I want

I read this article right here and it made the below just come bubbling out of me like a tapped bottle of beer when I had been thinking these past few months that my feelings were just cool being dormant for a while. That’s a big fat nope! Maybe it’s the colder weather that’s got me wanting holding hands and kissing and mixed tapes. 
I want a partner in crime. 

I want someone perfect for me when I don’t even know they’re perfect for me (as in perhaps they occasionally annoy me by challenging my core beliefs or drag me out of my shell more often that I’d prefer). 

I want to blurt out every worry, random thought, new career trajectory, creative idea, or newfound expression of love for my partner and instead of being greeted with either blindly enthusiastic acceptance or outright negative rejection be engaged in a two-way conversation with questions and ideas exchanged.

I want to hold hands in public and sneak away every once in a while to steal a kiss away from everyone’s prying eyes.

I want to have conversations that we both participate in fully, and when the other is quiet, we pause to check in. Intellectual conversations, random thoughts, fleeting insignificances, grocery lists, parts of our pasts, what our futures may look like, what our favorites are, whether or not we’ll ever have a red panda for a pet.

I want exotic foreign vacations, 200 mile away road trips, camping under the stars, reading books on the beach, Disney, Harry Potter world, local hidden treasures, playing hooky for the day and lounging in hammocks all afternoon, hosted dinners with friends, New Year’s Eve parties,  private dance parties with the record player on while doing almost anything – no reason needed, fun in the daily distractions from traffic to long lines because we can view them as opportunities for time together.

I want a strong, dependable, loyal foundation. I want an equal partner. I want a partner who respects me enough to also call me out when warranted – the first time, not after I’ve already caused a bruise.

I want to be held and feel needed when I hold them, I want random fiercely passionate kisses where I can tell they couldn’t hold it in any longer, I want all the cuddles – unless I’m too hot – then I want none of the cuddles – unless I get cold again – then I want all the cuddles again, I want a slow burning passion punctuated with fireworks, I want a thousand tiny kisses and a thousand more long ones, more than any of that I want to see that look in their eye when you can tell they see nothing but you in that moment.

I want a shared humility, I want to embrace the imperfections, I want to laugh at how ridiculous it all is sometimes, I want to try to make the best of shit circumstances and know that I have a fighter in my corner because they sure as hell will have me fighting in theirs, I want someone to be mutual anti-anxiety triggers with, I want someone to hold my hand when it all seems too hard. 

I want someone to remind me of everything I forget – all of the memories I didn’t write down. 

I want to give someone my loyalty, empathy, levity, desire, adoration, intellect, attention, and strength.

My #SecretAnxiety – the Unmastered Frontier

I’m fairly open about my bipolar – the depression and hypo-mania, and I’m beginning to theorize that this level of comfort correlates to a level of mastery I believe I’ve gained over it in the past few years. I’m theorizing this because I’m experiencing something new and I find it embarrassing when I know I absolutely should not. 

I’ve recently been introduced to a whole new mental health issue that I have not yet experienced. I’m currently battling anxiety. Anxiety is a beast. It has been endlessly lashing out at me for the past few months, chasing me into corner after corner until I break. I meditate, I bike, I see my friends and have quality conversations with them, I try to think positively, I understand this is a physiological response and yet I can’t control it. And I know I shouldn’t expect myself to – but somehow I do. I manage my bipolar, why can’t I manage this anxiety? 

I feel ashamed. 

My anxiety comes out by way of compulsively and uncontrollably itchy skin on the upper outer part of my arms and the upper part of my legs. It’s usually triggered while getting ready for work and it’s gotten to the point that I’ve made myself bleed if I leave my legs uncovered, or give myself tiny bruises if I put on tights. I can’t not scratch. It’s the most driving itch I’ve ever felt in my life.

I sought the help of my psychiatrist because getting in as a new patient at a therapist is months out. I got anti-anxiety medication. I’m trying to control my thoughts better but it’s not easy. 

I feel embarrassed. 

I don’t want others to feel this way though. I know I’m not alone but it truly can feel so incredibly lonely when you go through things like this on your own. 

I suppose I’m writing to remind myself and others that it’s human to experience these trials. We’re not alone. We don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be perfect. I am not perfect. And it’s ok. 

It’s easier to pretend it’s ok sometimes.

