Walk on by…

Yesterday, we had beautiful weather. That first “nip” of true fall was in the air. I think it might have made it to about 72 degrees for a high and it was kind of overcast, but to me, it was perfect.

I was able to get out and take a walk… always a ‘should have’ and frequently a ‘didn’t’ when toting up the numbers at week’s end. It was so refreshing and energizing and just plain wonderful.

When I walk, I listen to music and let my mind drift to whatever thoughts it wants to have. I’ve found it is a good way to work things out without straining over the issue at hand. Something about the physical activity, the background music, and the flow of it all helps me process and purge things more easily than I could sitting on the couch mulling them all over.

I love the metaphor of the walk – I am simultaneously walking away from and leaving behind that which I no longer care to think about, deal with, carry on my shoulders and walking toward and into the life I want, the dreams I’m dreaming, and the who I really am inside.

So as my random thoughts and emotions churned away yesterday, I was struck by an insight that gave me pause. It’s really kind of a conundrum. For all my moaning and whining about what I should do and don’t, for all the things I want to do, but don’t; despite all of my perceived and imagined flaws and my various insecurities, I have never been more comfortable in my own skin than I am right now.

Huh???

It seems like I shouldn’t be able to reach that stage of comfort and acceptance of myself until I’ve said goodbye to the idea that I’m flawed (’cause I’m perfect, thank you very much!) and sent those insecurities packing. Because how can these two disparate versions of myself co-exist?

I’ve thought a lot about it since yesterday and I don’t have an answer. Other than that we are complex, multi-faceted individuals all struggling to find our way in this world and figure it all out. I think the “real” me is the one who has the off-the-charts confidence to carry a coffee mug that states “It’s hard being this fabulous” and not see any irony in that and the “not really” me is the one with the sack of negativity weighing so heavily on my back and my psyche.

Maybe this is the first step to putting things in perspective. If there are things I want to change about myself, I will do it because I want to, not because I feel obligated to live up to an imagined ideal or standard that I don’t subscribe, too. It’s not a flaw, it’s a circumstance. I can work on changing the circumstance or I can decide I can live within it.

That’s a powerful and freeing thought.

Tom Ford is a naughty, naughty man…

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I’m in love with a fragrance sample strip.

Backstory: Every month, The Wall Street Journal publishes a glossy magazine in their weekend edition that is one big yawn. It generally features rich people and hideously expensive things and articles so esoteric and pretentious I’m not even sure the subject finds them compelling… and it’s about them. But, I paid for it, so I generally flip through it just in case there’s something worthwhile for a change. (An aside: Part of the reason I like the WSJ and keep my subscription, is the quirky features they do in the daily edition, like explaining the sport of curling or delving behind the scenes of the Annual World Beard Growing Competition. I’m always hoping the magazine will have more features like that instead of another profile of an art collector I’ve never heard of.) This month, it was the Men’s Fall Fashion Issue. Yawn. BIG yawn. But I did the page flip anyway, albeit even more cursory than usual, and then I smelled… it.

It was a partially opened strip for a new scent for men. Tom Ford Noir.

Oh. My.

It is simply, to my female nose pleasure centers, intoxicating.

It’s spicy, but a little earthy. Deep, yet fresh.

My first thought was, this is what Fifty Shades of Gray smells like.

Fifty Shades of very enticing man.

I’m (almost) ashamed to admit this. I tore it out. Threw away the magazine. Kept the glossy ad with the sample.

I put it in my desk drawer at work. Every time I opened the drawer the rest of the day, it was… stimulating. Talk about aromatherapy.

I once read an article about Tom Ford and a magazine editor said in it, “Everything he does is sex.” Indeed, ma’am, indeed.

Whatever is in this stuff, it’s catnip to me. So, yes, I have a tremendous crush on a fragrance sample. I’m sure we’re going to be very happy together. Until his scent fades.

Hold your positions…

Is it just me or does it seem like everything is in a holding pattern right now? Like the nation, the economy, the world are all circling the same fixed point in the future – the election.

This is NOT a political blog! Let me reassure you of that up front.

