Monthly Archives: May 2011

Living the PR life…

The other day, I posted one of my funnier thoughts about the world of public relations with this:

I wonder what Captain Ahab’s PR person would have done with him when the Society for the Protection of White Whales and PETA came banging down the door and posted about him on Facebook.

Now, those within the PR realm will laugh heartily at that because it’s truly funny what the world of social media has done to public relations. First step in knowing anything about dealing with companies and social media is that simply, you have to make it work for you and pray with all your heart that someone doesn’t come along and make it work against you.

I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “But Sheri, you’re out of school for the summer, what are you doing posting about PR?” Well, I got a job working for a company in their Ad/PR department. I’m not going to go into who it is or what they do, sufficed to say, it’s nobody’s business except for mine who I work for. Again, this is part of playing the social media game, you have to know how much to release and what parts need to be played close to the chest.

For the last five weeks, I’ve spent my time working on message, PR strategy and overall image issues. This isn’t like sitting in a classroom with Doc S.; this is the real deal, live situations and crises to deal with on a daily basis. I now know why it is that the average marketing manager has a shelf life of only two years at a company, it is a high stress position where every move you make not only counts, but counts in ways you can never imagine. If you do the job right, you can turn a potentially damaging situation into a triumph, but if handled badly, it can go south quicker than anything you’ve ever seen.

I’m now very grateful I have my usual sayings in my arsenal, the ones about making words kind, gentle and tasteful to Marcus reminding me that no matter what anyone else says or does, I must keep my color and do what I do best.

A lot of what I’ve been doing has been a lot of writing. I love writing, especially when I get to write about products that are worthwhile and a lot of fun to work with because the applications are so varied. It’s a lot of problem solving, which I seem to excel at thanks to the gift of my mother’s tenacity and my father’s patience mixed with a dash of Nan’s perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, along with a tad of my Myst heritage thrown in for good measure.

Have you ever had a moment that when you’re doing something it feels so perfectly in tune with who you are that you can’t tell where you end and what you do begins? That’s what it’s like for me to be neck deep in advertising and public relations. It’s like some magical gift that I’ve been given that I can’t help but seem to do well at.

As we’ve talked about before, Luke Sullivan in Whipple says, “Brand = Adjective.” Well, what Luke didn’t mention is that everyone has an adjective that is vital for us to know in order to communicate with others in a meaningful manner. As I said in another post, it took me forever to realize that my adjective was “inspires.” Think about it, in some way, shape or form, the things I do inspire in some small way. That realization helped me a lot when I deal with people now because I know that my tone and excitement about subjects I talk about with people can inspire them to make a choice. Hey, it’s one of those things, part of being in Ad/PR is about a “call to action.” You have to inspire people to move in the direction you want them to. Ok yes, part of being in Ad/PR is also about being a great BS artist, and let me tell you, when I’m not having to write press statements, I’m as truthful and matter-of-fact as I can be because I can’t stand carefully crafting my words for the rest of my day.

But it goes back to things I’ve learned in life along the way as well. I think Doc Cat would be proud of me for remembering that no matter what, if people aren’t ready to hear the message you’re putting out, they’re not going to hear it. Then I remembered that I can’t control the universe, no matter how hard I try, that there are those who just aren’t going to go for the message, no matter how kindly or gently I put it, no matter what context I put it in, some people aren’t going to dig it. With those, you just have to throw up your hands and walk away because you realize if they don’t get it, they never will, no matter how well you explain it. There are a million ways that a message can get lost, the key is prepping the audience for the message, then delivering it with flawless execution.  I’ve learned that before you say a word, you have to have a game plan to back it up because it takes planning and a lot of coordination to pull it off right.

Right now, part of me feels like one of Hermes’ delivery girls with the winged shoes, hastily delivering messages and hoping that the people I’m delivering them to are ready to receive them. The other part of me feels like an ancient scribe, writing for the sake of history and making sure that when someone looks back, they’ll feel what is happening now just as it is.

Much less to say, for those who are curious, for the last five weeks, even though someone did show some interest, sorry guys, however I may wish, I’ve got no dates to write about because I’ve been working. I’ve had a live crisis situation that I’ve dealt with, cited the Tylenol crisis handbook and came out with a press statement.  I even impressed my boss with my handling of the situation.  So I feel like I’ve had some major victories, and it seems as life is shaping up just right.

This is the moment where I can look in the mirror and ask myself, “Where the hell have you been?” because I finally feel like I’m on my way to becoming person I’ve always dreamed of being. I might have a few extra pounds, but today I looked in the mirror and was proud to be me. Actually, I just looked in the mirror, smiled, nodded and went “Yeah.”

Softening the rough edges…

Book Seven, verse 33 of The Emperor’s Handbook says:

Look at the past with its endless succession of empires, and you see the future.  The two are the same since there is no way of escaping the changeless rhythm of the present.  Study man for forty years or for ten thousand – it’s all the same.  What more can you expect to see?

I struggled through Eat Pray Love tonight.  Seems as I still have quite the few rough edges to soften.

From the events today, I can understand why I struggled through the movie tonight. Usually I sit through the film with a concerned ambivalence, meaning, that I’m usually torn about the messages coming at me through the film. I always find something that concerns me about myself but I kind of feel powerless to do anything about it. Doc Cat would probably tell me that feeling like that is normal, but at the same time I have to find a way to get through things in a way that’s safe for me; I have to look deep inside and figure out a game plan on how to change the things I don’t like and then move on from them.

The biggest thing I don’t like at the moment about my life is that I’m conflicted about my ex. Every day I look at the photo of the guy who called me “gorgeous,” but I can’t quite seem to let go and enjoy just digging on someone without the thought of my ex popping up in my head. I’m not divorced yet, so how on Earth can I pursue a relationship that’s worth a darn if I feel held back? The answer is simple, I can’t.

