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Friday, May 30, 2014

Normal?

I met with a high school friend of mine a few days ago...

After not seeing each other for several years, we finally found the time, a reason and a place to get together and chat for an hour face to face.

It's funny the impressions you form of who or what your friends are as a child.


Growing up in Clifton, if a friend of yours wasn't in your neighborhood chances are you didn't know their family or their real lives unless you were related or your parents were friends and you were always at each others houses.

This friend was from the other side of town.  I didn't know her life.
As far as I was concerned - her life was AWESOME!

She always had a smile on her face.  She was the quiet, pretty one who was always friendly and said hello in the hallway passing between classes.  She clearly had it all together.

It wasn't until we connected again on Facebook, and she started reading my blog that we learned that we had so much more in common than we ever knew.  Life in our houses growing up wasn't fun and happy and sunshine and birdies singing - it was chaos!  Chaos was our normal.


Who knew we shared a similar "normal" growing up.  Who knew we  both struggled in our lives to find a new "normal?"  An acceptable normal?  A normal we didn't know growing up.

Have you ever though about your normal?  Or even the normal of a child who's been abused their entire life?  They grow up thinking that's just the way it is.  It's how everyone's life is.  Isn't it?

Everyone's got a different idea of what normal is and if your normal is chaos - how the hell do you get out of THAT?  You KNOW things are different in other people's houses.  Who's right?  What's real?

TRUTH:  I don't ever want to be what society deems "normal."  Society's normal becomes a new normal every day.  I have enough trouble trying to break free of my own learned "normal" - and NOT be the "normal" I grew up with.


I went to a family wedding recently and joked (on the square) that our family is a freak show.  Spin the wheel of freak and you don't know where you're going to land.  Round and round she goes, where she stops, no one knows....

For certain, I am a TOTAL.FREAK.SHOW.
I know this.  It is who I am.
Learning to tame it is a new and different feat daily.
I am totally comfortable in my awkwardness.

Oh, so you don't think I'm a freak or awkward??
Well.... Let me tell you, if I don't know you, when we first meet you may think I'm quiet.  Trust me I am not quiet.  I assure you - I am clamoring for conversation.  As I am clamoring I am mentally talking myself down from the ledge of idiocy.

What to say, what to say??  Remember the movie "Dirty Dancing" the line "I carried a watermelon."  Yeah, that'd be me.  No clue what to say, so I say the first random thing that pops into my head from the last time I saw a person.  "Sooooooo... how's your storage unit?"  WHAT??  Yes, that has really happened in my life.  Shortly after that, I tripped up a flight of stairs.

Yes - I'm a totally social awkward, freak.  I always have to think extra long and hard before speaking.  Not just think...think and rethink - should I say that?  Should I really?  Is it bad?  Is it offensive?  Will it cause controversy?  Will I piss someone off?  Should I just shut up, smile and nod - say nothing?


It is a constant struggle to break free of the patterns of "normal"
I grew up with.

I've beaten myself up over my awkwardness for years, but it is what it is.  I know where it comes from.  I've seen it in action so many times.  I've been embarrassed by it, I've rolled my eyes so hard I swear they would stick in the back of my head.  It was a part of "normal" growing up.  My brother also suffers the same effects of our "normal."  The words will come out and then it's... HOLY SHIT - I REALLY just said that.  Too late now...

I have grown and come farther than the learned behavior growing up, but not as far as I'd like to be.  It's a daily struggle.  I work hard to break the pattern.  I never want to embarrass my children.

Thankfully, I am aware of the "normal."

This is just a small portion of my "normal."  One of the things I can discuss publicly.

We all have a "normal" that we're either overcoming, working to overcome, or accepting as a part of who we are.

Have you thought about YOUR normal?

"Normal" IS just a setting on the dryer.
Everyone's "normal" is different.

It's all about what we're able to deal with, and if it works (or not) in your life.

For now, go out be your own "normal".

If you have a freak flag like I do - waive it high and proud!

Do no harm <3

Thank you for reading my blog!!

~Jenn







Monday, May 12, 2014

Do you value the friendships in your life?

Sometimes it's hard to write posts on delicate subjects without any red flags going up, or feathers becoming unduly ruffled.


I never want to betray confidences or let anyone think that my posts are directed at them. It's one of the things that makes putting my thoughts out on the "paper" of the internet difficult for me.

Disclaimers, Disclaimers.  Phooey!

