In with new, out with something else

It seems I am about to get a different car yet again.

First and foremost, M and I are not frugalistas; we have zillions of ways to waste money and probably do so routinely without giving it a second thought. However, we are also very responsible with money. Big things like savings for retirement, HSA-funding, future spending goals (home and car maintenance and repairs, vacations, birthdays and other gifting events, kitchen remodel, replacement car, etc.), secondary emergency fund investment account all get funded before we start spending each month.

That said, from a purely financial point of view, it makes no sense to sell my 2013 Rav4 and purchase a brand new 2017 Camray. We take care of our cars, and my Rav has less than 35,000 miles on the odometer after 3.5 years in our household and looks pristine. It’s serviced per manufacturer’s schedule and would likely be fine for another 10 to 15 years at the rate it gets driven. Plus, I LOVE that car.

Unfortunately, it has no trunk. The windows are tinted and it is not a simple glance to see whatever I might have in my car (usually nothing but my reusable shopping bags and the plastic box I keep them corralled in when full), but every week I drive and meet with clients and have both personal and business financial documents in my possession. Recently I walked up on a guy trying to break into my car while my work box of files was in the back. I have no idea if he was actually planning to try and steal my car (it has an alarm) or if he was after its contents, but it freaked me out to the point that I now carry my box around with me to meet with other clients.

So there is that.

Add to this that M also drives and AWD SUV, a 2008 Highlander, and it is the go car for us. The Rav commutes to the office, goes to the gym, toodles around town when I go to client offices, but the rest of the time, it’s at home in the garage. M and I are going anywhere, he prefers to take the Highlander.

The Rav has again become “too nice” to take out for a spin on the weekend.

This happened with the first Rav we had, a 2007. I owned it for 4.5 years and sold it with just over 40,000 miles on the odometer because M and I became paranoid about something happening to it. M far more so, but it was infectious. I wanted something older may with a few scratches in the paint to make me feel better.

A 4Runner and a Honda Civic later, and we arrive at the present Rav4. For awhile it was the go car, then we sold M’s older (silver) CRV in favor of a newer (blue) CRV, and in it’s plushy-ness became the go car. Then the Highlander became available, and as it had belonged to my former boss, I knew its entire history and knew it had been well maintained and kept in good repair. So the blue CRV was set aside in favor of it and went off to its next owner. M loves that hulking Highlander beast, so he is set for awhile. But our time with my present Rav4 is about concluded.

Entirely possible the Camray will remain “too nice” to take anywhere, but I doubt it. This would be the ride we choose for coastal adventures where we do not go boonie-crashing down gravel fire roads just because they’re there. And it has a trunk, so I can stash my crap out of sight. I would be really upset if my car was broken into and my gym bag stolen, but I’d be frantic if I lost client documents.

In my life, I have learned that sometimes purchases make no sense on paper or financially. This is another of those occasions. However, as in all things personal finance, it is personal. Yet my inner budget professor is scratching her head trying to make sense of this decision. To her I can only say, the emotional impact of finding some strange man standing next to your car with the slimjim is not to be underestimated. My own sense of personal safety is very well developed, probably overly so, and while this will not advance us financially in any way, shape, or form, it will also not set us back in dangerous ways. So I work another 5 or 6 months before leaving the paid work force, but for me, for us, it makes emotional sense.

On another matter, I have been sorting through photographs from my mom’s house. I’ve taken dozens out of frames and sorted them into me and my kid and my sister and her family. I don’t keep in touch with my nephew, no idea how to reach him, and will keep the pictures in envelopes until I get some motivation to find him.

There is one picture of my oldest daughter, her last school picture. I have dozen of the same photograph, but mom had a wallet framed and kept it in her bedroom. I cannot remove it from the frame and have no reason to keep yet another copy. I am not sentimental; I do not need the framed photo to remember my daughter or my mother. So after 2 weeks of vacillating and trying to decide what to do, I stuck it into the trash and threw it out.

I’m not sentimental at all, yet my stomach aches and I feel out of breath (in the bad ways) thinking about disposing of it this way. It’s not my daughter or my mother. It is simply a duplicate of something I already have and don’t actually need. As for my mom, our relationship was more toxic waste than warmly fuzzy. Thinking about her does not make me happy or sentimental or misty with nostalgia. Frankly, think about mom makes me furiously, irrationally angry, feelings and emotions I would really rather purge from my system and my life.

