January’s #Reverb16 prompt: Changes | A lot of people use January as a jumping off point to implement changes in their lives. How do you implement change? Slowly? Cold turkey? Incrementally with a plan?

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Look here. Yes, I know I did February’s first. As I’ve mentioned before, I like to keep things interesting. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Quietly. That’s how I like to make changes.

I don’t like to announce, “THIS is what I am going to do!” Why not? Because of that little kid voice I mentioned earlier that says, “But what if it fails?” If I don’t announce it, the only one who knows I’ve failed is me. Except there are some things I can’t really keep quiet about and at least two have happened over the past year or so.

I’m in school, studying English this time (I have a Bachelor’s in Music Therapy). What will I do with it? I. Don’t. Know. And you know what? I believe that’s okay. At least for now. It’s a benefit my employer provides and I’m finally able to take advantage of it. As of this writing, I have two literature classes left and then I’ll wait (im)patiently for writing classes to fit with my work schedule. Don’t misunderstand – my employer works with me, but there are certain times that are just not negotiable. I’ve mentioned before that I work for a large teaching hospital, specifically, the Internal Medicine Residency Program. From early November to late January, we interview medical students for the upcoming Intern year. Our interviews are Tuesdays and Fridays and they’re “all hands on deck” days in which the earliest I’m done is 11:00. The problems:

  • Semesters overlap with Interview Season – Fall semester ends early December, Spring semester starts early January.
  • I’m limited to afternoons, evenings, or online – Classes offered during the day are typically M-W-F (can’t do Friday mornings) or T-Th (can’t do Tuesday mornings)
  • There’s not a whole great lot offered afternoons, evenings, or online. Yes I’ve talked, written, and had lengthy conversations with them about that. Not sure if it’ll make a difference or not, but I’m hopeful.
  • I’m losing weight. This is a good thing. I’ve been pretty quiet about it, but weight loss eventually becomes noticeable whether you like it or not. Over the past year, I lost just over 60 pounds. I have at least that much more to go. At the moment, I feel like I’m struggling. I find myself giving in to temptation more often. I need to stop that. Once in a while is okay. Every day is not. Multiple times a week, at least at this stage in the game, is not. Multiple times a day is definitely not. I think I’m hitting multiple times a week right now and feel like I’m inching toward every day. I don’t know for sure and so I’m bringing back… the food journal. I hate the food journal. I’d say I don’t know why, but yes I do. It keeps me accountable. The selfish kid in me is kicking and screaming, “I don’t wanna!!!” The reluctant adult in me is responding, “I don’t wanna either, but I need it so I’m gonna do it.” (my mantra at times: I don’t wanna but I gotta so I’m gonna!)

    There are a few other changes coming that I’m keeping quiet on because, after all, what if I fail?

    Tribes and Introverts

    I’ve been subscribing to Project Reverb’s monthly prompts for awhile now and (obviously) haven’t been doing it. Well, I’m doing it. At least this one. But wait… what’s Project Reverb? It was started early 2000s and, I believe, was initially December only. There are daily reflections to post about on your past year. I’m not sure at what point they started doing monthly prompts throughout the year, but I joined up in 2015. You can find more information and sign up here or here. Now back to the post…

    February’s prompt was “Tribe”. Is anyone else tired of that word? Does anyone else associate it with, “Join my tribe and we can make lots of money together!”?

    Setting that word aside, the rest of the prompt tells me to reflect on “our inherent need to belong and to experience things together as a community.” This is where I tend to struggle. I recognize the importance of community and I know it can be a good thing. There are benefits to being a part of a community – I’ve been on the giving and receiving ends. But… do I have an inherent need to belong? Yeah, I suppose I do. I want people to like me. I want them to feel comfortable coming and talking to me. I want to be invited to stuff, but whether or not I say yes is a COMPLETELY different issue. Therein lies my struggle.

    A few years ago, I read a book by Meghan Rowland & Chris Turner-Neal: The Misanthrope’s Guide to Life (Go Away!). I loved it. I identified with a good bit of it. I’m not totally convinced I’m a misanthrope, but I’m pretty close. There’s even a quiz! (I love a good quiz. Who am I kidding? I even love the stupid/silly ones). According to this one, I’m “probably a normal, run-of-the-mill person with some misanthropic tendencies. Company retreats and potluck dinners are probably hard for you [they are], but you can usually get through the day without hiding in a stairwell…” The second quiz (I KNOW right?) determines what kind of misanthrope you are. The people who know me will not be surprised to hear that it deemed me an Avoidant type – locked door, turned-off phone and if there’s a way out, I WILL find it. That said, there were a couple questions where my response was a written in “None of the above – that’s just MEAN!” A nice misanthrope – see? That just doesn’t make sense, therefore, I’m not really one of them. It’s more of an introvert thing, I believe.

    Most of the time, I’d rather be by myself. I’d probably make a pretty good hermit, but there are a few people I’d miss. I’d share the secret passage to my place with them. And there are a few fellow introverts who I would also gladly share my space with as long as we also each had our own space. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t make a very good hermit. In large groups, though, I tend to stay on the outskirts and observe and listen. Sometimes I think it would be nice to get into the middle of the action and just have fun, but I’m not gonna lie, that thought also scares me. What if I do something stupid? What if I look like a fool? What if What if What if What if What if… I really hate “What if” sometimes.