Today, the phone rang. On the other end of the line was the ex. For some reason unbeknownst to me, the phone call still has me a bit unbalanced. He and I talked for 45 minutes about where my life is going, what’s going to happen with my living situation, health insurance and so forth. Then, I told him about the fact that I’ve not dated since he walked out the door and the fact that I want to finally get on with my life and be able to date without guilt. I relayed the fact that while he’s comfortable basically disgracing me right, left and center with the way he broadcasts his indiscretions, I wasn’t someone who could do that kind of thing. Two years ago maybe, but not anymore. My point was that I wanted to finally be free of him. I just want it over. I want to be able to go out on a date without hearing my sister in my head asking me, “He knows you’re still married, right?” and being embarrassed and ashamed that I actually like someone. The ex has no problems living with his girlfriend, but here I am unwilling to date or take anything from a man if I would be dating. My Auntie June would call this, “Taking the red road,” an old Sioux expression for taking the high road and being above whatever is thrown at you. In the end though, what did I expect to see from him? Did I expect a man who has no moral compass to actually have direction? Who am I kidding? The answer is, I’m kidding myself. It’s been nine years, I know how he operates, I should know better.

But, it’s time to face facts. At one time, the ex really did love me and I wasted an opportunity to be happy, but I wasn’t happy with who I was at the time, so how could I expect things to turn out differently? The truth of the matter is that my broken addict brain was looking for an external fix, ignoring what I needed to tackle first, which was what’s inside. Ignoring or not knowing how to be happy with myself is what ultimately lead me to where I am now.

As I said though, it’s nine years after the fact. I’ve taken charge of my personal growth and well, it’s time to move on and turn the page, which is exactly what I told the ex today and he was more than accommodating and polite about the situation. I find it surprising, but after a conversation with Nan the other day, she made me realize something, he has moved on and has no regret about it, my distaste for how he’s done everything doesn’t really matter, the facts are that he’s moved on and I feel held back until the papers finally come.

Now we get to the part where I have to do the work. The one thing I thought I wanted more than anything in the world, a divorce, is leaving me confused and conflicted. For the last two years, the ex has been talking me through things, helping in the rougher patches and doing more than he really needed to do to assist me in getting to where I am now. To be honest, he was a better husband in the last two years than he ever was for the first seven. Now, that influence is going away and it leaves me feeling a bit naked. In July, I’ll be completely self-sufficient, which is really good, but I’m still scared to walk the tightrope with no safety net. I’ve been doing it in a way, but up to now, I’ve always kind of felt the ex’s presence in everything, and as you’ve seen, I’ve complained about it quite a bit, but still, it’s something that was there I could depend on in some small way.

While I was talking to the ex today, I made sure to apologize one more time for being a nightmare wife and I thanked him for everything, and the funny thing was, he didn’t return the apology. Yeah, this is where Doc Cat would look at me and say I’m being too lenient again, but I will say this for the ex, he simply replied, “You don’t ever need to apologize. I’m not an easy person to live with and I’m not the world’s best person to be around.” That’s as close to an apology as I’ll ever see from him, and as a friend of mine would say, “But, he’s French.” Quebec French or not, that’s why I’m just being grateful that he admitted what he did, and I’m just going to observe the miracle and move on.

Which brings us to the rough edges. I’m now understanding why people, when they’re the most hurt from their relationships, file for divorce right away. It’s basically not even putting on a band-aid after taking a huge gash, they just leave the wound uncovered and they start the healing process right away. I’ve been wearing a band-aid for the last two years, which has covered the wound and not given it a real chance to breathe and get the air it needs to heal, which is making this a tricky proposition at best. I’m at the point where I have to rip off the band-aid and I’m afraid of the pain that will accompany it.

This is the part where I take my first steps truly by myself.

In July, the process starts on my divorce. The lawyers, the papers going back and forth, and if the ex’s first divorce is any indication, he’ll be trying to get the process done quickly, quietly and as amicably as possible, which I’m all for. By what Nan says, I should be free by Christmas although if it came through by September, I’d be better off. Nan also says that it’s going to hurt and I think I’m pretty much right on target with the band-aid analogy, it’s going to hurt to rip it off, but then I hope someday soon I won’t feel uneasy about living completely on my own. The hardest part of it all though will be finally telling him goodbye. It’s not often that you lose one of your best friends that you share battle scars with, and even though he’s a real piece of work, he’s helped me a lot, so I always have to be grateful for that.

Talk about complicated situations, huh? All this just because I grew up with the antiquated notion that as a woman, I had to get married, that a man was supposed to take care of me and all of the other ideas about how to live “happily ever after” that are not only ridiculous to tell young girls, but are also a complete fallacy. Cinderella stories, while they are nice and the stepsisters are a great way to show young women how not to be, aren’t commonplace. I won’t deny the fact that sometimes they do happen, they just don’t happen very often.

I just want it all to be over, I want to rip the band-aid off as soon as possible just to get it all over with so that I don’t have to think about the ex anymore. Like everything else, it’s a process, one I wish I had someone to hold me if I ever need to cry about it, but one where I know I have to be strong for myself, hang on to my dignity and just get through it. 

It’s like what Mom always says, “We all have to do things we don’t necessarily like to do so we can get on to the things we want to do.” I just wish she would have told me that marriage was a similar proposition, that sometimes we come out better on the other side of marriage or long-term relationships than we were when we went into it. Maybe a bit worse for wear, but at least we can say we survived it.

In the end though, I have to believe and know deep in my heart that I’ll be okay.  It’s time to get on with my life, one that’s mine and goes along the game plan I dictate.  I think this will be really good for me, I’m finally getting the opportunity to put the past exactly where it belongs, behind me.

It’s time to break out the song of the day that’s needed to happen for a while, Amanda Marshall’s “I’ll Be Okay.”

Bouncing Out.

Ok, made it through another pothole, I’ve done the freaked out dance that always follows having a scalding cup of coffee dumped in your lap.  Now it’s time to bounce out and tackle a happier subject.

Between working, I’ve been making trips out to my parents, doing a bit of cooking and watching TV.  Any Ad/PR scholar will tell you, the wonderful creatives that make up the driving force of Ad/PR are in tune with the latest movies, music and are real social butterflies, so is it any wonder that I watch movies a lot?

Today, I’m sitting in my clean living room watching My Life In Ruins after a day spent working, cleaning up PR gaffes and working on a branding book.  The music in the film is great, but the one thing I keep rolling my eyes at is the fact that there just seems to be an unending supply of kissing scenes in the movies I tune into.  Yesterday, as I had The Princess Bride playing in the background, I heard little Fred Savage say, “They’re kissing again. Do we have to read the kissing parts?”  I’m feeling the same way right now.

