Z is for Zany
Zany: amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic. That’s me!
Welcome to Z day! Yay! It’s the last day of the challenge, I’m heading down for an interview with the feds, I’ve up to my eyeballs in work and I’m in a deliriously good mood this morning. Zany pretty much sums it up.
Z is also for zing, zap, zest…lots of tingly little words that remind me of spicy salsa and being in love. Yum!
Z is for zebra (a consequence of my mommy-status). My daughter and I were reading a book last night with this zebra with really big teeth. It was kind of creepy.
So yes, my final post for this challenge is going to be a hodgepodge of random thoughts. I’ve enjoyed the challenge and hope you will continue reading and commenting on my blog as I continue my journey in life and in my writing career.
Happy Z day! The end. Fin.
Y is for Yelling
As a general rule, I don’t believe in yelling. I mean, I do believe it happens. I know plenty of yellers. But I’m not one and I don’t believe that yelling is an effective method for communicating (unless you’re being kidnapped, in which case please yell all you want!). I do not yell at my kids, under any circumstances and I’ve made it clear to my friends that yelling is not ok in my house (even if they’re yelling at their own kids). You want to yell, do it somewhere else.
I’d say my distaste for yelling stems from two things. First, my father. My dad is a very quiet and peaceful person. As a child, my parents neither spanked nor yelled at us, and my sister and I grew up to be pretty decent human beings so it can be done. Instead of yelling, my dad had two tools: “the look” and the “lecture.” If you got “the look,” you were in big trouble and it was likely you were going to get the “lecture.” The lecture was exactly that…a quiet, stern conference about your transgressions. My dad’s calm demeanor was twice as terrifying as any threat of physical violence or raised voice. I’ve been working on perfecting “the look” as a parent but it’s an art form and I have a long way to go.
Second reason: I just don’t believe that yelling serves any purpose other than as a means of intimidation and I don’t think intimidation is good grounds for any working relationship. In fact, if you take a look at the paperwork in a rape kit, you’ll find intimidation among the types of coercion used to facilitate sexual assault (not a pretty picture, right?) I don’t want to intimidate people, especially the people I love the most. So I don’t yell. Does this mean I don’t get flipping mad from time to time. Nope. I’m human and my kids and my fiancé push my buttons sometimes. But they are still the most important people in my life. I seek understanding, cooperation, collaboration and I do it with a deep breath and a calm voice, even when I’m fuming.
My stance on yelling does come from experience. When my son was a toddler, he jumped onto my back when I was picking toys up on the floor one day. It startled me and hurt and I yelled at him to stop. As the words left my mouth and hit his little perfect ears, I saw the look on his face, a look of horror. I watched his little face crinkle up and realized that all the anguish he was feeling was a direct result of my behavior. I have never felt that bad in my entire life and it was at that precise moment that I decided I would never yell at my child again, no matter what. And I never have. That moment stays with me as a vivid representation of the damage we can so easily to do to one another with just a raised voice. Add mean words and the combination is deadly.
I’ve gotten push back on my anti-yelling stance before and I’m sure I will again. But I would challenge all the yellers out there to consider whether yelling really achieves its goal. Does it lead to understanding or does it simply create fear? In my experience, yelling leads to defiance, avoidance, fear, shame, doubt and perhaps compliance (though I know a whole lot of people who simply learned to avoid the yelling by never getting caught).
What are your thoughts on yelling?
X is for X-Ray & Xylophone
I only know two words that start with X, as it turns out. I am the mother of two small children so I have had years of experience with “X is for x-ray” and “x is for xylophone” but beyond that, my X knowledge is pretty pitiful. Well, to be fair to myself, I have a passing knowledge of xanthan gum (thanks to a friend who’s children have severe food allergies, forcing her to study food chemistry quite extensively) and xylitol (which I think is a sweetener) but I’d be stretching the truth if I said I had ever used these words in a sentence (or even in a game of Scrabble).
As I went through the list of X words I knew, I realized they were actually mostly A and E words. Or proper names – I can think of quite a few company names starting with X, although many of them are cheater words where the beginning vowel has been dropped for dramatic effect (think Xtra or Xtreme). My family owned an office supply store and copy shop so I am quite familiar with Xerox and X-Acto knives.
I learned from the Backyardigans that X is for X marks the spot. Yep.
Oh wait, I remembered one more. Thank you Orson Scott Card for introducing me to the word xenocide (not a nice word but the Ender books are some of my favorites). Ok, maybe I know more X words that I’ve given myself credit for. And in honor of today, I’m adding xanthophobia (fear of the color yellow) to my vocabulary. Don’t be surprised if it comes up in our next conversation.
Now let’s head out and get some xango for a snack!
W is for Waiting & Writing
I know I’ve said this before, but I’m incredibly impatient. I hate waiting. So, I try to keep myself perpetually busy. On the one hand, this makes me a decidedly hard worker and I am able to handle lots of projects at once. On the other hand, I know that being able to sit still with one’s feelings is a skill worth practicing (and I need the practice!).