Even now, 21 years later, I mourn the loss of my child, miss her every single day, and shed a few tears throwing away this single copy of her final school picture, even if I have a framed copy in my family room and dozens of other copies carefully preserved in storage boxes. At the same time, it is one more step in the wall that separates me from my toxic family of origin and the truer horrors of my life.

Life is not fair, and rarely does it balance evenly. But for every bad thing in my history, there is something better, richer, more rewarding.

This week, there will be something new and different, a tool that makes my life easier and work better and strengthens my sense of safety. Out with something else that at once breaks and heals my heart simultaneously.


Car stuff, weekend random

First and foremost, thanks so much for all the kindness and support from my last post. While there are still several days left in March, my personal March madness has quietly concluded. Never do I underestimate the intensity of emotions that surround anniversaries.

M has an older car with nearly 200K on the odometer. He loves that vehicle, except for the fancy-smancy gizmos and gadgets that are designed into it.

This week, the battery died of old age. It is a 2008, battery has been in there since 2010, so it has had a good long life. With the push button start and keyless entry systems, it was not so simple as to replacing the battery and everything is fine. Oh no. While it did start up fine just after M put the new battery in it, our keys refused to electronically open the doors or start the vehicle when we walked out of the grocery store. Apparently our fob batteries failed as well? Or it needed to be repaired, like my phone with my car’s bluetooth? Not sure. But we consulted the manual, followed the emergency steps, and voila! Car started without issue. Get home, read more in the manual, decide there is some graduate course out at Toyota U that must be successfully taken to know what to do with this vehicle. Unfortunately when I go back to put the manual away, key fob is again not working correctly for some reason. Maybe its batteries die sympathetic deaths with the car battery?

M goes through the whole process again of manually opening the door, repairing the key to start it, and drives off in search of the super special battery needed. I stay home just in case he needs rescue. When he gets back he replaces batteries in both fobs and voila! Both keys are working again.

For good measure, every time he gets up throughout the night I hear the front door open and know he is going outside to check to see if the key is working. So far, so good.

We knew buying an older vehicle with lots of miles the potential for it needing repair increased. Since I am familiar with the entire history of this vehicle (purchased from my former boss), I knew it had been well maintained and not driven too crazily with its prior owner. But M seems to have a far lower tolerance for repairs than I do, but more than the expense the gadgetry of later model vehicles and his ability to diagnose and do repairs himself tends to drive him crazy. This too shall pass.

Or we’ll be hobnobbing around in some 70s vintage POS car that M can fix himself. Assuming he can find parts, of course.

Not a whole lot going on around here right now, other than the car drama. Busy work weeks. Busy trying to get my crap organized at home. We are in the process of moving from one storage to another smaller, closer space. Because we have waaaayyyyy too much crap. Good news on that is we are winnowing down our crap this go-round. Stuff we (M) has been keeping and storing 20+ years is now going into the trash or the donation box. Unfortunately, we still need a storage unit. I have big dreams of someday not needing an offsite storage unit, but at long as M owns the project car (that has been in pieces for the entirety of our relationship) we will likely need storage.

Once we get that stuff sorted, though, I plan to get cracking on our garage. It’s a mess. It’s a mess of crap that (1) we no longer need, (2) we no longer need to keep in the garage, or (3) we have no idea what it is or was or why we (M) actually own it.

Work is a messy schedule this week. Tuesday is usually my work from home day, but this week my admin had to take emergency leave so I will e going into the office tomorrow and moving my work from home to the weekend. Thankfully my private clients are understanding about my schedule.

But work is good, remains 95% satisfying and 5% somewhat dreadful tasks I wish I could delegate to anyone else. Allergy season is also winding down, thankfully. After a severe sinus dust-up and almost 2 weeks mild yet ongoing congestion, I am happy for the break and return to normality.

Everything else – things are good. And for that I am always grateful.