It’s been two years already, I want the kissing parts in the movie that is my life to get going already.  I’m impatient.  Every time a kissing scene comes on in a movie, I switch channels because I just can’t take it anymore.  What’s worse is that watching My Life In Ruins matches my love of the classical world and my whole hangup on  romance.  I just keep facepalming over it.

That’s the thing, I can cover my face with my hand all I’d like, but I’m not getting any younger.  Waiting for any period of time for anyone at this point is making me flat out nutty, but I balance my nuttiness with the fact that maybe being patient and not indulging my addict brain and keeping it focused is good for me right now.  Like Doc Cat told me, the naturally occurring (produced by the body) chemicals that accompany infatuation are pretty heady stuff.  Every time I feel a rush of those chemicals, guess what, it’s the same as having a relapse and I get addicted to the sensations that go with it, so much so that I totally get derailed and out of focus.  My addict brain takes over and it’s one giant moment of landing on my face.  So, this begs the question, how am I going to handle this when I ever do go out on a date?  Lordy, I can just see it now, all of those whacked out, painful moments we can’t stand to watch on the screen are going to happen to me.

One of my favorite movies on right now is Couples Retreat.  That movie is friggin’ hysterical.  Ok, eye candy moment…the yoga guy.  “Encouragement!” “Yes!”  Personally, I don’t think I could date a guy like that.  Great eye candy, heavens yes, but come on, “cheesy” is more the apt description.  Love the long hair, but you know the more I think about all of those really super hot guys with the chiseled bodies, the more it makes me go “No.”  Why?  Oh, that’s easy, because simply most guys that look like that have the IQ of a dead flashlight battery.  Case in point, my friend Mandy who worked with the Chippendales.  You remember this story, right?  She goes around to all of these gorgeous guys to collect information about their backgrounds and what does she find out?  They have all the depth of a shot glass.  I’m sorry, but any guy who spends that much time in the gym probably knows as much about the classical world as the sole on my cherry red Doc Martens do and I rarely wear them.

But back to My Life In Ruins, the whole movie is set in Greece (what else do we expect from Nia Vardalos?) All throughout the movie we’re shown ruins all around Greece and all I keep thinking about is how much fun it would be to take a month and go over there, see Greece then go over to Italy to commune with Marcus Aurelius.  Personally, I’d love to go to Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome (also known as Hadrian’s Mausoleum) to visit where his ashes are stored.  Here, for a movie reference to Castel Sant’Angelo, remember the film “Angels and Demons,” taken from the book of the same name by Dan Brown?  Well the scene at the end where they figure out where they were holding all of the kidnapped cardinals was Castel Sant’Angelo.  There ya go, now go rent the movie and you can see it for yourself.  From what I’ve read, Marcus’ ashes are housed deep in the structure in a room known as The Treasury.

Speaking of Marcus, I was in The Emperor’s Handbook today browsing around book ten, and I found this:

# 33What is the very best you can say or do with the material you have to work with?  Whatever that is, you can say or do it.  Make no excuse by claiming something prevents you.

You will never stop bemoaning your fate until it becomes as natural for you to follow the law of your being – in whatever material conditions you find yourself – as it is for a hedonist to go after pleasure.  Indeed, every opportunity to speak or act according to the law of your being should give you pleasure, and that opportunity exists everywhere.

A cylinder is not free to roll at will, nor is fire or water or anything else that is governed by the nature peculiar to souls without reason.  Many hindrances and obstacles stand in their way.  Intelligence and reason, on the other hand, possess both the nature and the will to surmount obstacles in their path.  See how reason overcomes whatever hinders it with the ease of fire rising, a stone dropping, or a cylinder rolling down a slope.  Look no farther than this.

The remaining obstacles either act upon the body, an inanimate object, or they are powerless to defeat or do harm unless the mind yield to a false impression or surrender its own reason.  Were this not so, these obstacles would have the effect of making a man bad.  We observe the proof of this in nature.  Whenever anything is hindered, its condition deteriorates and becomes worse, whereas a man actually becomes better and more praiseworthy when he overcomes what hinders him through the use of reason. 

In summary, remember that whatever does not hurt the man who is by nature a citizen does not hurt the City, nor is the City hurt by what does not hurt the law.  Now, not one of all the things a man is apt to call bad luck hurts the law; therefore, bad luck cannot hurt the City or the citizen either.

See why I love Marcus so much?  He’s a dyed-in-the-wool politician, but look at what he does.  He asks why we’re not doing the most with what we’re given.  He’s hollering at the top of his lungs saying, “It’s up to you!  You can do it!”  When I read him, I hear my imaginary Marcus saying, “You go girl…you can do it.”

When I bounce through potholes, I run to my pal Marcus and flip to a page.  See what a great guy can do for you when you’re down?  Well, ok, Marcus has been dead for the last 1,831 years (he died in 180 A.D.), but still, if he was alive today, I’d be begging to go have a long conversation with the man.  Great, what would be the world’s most perfect boyfriend for me is basically dust in an urn.  Life is so not fair, and then I have the audacity to wonder why all the kissing scenes in movies are making me nuts.

But at least I’m bouncing back with a healthy attitude.  I’m doing exactly what Marcus says to do, look at myself in the mirror and challenge myself to be as much as I can be with what gifts I have and overcoming whatever hinders me by using my head.  See why I’m so fixated on trying to fix my broken brain?

Ah, but that’s today.  I cheered up with a great hamburger grilled to perfection by my father, spending time with my parents and getting to see Nan and Carl.  Now, I’m curled up with a Mike’s Hard Pink Lemonade (yum) and listening to iTunes playing, “Walk With Me” by Seven and the Sun, obeying my nature and doing what is in my nature to do: write, dream, cope and laugh.

Sick of potholes.

I know I should have sat down to write before now, but to be honest, I don’t really have anything to say. Amazing as that is, I know that I should remind myself how I’ve worked like a dog on my apartment for the last couple of days.

