Selfish is OK

Several years back during a time when introspection was greatly needed, I came to the notion that my fatal flaw was that I was selfish, but that I was OK with that and I was going to embrace it and work with it. It didn’t strike me as that horrible as fatal flaws go, but I took some shit for it when I told people. When I thought about it more, I realized that I didn’t truly mean the same thing as the dictionary definition.  In fact a dear friend pointed out that I absolutely was NOT lacking in concern for others, and that I should reframe it as “being good at self-care”.  In addition to meeting pretty much all the needs of my still young at the time children, I was also quite capable of saying no, taking time for myself, pursuing interests that I enjoyed, and perhaps more often than others, putting my needs before the needs of others. There had to be a better way to express that.

SELF·ish /ˈsɛlfɪʃ/ adj. lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

A year ago today, I made a plea on Facebook for “a word (a simple word, not a phrase) that would mean much the same as selfish, but without the ‘complete disregard for others’ it connotes? ” I was looking for a word I could use to describe this feeling of taking care of my own needs in the face of conflicting needs from others. What I got was a deluge of negativity regarding my inquiry.

Egocentric? Narcissistic? Greedy? Self-centered? Self-absorbed? Inconsiderate? Inwardly focused? Self-indulgent? Jerk? Egocentric? Cavalier? Thoughtless?

I was shocked! Such hostility and rancor towards the subject. I hoped that people simply misunderstood my intent and that the entire world did not think that putting ones own needs and desires above others’ was inherently bad. So I clarified, ” OK. Clearly I was not as concise as I wanted to be. I wanted to TAKE OUT the negative element. Selfish, according to the definition, means to focus on one’s needs to the exclusion of others. I was looking for a word that would positively give a sense of focusing on one’s needs, perhaps not always acting the way others would want, while still being aware of them. “Self-focused” was the only one that got close to what I was really looking for. Now that I am clearer, any other options?” What followed was a little better, but not much.

Internally focused? Self-contained? Centered? Grounded? Autonomous? Individualistic? Self-directed? Empowered? Self-care? Boundaried? Authentic? Self-interested?

Still not great. More in line with what I was thinking, but not a simple adjective to be used in everyday life to concisely express what I was meaning. I think my sister got it right when she postulated, “… that could be part of the whole concept’s issue. Maybe it’s not a mode one ‘lives in’ but maybe a vital process one engages in to bridge to a more whole self?” The CONCEPT has an image problem. It’s not somewhere you are supposed to live. And I wonder why not?

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Someone suggested trying to make a new word – selfishless was their suggestion. To my ears, though, that sounded more like “to be without selfishness” which was again the opposite of what I was going for. I thought maybe “selfful” might work, like helpful, but for yourself. But someone characterized it as being “full of yourself”, which is a phrase that is distinctly negative in it’s connotation, an exaggerated sense of self-worth in a way that annoys other people.  A word won’t work if it “sounds bad” and that did.  So back to square one, no good, simple word to describe a maligned concept that needs a good PR firm to bolster its acceptance.

It’s sad to me that the people I polled immediately defaulted to thinking that this type of feeling was “not good” and that we don’t have a better word to describe the positive, necessary element of what I really mean. I bet the Germans do. They have great words for lots of things we can barely say in a sentence – schadenfreude anyone? Looking back, too, I realize that simply classifying my feelings of self-care as a “fatal flaw” had me falling into the same negative stereotype that I am now trying to dispel. It’s not a flaw, it’s a strength.  And I am going to try to respect it.

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The Kids Are Alright

I have a terrible confession. I don’t miss my kids when they are gone. Not now that they have been whisked away for a week with their father during Evan’s spring break, not in the past when they went to boy scout camp, not when I went away for a stint somewhere for something, not ever really. I actually wondered once just how long I would have to be separated from them before I would actually miss them. Clearly it’s not two weeks.
I have pondered as to whether an element of this was that, especially when they were young and needy, I spent *no* time away from them, as in no date nights with a babysitter, no weekends away, no vacations with family watching them.  I was always the primary parent and am still. Add homeschooling on top of that and you have a pretty intense parenting situation. It has definitely changed the tenor of my relationship with my kids (as well as the relationship they have with all adults, really) for the better, but it certainly was ALL KIDS ALL THE TIME.  That had to have affected me. In spite of my entrenched extrovertedness, when my kids were young, my Myers-Briggs actually swung ever so slightly into the “I” (introverted) side because I so desperately needed time alone that I wasn’t getting.
Perhaps, even still, time without them feels like a precious gift. I am all too aware that the time is fast approaching when one after the other they will leave my house and start lives of their own. I’ll miss them then I am sure. I can only hope that they will choose to live close enough that we will be able to visit each other like I am able to do so with my parents and sisters. But who knows, maybe I won’t miss them then either?
So what did I do when they left? Well, as I write this, I am sitting in the sun-drenched front room of a friend’s beach house, I’ve been eating fresh seafood for every meal, got a massage, and am headed out thrift shopping. I do pretty well in my own.
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Gorgeous sunny day with a perfect summer drink. Sometimes life is great.
As a side note, I hit up a liquor store too and discovered the drink of the summer – Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach.  So many possibilities, I’m drinking it with seltzer right now, but in champagne it would be divine!