Parenting is hard

It’s St. Patrick’s day. In 1984, my oldest child was born. I remember checking into the hospital and the nurse saying I would be having a  St. Patrick’s day baby and in honor of that, they would be tattooing a shamrock on the baby’s butt. Whether my serious expression was primarily fear of this whole birthing process or I was so tired I looked as if I were taking her seriously, she quickly assured me she was only joking.

B was probably 6 before she realized that the St. Patrick’s day parade we took her to each year was not actually held in honor of her birthday.

It’s 21 years this month since she left us, and I miss her still.


3/17/2017 – B, Jan-1985; about 10 months.

And her final school picture, taken not long before she passed away.


B – Jan-1996; not quite 12 yet.

March is a challenge every year. Not a day in the last 21 years passes that I do not think about her, and I would not have it any other way. Mostly I smile. Occasionally, I tear up and feel the weight of loss. Mostly, though, I really do smile. So much life and memories packed into 12 years and 5 days. In my heart I cherish all she was to those who knew her and turn away any and all thoughts of what might have been. Our time together was limited. I am glad to be someone who was present with my children, so my regrets about that time are so tiny and insignificant relatively to the balance of my life.

But parenting young adults is still hard.

C called early this morning after a major fight with her husband. Unfortunately this is not the heartbreak drama of teenage angst, but the seriousness of a grown-up married people. Trying to be fair and balanced – out the window. My kid is crying, having a panic attack over the telephone. Forget fair and balanced. A said cruel things and there is blood in my eyes.

Okay, not quite that bad.

Being her mother’s daughter, I cringe at some of C’s decisions and mannerisms that come directly from me. I know that when this kind of dust-up happens, it’s not just because A came home and decided to be a prick that day. Having been in Florida only a few months, there are a billion details that one takes for granted growing and becoming an adult in your own hometown. Finding doctors and dentists and making new friends – it is a process. And when shit hits, the gap between what you had before you moved crossed the country becomes the grand canyon.

I talked her down off the ledge, called and checked in on her more than I have in 20 years, since that first summer that she and her brother stayed home alone while M and I were both working. By the end of the day, she’d calmed down and made significant progress finding healthcare providers and making appropriate appointments … in a few weeks. But she found stop-gap help with a local clinic – a referral from an assistant manager at their apartment complex. And with a little guidance from me, began the outline of The Plan for what she would do if this type of thing should come up again.

As for me, it was a busy day at work with a lot of gratuitous meetings that did little other than frustrate me with stranger’s ability to demonstrate their cluelessness. I am a master at compartmentalizing, though, and chugged along and got through it. By the end of the day, though, I was unrepentantly swigging sugary soda.

Parenting is hard sometimes, something no one really stresses before you take on that role, and I am honest enough, selfish enough, to say I do not really love the responsibility and the job itself. But I love the kids involved, all of them, and my hopes for them hinge on their overall happiness. Even when things are not going so well and they do stupid shit that frustrates and/or irritates me, I have to believe they will learn from the experiences.

Another St. Patrick’s day, another of B’s birthdays in the history books.

I miss her.



Sleepwalking on the darker side

The past week has been rough on me with sleep. It is an unusual occurrence, because I rarely have issues falling asleep or staying asleep. Disruptions happen, though, and some are even depressingly predictable. Like when the trees in my neighborhood start blooming and I am popping allergy medications every 4 to 6 hours. Sudafed, while effective on my congestion and sneezing, will keep me up all night if taken too late in the day. March remains an emotionally challenging 31 days, with my oldest child’s birthday and death day occurring in the same week. Even after 21 years (this year), it’s still sad and it’s still hard.

But the allergy meds that get me through the day make for a very rough night of sleeping. This year is the first I am truly cognizant of the differences and impact regular exercise makes, and I begrudge every second of crankiness that even minor sleep deprivation brings me. If that were not bad enough, the combination of allergy-medication induced lighter sleep and March, for whatever reason it opens up the can of worms of night terrors. That makes life so much darker and seemingly more dismal.

For the most part, I am relishing the go-go-go busy and overload of work this month has brought. I love my family and my friends old and new who make me smile and laugh throughout my days. Darkness happens, and I remind myself that the reality of darkness is only as long and as permanent as I allow it to be and how to leave it in its place. Having been in such awful, terrifying places in my life, I have an almost fanatical appreciation for the joy and great aspects of my day-to-day life. Still, when the horrors of my childhood visits me in sleep, it’s upsetting all on its own, without the additional disruption of the losing sleep over things I cannot change, thoughts and feelings I wish I could ignore if I cannot forget.

