Independent Woman (Maybe not the Destiny’s Child version, but still relevant)

Yeah, I saw Destiny’s Child at the state fair as a preteen and saved this scrap of memory for 20+ years…what of it?

My mom was a lot of things, but one thing she was above all else was independent. She raised me alone, sure she had friends & family who cares about us and helped where they could but at the end of the day it was just the two of us.

So when it came to household stuff like cleaning or fixing the dryer she had to figure it out. I learned a lot through watching her. Things that I take for grant today, like knowing how to light the pilot on the stove or insulate the windows for winter, that a lot of my friends are clueless about.

For years I’ve attributed these skills & knowledge/ to my time at Home Depot. Sure I learned stuff there but that’s not where I learned the drive to fix. To figure it out because no one else will, and to do so alone because there’s no other option.

Today I hung a clothesline. I’d tried last weekend with my boyfriend but was missing a piece. I had everything ready to go but kept putting it off, waiting for someone else to be around just in case.

Would it have been easier with help? No doubt. Was it impossible to do alone? No, it just required a bit more creativity (and patience…I damn near tore the whole thing down out of frustration more than once)

Ultimately situations like this remind me that I am capable of doing things independently even if I’d rather not. So yeah, thanks mom.

What to do while you wait for AAA to unlock the car because you’re 33 and still haven’t figured out that multi-tasking accomplishes NOTHING

◦ Go back in the store and buy shit you don’t need to distract yourself

◦ Spend too long trying to find a valid reason to do thing 1

◦ Instead decide to go inside use the bathroom and/or splash your face with water

◦ Pace awkwardly around your car because standing is even more awkward

◦ Mentally list everyone you can think of in the vicinity, as well as the probability they’re around and will keep you company

◦ maybe call one

◦ Feel a bit silly about the call (of you got that far).

◦ Lean awkwardly against your car and hope that you’re the only person shitty enough to assume someone leaning on their car in a Walmart parking lot might be some kinda junkie/drug dealer/other miscellaneous miscreant

◦ Collect shopping carts in the hopes that people who are sitting inside their cars (lucky assholes) won’t notice you hanging out in a parking lot (and avoiding previous scenario)

◦ Endlessly refresh the AAA website to see the ETA

◦ Make a list of what to do when you’re stuck waiting for AAA

◦ Look for more birds

◦ Start to regret not eating that sandwich earlier

◦ Grow concerned as your phone flashes the “low battery” message.

◦ Vacillate between “looking on the bright side” (AKA it could always be worse) and being annoyed that you’re even IN a situation where you’re imagining worst case scenarios to feel better

◦ Think about zombies

◦ Make small talk with the kind older lady who asks if you need anything

◦ Be glad you impulse-bought a AAA membership last month for the free maps

◦ Watch somebody do their hair standing outside their car (hairspray & all) by looking at their reflection in their rear view mirror

◦ Realize they probably did that because it’d suck to be in a car filled with hair spray fumes

◦ Wonder why they’re taking so much care with their hair before entering Walmart

◦ Notice the storm clouds off in the distance aren’t quite so distant anymore…

◦ Make a mental note to start keeping a small notebook on your person for future updates

◦ Flag down the AAA truck with the light weight plaid you have tied a

◦ Thank Raziel (who was awesome) and congratulate yourself. You’ve survived a very minor 1st world inconvenience. (which isn’t always quite as easy as it sounds.)

Reframe & Refocus

I’ve been reading a lot about stoicism, this philosophy where (in a nutshell) you on increasing ‘positive’ emotions and minimizing the negative ones. Basically use your energy on the good stuff and avoid getting caught up in the anger, misery, pain of the shitty shit that comes with life.

It’s a great idea, and honestly sounds a lot like the kind of advice my Dad would give. In some ways it’s easy to think of a bad attitude or negative emotion like a kind of virus. It’s unwanted, often unexpected, and contagious. If left unchecked it can quickly overwhelm your system.

Good news is that, just like a virus, there’s something to be be done about it. We can try to prevent it showing up at all by practicing good habits. We can work to notice the symptoms early on, catch those errant thoughts before they develop into something worse. And, like with any contagion, we can avoid those we know are infected, thereby minimizing our risk of catching “Bad Mood By Proxy”.

Since so much of what I’ve written here is about loss and pain and the suck that is grieving you might be wondering “How can this possibly apply to Grief? How can you remedy this forever ache that can’t be fixed?”.

That’s what I’m trying to figure out myself, and though I’m not sure exactly how to make it happen I know it’s worth trying. I know I can experience the pain when it comes, but I can also recognize and embrace all the good times as well.

Yes I’m sure I’ll still breakdown at the drop of a hat, or get angry about how things played out. How unfair and unjust life can be, how could this have happened, why me….etc etc. But The Plan is to see these thoughts & recognize them for what they are before they turn into a pity-party spiral of sadness.

To refocus myself, staying present but still acknowledging the pain.