I’m just feeling so stagnant lately, so immobilized (figuratively, although I have jokingly said I wouldn’t mind a mild case of West Nile so that I could get some additional time off from work and catch up on my reading list.) And there are things (not) happening in my offline life that seem to be in a temporarily permanent hiatus until the outcome of the election is determined (the joys of a career in healthcare), so I’ve been blaming it on the Democrats. And the Republicans.

Maybe it’s the fact that we’re in between seasons. I don’t care what the calendar says; it’s not summer, but it ain’t fall, either.

Everything just feels so… on the cusp. We seem to be holding our collective breath. For what?

Then again, maybe it’s just me. But I cannot shake this feeling. I wish I knew what I was waiting for. If I’m actually waiting for something. Or if this is just some kind of mid-life ennui that I’ve stuck my foot in and now I can’t pull it back out.

It’s kind of draining and I really feel like I’m ready for whatever is on the other side, good or bad. Let the shoe drop, let the clouds open, let hell freeze over (okay, no, not that, I have way too much riding on that NEVER happening!)

Anyway, I hope something comes along soon… the winds of change, a brisk autumn breeze, a new horizon.

Because this in-between here and nothing? It kinda sucks.

 

 

It’s the little things…

It’s been getting kind of serious in here lately. And yesterday was a serious day. I want to change gears and add some funny to this blog. Hopefully you’ll laugh, commiserate, or just enjoy my rant.

So, in no particular order, here are some of the little, mundane things that annoy the tar out of me:

1. People who don’t put their grocery cart in the cart collection space when they are done. Because then the wind blows it into MY car and now I have a dent or a door ding. People like you are the reason the rest of us can’t have nice things. (And as one who could also stand to lose a few pounds myself: sir or madam, you could use the extra 15 foot walk. Just sayin’.)

2. When every song on the way to work is crap. Yes, I know in the era of mp3, I should be in total control of what I listen to in the car, but a) Hyundai added the aux jack in the model year after my car, b) sometimes you just like to be surprised with something old you haven’t heard in a while or something new you haven’t discovered yet, and c) then what am I paying XM for if I’m not listening. But when it’s all James Taylor, bad Poison (Every Rose Has Its Thorns, anyone?) and that damn Goo Goo Dolls song from that movie with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan, it just starts the day off in a bad, bad way.

3. Thong underwear. If you’re noticing that I have a panty line, my question to you is why are you looking at my ass, anyway?

4. Lipstick that does not stay true to the tube color and sprouts ghastly yellow undertones on my lips. Because THAT helps my teeth look whiter.

5. When I answer a call for the pharmacist by saying (clearly, not slurred or mumbled), “This is the pharmacist” and the person on the other end says, “Is this the pharmacist?”

6. Running out of wine or whine.

7. Store clerks who wrinkle the pages of my crisp, brand-new magazine, newspaper, or book while checking me out. If I wanted the creased-up, battered copy everyone has already pawed through, I’d buy it, thanks.

8. The iced tea conundrum. They bring you a glass with one lemon wedge. And then endless refills. But no additional lemon wedge. If I needed/used one with the first glass, don’t I need another one each time? One glass of tea = one lemon wedge. I am no math whiz, but even I can balance that equation.

8a. Servers who let you get down to the last drops of melted ice, lemon pulp, and tea leaf residue without coming by to offer a refill or fresh glass.

9. That there is never anything on TV when I finally have time to watch some. Yeah, yeah, DVR-schmiVR. That would require me to look at a schedule and program it and shit. If I could outsource this one to the cats, I’d have done it already.

10. I can’t outsource a damn thing to my cats. I work for them. They do not work for me.

Have a great Wednesday, y’all!

A most difficult day…

Eleven years ago today, I began to experience the worst depressive episode I have ever had.

I did not personally know a single person who was lost on September 11, 2001.

But one would think that I had by how I reacted.

