I admitted it. Publicly.

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I admitted, publicly, that I have battled with anxiety and depression, on a social media site where most people fail to acknowledge their personal problems and struggles.  

I admitted it to a someone I considered a dear friend, but who also probably had no clue that I had been through some of those things.  

There were people who read my comment, people who have known me since I was a little girl, that read what I said-and can still read it.

It feels…good.  It doesn’t make me feel like I will go back to the way I was before.  It makes me realize that I will not lose the battle, because I can admit that I have the batttle. Because I can share things about myself honestly, and I can share them without passing judgment upon myself.

I hope that when people see my comment, they’ll realize that maybe not everyone has it all together all of the time.  I know that there are some people who see me in that light (in part because I present myself that way), and I hope they read what I said, not because I want to prove that I’ve been some sort of sufferer, but so that they see my humanness.

I hope that my friend-even though I disagreed with much of what he said-can still find reason to be friends with me and even treat me with more compassion and love than he has in the past.

I hope that people who were afraid to admit they had been through hard times will be emboldened by what I said. 

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Expensive Watermelon, Being Present, Remnants of Post-Secondary Education, and Being Given What You Ask For

Dear Sean Paul,

On Tuesday, I was standing in a checkout aisle scrolling through emails when I suddenly had this vague realization that I had become tuned out to my world, and I really didn’t want that.

“These people that surround you right now, you were meant to be here with these people. Pay attention to them.”

I reluctantly put my phone away, deciding to get away from the work, and just try to enjoy the moment of standing in a checkout aisle. I decided I didn’t have to actively engage with people (I am a little awkward and shy), but at least I would be open to them.  At least I wouldn’t tune them, or this moment, out on a phone.

Naturally, my mind went to other things. I scanned the aisle and convinced myself a few times that I didn’t need to buy any of the things on display. Those impulse items. Regardless, it did take me a while (let’s just say I can find ways to tune out things without a device) to finally realize the struggle with the lady in front of me at the register.

She looked to be an older lady, yet it seemed that aging had come on a little more quickly than what’s typical (as if there’s really a “typical” way to age). She had a watermelon in her cart, but that was the only thing I could see in there besides her purse.  The total on the register came in at $7.33. I don’t know much about watermelons, but I’m pretty sure the standard, run of the mill watermelon is not $7.33.  Perhaps there were cigarettes in her purse.

The way she punched in numbers on the keypad seemed so forced. I remember noting that she had to take a pen to punch in the number keys, which made it even more difficult than simply punching them with her finger.  She struggled with sliding the card and scanning it into the system-she clearly didn’t do this often.. The cashier, a patient girl who didn’t look a day older than 18, continued to smile and then agreed to punch in the card number herself. The lady would then go through the process of punching numbers in on her side, signing her name, and then what should have been a full itemized receipt approximately 4 inches in length should have come out.  Instead, one that was maybe an inch long would spit out, in a most unfriendly manner: Declined.

They tried over, and over. The patient cashier type in the card number, the women would sloppily punch in her numbers, and it would be to no avail. I don’t remember exactly when it was when I thought to myself, “Maybe I should offer to pay for this woman’s things.”

In college, this was always a subject for debate in several of my classes: what do you do when it comes to giving people a free handout? We’d wax on philosophically about how maybe we aren’t really helping them by giving them money or food, or we’d talk about how callous and insensitive people were for passing judgment on these people by without knowing their story or context. People would assert their views, state their claim, and own it, like it was the absolute right thing to do, and that they’d honor it in every situation they came across.

I stared at the lady as she continued to punch in numbers on that keypad. It’s one thing to debate on this with people that generally, had many more opportunities to succeed than the people we discussed. It’s an entirely different matter when the moment in which you have to act is staring you in the face. I wondered how many times this had happened to this lady before. A part of me even questioned if this wasn’t the bigger part of an elaborate ruse to get a free handout from some person desperate to get out of the checkout aisle. I pondered how one can ever truly know a person before you decide if they’re deemed, “legitimate,” or deserving, of the help. In the end, I decided I didn’t care where she was coming from and that I wanted to pay, but I also didn’t want to just interrupt the lady and damage her pride by offering.

