The important dynamics of a varied friendship group

Ok – I’ll admit it… that title doesn’t sound like me. But it’s something I’ve spent the past few moments mulling around in my head and I just decided to go with it. In the past month that I’ve put together my new commercial studio space (which by the way – i’m 95% done with and it’s AMAZING!) I’ve met so very many of my sister’s friends, plus people in the building, and some of my friends have come to visit as well…. it’s been a month of PEOPLE. 🙂 And I say that with delight and joy – because after spending so very much time in my home with the quarantines, this new energy has truly been a delight for me and is helping when it comes to giving me inspiration with my comics.

Something I’ve learned this month tho, is that it’s so important to have a well-rounded group of friends. One of the things I cherish so much about my own friend group is how eclectic it is – we’re a bunch of misfits in our own ways- but if an outsider were to label each of us – they’d be surprised that we’re all friends. And everyone comes from a different background – some from all over the world – and everyone also seems to be at different stages of their own life journey.

There have been moments in my life when I wished I had someone who was on a similar journey as me. Thinking that perhaps then I’d feel understood. But what I realized this morning is that it’s because of the incredibly varied perspectives of those who I surround myself with that I feel free enough to break through the constraints that I had on me.

I had someone I was chatting with recently share their passion and drive for their career. At first – I glommed onto that and used that to carry the conversation a bit – and it was an enjoyable chat. But later, as I reflected on how nice it was to talk to someone who has a lot of drive in their career, I also reminded myself that that was once me – but i’m not in that place anymore. I no longer live to work. Not at all. I reminded myself how once upon a time, I would put a lot of weight on someone’s worth being tied to their job or their career accomplishments. And now? I just don’t care anymore. Are they happy? Are they content and healthy and balanced?

I’d have never changed my way of thinking if it weren’t for my diverse group of friends who were both kind and brave enough to share their own perspectives in order to widen mine. I’m so grateful to have them in my life – and am hopeful that I’ll continue to grow in these ways. 🙂

I do hope you are all doing well out there! Stop in and leave a note below and tell me what has been on your mind today? Happy Tuesday!

“Staying in your lane”

My sister says this to people. A lot. And sometimes I agree with her, and other times, not so much. You see, if I had “stayed in my lane” my entire life, then I wouldn’t be where I am. In fact, I’d wager, had she said that to me long ago – i’d have found a way to kindly tell her to go fuck herself because you can’t stay in one lane when you own the pool. 😀 But I digress. I get why she says it – it’s to help someone know when they are slipping from their path – or losing focus. It is a signal, to reel it in and double check yourself. How often do people even DO that anymore? I find that I do it often – and perhaps maybe need to just let it loose a little more. Granted – that does beg the question – what happens if you don’t know what lane you’re even in? Maybe you’re actually swimming diagonally across the pool?! Maybe you don’t believe in lanes! 😀 Hehe.

This week – I really need to stay in my lane when it comes to work focus. I’ve got lots to do, both for my day job and for my comic. I also just generally need to recover from a full weekend of shenanigans. The sister and I went to Portland for a short overnight getaway. The weekend was filled with a mix of things – shopping, self care, good food, strippers!, new friends, old friends… you name it. And while I had fun – a blast actually during most of it – I’m feeling a bit overly crispy around the edges today. Like – stick a fork in me already – i’m done. I may take a bit of a nap later and see if it re-energizes me.

My comic work is coming about slowly and steadily. At least on “Bar Tales”. My Mom book however I’m still stuck on. I need to just suck it up and start drawing the main character and not stop until i can do her consistently. But the problem is – she is me. And i’m still learning to see myself. It’s hard. My view of myself changes constantly – perhaps that’s why I feel like I own the pool rather than a single lane. I’ve written about this in the past and it still feels true today – we wear a lot of masks in society – and I’m not entirely convinced that all of us have figured out who we are without them.

Well, I better get back to my work morning – but here’s me wishing you a happy week!

Good morning Neverland!

Sometimes, you put your foot in your mouth

I have too many words. All jumbled around in my head. I hear the advice from my mother ringing in my head… “Jenny! Keep your big mouth shut!” I can’t even tell you how often I heard that phrase growing up. I had a big mouth. I’d sit and talk about anything with anyone. I’d share my opinions, I’d ask all the questions. I was a talker. I’ve learned to keep things to myself over the years… I’ve also begun to struggle with suddenly being too quiet. And what a strange pendulum swing to find myself on. In the past couple of years, I’ve really been working on finding the right balance between the two. And although I, for the most part, do a fine enough job of it – there are also times when it feels like I fall flat on my face.