Let’s begin at the beginning. I had to be at work at 1:00 pm that day. I was working for Tom Thumb as a staff pharmacist at a store in Dallas. I was reading the paper and drinking coffee when the phone rang. I had not turned on the television or been on the Internet. (My cell phone didn’t have web access in those days. I didn’t even have a laptop.) I didn’t go to pick it up. I was being selfish with my me-time before work.

But then I heard my mom’s voice on the answering machine. She sounded panicked and frightened in a way that is rare for her.

“Jenna, where are you?” she said. “Call me back right away. All hell is breaking loose.”

Well, that could mean anything in my family. And I really did think it was something personal related to just us. So I was panicked and worried when I called her back and then she tells me that someone flew planes into the World Trade Center. Here is how naive I was (I think we all were back then) – I said, “But how did they get into our airspace?” “NO!!!” she said. “They used OUR planes! Turn on the TV.”

Oh. Shit.

If it had been around then, I would’ve been saying WTF???

It was hard to get ready for work. All I wanted to do, all anyone wanted to do, I think, was sit and watch CNN or ABC or whatever your news channel of preference was. Or flip obsessively among them looking for the latest, newest nugget of information. Trying to make sense of the senseless. Trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.

So, on to work. This was a rather busy store, normally. I thought that due to the events of the day, it would be much quieter than normal. However, the clientele at this store were a bit different. Many were late middle-aged or elderly. Many were upper, upper middle class, if not downright wealthy. So they had high expectations and they demanded a certain level of coddling. And even though our country was under attack and we didn’t really know yet why or who or anything, they still wanted their prescriptions yesterday. They were still as crabby, hard to please, and entitled as ever. I was working with another pharmacist, a good friend, who was my age. We were so raw, so devastated. We could barely function. And these people seemed so callous, so out of touch, whining about why the doctor hadn’t called in their refill and were we sure we really had called? And talked to Betty? Because Betty was the only one who gets anything done in that office, you know.

Yes, I know. I heard you the last fifteen times you’ve told me that this year.

Maybe when you’ve lived through WWII, Vietnam, the Kennedy and MLK assasinations…  maybe September 11, 2001 just didn’t faze you. I don’t know. But it was incredibly difficult to work that day with everything that was happening. We felt so lost. Everyone did. Mostly.

I can’t remember if I was off the next day or not. I know I went home that night feeling like I’d been beaten as hard mentally as I’d ever felt after a rough day at work. I know that for the next week, when I wasn’t off, I was watching news coverage non-stop. I know that I started to feel worse and worse every day. And then I was eating less and less. Sleeping less and less. Until one night I was just lying on the futon in our home office staring at the wall. In the dark. This was my rock bottom.

Again, it was a phone call from my mom that got to me. She called and wanted to know what I was doing. I didn’t have the energy to lie, pretend, or cover up anymore. When I told her, she was immediately concerned. My reaction, my feelings were way out of proportion to my connection to the tragedy. I remember telling her that I felt guilty for eating and enjoying a meal, because so many who didn’t know what had happened to their loved ones couldn’t; that I felt guilty for sleeping because so many were going sleepless in their search and their grief. Wisely, she told me it was unnatural for me to be feeling a kind of survivor’s guilt and that I needed to get help. Immediately. I agreed.

Long story short: I made an appointment with my wonderful physician and I got help, from both medication and counseling. I have always known since I was in my early teens that I suffered from bouts of depression off and on. I had even been in counseling in pharmacy school when the stress of a rigorous academic program magnified my personal issues to the point that I could not cope on my own. But this was by far the worst thing I have ever experienced. If I could have called in sick to work every day, I would have. I functioned just enough to keep the basic cogs of my life in motion. I wouldn’t wish those feelings, those thoughts, that utter and complete helplessness on anyone. It makes my stomach drop to the floor just remembering it now as I write this post.

Eleven years ago, this was a very difficult day. Each year, it is still difficult. But I have so much to be thankful for and I focus on that as I reflect on September 11.

Clearly, I have commitment issues…

You’d think that having your own space to say whatever you want would be so motivating for someone like me who always has something to say.

So far, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

But then, I’ve got procrastination problems (see the previous posts), so it really isn’t that big of a surprise.