Then, it sort of just fell into place. After what seemed like the 100th time the card didn’t go through, she just turned and looked at me. A look of embarrassment, exasperation.

“You can put those things on my charge if you would like, ma’am.”

She said nothing to me, and turned back to the register. The cashier tried another time or two, and asked as discreetly as possible (still smiling, still patient), “Would you like me to call a manager to help you?”

The lady gestured at me. “She said she could use her charge.”

The cashier looked at me with a smile of disbelief.

“Sure,” I said, “If that’s okay.”

 

She took her bag with her mysteriously expensive watermelon, and left the store. The cashier scanned my items in, and at one point I caught her just looking at me, smiling, but also trying to figure me out. It was like she questioned me: Why did I do that? I don’t exactly look very old or established, so it was hard to imagine that I truly had a lot of money to give. When I swiped my card, I jokingly pointed out, “Let’s hope mine goes through!”

 

It did.  As I grabbed my things, a man farther back in line came up to me. “How much was her stuff?” He asked.

“It was only like 7 bucks. I’m okay.” I replied.

“Here, take this 5 to help pay for it.”

 

And just like that, I was out the door with my belongings and a $5 bill in my purse.  Thoughts swarmed me as I moved out into the heat.

 

We hear so often that what we give and do unto others, we get in return.  I believe that, and I believe that I create my reality thus when I give of my own money (as if I have an abundance of money), I will become abundant.  That being said, it rarely turns over so quickly.  I can’t name too many other times in which I gave away something of mine with no strings attached, and it was almost fully returned within moments.  A part of me did not want to accept the man’s charity, like it would cheapen what I had done for that lady, but then I realized that really, it was amazing that there were so many people willing to give in one checkout queue. Once I saw the man’s gift as a repayment from that benevolent creator/Universe, I realized that it made sense for me to accept the money.

I wondered what that lady went home to.  I wondered why that watermelon was so expensive.  I wondered how people say that we are only kind to others because we want to feel good about ourselves, when that was literally the farthest thing from my mind. I wondered what the people who witnessed the event thought about afterward. There was a little boy behind me with his mother-I wonder what he thought when he saw that, especially when the man gave his own money.  I wondered at how amazing it was that I seemed to be in the right place at the right time for that lady. I wondered why that man felt the need to split the cost with me. I wondered if the cashier would come to understand that when it comes to giving, I have infinite resources.

And mostly, I wondered if things would have turned out differently if I hadn’t make the conscious decision to put my phone back into my purse, and just be in the moment with the people there.

Laryssa

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Describe yourself in the third person-your physical appearance and personality-as though you were a character in a book.

She’s got this look about her. No one in the history of ever initially takes her in and calls her “beautiful,” with that larger than life nose, a slightly too long face, and a lack of “woman” in her chest and hips. Indeed, she’s bears a small frame that seems to lack something substantial.

But then she smiles that pretty smile and flashes those pearly teeth, or you get close enough to see her eyes. A vague shade of blue, green, even gray-but they’re large and expressive, and they are so dynamic, one has to keep reexamining them.

No, she’s not a classic beauty, but pretty soon you’re doing double takes of her. You watch her when she talks to other people, or when she suddenly exerts great physical energy and power (for such a slip of a person), or examine her moving through a space-and you see this something. Something striking. You keep examining her old photos, asking, “Wait…did I really see that in her?” The moments of beauty flash by, blend in with her unusual features again, and leave you wondering if you really saw it.