Blogs are no place for politics

Here we go. My first, and probably only ever, political post. It’s not meant to be an ultimate opinion – only mine, you know, jessie, doing life. 

​I want to take something back. During this election I unfairly attached homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, and racist labels to all Trump voters. This is clearly not true as I can’t believe that half of America is walking around with as much hate in their hearts as Trump spoke in his campaign.

Trump voters (there’s a difference between voters and supporters) were faced with a choice after the DNC chose the exact definition of “the system” as their Democratic candidate or the new guy, completely outside of “the system” who vowed to break that system down because it wasn’t working when Trump somehow became the unlikely Republican candidate.  

Trump’s core message (behind all of the insanely inappropriate bile) was that he was campaigning “for America” and wanted to tear down this supposed establishment that he claimed was responsible for all the woes of our country, focusing on the economy. Hillary’s message became “I’m not Donald Trump and I have A LOT of experience” which only served to prove to Trump voters and supporters that she was the antithesis of Trump, she embodied “the establishment”.

Trump voters felt backed into a corner on election day. Unlike the Trump supporters, the voters were concerned about all of the hate speech and lack of experience that he had but in him they saw a champion of the common, middle class people – they saw a champion for themselves. 

I also felt backed into a corner on election day. As a #bernorbust’r myself, after the DNC proved to be just as corrupt as I believed the GOP to be (all my opinions) I truly did not know what I was going to do with my vote until I had my pen in hand, ready to bubble in the circle. I do not subscribe to the notion that voting third party is a waste – NO vote is a waste. This election cycle I didn’t want to vote for any of the third party candidates, even as a protest vote. I was not going to vote for Trump because of the hate speech, his complete lack of experience in government, and his chosen running mate. I voted for Hillary. I did not want to,  but four years of “the establishment” was a better prospect to face than whatever Trump would bring.

I followed Bernie’s revolution even after he was forced out of the race (again, my belief) and was initially heartbroken when he endorsed Hillary. Eventually when he released his statement and I got over my juvenile reaction, I read the entire thing. It read like a chore list that a younger sibling owed to an older sibling – written out – except way more diplomatic.  Or like when your parents would make you apologize to someone but they had to prompt you through the entire thing. It was something like “I know Hillary agrees with our stance on *this* and will do *this* to ensure *it* happens”. As if the whole thing was a list that Bernie was calling Hillary out for being accountable to in public. I was pleased. 

I get it, Trump voters, you had what you saw in your mind was a choice between a big political machine that used tactics as bad as friendly fire to get what it wanted on one side and an extremely inappropriate but more relatable anti-establishment breath of fresh air on the other side. Your choice was made even easier if you were already a Republican – I know how we bipartisan folk can sometimes only think within our own parties, sometimes to our own detriment. 

As for the fervent Trump supporters proudly waving their rebel flags because they believe they invoke the fear of white supremacy – fuck you. Y’all came out in full force and made fools of yourselves – we won’t be forgetting that. I wish I could say “Hey, let’s sit down and talk about why you feel this way, we’re all people on the same human team.” but I have a very strong feeling that it won’t work that way. 

I don’t think we should take a vote for Trump as a vote for all of the stupid shit he said. View a vote for Trump as a cry out for help – what is that voter saying that they aren’t getting from the current government leaders? Start a basic conversation. Think of his voters as potential new allies to your group – allies that needs some patience and education. 

So rather than telling off uncle Jim or unfriending your BFF from back home because they voted for Trump why don’t you message them and ask why. Give them an opportunity to explain. Then ask for the opportunity to explain why his presidency scares you – without lumping them into “the problem”.

To my friends who are Trump voters, I get it. I’m hopeful that if another alternative candidate had been put forward (*cough* Bernie *cough*) you may have seriously considered them. I’m also hopeful that you vehemently oppose Trump’s degrading hate speech and will/do actively speak up for the POC, immigrants, women, differently abled, LGBTQ people around you.

Opportunities for Storytelling

I’ve heard many people say “Oh, you don’t want to hear about me, I’m boring.”

That is a pet peeve of mine. NO ONE is boring. EVERYONE has a story to tell. Even if you’ve led the “typical life” and work the “typical job” and go home to the “typical family”, I know somewhere in there you have had something happen to you that’s an opportunity for storytelling.