I still haven’t quite figured out why I’m here or what this space is for. What I want it to be. So until I do, I think I’ll just show up when I’m in the mood and dump whatever is on my mind at the moment. Either the purpose will reveal itself or this blog will become like that junk drawer everyone has in their kitchen – a little of this, a little of that and nothing in quantity enough to deserve its own drawer or cubby. Sometimes that’s how my life feels, so woo hoo – making metaphors already!

Since I know some of you from Lawsbian Awesomeness and most of my friends are aware of my battles with depression (that evil demon), I thought I’d use this post to mention a fantastic book that has really helped me on my journey of self-discovery. Ashley Judd, who you likely know as an accomplished actress and rabid Kentucky Wildcats basketball fan, wrote a memoir titled “All That Is Bitter and Sweet”. It is a combination autobiography, chronicle of her charitable work around the world, and intimate portrait of her own battles with depression and dysfunction. This is an amazing book that I highly recommend. With so much content, there is something for everyone. But especially for those with depression, there is much food for thought within its pages.

I had one of those “a-ha”, light bulb moments when I read the following statement made to Ashley by one of the therapists she was working with:

“Depression is anger turned inward.”

Whoa!!! I about dropped the book. I had never heard it defined that way before. And maybe it’s not true for everyone, but for me, it made so much sense! Just five words, but five very powerful ones.

When you suffer from depression, you wonder why. Why me? And sadly, there does not have to be a why. It can and does just happen. For many, however, therapy and self-examination often  illuminates a why. Or many whys. Depression is much too complex a condition, an experience, an affliction, to be boiled down to just one “why”. But in asking, why me? Why do I feel this way? What is causing this? I realized with those five simple words where so many of my whys come from. And that was a very profound realization for me that I believe has already begun to help me deal with my emotions and feelings. Find new ways of coping, of understanding, of loving myself and others. And forgiveness, granting it to myself and others.

On a lighter note, I have always loved Ashley as an actress, as a beautiful, strong Southern woman and I was delighted to find out that we have things in common that are a little different and make me feel like we could be really good friends if I had the kind of life where I had celebrity friends. For example, she loves to go through people’s purses! I love to go through people’s purses! How odd and coincidental is that??? She describes feeling a lot of anxiety and depression during one of her trips to some devastatingly harsh, poverty-stricken, disease-ridden areas of Central America and how Salma Hayek, who was accompanying her, was so sweet and kind not to mind as Ashley went though her purse on the plane as a way to comfort and distract herself. Ashley also adores Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream, as do I. We’re so close in age, and I was born in Cincinnati. Not so far from eastern Kentucky… could I be the lost twin Judd sister? Nah!

So, if it interests you, if you have issues to work through, if there is something you are seeking, something you can’t even name, I suggest picking up “All That Is Bitter and Sweet”. May you find a piece of your puzzle.

P.S. If you have a favorite book that helped on your journey, please mention it in a comment.

P.P.S. I didn’t even get into Ashley’s experiences with Shades of Hope in Buffalo Gap, Texas, so that will be my next topic. Wow, that was easy!

An object at rest…

So I’m already feeling guilty because I haven’t fed the beast (the blog) since Friday. As if I have zillions of followers out there, hitting refresh every five seconds, hoping for some words of wisdom, humor, or ire to have dripped from my lips to their screen.

That would be. So. Awesome.

However, I do have a fairly healthy sense of self and while I may have delusions of grandeur in the movies I make in my head, starring me (everybody does that right?), I know no one’s pining away because I haven’t blogged again.

As the title of the blog says, I am full of good intentions. And just as full of ways to thwart, forget, circumvent, and keep from following through. I wonder why I do this. It’s really kind of sad. I feel like I could accomplish so much, be so much, do so much… if only I would… just do it. (Sorry, Nike)

Friends and colleagues often compliment me on how organized I am. Hell, yeah! I am super organized! I can make a plan like nobody’s business. Hand you a thick folder with your travel itinerary down to the minute, your reservation confirmations, your maps, brochures for the spots I think you’d most like to visit. I have lots of plans like that in my head for things I want to do. Things I should do. Things I could do. It’s execution where I fall short. No, that’s not quite correct. I’d have to get up off the couch first to fall.

