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Archive for the ‘Surviving’ Category

I was a teenager in the 1990s, an experience that I cannot describe to you – you have to have lived it to truly understand it – but that’s a subject for another day. Where I was going with this thought is that as a teenager, you’re looking for guidance, for a way to frame and structure your world that makes sense to you. Thank God that I was a country kid and that my generation had a poet, a sage, a wise soul named Garth Brooks to give us that much-needed guidance. As one of those terribly awkward, nerdy, bookish teenagers, Garth-Brooks1I needed to figure out how to keep an open heart and a strong soul in the face of shallow high school concerns. Enter Mr. Brooks and his three chords and the truth. Words of wisdom indeed….

♦ The Change – As long long as one heart still holds on / Then hope is never really gone” and “But it’s not the world that I am changing / I do this so, this world will know that it will not change me.”

♦ Unanswered Prayers – Just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care / Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

♦ We Shall Be Free – When the last thing we notice is the color of skin /And the first thing we look for is the beauty within” and “When we’re free to love anyone we choose / When this world’s big enough for all different views / When we all can worship from our own kind of pew / Then we shall be free.”

♦ If Tomorrow Never Comes –Tell that someone that you love / Just what you’re thinking of/ If tomorrow never comes.”

♦ Do What You Gotta Do – There ain’t nobody in this world / That’s gonna do it for you / Do what you gotta do.”

♦ To Make You Feel My Love – The storms are raging on the rollin’ sea / Down on the highway of regret / The winds of change are blowing wild and free / But you ain’t seen nothing like me yet.”

♦ The River – oh hell, just the entire song…listen here

 

And now that I am an adult and have actually lived and experienced some of the difficult situations that Mr. Brooks was crooning about, his words still guide me and reassure me that I’m not the only one who has suffered a heartbreak and a rebuilding….

♦ Every Now and Then – “I love my life and I’ve never trade / Between what you and me had and the life I’ve made” 

♦ I Don’t Have to Wonder Anymore – “And I still don’t know / Why things happened like they did / But I parked that old pickup / On that lonesome river bridge / I took your ring from my pocket / And I held it one last time / Watched that diamond sparkle /I drew back and I let her fly / And in less time than it takes to tear to fall / Oh that old ring went under / Lord, and now it’s gone for sure / And I don’t have to wonder anymore.”

♦ She’s Gonna Make It – “And you know it’s not like she’s forgot about him / She’s just dealing with the pain.”

♦ Beaches of Cheyenne – “He promised her he’d turn out / Well it turned out that he lied /And their dreams that they’d been livin’ / In the California sand / Died right there beside him in Cheyenne.”

♦ Cowboy Song – “He’s just chasin’ what he really loves / And what’s burnin’ in his soul / Wishin’ to God that he’d been born a hundred years ago.”

♦ In Another’s Eyes – “Oh in another’s eyes / Staring back at me / I see a sinking soul, trying desperately/ To turn the tide, before it dies.”

♦ Ask Me How I Know – You make all the rules, you’re set in your ways / You gotta have your freedom, you gotta have your space.”

♦ Learning to Live Again – I’m gonna smile my best smile and I’m gonna laugh like it’s going out of style.”

♦ How You Ever Gonna Know – “You know failure isn’t failure / If a lesson from it’s learned / I guess love would not be love / Without a risk of being burned.”

♦ The Dance – Our lives are better left to chance / I could have missed the pain / But I’d have had to miss the dance.”

 

So no matter your age or what stage of life you’re in, if you’re feeling lost or in need of some guidance, find the Garth Brooks station on Amazon or (for a truly 90s hair entertaining experience), search him on YouTube and watch the old videos. Let some good old country music wisdom guide you…

 

[on a random side note, the exception to his brilliant writing rule is “Cowboy Cadillac” – it’s a catchy tune but damn those lyrics are dumb, is he writing about his woman or his truck?]

[a second random side note, I admit that I have had to overcome some disillusion and disappointment about Mr. Brooks as a human being and a husband as his first marriage ended and his relationship with Trisha Yearwood has unfolded.  It’s always hard to watch your icons reveal their flawed humanity – and in light of my own personal feelings about infidelity – it was a difficult pill to swallow.]