Having joined Toastmasters, a great side effect from joining is that in groups of complete strangers at social events, I have something interesting to say now! I can recall some story or weird thing that happened lately that relates to whatever we’re talking about and thanks to my participation in Toastmasters, I can spin it into a compelling story – one that my newly made friends actually enjoy hearing. It’s a pretty neat trick and it certainly beats small talk. I get tired of the “Hi, my name’s Jessie and I so on and so forth and blah and what do you do?”

With that intro, I want to tell you a story about my morning last Wednesday – it was not “typical” or “boring” by any means. . .

I woke up early Wednesday because I had to drive an hour and a half north to go to our Ocala office that day to provide admin support to them.  At around 6:40AM I was brushing my teeth in my pajama shorts and a tank top – my hair was a mess, no makeup on, and I was drooling some toothpaste down the right side of my chin (hey, it was earlier than usual for me!). I heard a knock on my door. I NEVER hear knocks on my door unless I’ve ordered pizza, and even then they ring the doorbell. I have maybe 5 functioning brain cells at this time in the morning so I leave the toothbrush askew in my mouth, walk to the crafty porch area where there’s windows to the street below on the way to my door. I see. . . two cop cars below. Ah, crap. This can’t be good.

I figure it’s likely safe to open my door, it’s got to be a cop and I’m a white female (it’s awful that that checklist exists in my head and actually makes me feel safe) so I do indeed open my door. My apartment is on the second floor, above a garage, and a police officer is already downstairs so I look over the balcony – toothbrush still hanging from my mouth (classy, right?) – and he says “Excuse me miss, did you have a bicycle on your car last night?”

AH CRAP!!!!

“Ah crap!” I said rather garbled through the toothbrush, “I did! It’s been stolen??”

“Well, I have an awesome story for you when you can come down.”

Ok, so now I’m running on maybe 8 brain cells. I only think enough to spit out the toothpaste and wipe off my chin. I didn’t even put on a jacket or an actual shirt. I don’t remember if I even put on glasses, maybe?

 

I get downstairs in my pajamas still, because: 8 brain cells, and talk to an officer. He explains that he has a young guy in the back of his cruiser that he picked up because he was riding around on my bike with what looked like a lot of stolen goods along with another young guy. He was suspicious because my bike is a typical grey bike but with pastel pink, green, and blue straws covering every spoke of the front tire, rainbow beads on the spokes of the back tire, a pink bell on the handle bar, and a rainbow light on the front wheel. So, ok, there may have been some age/gender profiling going on, but. . . my bike is likely not going to belong to a 16 year old male (to be fair, it may not likely belong to a 32-year-old grown-ass adult woman – but hey, I never claimed to be a grown up).

There were two teenagers, riding around my neighborhood, with my bike and backpacks full of random items they stole from cars that had unlocked doors. I live in a “gayborhood” where crime is pretty minimal so I’m assuming people feel relatively safe. I ACCIDENTALLY left my bike on the rack on the back of my car that night after getting home from work. I usually take it down and lock it under my stairs – not that night though!!

The two officers apprehended the boys and the one who stole my bike apparently cooperated quite well, giving out the locations of where he stole several items – including where he stole my bike from! MY PLACE! So the officers and the kids drove around the neighborhood, returning stolen items when they could – eventually getting to my place.

As the officer was explaining this to me, he kept going on about how cool my bike was, this is a grown-ass man – IN A POLICE UNIFORM – telling me how awesome my spoke straws, pink bell, and rainbow light and beads were. Again, I was at maybe 10 brain cells by now. I was still out of it. I had brought my phone down with me, mostly so I could text my coworker that I would be late, this was taking a lot of time, and had I been running on my usual like 10,000 brain cells (I have no idea) I would have removed my standard phone case. I have a Samsung Galaxy J7 which is pretty giant. My phone case is a giant blue unicorn that encompasses the whole thing and then adds another 2 inches with a protruding horn – it’s made of silicone so it’s not a weapon or anything. It’s ridiculous and awesome and it makes me so happy. I forgot the case was on my phone. Mr. Police Officer noticed – suddenly a GIANT BRIGHT LIGHT was shining on my phone when he was exclaiming to the other officer here “HEY [OTHER OFFICER NAME]!!!! CHECK OUT THIS PHONE CASE!!!!!”. He had that giant standard issue cop flashlight shining directly on my giant unicorn phone case. And now, 20 more brain cells came to life.