Which tends to make me even crankier that I am losing sleep over shit I want to not contemplate any further.

In such a dark mood, dark place I ventured into the gym and for practice this morning. All went well, but I find myself supremely annoyed by the remodel and how my routines have been upturned. Regular folks I used to see pursuing their own Lists nearby most mornings I barely pass in the hallways now, to the point that one such regular remarked today that she never sees me anymore. How true. We both spend a fair amount of time on the stairs, seeking out spaces and equipment that used to be fully contained on one floor or the other.

At least I am not of the grumpy old person camp who snaps at members who may be in the way.

Tonight I got to spend some time with my tribe sister, doing a light routine and yakking and catching up with life and times. We had so much to talk about that my funk-spike did not even occur to me to bring up for discussion. I am happy about that.

The sun is supposed to shine this weekend and temperatures being a warm 70-something degrees. I can’t wait! While others will be outside enjoying it, I am simply looking forward to having no meetings, lighter workload, and just time to pursue my own projects. G – my youngest child – turns 30 on Sunday. Funny but it does not make me feel old so much as marvel that our lives have advanced to this point, that he is healthy, happy, newly married and moving on with a fulfilling and happy life.

It is just a weird dichotomy month for me. Every year in advance I resolve to be less bothered and burdened by the grief that lingers, and every year I am learning how to be kinder to myself when it creeps in and taints my days.

I will say the habits acquired in the last couple of years – regular exercise, healthier eating, blogging and writing routinely, the discipline of managing my own small business and working at a full-time job – have done wonders to keep me out of the emotional cesspool of my own making. While it feels like I am sleepwalking on the darker sides of my life, I am on firm footing with a clear path and a retainer wall that will not let me slide off the edge and down the slippery slope.

There is an edge to the life I have led and the events that have befallen me. I cannot imagine a day where I state with any form of sincerity that I am grateful to be a sexual abuse survivor and the mother of a deceased child, but the day when I am grateful for the beauty and sense the infuses my life is here and its now. My oldest child – I think of her every single day and it makes me smile. My childhood – no getting around that I would be a very different person as an adult. And while I am very, very far removed from perfect, I am better than many and completely good enough.

Sometimes I let myself believe I have all I need, but on the heels of that thought comes acknowledgement that needs change every day. Wanting something badly enough tends to elevate it to need status, or the item becomes less realistically available or emotionally desirable and need for it fades to the whimsy of a want. Understanding the difference and the subtleties of the feelings has been a lifelong task, one that probably ends when the mind regresses or life ceases.

My life is full with lots and lots of good fortune and amazing souls who include me as part of their personal realm. During this month when the sads strike, it seems there is always someone or something that sprawls directly in my path and makes me recognize how truly rich my whole life.

Allow me to be thankful. And grateful. And neurotically repetitive. I have not been as present in this space, but my deep and abiding affection for it, and all of you, remains. I shall endeavor to ponder here more frequently.

A case of the sads

Something happened at the office today that is a rare, rare occurrence: I cried. Not just a little eye leakage, the big, wracking, ugly sobs of grief and loss. The sads of December arrived early this year.

Sunday marks a year since my dear friend James died. While I have missed him this past year, the last few months I feel the empty chair at my mental and emotional table with other stresses from other things.

I am not especially sentimental, and while I feel the loss, it is not just the first anniversary that set me off on my remarkably embarrassing emotional breakdown. A very happy and grateful client came in today bearing gifts – a couple of bottles of James’ favorite single malt scotch and cigars for the gents, scotch and chocolates for me. Always through our long friendship, this is what James would give me every year. Every “girl” needs at least a couple of vices to be interesting, he would always say to me with a wink. When his wife was alive she would give him an eye roll and playful tap on the arm, to stop embarrassing me with his flirty, dirty-old-man schtick. They are both gone now, and I miss them both.

The whole emotional breakdown thing is supremely embarrassing for me. I work in an office with mostly men, and I am typically the calmest person in the whole firm. No matter what the crisis, I tend to maintain my composure. Not today, apparently.