It Was (not) a Very Good Year

For reasons that do not bear public scrutiny, this was a very hard year for me. Everyone has been going on about the greats we lost in 2016, too numerous to even mention here; but as a friend stated, she has hit grief overload. We’re old now, people we grew up knowing about are going to start to die more and more frequently, let’s get over it. I, however, have had a personally pretty crappy year. I have been muddling through, making my own path, finding my way. There are certain things I can control and others that I cannot. And despite my knowing that, I spend way too much time being tortured by the things I don’t have control over. That is one of my mental burdens. Sometimes I work against it, and sometimes I wallow. A tactic I turn to over and over again is to wait something out. It’s surprising how often it works. Although there is tremendous pain in the waiting, I am regularly rewarded for having waited. The problem with this tactic is that when it doesn’t work, it fails SPECTACULARLY. So, there is risk in everything. I have gone through fits and starts of brilliance in my struggle with this year though. I had a breathtaking bucket list trip to see the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico, got my concert going back up to where I want it, redid my living room, figured out my weight issue, and started this blog!

 

 

“If you were perfect, you’d be bored” ~ Sara Maschino

So it is with great relief I bid 2016 adieu. I am still not certain that 2017 will bring me all the things I want, but I can have hope. I will continue to go to live music. I will make an effort to hang out with my friends. I will renew my intentions with my art. I will work out hard and continue to reshape my body. And I will live and love my life as best I can.

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Resolutions are for a Legislature

I do NOT make New Year’s Resolutions. I do, however, write goals every year. EVERY YEAR. I have a record of them for the last twenty three years! Some people might think this is absolute craziness that I have done this with such consistency. Some others might simply be astonished that I can find all twenty three years of them. For me, it’s been a dependable ritual that I complete each year.

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This was when I was still working and a goal planner was included in the day planner I used at work.

At the end of each year, I assess how well I met the year’s goals (I do award myself partial credit and sometimes delete a goal when it is unaccomplishable due to circumstances beyond my control) and give myself a completion grade. On average, I seem to make it into the sixties as my percentage completed. I do not consider this on the standard “school” percentages, it’s not a D. In my eyes, every time I meet over 50% of the goals I set for my year, that’s a winning year. If my completion percentage is too high, I probably didn’t set my sights high enough for the year. In the week before and after January 1st, I get busy crafting my goals for the coming year. I usually use the same categories year after year, changing them only when a category really isn’t suiting my needs anymore. Sometimes I transfer an unmet goal to the next year if I think it is still important. Other times I realize that since I didn’t get to it after a full year, it’s really not all that critical to my success or happiness.

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Deep into kid-dom, I was a scrapbooker and the final product reflected that for a couple of years.

In 2016, I added the category “Creativity” because art has become a more significant element in my life than in years past. I also decided to break Personal into two categories “Self Care/Personal Development” and “Personal Interests” since doing things for myself weren’t necessarily the same thing as interests I have. As an example, in the former category I had “try guided meditation” and “learn something new” for this year. But the Personal Interests section included “throw two parties” and “go the the Balloon Fiesta in NM”. In my mind those things are different and needed different headings. The other categories I am using are “Kids/School”, “House/Material Possessions”, “Health & Fitness”, “Finances”, and “Personal Relationships” for a total of eight. 2017’s goals will be using the same categories and I am crafting them now. I always show one person when I consider it done (it makes sure I actually finish it) and I may or may not post it here. Depends on how I feel after I write them.

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Now I just just keep a list.  It is kept in Evernote all year, but I do print it out after I assess my success level so I can put it in the book with all the others.

Resolutions are destined to fail so no one ever feels good about them. Goals are almost always a positive way to structure your life. And if you do as I do and consider greater than 50% to be a victory, success is easily assured. I cannot tell you the satisfaction it gives me to be able to look over my successes for more than 20 years. I can see patterns and know where I went wrong (and right!) I love seeing how hard I tried in some areas. I love seeing how I let go of others. I had no idea I would still be doing this so many years later when I started, but I am very glad I am.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Stella, Nirvana Rose, Florence, Tea Rose, Petale Noir, Jessica – those are the other names for rose. At least in my perfume collection. I love perfume. LOVE it. I have 40 different perfumes right now and 40 others as samples.