It would be enough if she just looked unusually pretty, but then her personality comes into the mix. Getting to know her is kind of like melting brown sugar and butter down in a pan-it takes some stirring and heat, and it doesn’t seem to meld together at first. She is haughty, then humble. Outspoken, even volatile, and then subdued. Kind and comforting, and suddenly aloof and pensive. But then, you get something rich when she finally simmers down. Perhaps she lets down a guard, or relaxes, or trusts you differently. She then delivers an honesty and humor that never leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Time passes in various ways for various people when it comes to finally “seeing” her, but it all comes down to the same conclusion. Suddenly, the nose becomes something that only she can wear and still look attractive with. Her expressive eyes fill a soul with wonderment and ease. Her humor and strange frankness with other people becomes endearing, and completely admired. Suddenly, all of her features crash into focus: her beautiful legs and arms, her pretty and easily managed hair, the pigment of her lips, the delicateness in her hands and feet, the health and vibrance in her little frame…it all shines forth. Her intelligence, her kindness, her driven nature, all push into the forefront. The woman that you once thought you saw from afar is completely different from the one standing here now.

Inevitably, what was once a striking woman at best (at the VERY best), becomes an absolutely beautiful and rare gem of a person.

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Nutella Filled Pancake Puffs

Nutella Filled Pancake Puffs.

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Perspectives.

Dear Sean,

It’s all about perspective, you know?

This morning was cooky.  I was stressed, the kids were stressing me out, I was tired, and I wanted to go to bed.  I thought we were going to at least have a delay or something after my late night last night. 

One of my students showed up late, around 8:43am, and yesterday, she had appeared at 8:45.  I was getting a little miffed because we were well over halfway through the class, there wasn’t really going to be a way for her to catch up on the material, and it just really messed up the small group situation I had going.  

I asked her, point blank (and I’m sure my tone wasn’t kind), “Where have you been?” 

She was very apologetic, and said, “I’m sorry, our driveway is completely covered in snow. I’ll probably be late for the next couple of days like this.” I said okay and set her off to do some work.

At the end of class, I asked her, “So what’s the deal with your driveway?” She explained the snow was at her belly button level, and that her dad had to drive them across a frozen lake to get them to school.

“Why don’t you just stay home?” I asked, shocked.

“My dad’s kind of crazy and says I need a good education and all of that,” she replied.

So I’m sitting here, in the face of a new tomorrow, getting ready for another day, and I realize…This isn’t really about me.  It’s got a lot more to do with them, doesn’t it? And for every 1 student who has a father driving her across a frozen lake to get to school, there are about 25 who would rather be in bed, and frankly their parents would probably let them.

But this is worth it, for that one kid. I think I’ll write a letter to that girl tomorrow, and let her know that I am sorry if I came off as upset for her coming in late.

I have so much growing to do.

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Day 7: A show or a movie that has changed you, and how.

There have been lots of shows and movies that impacted me in a variety of ways, but today I’m going to focus on the movie Stepbrothers because it inspired me to do something this upcoming week.  And no, I’m not going to start collecting porno mags from the 70s, 80s, and 90s like the movie suggests.

One of the more excellent scenes in the movie involves the concert at the Catalina Wine Mixer when Will Farrell sings a rendition of, “Con Te Partiro,” or, “With You I Will Leave.” It’s a fairly epic song, and the movie shows flashbacks of just absolute hilarity/touching togetherness that really tie the film together like a certain rug we all know and love.

Anyway, I’ve decided that if Jacob comes in to Lexington next weekend, I will greet him in this manner.  When he either gets out of the car or comes through a doorway, I will not make any sudden movements or noise.  Instead, I will have “Con Te Partiro” downloaded on my phone, and as we stand facing each other (because I will wait until he is looking at me), I will hit the play button and get it playing really loudly.  Then, I will approach him with an embrace and maybe something ridiculous like, “I have waited many moons for this moment.” It’ll make the reunion of all of us really start off on a great foot, and what better way to greet someone you haven’t seen in more than 2 years? It’s actually really ironic because the song is about saying good-bye…but oh well.

So, that, coupled with the Catalina Wine Mixer theme we had for my 20th birthday will suffice to explain how a movie has changed me.  It’s made get-togethers with friends a billion times more epic. While I’m sure that there are other means to answer this question, and plenty of other films and shows have influenced me in more “meaningful” ways, this was something I concocted last night when I could not sleep.

I hope Jacob shows up for this epicness.

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