I had a moment like that yesterday. I knew I needed to say something… but I also knew it would be wise to be very careful with my words. As it was highly likely that I wouldn’t be able to clearly paint what I was trying to say with them. And if I somehow screwed up and my intentions were misunderstood, I’d be hurt and worried and unsure of the end consequences. I even tried to talk myself out of speaking up. “Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I’m being unreasonable? Maybe my thoughts aren’t quite complete enough to share yet! Maybe if I speak up – I’ll lose? Maybe if I share – I’ll have to face judgement or fear?” Again – my mom’s advice rang in my head.

And then the moment came… My words came vomiting out of my mouth before I could even stop them… despite all my practicing and planning and lecturing of myself prior. Even in the moment – I was yelling at myself in my head. “OMG Jen… What are you DOING?! You’re totally not making sense!! You’re confusing the situation and making it muddy! JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP JEN!”

…. But I persisted. Man, i’m an idiot sometimes. I got so worked up that my tears began to flow. And the words became more jumbled in my head. The logical side in me suddenly could see that I was no longer clear. My comments and arguments were no longer quite aligning to what I’d set out to say. But I did have good intentions. I was trying to strike that balance. Trying to find the place where I could share what was hurting me. Where I could somehow share that perhaps a new boundary or at least the concept of one was starting to grow. I apologized. I’d completely flubbed up this beautiful day, this beautiful moment. But in no way could the genuineness behind my apology be articulated. “Bah! Why are you LIKE this JEN?! Why do you have to be so broken sometimes? Why can’t you hold your emotions in check long enough to speak when you’re feeling scared?!”

And all I can say is that afterwards… at the end of the day when I curled up in my bed, when I looked back at that moment to think about how it all went…the tears flowed freely and my whole body shook. I felt both pride that I did speak – and shame that I didn’t speak well. And the whole situation rocked me to my core – because I woke up with a wet pillow, swollen eyes and a raging headache. My tears had obviously continued into the night.

This morning – i’m trying to figure out why this shook me so much. I’ve certainly put my foot in my mouth many times in my life. Why did this one moment leave me feeling so tangled up … and I think it comes back to vulnerability.

If I look back at my past – I have always hated sitting for long in uncomfortable moments. Sitting in that level of discomfort is so bothersome to me that I will try and “fix” it. I will try and do whatever I can to bring about some sense of relief… some clarity… a rule.. an expectation. I think in those moments, when I’m the MOST scared – I’m looking for a box to put myself in. And sometimes, I might look to someone else to define the box for me. Maybe because I’m struggling to do it myself.

I believe in embracing vulnerability and know that there is strength in embracing those moments in our lives. Often it’s in those vulnerable moments that we learn and grow the most. But I also know that it’s been in my vulnerable moments that I have been hurt the most. And that often it’s been the people that I truly love and seek love from that, intentionally or not, have hurt me the most when I’ve been the most vulnerable. You’d think I’d give up sharing and being brave at all. I suppose that’s why I push myself to speak up and to keep being brave. I don’t want to stop in my path of growth and learning and self discovery.

And that is why – I will keep going. Even tho I’m now scared of the consequences of my speaking up. Even tho I still don’t have a box to put myself in. I’m determined to learn to sit in the moment. It’s a lesson that is long overdue for me. And I’ll have to learn to be ok with occasionally putting my foot in my mouth.

How do you calm your nerves?

There are two days left in my work week. Then I’m off for some surgery and recovery time. I’m nervous and anxious to get it all over and done with. I know it will go just fine – and that I’m likely worked up and worried over nothing… but I’m struggling to contain my anxieties and nervousness this week. I regret setting my week up to where I had to come into work for the first half, as my brain is definitely NOT on my work.

One of the things I had to do this weekend, in prep for my surgery, was to complete an advanced directive and update my will. Such an uncomfortable thing to think about and complete…. even if it IS the responsible thing to do.

The one thing I realized as I was thinking through things – was how small my circle of trust has truly become as I’ve aged. When I was younger – so many people had my trust – people who didn’t deserve it in many cases. Now – there are 2, maybe 3 people whom I trust. That’s it. It’s a strange feeling. I’m happy to know that I, at least, have those few amazing souls in my life. It made me wonder what people do who have no one. No family, no friends, no solid relationships they can trust. How do they know that their children will be cared for if they have no one to entrust them to?

I made my annual homemade kahlua this weekend. It has to steep now until christmas – better yet – new years. I’m excited to give them out as gifts. It’s interesting, I love giving gifts to others, and often put a lot of thought into it. I’ve never been a fan of giving gift cards – they seem so impersonal, and last minute. And the experience a person has while opening a gift card is almost too quick, and anti-climatic. I want to see a person light up when they open something from me. That’s always my goal. To have them feel as if they are cared about, and like the person giving the gift knows or understands them at a deeper level.

Is the day over yet? I’d really like to be done, to go home, snuggle with my pup and a soft blanket and just do what I can to let my anxieties settle down. What do you all do to settle yourself down when you’re nervous? Give me some of your favorite tips and tricks.