I’ve got a list of things I’m waiting on. First of all, as a writer, there’s a lot of waiting to be done. You send off queries, you wait. You send off manuscripts, you wait. You wait and you write. Write and wait. Wait and write. (you can hear the Jeopardy music too, right?). Being a writer will teach me patience if it kills me (and it may).
I’m waiting for summer. This summer is really special. My kids and I are traveling a lot and I’m taking a two-week writing trip to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The kids and I have a little countdown going on and we’re just excited. I get to see my mom and my sister. I get to visit some of my best friends (one of whom I haven’t seen in the flesh in a few years! Eep!). And I get to research and write. I’m working on a new book series set in Seattle, a city that I adore, so I’m looking forward to the creative time I get to spend there this summer.
I’m waiting for next summer and another W word – my wedding. Even though it’s going to be a very small celebration, it’s hard not to get caught up in a wedding planning frenzy. I’ve limited my insanity to dress hunting. I’m torn between something simple and short, and something traditional and poofy. Watching endless hours of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta is not helping!
So, for a girl who hates waiting, I’ve got a whole heap of thing on my plate that will cause me to slow down and just sit with my impatience. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn a little something about how to wait in peace.
How do you feel about waiting? What helps you get through it?
V is for Valentine's Day
As a mom, Valentine’s Day has become centered around two things: candy and date night. Candy for the kids, date night for the adults. The guy in my life claims not to be romantic but manages to take me out for a splendid dinner every year. This year, we took the kids to their dad’s and were planning on visiting my family who live a few hours away. My cousin just moved up to Colorado so we wanted to go down and see him.
We’d just gotten home from dropping off the kids and I rushed upstairs to watch Backstrom, my new favorite television show. My honey came upstairs just a few minutes later, which seemed odd because we weren’t leaving for a few hours and I expected he’d be busy in his office until then. I paused the show to see what he needed (I assumed there must be a reason for the impromptu visit). He sat down next to me and we sat in silence for a few moments until I finally said “did you need to tell me something?” I mean, I wanted to get back to my show, gosh darnit!
He says, “yeah, let’s get married.”
What?!? Ok, so picture me, stupefied, all the blood racing to my face, speechless for the first time in history. We’d been talking about marriage but I didn’t see this coming. He actually surprised me! And on Valentine’s Day! What?!?
I think he might have started getting nervous from all the silence and said, “well?”
And I smiled and said, “deal.”
And there you have it folks, Valentine’s Day just took on a whole new meaning for me. My fiancé tells me that he had been waiting for the right moment to ask and he figured Valentine’s Day was jut about right (yep, Mr. “I’m not romantic” waited until V-Day to propose – you can see why I was blindsided, right?). And it was perfect. A quiet proposal in our house where we share our lives….just exactly what I had in mind.
V is for very happy. And I am.
U is for Unrealistic Expectations
I’ve been thinking about why we set such unrealistic expectations. For instance, in intimate relationships, why do we always go in thinking we can change the other person? Why is it so hard to just accept people as they are? I have a sneaking suspicion that it has to do with control, but I think it also has a little bit to do with hope. We think the relationship will change them. Or that having kids will help re-adjust priorities or mellow them out. How many times does a relationship fail because we finally realized that those traits are engrained in their personalities. Not only is it not our job to change them, but we simply CAN’T!
The same thing happens in other types of relationships. Let’s take volunteerism for example. Community organizations often rely on their volunteers. Using volunteers to perform vital functions allows small, cash-strapped organizations to reach way beyond their budgets. And volunteers often give their time because they care about the cause – they are personally invested in the process or the project. But volunteers can be sorely taken advantage of and it often comes down to unrealistic expectations. First, someone in the organization demands more than the volunteer is willing or able to give. Volunteers are not employees. Period. Then, when the volunteer fails to meet expectations, they are treated badly. Raise your hands if you’ve ever been in this situation!
As a parent, I constantly struggle with my expectations for my children. I find myself seeing their lives through the filter of my own experiences, placing expectations that are based more on my own priorities and goals for myself than anything at all having to do with the kids. Have you ever had to ask yourself “is this about them or about me?” Try it and see how honest you can be about the answer. It can be hard!
We set unrealistic expectations because we are struggling for a sense of control over our world and the things in it. Think about it. Accepting that you are powerless to control something is scary. And yet, accepting things as they are, without expecting to be able to control or manipulate the outcome, helps us to see the world clearly and to be fully engaged in the present moment.
Today, I will be thankful for the wonders of the world I live in, for the love and support my family and friends give me, for the opportunity to live and work in this beautiful place and for the people in my life, just as they are. Acceptance is the word of the day.
What do you think about unrealistic expectations?