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At the annual banquet for my volunteer fire department last week, I was both honored and amazed to receive my 15-year service stripe. 2017 marked 15 years of volunteerism and endless learning about fire, rescue and EMS operations for me – but those years have also taught me lessons in brotherhood, loss, service, upheaval, fear, bravery, disenchantment, persistence, change, frustration, giving, and surviving.

Here is what I *thought* fire service would be: 9474973637_cb6f92dcc0_b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what I *hoped* fire service would be:  firefighters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what the fire service really *is*: moe-larry-curly-fire-pole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that. But, seriously, to the men and women that I have had the honor of serving with for the last 15 years, thank you for all that you do. And thank you for letting me serve beside you.

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Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues strong
It’s always darkest before the dawn

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around

Our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues strong
But it’s always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out

annyalice.deviantart.com

artwork by AnnyAlice

Shake it out, shake it out,
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off.

 

‘Cause I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
‘Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It’s always darkest before the dawn.

Shake it out, shake it out
Shake it out, shake it out,
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off.

I tried to dance with the devil on my back
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a final mess but it’s left me so empty
It’s always darkest before the dawn.

And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat
‘Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, for the devil in me
Well what the hell I let it happen to me

Shake it out, shake it out
Shake it out, shake it out,
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off.

“Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine

Written by Paul Epworth, Tom Hull, Florence Welch • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

 

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If I’ve learned one lesson in the last 15 years since I graduated from college and set out on my own, was married and then divorced, and am now on the path to middle age, I have learned that being alone and being lonely are two VERY different concepts.

I struck out for Maryland soon after I graduated from college in upstate New York. I was alone and didn’t know a soul in Maryland but my sense of youthful adventure told me I wouldn’t need anyone, that I had to go live my own story. Of course, a month after moving into my first apartment and starting a job in which I worked almost exclusively with strangers in their 60s, I discovered what it meant to be lonely. I sat on the floor of said apartment and cried for the friends and family that I had left behind – and then I went to the shelter and adopted a rescue cat (who, by the way, lived and loved with me for the next 14 years so I highly recommend those adopted furry friends as a means of combating the blues). I wasn’t mature enough to realize that those times of standing on my own two feet was teaching me how to be independent and strong.

Then I got married – and made the mistake of marrying a man who didn’t share many interests with me. We didn’t spend much time doing things together – except the fire department. We led very separate lives – and I naively congratulated myself that we were one of those amazing modern couples that didn’t need to live in each others’ back pockets. I didn’t know that while I was rounding out my skills in home improvement and gardening, visiting museums and attending cultural events, he was screwing every woman he could find. Eh, life lesson learned on that one. I was often alone and doing things I wanted to be doing and yes, often regretted that he didn’t share any time with me which left me lonely and wanting more.  But I did learn that I don’t need a man to do the things I want to do in this life and I don’t need a man to complete me.

So now, after the divorce and the dating, the readjustment of my whole world view, I spend a lot of time 23131990_10212609777497457_8541975570164519984_nalone. I travel alone, I go to those museums alone, I read and study alone. I can pitch a tent and build a campfire alone – I can fix a toilet or hang a new light fixture alone – I can cook chicken nuggets or a fancy French pastry alone – I can drive 8 hours to see my family alone and I can run a 5K alone. I spend that time alone and quite content with my own company. It’s a vast difference from that lonely girl that moved down here and was so sad and so lost. I now choose to push my own boundaries and discover what I can do by myself. 

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While I shamefacedly admit that it has been more than 5 years since I last posted, I must also report that those 5 years have been full of personal growth, mental breakdowns, massive life changes and the journey to real adulthood.

As Miranda Lambert wrote, “I can judge the cover ’cause I wrote the book, On losing sleep and gaining weight, On pain and shame and crazy trains.”

When I first started putting my thoughts up here, it was because I was going through an ugly divorce. I needed somewhere to vent, to let out the anger and bitterness and sense of betrayal and loss. Looking back, I regret that I unleashed some of those negative moments on the world – but if I hadn’t have let them out, I very probably would have imploded.

Then, as I navigated the path of being newly single, the blog turned into simply a place to have someone listen to me and see the random and quirky ways in which my mind turns. Meeting new people and opening my mind up after your world turns upside down is an adventure.561897_10201061746363896_1110025133_n

And now? Life has settled for me. I have a better handle on who I am and what I want out of life. I have come to accept that ugly phase of my life and to use it to try to grow into a better person. I am stronger, I am happier, I have opened my life up to new adventures.