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My very favorite perfume in the world is KL by Karl Lagerfeld. kl-women-by-karl-lagerfeld-2

It is no longer made, and hasn’t been for a really long time. About five years ago I hauled everything out of my linen closet in the hallway in order to redo the unholy mess that it had become. Wonder of wonders, I found a sealed bottle of this precious elixir in the morass. I was over the moon. I’ve seen sealed bottles of this go for $300 on eBay, so precious indeed. It’s a warm spicy scent, all cinnamon and amber and yes civet , back when they still used the real thing. And oh so sensual. It epitomizes the perfumes of the 80’s, which is, of course, when I bought it. It made me feel mature and sophisticated at a time when I still looked like I was in high school. It made me feel like I had a place in the world. Wearing it now still transports me to a time when I was young and feeling powerful. I am now less young, but more powerful and still love the way it makes me feel.

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My current avenue to new fragrances is a subscription service called Scentbird. For me, it’s perfect because I can try many different (and rather pricey) perfumes at a much lower cost. My test tube rack is filled with the ones I have gotten already (and the scent Spicebomb by Viktor + Rolf is in the black holder.) For just $15 I get my pick of over 400 fragrances. It’s rebottled from originals so while the 8 ml per vial is more expensive per ounce than buying a full bottle, there are not many places where you can buy a partial bottle! This way I can get six different perfumes for the cost of a single $90 full bottle. If, for any reason, this seems like a cool idea to you, you can get a free perfume by using my link. The hitch is that you have to buy the first month and then your second month is free. Still, that’s $15 for two perfumes!

You can see that I have some men’s fragrances – Polo Supreme Oud and Spicebomb from Scentbird and a full sized Tom Ford Noir. Because I like dark, spicy, woody scents sometimes the ones designed for men are perfect for me. In general the broad category “oriental” is the one that appeals to me the most. Recently, I nabbed myself two drugstore perfumes that have been around FOREVER. The first is Tabu (1932) a sweet, amber, and clove concoction that smells like a burgundy velvet tapestry in a dark paneled study. I think I paid $10 for the full bottle and I love it so very much. The second is a replacement from high school called Toujour Moi (1921) – got it at Walgreens! This one is sandalwood and white florals and smells like a cashmere shawl feels.

Picking out a perfume each morning gives me such joy. I spent a solid decade not wearing scents at all because Evan couldn’t handle it. I am now happily back to indulging my spice nose (haha – I made that up as a corollary to “sweet tooth” 😃 ). Let me know if you want to sniff my neck.

New Friends

friendslogoI made a new friend. Do you know how hard that is to do as an adult? Seriously, when was the last time you made a new friend? Someone who was a complete stranger to you 24 hours ago that is now saying “Hey, we should do something together!” Don’t get me wrong, I have made loads of music friends and they are precious to me. But we get together for shows. Frankly, many of them live states, even countries away. I’m talking about a meet me at yoga and then go to lunch new friend. AND THAT’S JUST WHAT HAPPENED.

I went to a bar down the street that had a friend’s husband’s band playing. The friend never showed because she had vomiting children (such a legit excuse!) But that meant I was alone. A woman liked my freshly done, just-got-it-four-hours-ago tattoo and we started talking. We had some things in common, she took my number, and lo and behold, she texted me and asked if I wanted to join her at yoga on Saturday. I’m not super into yoga, but I am super into people reaching out to me, so I said yes. Turns out the studio had a sweet starter deal and I will be able to try as many classes as I’d like for the next 30 days for only $29! With it only being 5 minutes from my house, I think I will get my money’s worth. Afterward we went to lunch (sushi!!) and got to know each other. She even said “I hope we can be friends.” How cool is that?

Friends are important at all ages and stages of life.  It’s sad that it’s so hard to make new ones as life advances.  Many times, these are the days when things are changing and you need new kinds of people in your life for new kinds of things.  I hope this new friendship works out.

The New Tattoo

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Jimmy working on it
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In context
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Up close

Now come the posts. Probably a couple in quick succession. Partly because it’s new and I am interested and partly because I really need to know what the hell this is going to look like and figure out a decent layout!

Let’s start with today’s big news – I got my third tattoo!! I always knew I was going to get at least one more, having just two was unsettling. I hate even numbers. In fact, I will ended up with either 3, 5, 7, or 11 tattoos in my lifetime. But not nine – nine is not prime, and I can’t have that. My first tattoo was just three years ago and on my foot, which may be one of the most painful places to get one. My artist tried to wave me off, but that’s where I really wanted it. The second is on my ribs, also supposed to be very painful. When he mentioned that, I looked at him, smirked and pointed to my foot. So now it’s on to my forearm. Easy peasy.

It took a long while to decide what I really wanted. I knew where I wanted it, just not what. I’ve been gathering ideas for a good two years and now seemed like the right time to do it. The yin and yang symbol, whatever it means to you, means balance to me. Two sides of one whole, with a little of this in that and a little of that in this. Balance. Just as that first tattoo did then, and continues to now, remind me to live a full life, this one is going to remind me to keep my center and make sure the give and take is even. But I wasn’t interested in a standard yin and yang, I wanted something fancier, a little filigree-like. I took several of the ideas I had gathered to my artist and I was so happy to see that his design was more beautiful than the samples I had given him. I am happy to have this great piece on my arm.

Now for the itching!