Day 52 – Snow denial

I don’t tend to be an ostrich sort–you know, one of those people who avoids conflict like the plague and generally tries to quickstep around any unpleasantness. I like to face things head on, tackle the problem.

Let it in and let it go. You know?

But there’s one thing that may have gotten the best of me. There is one thing that I am now officially avoiding because dammit, I just can’t face the reality anymore…

I just saw that we may be in for some freezing rain and another 2-8 inches of snow this weekend. I know. I know. We live in Nebraska and it’s February, but this has reached the point of ridiculousness.

Somebody, please make it stop. And until it does, I’m just going to do my best and try to ignore the fact that, if the weather in Nebraska is any indication, hell may have legitimately frozen over.

Day 51 – Our own worst critics

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but at any given time, I probably have at least half-a-dozen blank journals sitting on a shelf somewhere, the empty pages longing to be filled with thoughts and ideas, important words, a story. Yet I always struggle to get things started, to write those first words and mark that first fresh page. Any old words just won’t do.

I want my words to have weight. I want them to matter.

And that desire will often stop me dead in my tracks and make me question whether I really have anything to say worth saying at all.

Yeah, I know. I gotta work on that. I gotta get out of my own damn way.

But that’s just how it is, isn’t it? We are always our own worst enemies, our own harshest critics. So much of the fear and anxiety we feel on a daily basis really just lives in our heads. The situations we find ourselves in, the moments we experience–they’re just moments. The simply exist. They’re here and then they’re gone and they’re benign.

It is what it is.

But it’s the emotion that we tie to those moments that start things spiraling out of control. We get ourselves all worked up and frantic fretting over what if’s and worst case scenarios and building this picture in our minds of how it should be, instead of allowing life to simply unfold as it’s meant to based on the choices we make.

And if all that what-ifing and scenario-building wasn’t enough, what really trips us up is the aftermath, when we carry those moments with us long after they’re gone. We beat ourselves up over the could have beens and should have beens instead of just experiencing the moment.

Letting it in, and letting it go.

And suddenly, something as simple as writing a journal entry can have me wondering if I’m good enough, if I’m just a joke, if I actually have anything to say after all.

I’ve gotten a lot better at keeping myself in check, at not allowing that negative train of thought to keep running out of control. It’s something I have to actively work on and be mindful of every day. It took a lot of hard work and therapy to learn how to temper that negative thinking, but damn has it been worth it!

And I think one of the greatest benefits to learning how to recognize and manage my own self-critic is that it has made me so much more patient and compassionate. We’re all just here trying to do our best while we’re wrestling with our own inner demons, aren’t we? The least we can do is to be kind and support one another. I mean, that’s what we’re here for isn’t it–to love each other and learn how to love ourselves?

Day 50 – Snow day

Well, this certainly complicates things. Be safe and stay warm out there ya’ll!

Day 49 – Ten random things

I just can’t seem to settle on one topic tonight, so I’m going to give you 10 random things you may not have known about me…

1. I’m an introvert at heart – I’ve had to really work hard for years to develop my networking and public speaking skills (and honestly, it all still makes me rather uncomfortable). These days, I can turn it on when I need to, but I find I always need a little time to decompress.

2. I can’t wink – If I try really hard, I can scrunch my face enough so one eye will eventually close (while the other one is only mostly closed). So, it always makes me feel a twinge of anxiety when someone winks at me, because I feel like I’m supposed to be able to wink back and all I can do is just smile and keep talking to create a diversion from my lack of wink-ability.

3. If I ever won the lottery, I’d go to school forever – Yep, I’m a super nerd, and I’m okay with it. What can I say? I just really love learning new things, and I think part of the reason I’m so happy working on a college campus is because I really miss being in the classroom. Plus, if I won the lottery, I could afford to take all the classes I really want to take and leave the rest behind (I’m looking at you math).

4. I’m a work in progress – I’m in a much (MUCH) better place than I was in those high school and college years when I was struggling with my eating disorder and depression, but I still have to work on my self-esteem and my body image daily. I tend to deflect compliments, and I still don’t always feel comfortable in my own skin, but I can recognize my progress and that feels pretty good.

5. I miss New York – The city, the food, the energy, and all the people I love there. I think there are places that are just part of you. No rhyme or reason. You just feel this visceral connection somewhere deep in your bones. I felt it the first time I looked out the window of the airplane and saw the city sprawled out beneath the clouds. And every time I traveled outside of the boroughs or Westchester County, I always felt like I was leaving a piece of myself behind.

6. My favorite book of all time is Stephen King’s IT – Look, there are a lot of great books out there, a lot of books I really, really love. But gun to my head and I’m forced to choose one book to take with me to a deserted island? It’s going to be IT. Every time I read IT (and I must have read it at least 40 times by now), I immediately want to start over when it’s finished. King is a master of detail and characters, and those kids in the Loser’s Club? Yeah, I definitely would have been one of them.

7. My “People I Want to Have a Beer With” List – Stevie and I started this a whole lot of years ago (at some point when we were dating), making a list of the people we admire, people we’re fascinated by, people we just want to sit down and talk to and spend a little time with. The list is pretty extensive (because I find a lot of people seriously fascinating), but if I had to narrow it down to my Top 10 right now, here’s who I would choose (in no particular order): David Lynch, Carol Burnett, Maya Angelou, Ellen Degeneres, Brit Marling, Jeannine Capó Crucet, Ann Wilson, Lewis Black, César Millan, and James Spader.