There are so many common threads we all share in life, so much so that anyone reading could think - hey, that's me. There may be something going on in one area in my life, and my blog post will (intentionally) have absolutely NOTHING to do with that and 12 people will take offense.

I'm not going to get into the whole "I'll bet you think this post is about you" bit again, because that's already been played. People are going to believe what they want. I can't help that. My real friends should know that if I have a problem with them, I will always confront them directly, not passively aggressively attack via FB or Blog.

I know some of you other bloggers reading can relate.

Do you value the friendships in your life?

Do you really?

What does that look like to you?

What does it mean to you ?

I've long come to a point in my life that I know what's real and what's not; Who my friends are, who my acquaintances are and most importantly who my friends aren't. I've been hurt. I've been disappointed. I've learned who I can count on and who I can't. I've learned who values me and my friendship and who doesn't. I don't like to "play the game" but sometimes I do out of necessity.

This isn't about me.  It's about coming to the cross roads of a friendship.

Do you feel valued in your friendships?

Have you ever reached that crossroads point in a friendship? A time where you questioned everything you believed about a friendship you were in? The moment you asked yourself if this person is really your friend.
Sadly, not everyone is your friend.

Wow, that was strong, wasn't it?

The truth is that very few people will actually remain truly loyal to your friendship and stand by your side - value you - no matter what. People will easily fall to other relationships or follow the things that seem more attractive. Sometimes that needs to be OK.

I'd written in the past about how one friend was ostracized because she took her kids someplace special and a friend of hers, along with some of her other friends took offense because their children weren't invited. "They'd like to have gone." (YES, I know this seems like something else - but it's NOT.) Her friendship did heal from that incident, at least she thought it did, but it was never the same. The feeling of value was lost.


I don't believe people's paths cross for no reason. I believe that every one in your life is meant to be there for a reason, a season or a lifetime. It's hard to know at the instance the relationship forms.

Sometimes you need to go through the hurt to realize what you are, and aren't, prepared to deal with.

Sometimes you need lessons.


Is your friend a latecomer? Do you hate that because you're always on time?

Is your friend a party animal & you like to just hang on the couch with a glass of wine?

Do you not really mesh that well, but hang out because it became a habit?

These are all small examples - but these examples easily turn to resentment, In every relationship, all of that matters.

These are my thoughts, after I have long conversations on the subject.

If you care about a relationship, if you value it - you go out of your way to keep it in good order.
You make the calls. You accept responsibility for your actions. You say thank you. You say sorry, and mean it. Sometimes you pick up the tab instead of the other person always grabbing the check. It's a mutual love and caring. It's not just saying I love you, it's showing love. It's thinking of yourself less than another. Being selfless, instead of selfish. Sometimes putting another's need ahead of your own.

It's like caring for your plants. If you don't water them. They will die. Very few plants can survive neglect. Very few relationships / friendships can survive neglect.

So I ask you again...

Do you value the friendships in your life?
Do you really?
What does that look like to you?
What does it look like to your friend? 

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

(I was discreet enough)  :)

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

And Somehow I Opened the Door to Crazy World....

My old boss, rest his soul, once made a comment about some sneaky goings on at our office...

"If you leave a hole in your security", he said, "some weasely little bastard is going to crawl inside and make themselves at home."


For certain it is a comment I've never forgotten - more than 20 years later.

Funny how true, and how broad, that statement is here in the web-o-sphere. You just don't know.

At one time, I was super internet smart. Someone once joked that if you wanted to know the circumference of a flea's butt hole, just ask me - I'd look it up on the internet and let them know instantly. Sadly, my skills have faded some with age, as did my ultra awareness of the internet world. I've gotten comfortable and probably not as hyper secure as I used to be.

Who are you, really?  Who are you?

The truth is that the internet is a world where you can be whomever you chose to be.  A world where a 72 year old can easily pose as a 14 year old, and no one knows the wiser. You can't see 'em. They seem legit.

It is also a huge reminder that anyone can find out anything they want - with just a few key strokes. It's the reason I originally signed on for a Facebook account, and somewhere still on the web, a My Space account, to watch out for my son's online well being when he was in his teens.

Since then, my skills have lapsed and I've gotten comfortable.

Remember what my boss said?

I had a recent eye opener.

I'm not going to give this incident too much attention, because I am fully aware that this individual, thrives on negativity. This isn't about them, it's an important example for others out there, who may fall into the same type of situation.

A few years back I made the error of commenting on something going on between a few FB fan pages. It was so absolutely absurd, that it had to be all fun and games, right?  Mmmm, nope. It ended up being real, and my little comment put me into the line of fire of a real life Hatfield & McCoy type feud.

