"Love My Way, It's a New Road"

Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

New Etiquette

I had a fun day planned last minute with some Miami girlfriends. Long story, but they were moving, cleaning and the like. I was invited to go along for the ride and hang out by the pool. Delightful.

I planned to wear a mask in an hour long car ride with one GF and maintain my social distancing at all times otherwise. A change of scenery would be nice.

But….we had 2 more Covid cases at work. One is a person I see every day albeit only in passing. I disclosed to my GF. After sleeping on it, she cancelled with me. She was quite apologetic. I reassured her that I was 100% understanding and fully on board with her decision. I didn’t push or question her decision because I don’t want her doing something outside her comfort zone.

Am I disappointed? Of course! It would have been a fun day. Am I upset with her? Not one bit. I get it.

This pandemic has caused a shift in social norms. I have written about my own reluctance to hang out with friends. In my case, my reluctance avoided a day spent with 2 dear friends who had COVID and just didn’t know it at the time. So when my GF un-invites me, I get it. I have been in her shoes. Trust your gut.

I don’t understand people who want to push their agenda on others. I hear/read stories of people being pressured to gather at social events. It’s one thing if it’s your choice, but hopefully societal norms are shifting to allow people to speak up and step back. No more being too nice and accommodating!

Test Results are In

The news have been full of woes about COVID testing, but I have to say my experience wasn’t that bad. I got a text 2 business days and 4 actual days from my test date.

I waited until I got a second text days later because I didn’t recognize the company texting me. I googled them and said, “Crap, this could be my test results”. They do need to do better on that part of things. Anyway, my test came back (drumroll…) negative. Hallelujah!

However, my work colleague (who is also a dear friend) came back positive. She’s the one who is also a kidney donor. She felt crappy one weekend, has had an upset stomach, only ran a fever for 2-3 days. She is lucky it appears.

COVID is a very strange virus. Her hubby got it at work – both his boss and a coworker tested positive. The coworker was briefly hospitalized. The hubby, by the time he tested, came out negative. He had mild symptoms, mostly digestive.

With Florida spiraling out of control, we are seeing/hearing more cases at work. People have fled back to work from home, thankfully. This leaves fewer people in the office. I am now mask on all day, eat lunch outside, use only one bathroom and really minimize my movement around the building. That is all I can control.

I got my hair cut today (mask on, temp check, etc). My stylist is very careful and sanitizes the area, mask, gloves. But people around her and me for that matter aren’t. Young man comes in for his haircut and only puts a mask on when told to do so and then wears it under his nose. Maskhole. A barber waltzes in and doesn’t have his mask on. He dumps his bag on his chair and heads back up front. I don’t know if they checked his temp. He too is a maskhole wearing his mask under his nose. WTF. I held my tongue because the owner was right there and had told the young customer to mask up. The barber had no excuse.

My young stylist tells me her very young roommate who just moved down to SFLA got COVID. This caused my stylist to flee her own apartment for two weeks. Apparently the roommate was quite sick. She was and is running around on Tinder dates, partying in Ft Lauderdale. What is wrong with people? Sigh.

Once again, this is not something I can control, so I will let it go. I will keep my focus on the things I can control. Thus here I sit at home, safe with a really cute haircut.

Birthday Reflections

My best writing and thinking takes place early in the morning with a cup of coffee for company.  I wrote all of this while on vacation and am just getting around to transcribing and editing my handwritten notes.

I had a lazy day on the couch during my vacation.  I simply vegged either in front of the TV or on the front porch with a book in my lap.  I think it was because my mind was examining some big questions and needed the time and space.  Here are some of the topics I examined:

  • The repercussions of being single with limited nearby friends during a pandemic.  This issue has resolved itself somewhat.  Friends, family and coworkers have stepped up to volunteer assistance should I need it.  I am blessed and thankful.
  • Now that cases are escalating exponentially, working in the office, even with a mask is a bit fraught to say the least.  No shit, Sherlock.  I wrote this BEFORE I realized I might have been exposed and before Florida hit over 15K cases in a single day.
  • Vacations for the next few years will be limited for many reasons.  I do not see myself flying anywhere unless there is a damn good reason.  Rats because I yearn to travel.
  • What and where will retirement look like for me?  That is always a question for me.  I like to plan and this is the biggest unknown for me.  My pragmatic side hates the uncertainty of this.  I just need to accept that I have limited control over this.  I need to identify what I can control and focus on those things.  A topic for another post.
  • Can I handle a decade of my boss who can be a handful on occasion?  This is looking like it will be my last full-time job if all goes well.  I believe the answer is yes.  Everyone has their moments of questioning their employment.  Will the company navigate this recession successfully and without major layoffs?  Too soon to say….