Finally, the officer heard from another cruiser some blocks away that they had my bike. The officer had said repeatedly how cool my bike was during our 30 minutes together so I offered up that he could ride my bike back to me. I did not think that he would actually do that but – alas – he did. A grown-ass male police officer rode up on my pimped out bike – rainbow light in full effect. Welp, kids, I have now seen it all.

It was a very weird morning indeed.

The officer talking to me has the perpetrator in his cruiser and there’s another kid, the accomplice, in another officer’s cruiser just a few feet away. The officer speaking to me explains that the kid in his cruiser has been picked up and charged multiple times for different offences, he’s been through the system and the process before, and he is likely the product of drug-addicted or absent/neglectful parents. He asks if I want to prosecute. I asked the officer what happens when I say I want to prosecute – what happens to the kid? Does he get offered any sort of program like counseling or intervention? Does he go to juvenile jail? House arrest? What?

I explained to the officer that I used to work with kids on probation who tested positive for substance abuse. I wanted this kid to receive help, not just punishment. I have seen kids like him, not cared for by anyone – schools, parents, family, friends, the system, and they act out like this to get attention – what will be done with him? FOR him?

I have been contemplating what I want to do to help change the world – at least a little corner of it – and I’m taking this incident as a BIG OL’ SIGN that HERE! HELP YOUTHS! HELP AT-RISK TEENS WHO NEED TO BELONG!!!!!!!!!!!!

I decided to prosecute because that will get my words higher up the chain of command and I can change my mind at any time. I am writing a letter to everyone that I can think of, explaining that I’m prosecuting because what other choice is there? What options exist for this young man? What resources are he directed to? How can I as a citizen help?

I feel inspired to do something. I shall figure out the what and the how. I know the who and the why already.

 

This is my phone case, available on Amazon.

41xyja8u8ul

The Danger of Perceived Security

During my business conference an instructor quoted Helen Keller and it struck a chord.

There truly is no such thing as security. My life right now is about trying to build myself up to be as solid as possible – independent from codependency, debt, possessions, and the need for approval. During this time I’m also prepping for that big jump, whatever it may be, so that I’m completely ready to face my fears. I’m open to any and all opportunities because, like Helen Keller alludes to, there is no such thing as a safe bet.

I hope you can find courage in this quote rather than fear. Embrace the fact that in the end, there’s only you and you’ve got to make the most out of that.

 

announcement

Ten Quick Things I Learned from Dr. Tererai Trent*

I just got back from the 2016 National Women’s Leadership Conference* and have returned with more laser-point focus than ever this year. I may have finally stepped far enough outside of my comfort zone to really connect with my tribe of awesome business women (and a couple men).

I still owe travel posts on my trip to DC but. . . this is still fresh at my fingertips so you’ll be reading it hot off the presses!

On the very first day of conference, very first thing in the morning, our speaker was “Oprah’s All-Time Favorite Guest”*, a writer, speaker, scholar, humanitarian, and – I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t mind me calling her this, a total bad ass.  I can’t write up enough to do her justice so read more about Dr. Tererai on her site.

I want to share with you the most poignant points that I took from her powerful talk. Of course I’m paraphrasing and she delivered it with a way better aura of owning it, but since you couldn’t be there, I hope you enjoy these snippets!  If you have a women’s / girl’s organization that utilizes speakers – she is sure to win them over and inspire them in an instant – definitely consider booking her.

Lessons from Dr. Tererai Trent*

Go for the great hunger

Dr. Tererai explained the two different hungers; the little hunger which is what you can resolve immediately like eating, and the great hunger which is more of a purpose like becoming educated. Don’t get lost in the little hungers, keep your focus on your bigger purpose!

bullshitaint-nobody-got-time-for-that

Don’t put up with the bullshit

Ok, this woman was a powerful and charismatic presence, with her accent from Zimbabwe, and the last thing I expected her to say was the word “bullshit” BUT, she did! She explained that where she grew up she could see the little boys being raised to be leaders while the little girls were being raised to be domesticated and she called that out for being exactly what it was, bullshit! She eventually grew to question that, and because of that courage she is now a humanitarian leader and scholar. You call out that bullshit and let it know you’re over it!