Once again, my naivete kicks me in the kiester.  Who'd have known how far crazy goes when it's not a part of the real world??  What rational human would anyone want to create a FB page to fight with someone they hate in real life, just to fight with them?  A little passive aggressive, no??

Fine - I get the dumb ass award for playing along and subsequently getting the door to crazy kicked wide open... I ended up with a creepy, creepy stalker who began to infiltrate different areas of my internet world.

Welcome to Crazy Land.

I've made attempts to get crazy to go away, blocked, reported - whatever, but this person apparently has MULTIPLE ID's to see what's going on on my page, on here... whatever...

WHO DOES THAT???


This brings me back to the internet security issue and kids.

Last night we had middle school orientation, which I was glad I went to. So much knowledge, but more importantly - a broader awareness of other areas of social media that I'd heard of but hadn't thought of securing SO MUCH.  A broader awareness of how crazy, crazy can be.

Ask FM
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook
Kik
Snap Chat

Holy heck!  It was only My Space and Facebook when it was my son.  Now with my daughter going to middle school, my head is spinning. How will it be when the short one gets there?

If only they were this easy to spot.
My advice to everyone reading this...stay aware. Stay internet savvy. This blog and Facebook page of mine constantly open me up to crazy, no matter how safe I think I am there will always be some crazy, sick, trouble making TROLL who has no other way to bring joy into their life, other than to annoy a stranger. When you get rid of one, there's always another.

Find joy in your REAL life. Go have REAL friends and find REAL happiness. All of this?  Pretend. None of this in the internet matters. It's make believe, all of it! Really! If the internet and all of electronics were to explode tomorrow - will you still find happiness? None of this matters. Truly.

Parents especially, please remember when you let down your guard (leave a hole in your security) some kind of crazy will kick the door open, crawl up inside and make themselves at home.

Be safe.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Have a great day!!

~Jenn

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Do you tell yourself it's OK to cry??

Fact:  I don't like to cry.
Fact:  If I'm crying, and you see it - there's a big reason for it.

Both of these statements are 100% factual.

Today's blog was inspired by a post I saw on Facebook by another blogger, Bipolar Mom 101, who asked on Facebook, "Do you tell yourself it's OK to cry or do you fight back the tears?"

It's a good question.  It's not just a female to female question - it's an across the board question, and one that gave me so much thought I needed to blog about it - IMMEDIATELY.

Growing up, for the most part I had to be "tough."  I had a lot of responsibility for a kid and well, whatever.  Life wasn't all sunshine and roses.  I didn't cry, because crying showed weakness.  If I was upset, I didn't show it.  I didn't cry.  If I did cry, no one knew about it.  I didn't want to be comforted or coddled. I cried in silence.


Over the past decade of my life, I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I've cried.  Once over the death of my brother, which lasted for weeks.  Once over the death of my dear friend, Ed, which of course lasted for days.  Once when my son left for boot camp (but I was alone in my car - no one saw me.  Does that count?) and once in a situation where so many past memories collided, my emotions went on overload and I couldn't handle the situation.  (totally embarrassing)
I can't think of another time.

Granted, I've been in a good place.  I'm lucky and I'm blessed.  I also work and fight to be in this good place.  It's a gift, not an entitlement.

Have I been upset by things in the meantime?  Of course.  Would these upsetting moments bring others to tears?  Probably.  Does that make me callous or unfeeling?  Or afraid?  Or Jaded?

I don't know.


I do know that I'm not alone in this.  I know others, like me, who've toughened to life.  Tough on the outside, mush on the inside.  Crying in silence, where no one knows.  Where no one can see.  So no one sees the cracks in the armor...or the vulnerabilities that others may take advantage of.

Babies cry as their only means of communication, when they have a need to be met - hunger, pain, fear, comfort - whatever.  They cry.

My sister-in-law once told me that in her travels to third world countries, she'd visited orphanages - and the babies there don't cry.  They don't cry because no matter how much they may cry - their needs can't always be met.  It's almost as if they've learned in the first few months of their lives that their cries for help will never be met - so why bother.

WOW

Is this what life does to some of us?  We don't cry because we don't believe our needs will be met, so why bother?

I leave you in this with the original thought of this blog....

"Do you tell yourself it's OK to cry or do you fight back the tears?"

Thank you for reading my blog.

~Jenn 

PS.  All's well, this is just your typical "over thinking Jenn" post ;)