I wrote all of this as I sat outside on the front porch of my parents’ mountain home.  It was a beautiful morning.  I listened to the birds and watched the chipmunks scurry around the yard.  I turned 56 this year.  I am pensive because I am on the downhill slide to 60.  LOL.

I have a decade of full-time work left in me, hopefully.  A decade to save and plan my retirement.  A decade to make a home in my new community so I can decide if I stay or leave during my golden years.

I am happy having my free time be for just me.  I am happy to be doing little to no compromising these days.  It is a first in my life.  I have spent a lifetime compromising and letting loved ones’ needs come before my own. 

Birthdays are a great time for reflection.  50 years ago I was a young girl living about 2 hours from this mountain home.  My parents were in the midst of splitting up.  My mom had a breakdown and was hospitalized for a few days.  My dad was having an affair with his now current wife of almost 50 years. It was 1970 and all the adults in my life were acting in self-centered ways to the detriment of me and my older brother.  My mom was a borderline personality.  She claimed their psychiatrist labeled my dad a sociopath.  Let’s not get hung up on labels and let’s just generalize it and call them both selfish.

The result of selfish parents, for me, was to counter balance with over-giving.  I have always given too much.  Too much time doing for others, too much time putting others before me, too much time for futile causes, too much money for others rather than saving for myself, too much, too much.

Now I am learning to value myself and my time.  I am learning the value of no and boundaries.  It is a bit uncomfortable to express those boundaries, but each time I flex that muscle, it becomes stronger and easier.  I look forward to it becoming more effortless and less guilt and anxiety producing.  When I first wrote out the previous sentence, I wrote it as a limiting belief “I am never going to think…”.  As I transcribed my handwritten notes, I recognized the limiting belief.  That is a minor victory!

I feel safe these days.  I feel like I have navigated my little lifeboat into a tiny, safe harbor while a storm of catastrophic proportions rages around me.  I feel small when looking at the vastness of chaos all around me. I know this single year of 2020 is a turning point in history, yet I will carry on having normal days of work and home.  I am very fortunate.

I also feel incredibly fortunate to have my little boat safely anchored.  I now longer strive to have trappings of success like expensive clothes, car and a fancier home. Minimal suits me far better. I am happy in my cozy oasis of an apartment.  I may decide to redecorate.  I need to do something with my grandmother’s dining room set.  I think I will get it refinished.  Maybe change the seat covers even though she needlepointed them all.  Perhaps I will frame them instead or just store them for the kids. Fewer belongings mean fewer ties and responsibilities.

I have led an incredibly interesting life compared to many.  Yes, I know many others who are even more interesting and that’s fine. I am no longer competing.  I am content to realize I will always have a story, an experience, an understanding for almost any conversation.  That is an accomplishment.  I also have learned to be a good listener and appreciate the stories and experiences of others.

I have kids who are simply amazing.  I listened, on vacation, to my son’s friend tell him how amazing my son is for living in Asia for a year.  What an accomplishment that few people have achieved.  My son felt and looked rejuvenated and recharged from this vacation.  He needed it as much, if not more, than me.

My daughter is in a league of her own.  Finding her soul mate has made her journey easier.  Their communication with each other is light years ahead of my relationship communication.  She is still wrestling with conforming to society norms.  I continue to encourage her to follow her heart without guilt.  What do I mean by that?

For example, she has discovered she doesn’t like to teach.  I get it.  Her patience is a precious commodity.  She feels guilty because her residency program has encouraged her to teach others, but it is not in her DNA.  I asked her how many doctors of her specialty teach and she responded less than 20%. I replied that her mentors knew from the beginning that the odds were against them for her to teach.  I said she shouldn’t sweat it. 

Perspective – perhaps that is my best gift to friends and family.  I offer gentle perspective when appropriate.  Blunt, but I also hold back at times.  It is a nuanced diplomacy that I have been blessed with.