Much love to you all in Neverland today. Hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend.

Lessons from my life

I thought I was going to write to Ben this morning. I can’t sleep. I woke up early with my mind a buzz of thoughts. 10 years ago today was the last time I held him. The last time I felt his breath or heard him sigh. The last time. The LAST time. It hurts. It hurts more this year than it has in a very long time. And the past few weeks haven’t exactly helped me work my way thru it all. The promises I made to him keep replaying over in my head. I promised to hand out love like it was candy from my pocket.

I’ve been searching my whole life for something… To feel cared about. To feel loved. Not superficially.. but in that genuine, throw your entire self into it kind of love. The little girl who lives deep within me has been seeking for that feeling to be reciprocated for her whole life. She’s been seeking her place of comfort, her home, since she was 4 years old. She’s just wanted someone to pick her up and put her in their pocket. And that’s not something I admit easily. It feels like a weakness. But it’s not.

And this morning – I had a realization. A big one that left me feeling shook to my core. The only person who will love me that way – is me. Everyone else will have some sort of bias, or agenda… or worse, they will be too afraid and scared to open up and embrace the love that is offered to them… and the little girl will end up feeling hurt, let down, and unsafe.

The thing is – I have the courage to change. I have the courage to get cut down, and to still stand tall. I have the courage to walk in my shoes in a different direction… into the unknown. It’s funny – so many people in my life have commented that I am a force of nature. Stubborn and caring, I rarely back down, rarely lose. If I want something – I go after it and work my ass off to get it. I used to think that my courage came from my absolute faith that love is real, that it’s out there, that if you’re a good girl and you do right by people that it will come. I’m not sure that’s true anymore. I think maybe my best friend is partially right… you have to love yourself. Not because it will then allow love to find you – he’s wrong there – but because maybe it’s the only way you’ll have it at all. Sounds bleak, but I don’t mean it to.

I’ve walked a long road on this road of life. And anyone who walks it with me – whether it’s for a short moment, or for a long while will have to understand that I am not the same girl I used to be. I’ve gotten better over the years. I’ve grown and my perspectives have widened. I’ve learned what grief and loss does to a person. I’ve learned what abusive marriages do to a person. I’ve learned how to love with all of who I am. I’ve learned how to choose myself, my happiness and well-being over the destructive or toxic – no matter how normal they may have seemed to me. Growing up with toxic environments or toxic people shifts your perspectives and makes it hard to know what’s healthy or not. I’ve also learned how to channel so much of my vulnerabilities into a new kind of strength and courage. I know what hides in the dark shadows of life. The monsters that used to hide in my closet or under my bed – are still there. But if you shine brightly and give all you’ve got – the shadows will fall back and the monsters will be forced to stay in their shadows. I may not always have blind faith when it comes to God. He and I have our ups and downs since Ben’s death. But when it comes to my ability to take anything on I have absolute blind faith. When it comes to knowing that the goodness, the care, the love I seek is out there…. I’ve always known that too.

I have no doubt that there will always be people in my life who “love” me. But to them, I’m going to want to say a few things… First off – thank you. Thank you for your spoons of energy, thank you for caring in those moments. Know that I love you too, and truly appreciate the love and care you give back to me. But… If I’m just somebody that you’re gonna leave, or if you’re just some habit that I’ll have to break. If you don’t feel something when you look at me…. just let me down slowly – I’ll be ok.

I’ve got a little girl of my own – I say little – but she’s practically all grown up now. But she looks at me. She thinks I’m this courageous, loving, creative badass. That I’m this amazing strong woman. And yes – for her, I will always be. But what she doesn’t always know – is that the little girl in me is still scared of the monsters in my closet. And now here I am, walking down the road of life trying to show her how to be strong and how to face the monsters from her own closet. Sometimes it feels strange to try and teach my children how to do something that I haven’t yet fully figured out. Talk about the blind leading the blind. 🙂

It’s interesting to me… how I can feel both scared and broken and still stand tall and feel like I’m unbreakable. It’s such a strange mix. But all of it is truth. I AM a badass. I AM a force of nature. I AM capable of feeling emotions at a depth that rivals some of the best stories from literature. I am also capable of being hurt, even by the best of intentions. I’m capable of being misled. I make mistakes, errors in judgement, I overshare and often over communicate. In my head – it’s better to blurt everything that you’re feeling out and at least allow people to sort through it – than it is to stay quiet and keep it all in. But even that side of me is starting to change as I age. I’m learning that it’s often safer to sit. To ask questions. To listen. But even that fails me at times. Curiosity can kill the cat, after all. And even with all of my listening – I don’t always see the full story.

I don’t always have all the answers. How I wish life had a magic 8 ball at times. Although with my luck – if it did – I’d shake it, and turn it over, only to be told “Reply Hazy – Try again later”.