (because when you pre-empt an offensive comment with I hope you weren’t offended, that totally lets you off the hook, right? )

And how am I even supposed to react to that? IS THIS REAL LIFE? (Yes, yes it is.) I sat on the floor of the studio and took a few moments somewhat wondering “Did that really just happen?” and I just couldn’t figure it out. (I still can’t…) I mean… really, in what universe is it ok to just casually tell someone you’ve noticed they’ve gotten chubby and maybe look pregnant? Is this a thing? Is the whole world assuming that I’m just not aware of my own body, and that suddenly it needs to be pointed out to me how I look? You know, just in case I didn’t know?  WHO ARE THESE WOMEN?

I am still baffled by the situation… I mean, how else am I supposed to react? Was it hurtful? Sure. Was I offended? Absolutely. But also… I suppose that in some weird way I am grateful… I’m grateful that I can see this type of behavior, and know that as I age, I don’t want to be the type of woman who doesn’t have a filter. I don’t’ want to be the type of woman who feels entitled to speak her mind at the expense of other’s feelings. I don’t want to be the woman who is brazen enough to tell her yoga teacher that she’s put on a few pounds, I don’t want to be rude.

I’m not saying that I’m perfect, I’m not saying that I haven’t inadvertently said hurtful things to people in the past… and I’m sure I’ll say plenty of stupid things, and continue to screw up, and be flawed… but at the very least, I’m going to try and stick with the motto from my childhood about only saying nice things… (unless you make comments about my weight… and then I’ll just write about it on my blog.)