    Insecurity plays a part, though introvert does not always equal insecure. I remember summer band camps at UGA. No one knew me there. I could dress as funky as I wanted to because no one there knew me when I rarely had anything “in.” Plus size AND in style in the 80s was a bitch to find and once it was available, well, anyone who’s been there knows how hard it is to move up in the social hierarchy that is middle school. Anyway, at these band camps I could dress and act as confident as anyone else and be perfectly fine. I loved it! I can now put on the “confident” mask and sometimes it’s not a mask. Sometimes I really do feel confident in what I’m doing or talking about. But sometimes, that insecure kid will poke her nose out and ask, “What if?” Somewhere along the line, that voice started getting quieter. I learned to laugh at myself (that REALLY messes with a bully’s head, by the way) and I learned that the best response to that insecure little kid asking, “but what if it fails?” is a slightly breathless and passionate “Oh, but what if it DOESN’T?”

    A writing exercise

    The instructions: Pick a book off your shelf. Close eyes. Random flip. Point to a word. Write down that word, the three words before it and the three words after it. Write for 5 minutes on that. Part 2 of the instructions: read it backward and find a sentence that makes sense and “has energy; it surprises you… The phrase must make a kind of sense; it must possess its own inner sense at the very least” (I can imagine what this professor would be like in person…)

    The only book I had handy was an anthology from a lit class. I landed on something from A.R. Ammons (who?) titled “Corsons Inlet” – lines 117 and 118: Open – Possibilities of escape – No route shut.

    The door was open. Why wasn’t I taking it? I had been trying for so long to escape and now here it was. But why? Why is the possibility of escape now right here. Wide open. Reluctantly, I go. My heart is pounding in my chest. I can hear it too. I need to calm down. If I’m so focused on how scared I am, I might miss hearing something… like that. What was that? I press against the wall, barely daring to look around the corner to see if what I heard was really there. A sigh of relief. It was my imagination. The route was still open. As I continue down the corridor, I can feel myself wanting to relax. Excitement at the prospect of finally being free. But what will I do once I’m out? Won’t they come looking for me? I’ll be on the run for the rest of my life. Always looking over my shoulder, wondering when they will find me and lock me back up. A different sort of prison, but one I believe will be better than what I’m leaving behind. I hope. Sure, there was a bed – if that’s what you want to call it. And meals. Again, if that’s what you want to call it. And a roof over my head. It could be freezing, raining, or burning up outside and I was oblivious. If I leave, I’d be on my own to find shelter and food. But surely it would be better than this. God, please let it be better than this. Another corner… slow, quick glance around the corner. It still looks clear. Where is everyone? Seriously. For months (or has it only been days? Weeks? Or maybe even years? I don’t know… but it seems like it’s been forever that they’ve been checking on me every … I have no idea. All sense of time is gone. I just knew that as soon as I felt certain that they were gone, they’d show up again. So where are they now? At the end of the hall there’s an elevator. I’m torn. Do I take it and risk there being someone in there as the doors open? Could I pass as one of them if there were? No, I don’t think so. I’ll take the stairs. I close the door as quietly as possible behind me but it still seems to echo up and down the stairwell. I tense, waiting for some sound of an alarm, but none comes. Then it hits me … up or down? Were they holding me up on a high floor and I need to go down to ground level or was I in some dungeon and freedom is up? Okay. Calm down. Floors are usually numbered and … yep, there it is. I’m on 17. I go down the stairs until I see the next floor’s number. 16. Alright then. Down it is. No route shut. I go reluctantly.
    Right here.

    A 7th grader – already??

    Taylor started 7th grade today. She’ll officially be a teenager in just a few months. I. am. not. ready. As we drove past the high school, I took her hand and said, “In two years, that’ll be our turn.” She said, “In four years, it’ll MY turn.” Yeah, she’s already dreaming about driving herself to school. Here are a few pictures from this morning. She reluctantly held up 7 fingers… then got silly on me. At school, I was hoping to get a shot of her getting out of the car, but she refused and then didn’t even give me time to focus and snag one anyway!

    Taylor - 7th Grade 2015

    Taylor - goofball 2015

    Taylor - 7th Grade 2015 unfocused

    I love my family…

    Tonight, for some insane reason, Taylor thumped her daddy on the head and then (wisely) ran to her room, closing the door behind her. She wouldn’t come out, but she still needed to brush her teeth.

    Brian: Taylor, I’m not going to do anything to you. You need to brush your teeth. 

    Taylor: Promise you won’t do anything!

    Brian: I promise I won’t do anything to you on your way to the bathroom. 

    Taylor made him repeat this a few times and then… “What about on my way back to my room?” (I was wondering if she’d caught his loophole. Smart girl!). He didn’t promise, but assured her that he was brushing his teeth and she should brush hers. She finally does then cautiously heads back to her room. Once there, I heard him jump out at her from somewhere presumably in her room and she screamed.

    He didn’t do anything to her on her way to the bathroom or on her way back to her room. Once she was actually IN her room, though… Game. On. 

    She still has lots to learn about loopholes.