There you have it.  Maggie’s morning reflections on a porch swing with delicious coffee….

Photo by Jeb Buchman on Unsplash

Lonely

Things are wearing on me again. I miss simple things like dining out, drinks at a bar, meeting people. I feel very alone today. I need friends in my new town. Phone calls with friends and loved ones aren’t quite cutting it.

My goal for 2020 was to make some new girlfriends. I joined some Meetup groups and thought one in particular would do the trick. Then the pandemic hit and that plan is shelved for now. Sigh.

My folks at work cannot fill this social void. They are very nice, but keep work and home separated. I understand and agree with that. I could do some Zoom meetups but those don’t fill the void.

I went on a preliminary expedition to check out some new neighborhoods and came to the realization that I simply should not move. At least not now. My spot is centrally located and I need to let things settle down. I need the pandemic to subside, I need time to settle into this area. I was being impulsive. I was hoping to solve this loneliness issue by relocating – running from my problem rather than confronting it head on.

Plus I am pulling away from the Hunter and it hurts both of us. He is hurt and that makes me so sad to cause him pain. I can’t explain myself without causing further hurt, so I retreat. It’s awkward, sad and confusing for both of us. He told me I broke his heart when I told him I had plans to see my family over July 4th weekend. It makes me sad to hurt him, but I am not changing my plans.

I managed to drop my iPhone and destroy it. I’m trying to back it up onto the cloud before sending it off to the cell phone graveyard. Now I am out $500 to buy a new one. Yep, no insurance, but I am not a big believer in phone insurance. I just did some math on this fiasco and I would have broken even with the insurance. I’ll invest in a good case this time.

The only good thing about this weekend is my haircut and color. Yippee!

Anyway, I’m moping around. It’s been a gray, dismal day which perfectly matches my mood.

Here & Now

What’s missing? That is the feeling that has been rattling around in the back of my mind.  It didn’t materialize until I put pen to paper.  What is missing these days?

The answer for me is social occasions.  Forming new friendships with women in my new town.  That was my top 2020 goal and now a formidable one.

I am not lonely, but I do want to broaden my social circles.  My Zoom Toastmasters helps.  I did a pleasant Zoom Meetup with a women’s group.  We had 5 on the call and it was nice.  I had been seeing the Hunter every weekend. I talk to my kids frequently and check in with my dad and BFF weekly.  Plus I have an office of friendly coworkers for idle chitchat and lunch. I cannot complain.

However, I am looking 10 years out to my retirement.  Holy shit, I only have about 10-14 years to go.  Crap, I am getting old.  What is my retirement going to look like?  Will I move close to Taz to help her with the grandkids?  My dad advocates for that.  I am happy to help.  I would love to do something like help run the marketing for her medical practice or help oversee the management side of things.  That would keep me busy, but that is the future.  What is here and now?

Here and now is no Meetups, no clubs, no concerts, no festivals, no beach, etc.  Here and now is a brilliantly beautiful day with cool air wafting on my bare legs.  Birds chirping, traffic humming past.  Here and now is a delicious cup of coffee.

Instead of searching for the missing, let me have a moment of pure gratitude.  I am so grateful for everything I have:

  • My kids – they are wonderful, accomplished and a source of joy, not grief or angst.
  • My cozy apartment – it’s cute, perfect for me.  It has nice, upgraded appliances,  granite countertops, a nice balcony with a pleasant view.  My apartment is filled with decor and furniture I selected.  It is a trifle eclectic, but very comfortable and I like it.
  • My job and steady paycheck – something I will never take for granted.
  • My health – I am strong, healthy with absolutely no issues other than my weight.  My thyroid may be a bit wonky, but I am taking no medications and feel great.
  • Friends and family – I have people in my life who love me and who I love in return. No drama – what a blessing.

I am so incredibly lucky and blessed.  My only debt is my car, which is very manageable and soon to be paid off.  This time last year I was in such a panic.  I had over $40K of debt and little income.  I was praying night & day that I would get this job because there was nothing else in sight.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  All I know is that today is a blessing and I am happy with all that I have.  I need to remain present and not fret about the future.  I am missing nothing, not a damn thing.