I don’t know what it is about me but when I’m studying during the semester, everything around my apartment just goes to heck and a hand basket because between going to school, then studying all the time, my living space just gets neglected. It does, I’m a horrible person for it. But at least since the semester has ended I’ve taken time for my space just like I’ve taken time for my life.

It doesn’t hurt that I’m considering dating (the jury is still out on that). But in all that, I’m not sure I’m really ready. I really don’t want to talk about why I’m having doubts, but I will say that on Wednesday, I ran into an old adversary…let me give you a hint…

THUMP.

It was a pothole that dumped yet another metaphorical cup of scalding hot coffee right into my lap. It had me screaming on top of my lungs one minute only to be followed by me being in a big heap of tears the next. While I have taken great joy not mentioning the colossal bonehead in a long time, I should have never doubted my ex’s capability to do horrid things. I wasn’t expecting his idiocy and classless nature to bother me anymore. I just wasn’t expecting the shot to the chin I took to come out of nowhere and leave me feeling like I had been mowed down yet one more time. After it happened, I called Nan. In my times of need on this topic, she always comes through for me. She told me it was still going to hurt for a while; that they don’t tell you in the fine print that you don’t feel normal until after year number four.

Here’s my thinking on that, I don’t want to wait until year four. I want it to stop annoying me. I want to get on with my life and every time I think I get clear and I’m ok, there’s another pothole just waiting for me.

But, pothole or no, things have to get done, so I cleaned up. Here, this is my living room…

It’s finally free of books on the floor, notes all over the coffee table and my computer desk just weighed down with papers. Now the only thing on the floor is my DVD collection that really doesn’t have a home at the moment. I’m so proud of myself for getting everything organized and perfectly fine if people want to come over. My kitchen is cleaned up and I’m in the midst of doing enough laundry to choke a horse so my bedroom is in acceptable condition.

I’m pleased with how everything has shaped up, and I’m just wishfully thinking that one day some cutie will show up at my door armed with a single white gerbera daisy to take me out. While I’m waiting at least I’m able to enjoy my living space.

As I was watching television today, I found myself ironically flipping between My Best Friend’s Wedding and It’s Complicated (which is playing on HBO for the fifteen millionth time), just at the point I was getting ready to hurl myself off my balcony (lol), I lucked out with something that made me smile, David Bowie in the movie Labyrinth. I had never seen it before, but I happened into it in the middle, only long enough to see a clip of Bowie looking in his usual cool/bizarre way in a very trippy scene with Jennifer Connelly to the song “As the World Falls Down.” At that point, I knew the day couldn’t get any more ironic, and on top of the fact I’m not really into Henson puppets, I flipped the channel after the song was over, finally turning off the television altogether and realizing I needed to be writing about the exciting adventure that was cleaning up my apartment. You know, I can write about gardening and make it sound glamorous, but when it comes to cleaning up my apartment, I can’t make it sexy no matter how hard I try. It’s just things that have to get done. I’m just glad I got going and got them done.

You know, I just realized it’s Saturday night. I should be out, but I just can’t bring myself to go through the trouble of wishful make-upping. I’d rather save my M.A.C. for a special occasion.

I think I’ll do the thing that I love most right now, go out on my balcony and enjoy the evening air. It’s great entertainment, it’s inexpensive and I’ll be outside.

Happy Saturday. Here, have some Bowie. Can my day get any more ironic?

Post #200 – The Spring 2011 Semester Wrap-Up

Here we are, bringing to a close another semester and another chapter in the life of the Eternal Sophomore. I guess this is an auspicious moment because according to my blog dashboard not only is this my 200th post (some posts I’ve not published, but it all totals up to 200), but it also coincides with the Spring Semester Wrap-Up. Sometimes I guess cosmic forces do line up in my favor because I’ve got a lot to share with you.

Remember back in January when I said, “Wake me when it’s summer?” Well, it’s not only summer, but I feel really awake.

First off, I want to publicly apologize to Doc Cat. I was completely wrong about my personal growth class. On the first day with the way she down-played the class (I found out later it was because some people wouldn’t have been able to handle the full nature of what they had gotten themselves into), I thought she was going to just brush through the material. I honest to the gods thought I had bought a lemon. Oh, how wrong was I. Not only did I learn about myself and how to interact with other people, but I can honestly say that Doc Cat changed my life for the better in so many ways, bringing me to a point in my life that is not only enriching, but has helped me view everyone around me with new eyes and a new kind of respect. She helped me fix so many things that were broken in my life and made me aware of everything I was missing out on by needlessly carrying around the shoulder yoke and heavy buckets that is my past. When she taught me how to put them down, she opened up a whole new world for me. She literally thawed the ground and poured sunlight on my personal growth so I could start growing again. For that alone, I can never thank her enough.

Let’s go back to Eat Pray Love for a minute. Remember when Liz is sitting with Richard and he tells her, “If you could just clear out all that space in your mind, you’d have a doorway. And do you know what the universe would do? Rush in.” Doc Cat opened the door for me. She taught me how to be mindful, she taught me that the first step to learning how to change is realizing that change is possible. It was the moment where Richard tells Liz, “If you want to get to the castle, you’re gonna have to swim the moat.” And did I swim. Doc Cat showed me where the wall was, and just like when I was six and my mother threw me at the swimming pool wall, I had the choice to either sink or swim, so I swam for my life. There were days I swam in my own tears, there were days I laughed, but most importantly, I was faced with days where I sat back and said, “I can do this, I can change.”

I just spent the last five months beginning my journey of self-discovery. All throughout the semester, I’ve learned that for most of my life there have always been outside forces telling me “who I had to be,” “what was expected of me,” and “what I had to act like” amongst all of the other screwed up messages that were often painfully forced upon me. All of those factors combined never gave me a chance to know myself for who I really am and never gave me a moments chance to discover and know my own self-worth. How can you have self-worth if you’re always being torn down? The answer is that you can’t, no one can expect to overcome those odds alone. Because of all of that external rah-rah that I was lead to believe was important about who I was, my coping mechanisms and brain became broken.  I ended up being exactly who I didn’t want to be. I was a nightmare wife, in which there is nothing I can do now to take back the horrible things I said and did, but I now know how to actively avoid all of those pitfalls in the future. I can sit back and say that what has happened to me thus far in my life isn’t completely my fault, but there are parts I have no choice but to own and make sure for the rest of my life I’m careful with the folks around me and mindful about how my reactions affect the people around me.