T is for Taking Care of Business
I wouldn’t call myself a procrastinator. I do have some off-days, but most of the time I’m pretty productive. Unfortunately, my to-do list grows by the moment and sometimes my prioritization methods might be a little wonky. So today I’m taking care of business. Dealing with accounts I should have canceled months ago. Making appointments I’ve been putting off. It’s not that I don’t think they’re important. They just sort of shift down the list and some of these items may have gotten a little lost in the shuffle. * sigh *
My life is organized on 3x3 inch notes. Not the sticky kind. The kind that you pile around your desk, tack up on cork boards and generally lose all over the place. Today’s notes contain a load of admin tasks that I’ve been putting off, as well as a long list of research items. Admin days always go by quickly….sometimes too quickly.
What get’s me through? A fully loaded playlist and Rold Gold garlic parmesan pretzel things. Yummm… What gets you through admin day?
S is for Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a topic near and dear to my heart for many reasons. I have several close family members and friends who’ve survived sexual assaults and I’ve seen firsthand the damage it does. I was also the director for a sexual assault services program that served two rural counties in New Mexico. In that role, I was introduced to the implications of sexual assault in our communities. I worked with police officers, attorneys, advocates and other professionals who are in the difficult position of trying to pick up the pieces of sexual assault within a system that is sometimes very backward and confining.
I’ve seen horrible trauma. But I’ve also seen hope.
S is for SANE. SANE stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, a group of specially trained registered nurses who perform exams on victims of sexual assault and abuse. SANE’s are often the first people who listen to a victim’s story and, in that role, they represent a first step toward recovery. These nurses often work on a voluntary basis, taking on-call hours in addition to their full-time jobs at hospitals and clinics. The burnout rate for SANE nurses is high because they experience high levels of vicarious trauma in their work….and yet, every day more nurses sign up to take on this critical role. In case it’s not abundantly clear, I think that SANE nurses are angels here on Earth.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Take a moment to think about and thank the many people who help victims of sexual assault. They don’t always get the recognition they deserve; and believe me, they do deserve it. If your community has a SANE program or rape crisis center, think about supporting their work through donations or volunteerism. Find ways you can help prevent rape in your community by becoming an informed and intervening bystander. And most of all, if someone tells you they’ve been raped…Start by Believing!
R is for Rachel (x2)
I woke up thinking about the two Rachel’s in my life and since I still needed an R post, I thought I’d dedicate it to them. There are many spectacular women in my life – family, friends, colleagues. And I’ve been especially fortunate to have my life touched by two Rachel’s. One is my cousin. The other is one of my best friends.
My cousin Rachel is more than a decade younger than me. I babysat her when she was a baby and we didn’t really grow up together. But we’ve connected as adults and I just can’t say how thankful I am to have her in my life. She’s full of energy and enthusiasm. She’s a beautiful person inside and out. She understands struggle and maybe because of that, she celebrates life more excitedly than most people I know. She wants to help people. I can talk to Rachel about anything and I think she knows that she can trust me with anything. I love this girl so much and she has truly made my life richer.
My friend Rachel is an incredibly talented fine art photographer and our shared support for community organizations and causes is one of the things that brought us together. It would be hard to imagine my life without her. Rachel is a million wonderful things to me. She’s my confidante, my collaborator and my co-conspirator. She’s creative and beautiful and such a pleasure to have in my life that even as I’m writing about her, I find myself smiling and missing her. I’d be happy to spend my whole life just being friends with Rachel, but she’s one of my favorite people to work on projects with so I hope we’ll always be able to work together as well.
As it turns out, I’ve learned a lot about resilience (R word alert!) from these two women. Life hasn’t always dealt them the easiest hand but what they’ve created in their lives is beautiful and important and good. They encourage me. They inspire me. I love you both so much!
Q is for Quirkiness
If you’ve been following my blog through this challenge, you’ve probably got me pegged as a fairly quirky person. I’m a catastrophizer. I imagine all the weirdest and worst possibilities for every situation I find myself in. My catastrophizing stems from a combination of anxiety and an over-active imagination. But what’s really strange is that it doesn’t keep me out of trouble. You might think that a person who always imagines the worst outcomes would be a reclusive, pessimist but I’m sort of the opposite. I take chances and I’m eternally optimistic. I even leave the house!
I’d love to live in a world where we all just spontaneously broke into song several times a day. And I have watched the Golden Girls so much that I can literally come up with a Golden Girls story for every situation, like these are real people in my real life. The Golden Girls are my Hallmark greeting cards.
I’ve developed all sorts of quirky behaviors to compensate for my low vision as well. I will intentionally not look in your direction until you’re standing close enough that I can recognize you. Don’t yell at me across a crowded public place. I’ll ignore you (my apologies, but its how I cope). Of course, some of my quirks are unrelated to any physical condition. For instance, I Google everything…I never use the address bar in my browser, even if I know the URL I’m visiting. Why? I’m don’t know. It’s just this thing that I do.
Luckily, I think quirks are the things that make people really interesting. I’ll accept all of yours if you’ll accept all of mine.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.