8. Competition ruined sports for me – I was always an active kid. I would much rather spend my days out running around playing, rollerblading, riding my bike, swimming, throwing a ball around, etc. than to be cooped up indoors. Through elementary, middle, and high school, I enjoyed playing basketball, softball, volleyball, and even track (though I preferred to stick with discus, long jump, and high jump than to take part in any running events). But somewhere in early high school, sports just stopped being fun. I enjoyed participating for the fun of it, for pure enjoyment of the sport and self-satisfaction at a job well done. Between a coach who kept signing me up for relays after I told her I had no interest in running, and a few girls on my teams who were more interested in proving they were the best than actually playing as a team, I decided I’d had enough of sports by sophomore year in high school and decided to stick with band, choir, art, writing, photography and my part-time jobs instead. And you know what? I don’t regret it for a minute.

9. I don’t want to live in a world without Cadbury Eggs – I know. I know. They’re ridiculously sweet, and kinda gross with that runny, gooey center that oozes out when you break the chocolate shell. But damn I love me some Cadbury Eggs! They’re the one chocolate treat I seriously crave (probably because they actually disappear for a good portion of the year). Every year since we’ve been together, Stevie and I try to stockpile Cadbury Eggs when they’re on sale after Easter. We sock them away in the fridge with every intention of making them last the next several months. But somehow we end up eating our way through them way too fast, and then we spend the rest of the year pining of them and counting down the days ’til we start seeing the commercials on TV or notice the baskets of them popping up next to the checkout lanes in the grocery store. And yeah, guess what time it is folks???

10. I have a deep hatred for raisins – It wasn’t always this way. I imagine I ate my way through a few dozen boxes in my youth. What kid hasn’t? I never would have said raisins were my favorite thing. Mostly I guess I just never really noticed them. Then, when I was in therapy in college, one of my counselors led my group through a mindfulness exercise using raisins to help us focus. And for the next 10 minutes or so, there was nothing else in my life but raisins. And what did I learn from that little exercise? Raisins are fucking nasty. They’re shriveled little pieces of gummy after-fruit that sort of taste like dirt before you chew them, and sort of taste like lightly-sweetened dirt after you chew them. But the beauty of the exercise was that I learned how many things in life we simply pass by on auto-pilot without really experiencing them. It taught me to slow down, to focus on the present moment instead of constantly fretting over the past or worrying about the future. Because right now is the only moment that is really important–and let’s face it, life’s far too short to spend it mindlessly eating raisins.

Day 48 – Fantasy baseball dreams come true

I am currently the commissioner of two fantasy sports leagues.

That’s one of those sentences that I never thought I would ever say.

I honestly never paid much attention to professional sports growing up. It’s not surprising, I guess, being from Nebraska. I always watched Husker sports, but that was about the extent of it. My Grandpa Wayne was a diehard Cubs fan, so I guess I probably watched more Cubs baseball than anything. And Dad was an on-again off-again Broncos fan, so I remember him often commandeering the TV after church on Sundays to watch the Broncos or PGA golf.

It wasn’t until I became friends with Foerth and Stevie that I was baptized into the world of professional sports fandom. Anyone who has ever been around Foerth and Stevie together knows that you can learn all sorts of random sports trivia, history, rules, strategy, and little known facts during the course of just about any conversation–since every conversation (no matter the original topic) will eventually turn to sports.

In 2008, I got suckered into joining the boys’ fantasy baseball league. Basically, they needed another team to round out the league and they knew I wouldn’t turn them down. They probably also counted on the fact that I wouldn’t really know what I was doing. Two years later, I won the league (with a repeat championship in 2014).

A few years after that, I somehow became commissioner of both the baseball and football leagues–which honestly resulted from both Stevie and Foerth both just getting tired of running the leagues and putting up with the constant harassment from our buddies whenever they didn’t like one of the rules or ended up losing. By that point, I was enjoying the leagues so much that I didn’t want to see them go away, so I took it on and it has honestly been fun.

There’s no real strategy behind my league settings or scoring, other than the fact that I like to experiment and shake things up every now and then. For instance, I think it’s ridiculous that most football leagues don’t include individual defensive players, so I created a system where it is more than possible (and quite likely) that your team could lose each week if you pay no attention to the rock stars on defense (why thank you Lavonte David for earning me an average of 20+ points each week!).

The past couple years, though, we’ve been noticing a ridiculous trend in our baseball league after a few of our managers took advantage of the switch to unlimited moves and inflated points in pitching categories by simply adding the best available players who were pitching that day and then dropping them immediately after the game to pick up the best available pitchers starting the next day. And they did this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I mean, come on people, that’s not even baseball anymore. How is fantasy sports even fun when there’s no real strategy involved?

And now we’re officially counting down the days to the new season. Foerth has been emailing and texting me for weeks now to please, please, please, please, pretty please renew the league so he can start plotting his strategy for another new season, which usually involves trying to draft the one player that he thinks Stevie will be obsessed with just so he can use him as trade bait. For a few years, that player was Barry Zito (who Stevie and his Uncle Paul claim is a distant cousin). More recently that player was Jacob DeGrom (who is now on my roster as a Keeper after I traded Foerth for Paul Goldschmidt).

This year, Foerth is threatening to draft Tim Tebow. Keep your fingers crossed for that one, folks, because I’d honestly like to see how that would play out.

And just because the one real rule in this league has always been that all is fair as long as we beat Foerth, I found the perfect photo to use as our fantasy profile pic this year…

Play ball!

Day 47 – Fun, friends, and a murder mystery

Some friends invited Stevie and I out for a date night murder mystery tonight and it was a blast!

We had to drive through some crappy weather (it’s snowing again!!) to get there and back, but it was totally worth it. I played a character named Ann Maretto, and Stevie played Mickey Spinelli. Good friends, good food, good wine, and lots of fun and laughter!