But in all of that, I’ve also learned that I’m far too lenient on all of the folks who have made it their life’s mission to drop their drawers and dump on me because they weren’t mindful about how their actions affected me and the other people around them. Here’s the message: Pull up your pants or you’ll be missing body parts. Nobody tells me I don’t have value or worth and gets away with it. I’m worth just as much as everyone else. I’m a human being and I have value. Anyone who says differently is not only full of shit, but needs to sit their butt through a semester with Doc Cat and learn how to drop their shoulder yokes and heavy buckets along with taking in a healthy dose of mindfulness. I don’t mean to be rude, but other people’s inadequacy issues are not mine to own, it’s theirs and I’m not about to carry it for them. I’ve carried other people’s crap around for far too long and I’m. not. doing. it. any. more. Like it or not, it’s just not healthy for me and the people around me have to learn how to respect that.  Most importantly, I have to ask, why am I being asked to carry it in the first place?

For the last five months, I’ve literally gone through my life with a fine-toothed comb. I’ve seen what I have to do to succeed in life and really make a conscious effort to be self-authored, which means I set the goals and make the rules in my life, then I have to execute the plan that will get me to the aforementioned goals. What other people think, I can’t control or do anything about, but I can make sure that I’m being honest with every emotion I have and trust myself enough to go through the emotions that I need to use to cope in a way that is healthy for me. When I don’t know how to handle things and my broken brain tries to take hold, I have to remember what Marcus Aurelius said,

“Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Take on life’s tasks with the resolve of a soldier storming the breach. So what if you are lame and cannot scale the wall alone. Does your lameness prevent you from finding someone to help you?”

There will be days that I’ll have to ask for help, because let’s state the hard truth out loud, my personal growth was broken, stunted and forced into retreat at an early age because people were so busy telling me who to be and what to do that they didn’t realize they were dealing with a human being who was going to be whatever they were meant to be whether they liked it or not. Like a wild rosebush, you can try to tame it, you can cut it back and stunt it, even disfigure it by removing its thorns or cutting off its blossoms, but when it comes to the end of the day, it’s still a rosebush that is going to produce roses, you can’t tell it to sprout daisies or petunias or any other type of flower, it can only be what it is, nothing more, nothing less. At this point, I’m realizing who I am and what I was meant to be and do. Thanks to Doc Cat, I now have a clear path ahead of me that I’ve defined that contains my strengths, deals head-on with my weaknesses and I can now talk about who I am and my experiences with a new-found clarity.

For those of you who over the last five months have seen the changes I’ve gone through first hand, I’m sure you sound like my friend Holly who said, “You’re not even the same person I met five years ago.” And that is a good thing and the whole goal behind taking the class. Thanks to Doc Cat, I’m self-authored and getting to the point I can take on anything that comes my way. I’m not there yet, but I’m on the way. If I could stay in her class for the rest of my life, I’d be so much better off. If I ever make a pile of money, I’m going to see her as my personal therapist for as long as she’ll have me as a client.

For those of you who would like to join me in personally writing Doc Cat and helping me thank her, please send me a note and I’ll give you an e-mail address you can write her at and thank her. I owe her so much. Please help me let her know how much her work and her time spent teaching touches and changes lives. She saved me and changed my life for the better. Thanks Doc Cat.

Next up, let’s talk about Doc B. and his selective snakedom through history. As I said in my last post, this is a professor I would have liked to spend more time with one on one just to discuss the stoics in further depth.

The final wasn’t the world’s easiest because let’s face it, I’m a creative, I’m touchy-feely, I don’t resonate with hard facts very well. Concepts, heavens yes, but hard facts, no. My head is still swimming with names, dates and all sorts of historical information, but the one thing I’ll take away from my time studying history with Doc B. is that we have to take time to look at history as a whole. Like Doc Cat taking me through my own personal history, going through and understanding the classical world is not only good to do, but can help stop you from making mistakes, understand why you are where you are in the big picture and just remind you that we all occupy just a minor blip on the scale of human existence.

Where would we be without guys like Tiberius Gracchus who stood up for the underdogs and told the truth about the horrors and greed that exist in human nature?  If we have nothing, what is there to stand up and fight for?  Stories like that alone are a part of the base tenets of human existence.  We all strive to be happy and find worth in things we value.  That’s what Tiberius was talking about, then look what happened to the guy, he was killed because the greedy bastards in the Roman senate felt threatened by a guy who stood up and wouldn’t put up with people getting walked on.  That’s what Doc B. gave me all semester long, reasons to make sure I look at history, learn its’ stories and then make sure to apply the lessons I’ve learned to my own life.

From jamming to David Bowie at 10 a.m. to learning George Washington was not only a snappy dresser and excellent dancer, I spent time understanding that we are all unique and fun; our own personal histories are filled with stories that have passed through time before, we just need to stop for a moment and understand that we are all taking part in the human adventure that has spanned thousands of years. Still though, I would have loved to spend more time with Doc B., just so I could kick butt in the history section of Trivial Pursuit.  Hats off to Doc B.  I’m grateful he took the time to take me on a tour through history, I learned a lot about the human condition.

I’m only going to take a few minutes with Global Media. I will say, without a doubt, that I learned to make sure to keep my view as wide as possible when thinking about the world. I’m just a small speck on planet Earth and there are people in far worse situations than I am.

Overall, the class itself was a lot of work. It was digging to find information on my assigned country, Guatemala. Let’s just say it out loud for the hundredth time, Guatemala is a perpetual black hole and judging by how much the other groups in that class struggled, I hope Doc Fish never tortures another class by focusing on Central and South America again.  Ever.  Third world countries are the pits when it comes to analyzing their media on a global scale. They have trouble communicating with each other with all of the corruption and dictatorships that happen down there, so how on Earth can we look at them as far as their impact on global media? You can’t because they really don’t, studying those countries is like trying to use a marshmallow to put out a bonfire. I feel like a lot of the work was pointless, but that’s me, it wasn’t my favorite class for the semester and parts of me wish I wouldn’t have taken it, but I’ll be honest, I’ve already used some of the concepts I’ve learned in the class in the outside world, so it was worth the price of tuition, but not something I’d willingly do again. Ok, a passing comment about the fact I’d rather have fingernails pulled out with hot pincers than go through it again is in order, but I’ll just leave it at that.