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True Colors

I sent Taz and her hubby an Easter card.  Here’s what I wrote:

Oftentimes it is during times of struggle that we learn more about ourselves and our relationships.  It also peels back the layers and shows a person’s true self. The two of you are showing your bravery, love, humor and so much more.  Stay strong and know that you both are cushioned and surrounded by the strong love of your friends and family.

Their friends and family are rallying around them.  One of Taz’s BFF from high school works for a name brand spirits company.  She sent a serious care package of top shelf vodka.  Others have laid their hands on precious Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer which they have sent to Taz.

After listening to Taz talk about her decontamination protocol, I sent her 15 pounds of baby wipes.  I scored big at Target at 8:00 am this week.  I was allowed one package, so I chose the one with 750 wipes inside.  She uses a hospital disinfectant as she changes her scrubs, but she is wiping her face and other things with Neutrogena wipes because that is all she has at the moment.  That freaked me out which then caused the Target run because I feel like I have to do something.  I have offered hand sanitizer made by a local distiller because she can add it to a spray bottle to spray on the wipes.  She demurred saying that what I was sending was what they needed.

But the message I wrote to them applies to all of us.  How are we handling this crisis  shows our true self.  I am still trying to control and contribute, so I attack it with gifts and actions.  Thus far I have:

  • Sent oranges to Taz, my parents and my son
  • Bought and sent Taz disposable coveralls and safety glasses I found at Home Depot
  • The aforementioned 15 pounds of baby wipes for Taz
  • Bought the Hunter a rice cooker for Easter because he needs one
  • Bought my son an Instant Pot to perk him up for Easter.  He needs a little boost because he has been inside for so long.
  • Bought 6 cloth masks from three different sources – some for me, some for loved ones

The above is all my retail actions because I am an over-buyer, so if I can buy something to fix a problem, look out!  This doesn’t even include all my grocery shopping so I can huddle up at home, my DIY hand sanitizer for me and more.  For morale support, I am

  • Talking to friends and family at least every other day.
  • Helped my dad register for grocery curb side pick up and delivery with his local grocery store
  • Discussed financial options with my son on various scenarios he will be facing.
  • Talked to the Hunter about his business and his situation
  • Emailed cousins about their situation (including the ones who just lost my uncle).

One pending action item is to donate blood.  The US is having a blood shortage, so I will be heading to my local organization to donate blood.  It will be for Taz and all the other healthcare workers out on the front line.  I plan to continue donating throughout this shit show and perhaps longer.  I just heard an NPR story about a 90-something woman who donated 20 GALLONS over her life time.  She finally stopped in her 80’s because the blood bank convinced her she had done enough.  Now that is a worthy contribution.

True colors, my Dear Readers.  We are having the moral, physical, psychological, relationship test of a lifetime.  All of us will have low moments, but who will have a shining moment?  Will all of us do what we can to help?  Will we quarantine and be bored out of skulls to save the greater good?  Will we be supportive of loved ones and neighbors?  This is our test.  I am hoping for a better than passing grade. How about you?

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Alternate Reality

My new normal for now is so strange.  All of my great healthy habits are slipping.  My gym is closed, my 5K is canceled.  I am staying up an hour or so later, so I wake up later.

I can’t really exercise in the early morning.  Maybe I can if I did some workouts in my apartment.  I miss my gym, so I need to regroup and keep going.

I have continued to lose weight.  I am averaging 0.64 pounds a week so I have lost over 10 pounds since January.  I have trimmed down inches all over as well.  My clothes fit better.  I have two pairs of jeans I bought for the holidays that are so big now I can slip them off without unzipping them.  VICTORY!  I don’t feel like I am dieting which is good.  I am simply making better decisions and cooking my own food, so my diet is much healthier. It will be really healthy for the next two weeks since I have a bunch of fresh veggies and limited protein.  I need to blanch and freeze the veggies so they do not go bad.  Food cannot be wasted these days.   An example of my new healthy ways is before turning on the laptop, I thought about making something sweet.  Naw, too much trouble and it’s getting to late to be eating.  Extra calories avoided through sheer laziness.

I do need to get out of my head a bit more.  Read more, get outside to exercise.  Summer is coming which means soon we Floridians will retreat inside to escape the brutal heat (and giant mosquitoes that sometimes carry Zika)  This will especially be the case since we won’t have pools or beaches for the foreseeable future.  Ugh.