I tried to fix my face, but crying takes a toll. One of the partners came in to see if I was okay, and the water works started again, only more neat and confined this time. I told him it was kind of a rough morning in the gym, that I was struggling with upper body exercises, and after my great triumph yesterday it was kind of a let down to not feel supremely confident about something else. It’s absolutely true, but not worth crying over, not anymore. He knows it. I know it. But the sads of December manifest in mysterious ways.

To this big ball of weeping, my daughter’s birthday is tomorrow, and for the first time she lives almost 3000 miles from me. She and A went to DisneyWorld yesterday for an early celebration, and had it not suddenly hit me again with the bottles of single malt staring at me from across the room, I would have been fine today. I am not an overly involved parent, I miss them being just a few exits down the freeway, and we will go visit next year.

If I’m going to burst into tears, I am going to throw everything I have at it and get it over with, so ot all got wound up in the crying bubble today. Things are better now, though. Staff have been tip-toeing in and out of my office to reassure themselves that all is well. It reminds me that my role here is not just to ensure things run smoothly; I have become part of the fabric of this firm and my atypical behavior is unnerving.

While I really want to go immerse myself in the kitchen’s abundance of sugary goodness, I am restraining myself. Parents of one of our associates were in the office yesterday and brought these fabulous date pinwheel cookies, and I must restrain myself from seeking out more.

Instead I am contemplating a 2017 yoga challenge with my daughter-in-law. To the depths of my soul I know I have no business seriously considering it, yet here I am, looking at my schedule and thinking about it.

Yep, lost my mind. Maybe my common sense will return and I will not decide to add another commitment to my schedule. Then again, maybe time is really precious and memories we make now will be part of all that sustain us later. Maybe I am thinking through my heart rather than the head that compartmentalizes and schedules.

Long into the future, will I remember the work I was doing or the books I was reading or the dawdling that consumed chunks of my days? Unlikely. But K is persuasive that success or failure, trying this challenge together will be memorable, if only for attempting to fit one more thing into our schedules.

How timely that she texted about it today, reminding me of the importance of time and making memories with those we care for and about.

Wednesday mishmash

My daughter and her husband and pets arrived in Tampa Monday and took possession of their new apartment. I am happy and relieved they arrived safely and without incident, and hoping the same is true of their possessions today. Yep, they were sleeping on the air mattress we loaned/gave them while here for a couple of days and exploring and getting acquainted with their new town. C says there were able to secure a ground floor apartment with a patio for their dogs, and the complex itself is very nice. There is no on-site dog park like a couple of complexes they looked at; they have to walk across the street to the park for a dog park. Oh the horrors! She is extremely excited about a full-size washer and dryer in their unit, plenty of parking available, and overall just a nice, quiet vibe.

Sunday night M’s SUV began hemorrhaging oil on our way home from grocery shopping. Thankfully we were less than half a mile from home, and other than spewing oil all over th place at a very brisk clip, it seems just fine. No coughing. No stalling. Was running quietly and smoothly as always. Since it was already dark outside, M stuck a piece of cardboard underneath the oil sieve and wiped and then jacked it up and looked to see if he could see anything under it. The oil plug, the first suspected culprit, was in place. Next theory was the oil filter had exploded, but since there was oil all over the undercarriage, M made the decision to have it towed to the dealership and let them fix it.

So yesterday, having never used AAA before, I set-up a tow appointment after I returned from the gym at 8:45, assuming it would take awhile to get someone. The first available appointment at the Toyota dealership was 4:45, so we had all day. Except when you’re in no particular rush AAA is extremely efficient. They were at our house 35 minutes later, and the dealership was able to accept an early arrival. Finally heard from the service advisor around 6:45 that hoses on the oil cooling reservoir blew up and that it needs rear brakes. Estimate for the oil coolant repair is right around $600, the brakes are probably in the $300 range (guestimating because I cannot recall the precise dollar amount), so I’m rounding up and expecting about $900 on this car. Absolutely annoying, but necessary. M loves that Highlander and we accept it as part of the cost of owning and driving an older vehicle as our go-car.