Let’s close out with my IMC class with only three words: I did it. I got an A on my semester project, an ad campaign for a ready-to-eat cereal that I named “Focus Fiber.” Here, let me give you Doc S.’s final word on it:

“A fun piece of work and an outstanding intro campaign. Nice link between research and strategy, and strong continuity of theme. The creative concept is on strategy and cuts through the clutter. You three have a future in advertising.”

“Cuts through the clutter,” and “on strategy” are the two most important phrases he used because that’s the whole point of a great campaign, it does just that, it stays on strategy and cuts through the clutter that is all of the other advertising messages out there. Ok, let’s say it plainly, my two partners and I did it right and were spot-on. I saw a few B’s float through the room and when I saw that Doc S. didn’t just arbitrarily hand out A’s, I knew we had hit the target dead-on. Not only was doing well in that class a test to see if I was attempting to do what I was meant to do, the A on the project was a sign that says I have what it takes and I’m on the right path. Now, it’s on to learning as much as I can about the field to become the juggernaut I’m aching to be. It’s there for the taking, all I have to do is reach.

Before I sat down to write, I started my celebration and decompression with a nap this afternoon, a steak dinner complete with baked potato and mushrooms later on in the evening, and right now I’m writing with a mug full of pink lemonade spiked with just a touch (not a lot) of the Bacardi Silver that’s been waiting for me to make a rum cake out of it. Instead of baking the rum into a cake, I’m doing something I rarely, if ever do, I’m sipping a frosty beverage with just a tad of “celebration” in it and being happy with the semester.

Five long months, 13 credits added to my transcript, and more A’s to add to the tote board. The semester did what I hoped it would do. It was a Tour-de-Force of the Eternal Sophomore, reminding me that I might be a wise fool, but I’m one with good grades and wonderful experiences to call my own.

As I get ready to fall into bed and get a good night’s rest after a long five months, I’ll wrap the semester with a nod to Doc B. and a quote by my favorite stoic, Marcus Aurelius:

“Fly with the stars in their courses, swim along the ever-changing elements in their fluid transmutations. Imaginings like these will wash away the filth and grime of this earthbound existence.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some serious “Z’s” with my name on them…I think I deserve it.

Someone asked me "Why?"

Yesterday, someone asked me if it ever felt uncomfortable writing about what’s happening to me in such a public way, that anyone in the world curious enough to find my blog could come and look at my posts and see what was inside of me on a very intimate level. My answer to their concern was simple. I have to be honest with everything I’m going through. It helps me look back and see what has happened, how it’s happened, how I’ve dealt with it, and most importantly, it stands as a stark reminder that my story isn’t unique. It isn’t some extraordinary account of a life filled with extraordinary events. I’m just a woman who’s been abandoned and who is trying to put her life back together one piece at a time.

Think about it this way: taking stock in your life isn’t easy. It’s not meant to be. Ask yourself how hard is it to look in the mirror and accept the truth about what’s deep inside you. Ask yourself what you want, ask yourself what you need, be frivolous for just one moment and think of what you’d really wish for in your life right now then look around and see how close your wish is to what you really have. Don’t you ever think back about the events in your life and want to talk them through so you get an outside perspective? Don’t you wish sometimes you could just let it all go and just get rid of all of the endless blather that happens in your head? That’s what writing does for me. It’s thirty minutes to an hour of just writing out all of the joys, the sorrows, the confusion and the pain of feeling left behind, but making sure that I remember that I’m not alone, that somewhere out there someone is going through the same things as I am. They’re hurting, they’re confused, but in all of that, for them to look just for a moment at someone else going through the same thing just might make the day a little easier. Haven’t you ever heard the saying, “Misery loves company?”

To be honest, I think my fan base is rather small, look over in the corner, I have 16 people that follow along with me and I think I know all of them personally except for one or two. My blog is my way of sharing what’s happening to me so they know I’m alright, that I can tell them my stories and not have to send out batteries of endless e-mails. All they have to do is click the link and they get to spend time with me. It’s 15 minutes of laughing out loud together, it’s them knowing that the woman they know is doing her best to understand her life and try to grow from her experiences. That others come to read along too is fine with me. I don’t write about things that would make me uncomfortable if some random stranger walked up to me on the street and asked me about it. I don’t totally drop my drawers you know, give me credit for being a little smarter than that. lol.

When I think of my professors coming in here and reading along, I think of it as a blessing in disguise. They get to see first hand how a student views the class. Whether they like me or not for it, it gives them an opportunity to look through my eyes and understand what kind of impression they make, how much I’m getting out of how and what they’re teaching and well, I’m not always kind about it. Sometimes the truth hurts, but remember, it’s MY version of the truth. No two people see things the exact same way, but at least they can see it from a different perspective so they know where they were strong and where they may have been a little weak from a mature student’s point of view.

 I’ll be the first one to say I wish my history class would have had a bit more discussion going on during the lecture so I felt like I was actively learning, not just waiting to go into a discussion group where I felt like I was being brushed off and denied the chance to talk about the subject with him. My history professor is a fascinating man, he could probably talk for hours on one of my favorite subjects in the world, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. I read Marcus Aurelius every night before I go to sleep. When I’m confused, when I need an oracle of sorts, I grab the book, flip to a random page and take a single verse and see if it can’t help me clean out all of the garbage in my head. Where would I be if Marcus hadn’t written down what he was thinking and talking about his experiences and thanking all of the people who made a difference in his life?  I wish I would have been inspired much sooner to just go see my professor and just talk about Marcus and the stoics for the many afternoons I spent bored during the two-hour break between history lecture and my IMC class because I am truly in love with the ancient world, I think it’s fascinating. Don’t believe me? Come knock on my door and I’ll weigh you down with Marcus, Plato, tell you the story of why I gave away my hardcover edition of The Iliad and The Odyssey and show you all of my romance novels that are set in or pertain to Ancient Greece. Ever heard of Sherrilyn Kenyon? Look up her dark-hunters…my favorite story is “Night Play” and by the way, the main character of the book is named Vane Kattalakis and our main protagonist through the entire series is a man named Acheron Parthenopaeus. Can I get more Greek for you? Oh, let’s just go one further. I know my Greek alphabet and I can, on demand, recite the whole damn thing. To sit for just a moment and talk to someone who not only understands the ancient world in a way I can never imagine, but to learn from that would have been priceless. It would have fed my spirit in so many wonderful ways. But with only one lecture to go, I guess my time has run out.