Tonight I talked to two girlfriends.  One has a son in Brooklyn – sigh.  She is facing unemployment as her profession has dried up due to COVID.  Her spirits were good, but she is worried primarily about her family.  The other is happily unemployed from the insurance world and watching that world crumple along with everyone else.  I called my son who is facing a rapidly changing world.  His grad school is now online.  The foundation that he is interning with just learned that a major source of their funding has evaporated completely.  He will be fine, but he may not know that yet.  I told him just to focus on school.

When I was talking to one of my girlfriends, I described what we need to do for the next 4-6 weeks as “surfing the tsunami”.  We just need to ride the gigantic wave of awfulness that is approaching us and stay afloat.   This COVID situation is stripping away everyone’s mask.  The greedy, the panicky, the noble, the scum, the desperate, the calm.  Everyone’s mask is being stripped away and true colors are being exposed.  So what’s next?  Time will tell when we have finished surfing the tsunami.  For now, we have to come to terms with our new alternate reality.

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Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

Pause

I am pooped.  I have kept up a 5-day a week workout routine, meal prepping each weekend, and a steady social calendar with 2+ events a week for two months.  It has worn me out to be honest.  Here I sit on Sunday night with no meal prepping, no laundry, no house cleaning (this is my scheduled weekend) and nothing particularly productive to show for myself.

The Hunter came over Saturday night and we made a great dinner, smoked a little weed, had a fabulous romp and all around fun evening.  Then we got up somewhat early to take a hike and then a long drive around the woods.  The day was mild and beautiful so it was wonderful being outdoors.  However, when we returned, we both were worn out.

I am getting plenty of sleep, my diet (until the past 24 hours) has been healthy and plant-heavy.  I am moving my body regularly and we can see results.  I think I worked my poor abs too hard this week and it made me feel like I had a stomach ache for two days.  LOL.  Getting old sucks.

Part of me has been wanting a break from all this healthy stuff.  I made a chocolate cake from scratch for the Hunter and ended up eating more than he did.  Sigh.  I challenged myself to eat from my freezer for February and that has been quite successful in using up a bunch of stuff.  I am just tired.  Tired of going to work every day, tired of cooking, tired of the same old, same old.  I need a little break.  I am not unhappy with my routines, I just want a little variety perhaps.

My meetups have been a lot of fun.  I did a Trivia night where I found people far smarter than me, I went painting with girls from work and that was fun.  I have never painted a picture and I really enjoyed it.  This week I am having dinner with a girlfriend, a work dinner and a Saturday horse show.  I think I have one more outing.  That is more than enough.

I think what I am looking for is some balance.  I am close to having it, but I am not quite there.  I still have paperwork to be done, photos to be sorted and basic drudgery (LOL). When I get home in the evenings after work, I am simply not in the mood. I am tuckered out and just want to veg.

The good news is I am finding social things to do and plenty of them.  I think that friends will follow as I continue with these groups.  This is a major 2020 goal and I am making progress.  I am making great progress with my exercise routine.  I have made serious inroads on my health check-ups.  My general physical, blood work and gyn checkup are completed.  I have my mammogram scheduled and next up are the optometrist and dermatologist.

Gee whiz, it’s only February and I am kicking butt.  No wonder I am pooped.  Once again, I just need to be patient.  Patient with settling into my new life and developing new routines, patient with when I run out of steam and just general patience with me overall. I think an early bedtime this week will do me a world of good.  Sweet dreams….

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Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Vision Board Party

Good grief — PEOPLE!!  They continue to astonish me.

I was 20 minutes from the start of my Vision Board party when it because clear that I was going to only have ONE PERSON out of the TEN I invited was showing up.  Was I pissed?  Yes, a bit.

Pissed at two cancellations that occurred about an hour from the start.  Annoyed at the other person who cancelled at 8:30 the night before and another who cancelled on Friday.  Plus add in the five who didn’t even acknowledge their invitation or a follow up email.

There I sat all ready to go.  Food and drink purchased.  A simple but elegant spread prepared, a table laid out with scissors, vision boards, glue sticks, etc.  It was so frustrating.  I wasn’t sad which I found remarkable.  I give myself massive kudos for not giving up and having a pity party for one.  I didn’t cry or curl up in my bed in the fetal position.