Except M is so crazy about this car stuff. I mean, seriously nutty. This is an older vehicle purchased used, and it’s going to have issues from time to time – simply the cost of driving. Except every time something like this happens, M theorizes that the parts should never cost as much as they do, the labor should not be so expensive, etc., etc., etc. M, you’re not in the car design business, and while it seems to you the part should be $42 bucks instead of whatever amount it surely it going to turn out to be, it’s light years away from a new/newer model of this particular vehicle that you would never drive anywhere anyway. So let us return to the land of realistic, shall we? Your mechanic friend died almost 5 years ago, and yes, while he’d do the job for pennies on the dollar in comparison, dying kind of makes it difficult to text or pick up the phone and ask for help.

Anyway, it’s just one of those ways we’re different. Part of the problem is he loves that car and wants it to last forever and ever, amen. Because of this strange (to us – maybe other people with other cars have oil cooling systems and have this repair crop up every decade or so) occurrence, he’s now thinking about reliability and what other kinds of ticking time bombs could be under that hood. *eye roll* Probably this will pass with several months of nothing happening, but between now and then, it will be a thought in the back of his mind. Our run with his cars has been very good, outside of being stolen, wrecked, or flooded. My Rav is only 3 years old and drives to work, the gym, and a few errands, otherwise it goes nowhere, because M want it to stay nice and therefore we always take his cars everywhere we go together.

In addition to the Highlander in the shop at the dealership, M’s project car – a 1994 civic – needed a smog for registration. Surprisingly, he took it to the smog shop, being buoyed by the wide margin it passed smog 2 years ago. That thing seems almost indestructible – we’ve owned it for at least a dozen years and other than oil changes and such it seems to just keep going. Driving around in it last night – because it also needed a couple of front tires, has needed them since I took it for smog 2 years ago – I was reminded of 20 years ago when our cars were total beaters held together primarily with prayer. This little civic has thread-bare seats, crappy old carpet, has cracked rubber window things and knobs that routinely fall off when you go to actually use them. But it is a great little spare car and will probably outlive us all. Smog passed, registration paid, the couple of balding tires replaced, it is back in its parking spot until needed again.

Now just waiting to hear the Highlander is done and hopefully that’s it for our cars for the year. But really, we have has to put so little money into our vehicles for repairs I cannot complain. We take care of our vehicles, though, so when something actually breaks it is something completely unexpected.

So this week has been adventures in car-land.

Other than our car repairs, it has been a very uneventful week in my world. I’m working too hard, having a busy social calendar with business stuff and old friends in town visiting. There are so many things on my personal to-do list I’m considering taking Monday off to just get my stuff done and off my mind. Funny thing, of all the stuff on my personal to-do, not a single one of them has anything to do with Christmas shopping or celebrations. My minimalist shopping was done weeks ago, the few actual gifts I needed to purchase and wrap were finished weeks ago.

Also, friend J pointed out to me this morning that Christmas seems the only season with a whole catalog of music. Love it or hate it, it seems there radio stations have embraced the all holiday music all the time from Thanksgiving onward. I mean, Easter has a whole bunch of hymns and such, but other than the Peter Cottontail song (also from friend J), I can’t think of anything near the voluminous Santa sounds coming from most radio stations. Thank goodness for Amazon prime music is all I can say.

And the beat in our pretty normal and mundane lives continues. In the craziness that is the holiday season, I am so glad.

Expectations, feelings, The Holidays

My daughter and son-in-law are presently somewhere in Texas (it’s a big state) enroute to their new home and chapter in their life in Florida. She texts me, her brother and sister-in-law every evening when they are done driving for the day. While I am not especially worried about them on this grand adventure, it is nice to know they made it safely to their next waypoint and to follow their progress on the map.

K and G have acquired Christmas sweaters for G’s holiday party. K’s is actually quite cute, with LED lights that flash embedded in it. G’s first choice was stunningly awful, and I need photographic evidence that he actually wore such an terribly gaudy thing – it would be so out of character.