Look at my personal growth class. Four months ago I told everyone it was a damn lemon. Oh boy was I wrong, and when I do my semester wrap up, I get to apologize to Doc Cat because she literally reverse psychology’d us all and I will say without hesitation or intent to offend, that Doc Cat’s Personal Growth class did more for me than I’ll ever be able to repay her for. I told her just yesterday that if I could stay in her class for the rest of my life, I’d be so much better off. Look at how far I’ve come in just four months then try to tell me that it wasn’t worth every penny I spent on tuition for it.  If she wouldn’t have taken the time to write and teach about her experiences, where would I be without her?

I write because I have to remember what’s happened along the way. Abusing my body for so many years with substance abuse is not going to make aging easy on me, I already find myself forgetting things that a person my age shouldn’t forget and I’ll be honest, it scares me. Hopefully though, by putting my story in such a public format, maybe someone else may learn the lessons I learned too late. Maybe, someone will see something horrible that I do and realize that they do it themselves and may find a reason to change themselves for the better. I don’t write it all down because I’m self-centered or egotistical, I write so that maybe I’ll bring joy to someone’s day, make them laugh out loud for just a moment and make their worries and cares seem a bit further away and just a bit more manageable.

As I said, my story isn’t unique, but I look at it this way, when you read me, you can cut to the chase when you speak to me, you already know how my mind works and you don’t have to guess. You will never have to wonder how I feel about someone, how I value the wonderful people in my life and you can see how an abused kid can rise from all of that pain and try to live their life as the best person they can possibly be.

Marcus Aurelius says, along with the rest of the stoics, that we have to obey our own natures. It’s the teleological view that says we have to embrace our root purpose. A tiger cannot change it’s stripes, and the amazing storytellers in this world couldn’t give us the cheers, the tears and the solemn contemplation we all undertake if they didn’t sit down to write in the first place.

So to answer the question posed at the beginning, “Isn’t it uncomfortable to write about your life in such a public way?” No. It’s just my nature and how I share my nutritional value with the world in the hopes that the cruel people of the world will stay their hand before they strike and injure another human being because they just may realize how what they do affects someone else. I write so you can look at the person sitting right next to you as you read, hug them a bit tighter, tell them you love them and appreciate them for who they are. Above all, I write so you can sit back, take a deep breath and be reminded to be grateful for what you have.  For me, I write so I can remember.

One day, I want to write a book, but to put together anything, you have to strip the subject down to the bare bones and look at it for what it is and what it can offer the world.

So, to my dear friend who asked the question of “Why?” There’s your answer.

Darlings

Over the last two years, I’ve written a lot. In all the time I’ve written, I don’t think I’ve ever been moved to truly wax poetic in a romantic sense.  Sure, I’ve had quite the few “darlings” in my posts that Doc T taught me how to love, to use, and to sadly kill just last spring; and for all those darlings that had to be killed, I feel sad that they’ve been tossed out, unwanted and unloved when their existence could have inspired someone else for a brief, fleeting moment.

For those of you who weren’t here when I learned about “darlings,” they are beautiful phrases, “like a lifetime of beautiful spring Tuesdays” that really speak volumes but more often than not are usually extraneous or not useful when trying to prove a succinct point.  Darlings are the poetic leanings of the psyche that long to be expressed; they are the eloquent, charming phrases that are sadly discarded for the sake of brevity.

For all of the sacrificed and discarded darlings that we’ve all at one time thrown away for the sake of brevity, I’m going to do something that only the narcotic buzz of infatuation can inspire us to do, take time to reincarnate them for one sweet moment in time.

It’s a beautiful spring night in the desert.  My patio door is open, letting in the sweet smelling air.  The breeze washing through the room has a bit of a chill, but not so much that I feel the need to close the door or give myself over to the warm comforts of the red polka-dotted throw on my overstuffed brown leather sofa.  It’s just one of those beautiful evenings after a beautiful day that I want to bottle and keep close to my heart as one of the spectacular days that cleanses the soul and washes away cares like a warm, gently cascading waterfall or a breath of soul-cleansing air.

Walking out onto my balcony, my red chair invites me to sit a while, look at the stars that seem a little bit brighter tonight, with constellations begging to be found and their stories remembered.  How often do we look up and wish that we could dip our hand into the star-filled sky and scoop up the stars like shimmering water in a cool pond?

I take a deep breath and let it out, felling a little bit more relaxed than I have in a while.  My troubles seem a bit more distant as ambient music wafts through the open door, mingling gently with the sweet spring breeze, coaxing my muscles to give up yet one more knot.

I sit quietly and smile to myself, enjoying the moment, imagining the beautiful face of a person who appreciates me for who I am, who has read my words with a tender sincerity, seeing me as a person of endless curiosity and a never-ending source of love.  As Billie Meyer’s “Kiss the Rain” starts playing, I laugh to myself while looking at the stars, mentally singing along with the song, “We’re under the same sky, and the night is as empty as for me as for you.”  But really, it’s not lonely, it’s longing to see his smile not fade too quickly, to hear laughter that sounds like a soft, deep, rich thunder, the sweet sound of his voice speaking to me and laughing at my quirky sense of what life is like, and finding a small bit of my nutritional value reflected back at me in his eyes.

Ah, but that is the nature of the darling isn’t it?  It says so much, oft incoherent to all of the wonderful people who read them and wonder what on earth could have possessed someone to just write about 15 minutes of their life in a way that freezes the moment in time, putting them right in the middle of the moment, allowing them to revel in just a moment of peace.