So, why? My self-diagnosis is two-pronged. I’m a perfectionist and a procrastinator. They work beautifully, hand-in-hand, to keep me firmly grounded in my “I should have, but I didn’t” modus operandi. As a perfectionist, I never want to do anything halfway. If I’m going to do it, it has to be my best work, done right, preferably the first time, because anything else would be? Less. Than. Perfect. And that’s where the procrastinator in me picks up the ball and runs with it. Because I couldn’t/shouldn’t/won’t possibly begin to do X, Y, or Z because there is some obstacle in the way of doing it to perfection. Maybe there’s not enough time. Or I can’t do it on a consistent schedule. Or I’m tired. I’m reading a good book. I need a nap. I’ll do it tomorrow. Next week. When things aren’t so crazy. When I have a better schedule.

I might have to add a third prong, because I definitely see a vein of negativity running through all of this.

Who told me I have to be perfect? No one. My parents certainly set high standards for me as a child and adolescent, but never beyond what they knew I was capable of. They told me all they expected was for me to do my best and they had a pretty fair idea of what my best was. I don’t know where I got it from, but I also don’t know how to let it go.

Of course, there’s always option B. Maybe I’m just lazy and would rather eat than exercise, read than clean house, nap than wash clothes, and then nap some more, because you know, I’m just so damn tired all the time.

I turned 40 last September and I had a long talk with myself about whether I wanted to live the future number of days, months, or years granted to me the way I did the first 14.600, 480, or 40. My conclusion was that no, I did not. It was time to grow up. I can always feel 19 inside if I like, but it was time to stop making excuses, stop procrastinating, stop thinking that I have an infinite amount of time left to get my act together and be more of who I think I can be.

Guess what? 41 is around the corner and I haven’t made near enough progress. So maybe the reason this blog wasn’t born until now was that it will become my path to figuring out how to get over the hump. How to get over myself. How to stop seeing it happen in my mind and actually make it happen.

If not, at least I found a great forum in which to whine about it.

Gotta go. I’m reading a really good book right now.

Better late than never… it’s the story of my life

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Blogging. In some ways I can’t believe it took me this long to get here.

If you know me, you know I always have something to say. An opinion about everything. Anything! I don’t think I’ll ever be described as someone who is at a loss for words.

And yet…

So, I have thought about starting a blog. Many times. But I got hung up on a name. What would I call it? It has to just right. Again, if you know me, you have seen my (annoying? endearing? infuriating?) penchant for perfection in action. So I couldn’t just start a blog and call it any old thing. That would never do in JennaLu’s world.

But suddenly, today, inspiration struck. I’d like to say that sunbeams shone in from windows I don’t even have, and little Disney bluebirds flew around my head, chirping with happiness. But no. Here’s how it went down:

After a morning (because 11:51 am is morning) of drinking coffee, reading the news, reading my book, and having chocolate chip Eggo waffles for brunch, I stumbled back to bed for a nap. (Don’t judge, it’s my first day off after 80 hours of work in 8 days.) When I awoke from said nap (many hours later), I staggered into the shower to make myself presentable as a human for the few remaining hours of Friday. As I was washing my hair, I thought, “I really should have gone and gotten a pedicure today. But I didn’t.” BOOM!!! The bolt of lightening flashed! THE blog is born! Welcome to the world, baby blog! After that, the subtitle was a breeze and here we are at my very first post. Which is a whole bunch of nothing, because that’s what I did today. Because I should have, but I didn’t. I do that a lot and I’ll talk about it here. I’m late to this blogging party thing, but it’s definitely a party now that I’m here. This is my world. Come on in and have a seat. Can I get you a glass of wine, a snack, a blanket? I’m all about your comfort. Let’s meet here and visit frequently. I have a lot to say. Some of it might actually be funny. Even when it’s a dull day in my life, there’s usually something to say, some way to make fun of myself. I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad you’re here, too.