The holiday madness continues for me professionally right now. My private clients, I met one for a drink and consultation on Wednesday night, lunch with another on Thursday, and M and I are attending another large holiday party tonight. The goodies collected thus far have been extremely generous and the lovely baskets have been divided up between various people we know who will enjoy it. At work, I have found that the vendors I have used through the move have been extraordinarily lavish with their gifts. I have done some horse trading with my bosses and seniors, because that seems to be the sport they prefer to engage in and enjoy … as opposed to me just willingly, happily handing them the object of their desire. Consequently, I ended up with even more booze I will give away to others. G and K have several new bottles of wine to try, M’s cooking wine cabinet has a couple of new bottles, and my trainer gets a little boost to his liquor cabinet as well. Coffee seems big this year, and I have a couple of friends who love unusual coffee beans. Any foodstuff I typically leave at the office, but I did get a couple of lovely baskets out of the deal.

Work-work we are in the middle of a couple of big things right now, so I will be spending my rainy Saturday at the office helping out with the workload to keep things moving. After practice, of course. I have my own self-employment work to plow through as well, so it will be a busy weekend.

And now back from the gym, where I had a most satisfying and productive practice. Finally, after a year atop the nemesis list, the cable 1-legged Romanian deadlift is coming together and working without a lot of swearing involved in the effort.

I confess – not feeling especially festive. Not depressed, unhappy, or sad, just not feeling the holiday happy-happy-joy-joy, as if I am falling far short of the holiday feeling expectation. I mean, I have at least my normal level of happy-happy-joy-joy, and maybe a smidge more because there are good things going on around me with people I love, admire, respect, and really, really like. The expectation that comes with the holidays – I theorize it is the root of the problem for so many – the expectations of being happy and grateful that come with the holiday season. Find your family toxic 360+ days per year, yet there is something inside us that says it’s Christmas, and we should all get along. But we don’t. We just don’t. So why set ourselves up for the great disappointment that comes with it? I don’t know. Or have a job that does not pay adequately to overcome the financial challenges yet have this strong, strong desire to spend, spend, spend on gifts for the nearest and dearest that will make them happy, and us as well while the spending/gifting high lasts. Then the crushing reality of additional debt or reverse progress on savings goals and the anguish and disappointment that comes with that.

Those are just a couple examples of holiday blues scenarios I have coped with over the years. Happily for me, I have slowly weaned and trained myself out of such things, but I feel the sadness of others around me and so powerless to help or even comfort them. So I am am going to restrain myself and cease even trying. I wish I had more empathy or capacity for understanding, but if someone is sad and wants to be left alone with their sadness or somehow gives off a vibe of that, I will stop reaching out. The worst part for me? I do not feel worse about it; I have reached a point of acceptance that there is nothing I can do and listening is so inadequate in this situation. Hence my absolute sureness that I am a lousy candidate for coach of any stripe. Everything in me wants people to help themselves, and intellectually I completely understand that sometimes helping ourselves is nearly impossible. Perhaps if I had better training and tools in my toolbox I would feel differently. But as a friend, my ability to understand and cope is severely constrained.

C suffers from both depression and anxiety. K suffers from anxiety. Friend J is coping with recovery from a debilitating illness that has taken so much of his strength and endurance. Others in my life too numerous to call out individually here. I have concerns about each of them, and my deepest, darkest fear is that I will fail them when they need me most for my lack of training or ability to be there for them in a moment of genuine need. With all my close friendships, that there is always the possibility of some critical component I am missing that will let them down in the clutch.

Sometimes I fear being a nice enough, good enough, smart enough person is inadequate. I fear my own inadequacy on so many levels.

So I try very hard to build my strength in the ways I can right now. Whether it’s the zen of exercise or the curious mind that is reading anything and everything related my interests as well as just managing our lives in the times we are living in, I am conscious of trying to learn and to build some reserves and some strength. I wish to be more courageous and brave, not quaking on the inside while fighting the impulse to cower and run away on the outside.

The holidays are different for each of us, and I believe difficult for many. Maybe if I could completely disable my give-a-shit switch I would be better, but unfortunately it’s a dimmer switch and only goes dim to bright to blinding, never off. Le sigh. Me and my first world problems, I know.

I am working hard, because I do want to feel completely confident I am enough. The march forward is littered with stalled attempts and learning experience experiments, but it’s also cluttered with many small successes the push me ever forward. From just getting through the holidays to coping with the unexpected discomforts that inevitably crop up in life, this is a war I will win. Eventually.