I wish all days could be like today, like an endless supply of beautiful spring Tuesdays where I’m told I’m gorgeous, have success at whatever endeavor I undertake and for once enjoy that I have an addictive personality hooked on the overload of endorphins that can only be found when you meet someone new.

Thank goodness there are nights like tonight.  Long live the darlings.

Giddy.

That’s the best word I can come up with right now for how I’m feeling.  Giddy.  It’s the exhilarated rush you feel when the person you’re digging on looks at you and says, “Are you kidding?  You’re gorgeous.”

Forgive me while I squeal, jump up and down and for all intents and purposes fall all over myself with joy.

Yeah.  Wow.  A real life, in-the-flesh man called me gorgeous to my face.  Ok, well, I guess the long wondering if I’m pretty or skinny enough can fly out the window now…forgive me while I OMG about a billion times.

Now, as we know, I like to study and dissect things and really understand what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it.  This morning, a trip to Doc Cat’s office was a must because while I didn’t want to talk about the guy I’m digging on (and by the way, don’t ask, he’s not even remotely going to be paid lip service to, all you need to know is there is a guy out there who digs me, you don’t need to know anything further than that), I wanted to understand why I am obsessing so hard over him.

I won’t tell you the story of my weekend.  Let’s just say I spent an inordinate amount of time perusing the subject of him.  Ok, right around now he’s just cooler than sliced bread and if I could curl up in him for the next hundred years, I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity.  However, at seeing that I was feeling out of control spending far too much time um, well…oh hell, let’s just say it out, drooling over the guy, I knew I needed an intervention.

So, there I am in Doc Cat’s office this morning completely freaked out that I’m giddy over this *insert long string of praises and drooling over attributes* guy and how it’s wreaking havoc with my study time.  All semester long I have been focused, working hard, really on track with what I was doing.  All weekend long I was trying my damndest to get all of my work done on my semester projects coming due only to fall flat onto my face.  I’d work for 15 minutes and I’d sigh and swoon for the next 20.  On and on the process went.   Thank goodness for Haley, she came over on Sunday night and we worked on our ad campaign and every time I’d go into a swoonfest about the guy, she’d metaphorically slap my head back on straight and we’d keep working.  It was the best work I had done on the project all weekend.  As I described this to Doc Cat this morning, she looked at me and said, “Right now, you sound like you’re on drugs.  But that’s what the hormones and chemicals in your body do to your brain when you’re in the throes of infatuation.”  I looked at her and went, “Oh my God, it’s my addict brain!”

As we know, as a long-time addict, my brain is broken.  Enough years of abuse, trauma and all of my other crap will do that to a person.  My coping mechanisms don’t work right, hence, I get all sorts of out of control when I get a big rush of adrenaline plus all of the very unused hormones that accompany infatuation start zooming around in my body.  So, that’s why I couldn’t work last weekend worth a flip, I didn’t know how to control what I was going through.  Thank goodness for Doc Cat, she gave me some simple instructions…I get to spend an hour out of every day just swooning over the guy I like.  For an entire hour, that’s all I get to do.  After the hour is up, I have to focus back on my other priorities like studying for finals. It’s called organizing and prioritizing.  I like that.  I mean how cool is that, I get to work around my broken brain to teach myself how to cope with what I’m feeling and how I’m feeling it by devoting an hour a day to a luscious human being.  Can you say “Yay!”

Yes, I’m the girl who is constantly saying “I don’t need a guy in my life” and here I am just going batshit crazy over some guy.  However, I’m sticking to my guns.  I don’t need a man in my life. I don’t.  I don’t require one for self-esteem or identity or anything else, I’d just like one around to spend quality time with and be able to use really big words around him without being looked at like I’m nuts.  *giggle*  We already know I’m nuts!  LOL!

But, I’m giddy.  He called me “gorgeous.”  Swoon!  Faint!  Ok, I get about 20 more minutes of swoonfest before I have to go back to my other stuff.

For my fellow folks who are recovering and dealing with addict brains and so forth, it’s important to remember that change is always happening, like the fool on the tarot card walking off of the precipice, you need to make sure that you’re happy enough with yourself to have wings so you can fly after you walk off the edge.

Risk is something that we all do, whether we realize it or not.  Case in point, I was told I was a very good flirt today (along with gorgeous) and I had to stop him and say, “Unintentional flirt.”  Trust me, I haven’t flirted in years, I’m not sure I even know how to do it anymore,  however, my curled hair, the face full of makeup, contact lenses and the pressed shirt along with a head full of bouncing curls might be construed as such.  See?  Changes!  Yeah, I really didn’t get into being all made up like I used to back in my 20’s because I didn’t see a reason for it.  I will say this though…damn, you sure get self-conscious about your self-image when someone looks at you favorably.  Yeah…oh man, am I fixing up these days!  Yikes!

I will say this though…I have a really good reason for being fixed up today. Haley, Reid and I presented the ad campaign for our cereal today.

I’ll take just a moment to recognize Dolly Parton again for her line out of Straight Talk and really honk my own horn.  Oh, did we rock!  It was fabulous!  Oh, the entire room hated us because it was so good.  Oh, we so rocked.  I’m so proud of the work we did.  Dr. S. praised us for such a well-rounded and detailed campaign.  You should have seen me.  It was so awesome!  I stared out my presentation with The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” because our tagline was “…It’s a start,” and got the whole room clapping along, then added in some Daft Punk and just rocked it!  We took the ENTIRE (and then some) 20 minutes for our presentation, but while the other groups just looked at print, broadcast TV, and radio, I blew that sucker out to kingdom come with all of the elements of Integrated Marketing Communications.  Oh sure, I did a website, radio, TV and print ads, even the usual Facebook page, but then I just went nuts adding in a concert series to “Put the Crunch on Cancer”, flash mobs, a branding book which held all of the unique information on our colors (in CMYK and RGB values) to enhance our “Brand Community” with collateral to encourage fan pages, oh, I just went bonkers and did what I know how to do.  Oh!  It was a triumph!  So very happy with it.

Then, what do you think happened?  A guy called me gorgeous!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Some days just are so good, aren’t they?

Finally, at long last I get to blog about some serious joy happening.  Woot!