Sometimes it’s ok to say bullshit at a business women’s conference

I know this point sounds ridiculous and completely out of context for a general blog post but since it’s MY post and I’M writing it – let me explain.  I ran for a position on the national executive board of my organization in 2015 and I was at-odds the entire year with being completely myself vs. my “business lady-ish” self. The thing is, I swear sometimes. I use slang, I make laser sound effects, I dance – all the time, I have a unicorn phone case, I take stupid selfies, my mom says I have no “solemnity”, and again – I swear. When I was campaigning I would be myself around my campaign team – using “eff” and “ish” because Mary Jane (MJ) is over 70 and I just can’t say the real words around her. But to say “bullshit” on stage???  NO WAY! Let me be clear, Dr. Tererai only said the word twice and with complete deliberateness – and everyone laughed. And let me be clear, I’m not thinking I can go around swearing like a sailor – or that I would want to – I’m just saying, hey, she said bullshit and none of the women over 70 caught fire or walked out, huh, neat!

Say “no” to certain batons

Dr. Tererai told the story of how the “baton” of early, arranged, and abusive marriages in which girls were traded for cows had been handed down from her grandmother’s mother to her grandmother, on down to her mother, and then in turn to her.  This was another point where she used the word bullshit (AWESOME!) and told us that, NO, don’t accept that baton! Or if you have to accept it, make it a little different when you do end up having to pass it down. When you hand that baton down to your daughter, redefine it – make that marriage a chosen marriage, add in being able to get an education. Say NO to the arranged marriage baton in your life. Or if you’ve been stuck with a “bullshit baton”, do everything you can to pass on a better baton to your next generation.

Do not be afraid to fail

Dr. Tererai, who has received an actual Doctorate degree, written a book, built 11 schools in Zimbabwe, and has been the keynote speaker at several super important conferences (like mine!), said it took her EIGHT YEARS of failing her GED tests before she finally passed.  EIGHT YEARS.  If she gave up that first year – that third year – and you KNOW you’d be thinking about giving up after 5 years (I would!) – 5,000 kids in Zimbabwe would be without education right now. Because she stuck with it, undeterred from her failures, she made a big dent in her part of the world.

Tinogona

Tinogona, as Dr. Tererai explained it, means “it is achievable”. If it is something you can dream, it is something you can do. She came from a place of poverty, moved to the United States and continued to live in poverty while pursuing her degree, and through her determination she achieved her goal of higher education – and a whole lot more. It took a lot of work and a lot of time, but she made it happen. If you want to make this your mantra, it was pronounced something like teen-oh-gone-ah, at least that’s what I have in my notes. Double check with the internets.

bullshitaint-nobody-got-time-for-that-1

Leadership is action, not position

AMEN! I wrote this down in all caps and underlined it. I see a lot of people act entitled in certain ways just because they have a title. And I see a lot of people without titles being super bosses without the pay or recognition – and they could care less! Actions speak louder than words and a great leader doesn’t need the placard to inspire others.

Be grateful for what you have

At a point in Dr. Tererai’s higher education she was living in a trailer, working multiple jobs, going to school, and taking care of her kids all at the same time. She told the story of how her kids were getting cavities because the only food she could afford to buy them was processed and not real actual fruits and veggies, which were plentiful back in Rhodesia. One of her professors worked it out with a local grocer that they would leave a box of old fruits and veggies out for her by the door until 5, but at 5 it had to go into the dumpster. She would try to get to the dumpster every day after work by 5 but never made it there in time so she would end up digging out the box. But – she said to herself, “Who am I to complain? I’m getting an education, I have a trailer, these are free fruits and vegetables, I am in America. Who am I to complain?” So. . . think about that next time you’re sad you don’t have beer money until payday.

Do a little ritual with your dreams

If you have a dream, make a big deal out of recognizing it. I do new moon rituals every month. Dr. Tererai buried her dream in a can! She actually wrote a book about it, which my ma bought and Dr. Tererai signed while at the conference. Whatever your dream is, make it even more important with a ritual of some sort – make it your own.

 

and lastly, my favorite. . .

 

Your dreams will have greater meaning when they are tied to the betterment of your community

I don’t think I need to explain this one.

 

*Disclaimer: Absolutely no person, group, or association mentioned above endorses or is likely even aware of my mutterings – do not take this post as an endorsement.