I realized that it wasn’t me.  It was them.  I toyed with the idea of cancelling completely, but I said “fuck it.”  I called my one guest and explained the situation.  She was the realtor and co-worker who helped me find this place, so she still wanted to come by.

I was hopeful perhaps a few non-responders would surprise me, but they didn’t. It was just me and M.  We drank a bottle of champagne, noshed on the delicious food and chattered away for a couple of hours.  Our vision boards are fabulous.  I had a wonderful afternoon in spite of the no-shows.

That is a lesson in itself.  I didn’t allow myself to wallow in self-pity.  I didn’t blame myself.  I forged ahead with what life gave me and it worked out just fine. I drank a lovely bottle of champagne with my guest and I feel good.

Now, what do I say to the non-attendees if they say something?  Do I tell them to truth and let them feel uncomfortable for standing me up?  My first thought was to be graceful and fib a little, but no, I am not going to.  If they feel awkward, then that’s on them.

Perhaps that’s the other lesson to learn from today — forgiveness.  I am sorry they couldn’t make it today, but you know what?  It did not ruin my day.  I enjoyed it regardless.  I am so terribly proud of myself for that.

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Photo by Deleece Cook on Unsplash

Wanna be a Rock Star?

I had a surprise visit from my BFF.  She had a job interview in my neck of the woods, so we grabbed a last minute drink.

She insisted on a particular spot — a high-end restaurant she recalled from several years ago.  As we chatted, it began filling with regulars and the bartenders catered to those.  My BFF is back on the prowl for a rich man, but this spot was too old and all couples.

Our conversation was interesting in retrospect.  I was a bit put off by it and felt unsettled both during and afterwards.  My defenses were up as my BFF launched an almost full assault on my current life and choices.

She inquired about my goals, any career growth plans, what growth potential does my current job hold, etc.   Then she segued into my relationship with the Hunter.  Was I going to move back in with him eventually or break it off?  Did I not think I could find a man who would take care of me financially and that I would want to live with?  She had no contentment with my status quo.

This conversation was all done in a seemingly loving friendly way designed to push me forward.  I left our get-together feeling unhappy and unsettled.  The day had started with me dancing nekkid around my apartment and ended with me in a gloomy self-reflection.  Oh, watching that Jeffrey Epstein special did not help.

As I sat back and thought about it, I realized some very key points:

  • All this push for me to achieve is really about my BFF’s perception and definition of success.  She wants to earn $1 million and she is perfectly capable of it.  I don’t.  Just hand me a winning lottery ticket instead.
  • She ties happiness to money.  I no longer believe that lots of money equals happiness.  I believe that a stress-free work environment and a simple lifestyle frees me to be happy,
  • She is still struggling to come to terms with her early workaholic life choices that resulted in no marriage and no kids.  She wanted both.  She is still looking for a marriage to a rich guy who would take care of her.  I get it.  She has spent her entire adulthood being solely responsible for herself.  However, I had the long marriage and kids plus I don’t need nor want a man to take care of me.  I explained that I have zero desire to take care of anything — even a plant is a bit more of a commitment than I am willing to make.

I woke up the next morning and realized that this evening was about her, not me.  She may have thought she was turning the spotlight on me, but it really wasn’t.

When she pushed me on my 2020 goals, I explained that I had no big reaches because I had made so many changes in 2019.  2020 is a coasting year for me. A year to sink into the reality of all my 2019 changes.  Yes, I made a 20 for 2020 list, but there is nothing earth-shattering on it.

My doubts are gone.  She is still looking to be the rock star.  God bless her and I fervently hope she gets there.  I am happy to be in the audience singing along and flicking my lighter.

Not all of us will be rock stars.  The vast majority of us are not and that is perfectly OK.  That may be my biggest lesson of 2019.  You don’t have to be the lead singer.  You don’t even have to be part of a successful band.  You can be in the audience and just as happy with your life.  It’s OK.

So I sit here in my simple apartment with the crockpot brewing my week’s meal prep.  I spent the weekend scrubbing down my little abode, running errands, working on my taxes and bills.  I went to a small art festival with another GF.  Guess what — all of this makes me happy.

In my mind, I am a rock star.  It’s just that my stage is smaller.  That’s all that matters to me.

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Photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

 

 

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