So welcome back to my world, hopefully it’s a quieter place…

 

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[Maroon 5]

I’m at a payphone trying to call home / All of my change I spent on you

Where have the times gone / Baby it’s all wrong /where are the plans we made for two?
Yeah, I, I know it’s hard to remember / The people we used to be

It’s even harder to picture / That you’re not here next to me

You say it’s too late to make it / But is it too late to try?

And in our time that you wasted / All of our bridges burned down
I’ve wasted my nights / You turned out the lights

Now I’m paralyzed / Still stuck in that time when we called it love / But even the sun sets in paradise
If happy ever after did exist / I would still be holding you like this

All those fairytales are full of shit / One more stupid love song  / I’ll be sick
You turned your back on tomorrow / Cause you forgot yesterday

I gave you my love to borrow / But you just gave it away

You can’t expect me to be fine / I don’t expect you to care

I know I’ve said it before / But all of our bridges burned down
 [Wiz Khalifa]

Man work that shit / I’ll be out spending all this money while you sitting round

Wondering why it wasn’t you who came up from nothing

Made it from the bottom / Now when you see me I’m stunning

And all of my cars start with the push up a button

Telling me the chances I blew up / or whatever you call it

Switched the number to my phone / So you never could call it

Don’t need my name on my show / You can tell it I’m ballin’

Swish, what a shame could have got picked / Had a really good game but you missed your last shot

So you talk about who you see at the top / Or what you could’ve saw

But sad to say it’s over for Phantom / pulled up valet open doors / Wiz like go away, got what you was looking for

Now ask me who they want / So you can go and take that little piece of shit with you

I’m at a payphone trying to call home / All of my change I spent on you

Where have the times gone / Baby it’s all wrong /where are the plans we made for two?

If happy ever after did exist / I would still be holding you like this

All those fairytales are full of shit / One more stupid love song / I’ll be sick
Now I’m at a payphone…

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I have spent the better part of the last 2 years thinking that I am now permanently damaged goods. Besides the constant sense of bitterness and the fragile state of my already-heavily-damaged ego, I have questioned if these experiences have made me unfit for future human relationships. Forget about the male-female romantic type of relationships (of which I fear I am permanently unfit) but even just the simple human interactions. What happens if I am too screwed up to ever have a normal friendship again??

If you had asked me 10 years ago where I envisioned my life would be at this juncture, you can bet your sweet bippy that it never would have occurred to me that I would be more lost than I was at 18 – rootless and struggling with my faith, my self-esteem, and my future – I thought I had outgrown these sorts of emotions. So now I feel that I am too messed up, too crazy, too jaded, too broken – damaged goods.

So last night, in spending some time with my nearly-perfect friend (who will be known here only as “The B”) I discovered that I am not alone in the feeling of being ‘damaged.’ “The B”  is tall, gorgeous, outgoing, funny, intelligent and charismatic – and yet feels that she isn’t good enough. We actually spent quite a bit of the evening arguing over who is crazier, more angry, and/or more flawed. How is that a woman who is almost the perfect ideal of a female in current American society share the same sense of inadequacy that I have? “The B” is the kind of woman that I want to be when I grow up – how can SHE feel that she’s as crazy as I am?!

Is it a woman thing? Are we, as females, programmed to feel inadequate in some way at all times in our lives? I don’t think that’s exclusively the answer – although I DO believe that females specialize in feeling insecure and flawed. But I know many men who suffer from some of the same feelings that we have, especially the men who have been through shattering divorces or other life-altering events. These men are normal, everyday guys who have managed (just like “The B” and I) to get out of bed and face each new day. So, no, I don’t think it’s just ‘a woman thing’ – I actually think it’s more widespread than that.

My evening with “The B” has helped me to realize something very important – we are ALL damaged goods! There is not a single person, no matter how good it looks like they may have it in life, that is truly content with who they are. Maybe it’s trauma (emotional or physical) that has damaged someone, maybe it’s simply born in them – but we ALL feel that we have flaws. I am so glad to have company in the Damaged Goods area of the department store of life! Does it make me a bad person to rejoice in the company I keep?? I have truly wonderful friends that have helped me to realize that they too struggle with the damages in their lives – and if they can survive, so can I!

So, to”The B” I send the assurance that we are both crazier than hell, totally screwed up, and yet totally lovable!! And we are not alone – there are a lot of us that are Damaged Goods – and we should stand proud!

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