2014, Here I Come!

Tis the season to declare what we expect from ourselves in the coming year. Some call them resolutions, others call them goals. Whatever you want to call it, here are the things I intend to accomplish in 2014.

Suck Less. I know, this seems like a negative way to start my planning. Here’s the deal: You know how we all have an inner voice who is incredibly nasty to us? Well, mine tells me I suck. All the time. So, this intention is twofold. On one hand, I will do everything in my life with more dedication, which means I will accomplish everything more fully. On the other, I will accept the idea that I suck less often. Which leads me to… 

Observe the voices in my head the way I do everyone else. I am the type of person who hears not just what people around me say, but the motivations and emotions behind what they say. But when it comes to the voices inside my head, I’m not as discerning. The voice who jumps to negative conclusions, the one who thinks I’m terrible at life, the one who tells me I’m not enough? That tailhole I take at face value. Well, no more. I’m giving myself (and my voices) the same examination I’ve given everyone else for all these years.

Run a Spartan Race. I signed up for a Super Spartan on April 5, my dad’s birthday. I can think of no better way to honor dad’s life than to live out loud.

Run 50 miles in races. This includes the Spartan Race, of course, but mostly I’ll be just running. I have the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in January, the Glass Slipper Challenge (10k on Saturday, half marathon on Sunday) in February and the Spartan Race in April. After that, I will need about 10 more miles of races through the end of the year.

Learn to swim. This is tied to the Spartan Race as well. I’m short, by Spartan standards, so I need to know I can make it across water elements the taller Spartans could walk or bob across. Don’t get me wrong — I won’t drown or anything. But I really don’t know how to swim freestyle consistently, and it’s time to learn.

Let go of superstitions. As long as I can remember, I’ve lived with superstition. When I spill salt, I toss some over my shoulder. When I split the pole with a friend, I always say “bread and butter.” When someone says something amazing is going to happen (or something bad will stop happening), I knock on wood. I put my right shoe on first, hate to land on my left foot at the bottom of the stairs. You get the picture. Well, it’s time for all this to stop. Like the voices in my head who run me down, superstitions add anxiety to life. I have enough anxiety — I won’t let arbitrary rules from generations ago pile on anymore.

Visit a new place. This is an intention I set for myself every year. In 2013, I managed this in spades, and I hope to do more of the same in 2014.

There you have it. I wish you a wonderful 2014 full of intention, determination and fun.

There’s no place like home (but where my heart calls home surprised me)

I made it through my whirlwind flights, drives, shopping, celebration and flights again. I’ve been back for a day or two, actually, but I’ve been too tired to put my brain to use.

Here’s a recap of my trip, in case you care:

December 19-20: Overnight flights from Bakersfield to San Francisco to Houston to Raleigh. I may have slept 20 minutes during the whole trip.

December 20: Family time in Raleigh, after picking up a rental car. Mama L and my mom took me out to eat, and I went to see my brother at work. I was so punchy I couldn’t stop giggling. Oh, and I got to sleep that night on an airbed on the floor next to my mom’s bed, which felt like childhood. (She was sleeping in the 6-year-old nephew’s bed.)

December 21-22: Drove to Williamsburg, VA, to meet up first with my “sister” (the one with the 5-year-old) and then with one of my best friends in the world. My sister and I went to the outlets, then to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in 80-degree, humid weather, then crashed at a hotel. Then I met my bfff for lunch and another trip to Christmas Town in the cool rain. I drove back late on the 22nd and crashed on the airbed again.

December 23: My parents’ anniversary, which meant a day of shopping and errands with my mom, a lot of crying and remembering. This was a really tough day for all of us, and it’s hard to even think about.

December 24: Sudden realization that I’d forgotten to get stocking stuffers for the 12 family members with whom I was celebrating Christmas — so super shopping spree with my mom, then the weirdest Christmas Eve service I’ve ever attended in life. I’m talking a preacher who likened General Pickett’s son being born to Jesus’ birth, then a woman dressed like Santa who sang Silent Night in German. I seriously searched for potential weapons in the sanctuary (the Christmas ornaments seemed likely) and scoped the exits, because I was the “darkest” person in the whole church.

December 25: Christmas! That meant watching 13 people (including me) open each gift, one at a time, until we’re all out of presents. Yep, it took hours. Then Christmas dinner, then a double-feature of Frozen (BEST. MOVIE.) and Catching Fire.

December 26: Lunch, coffee and a mani-pedi with my brother. My brother has size 14 feet and had never had a pedicure before. The woman cheese-grating his feet was holding a foot almost half her size in the air while he giggled like a child and tried very hard not to kick the nice lady. (Quote of the day: Being a girl is WEIRD.) Then I played video games with my nephew until I literally saw gold stars and had to crash. Mom went home, so I upgraded from the airbed to the bed. I slept a long time.

December 27: Frantic packing, then a late-night flight from Raleigh to Houston to Bakersfield in tiny planes. Then a cab ride to my house, during which the cabbie asked me whether I thought dogs have souls. (Of course they do.)

So there you have it. In a week’s time, I saw my family, two of my best friends and my favorite amusement park. I basked in the love of those around me, laughed, slept, enjoyed myself.

And you know what? I didn’t feel at home at all. In fact, from the moment I got on the plane to head west, I felt something settle inside me. It’s not that I didn’t adore my time with family and friends — I wouldn’t trade it for anything — but the east coast just isn’t where my heart feels right. I guess that’s a good thing, considering I live on the west coast now. But I’m still surprised how quickly I’ve adjusted to California as my home.

I can fly! I can fly! I can fly!

It’s my first Christmas as an adult without my dad. Before now, the only Christmas I’d ever spent without him was the year he was in training to work for the FAA. I was 6 years old, and he sent presents home to my brother and me. I still have the Polaroid my mom took of us that Christmas, happily holding our gifts from him. (Mine was Boggle. I had that thing until a few years ago.)

Being without dad is, in a word, painful. Dad was the center of our Christmas celebrations and always loved handing out gifts to everyone else.

I refuse to be without my mom and brother, too, so I am embarking on a series of flights tonight that will take me to Raleigh by late morning tomorrow. Unfortunately, that means I’m making a series of connections, from tiny little Meadows Field in Bakersfield (6 whole gates!) to San Fran, then to Houston, then Raleigh.

Flying always makes me feel like a kid again, and dad loved planes. I’m pretty sure he’d hate this particular route, but I’m keeping my “I won’t grow up” attitude and trying to enjoy the flights tonight. Wish me luck!

When a 5-year-old tells you you’re skinny, you’re skinny

Yesterday, I did a particularly decent job of styling my hair. This may not sound like an accomplishment, but I’m still learning how to be a girl and felt this hairstyle was selfie worthy. So I used my phone to take a headshot and sent it to my best friend. No description, just a picture of my hair doing lovely things and me smiling about it.

She called me about 3 minutes later. She said her 5-year-old daughter had seen the picture, then asked to see it again. She examined the picture closely and exclaimed, “Wow, she’s looking skinnier than EVER!”

Fatty Boombaladdy no more
When I was young, I saw a stand-up routine on VH-1 by Steve Shaffer. The last third or so of this routine stuck with me my entire adult life — kids are incredibly honest, and if a kid calls you fat, you probably are. So much so that I avoided being around children when I was at my heaviest, just so I’d never have to hear their version of the Fatty Boombaladdy song directed toward me.

So when this little girl, a kid who has known me as a larger woman (though I’m sure she can’t remember me at my worst), says without prompting that I look skinnier than ever? Oh yeah, she made my day.