A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

bad juju August 26, 2014

Filed under: kindness toward me — courtsbrogno @ 12:06 pm

I realize I’ve spent most of my adult life wondering why I am still single, why I can’t seem to have a healthy relationship and working very hard to get my shit together, aka getting a good therapist to help me work out my issues.

And all this work has been immensely helpful. I am such a better version of myself. Yes, I still have work to do, but don’t we all? The question still persists in my mind though: why am I still single.

I think I’ve found the answer.

Bad juju.

You see, a few weeks ago I was talking with a friend and she commented on how pretty my ring was. I told her that my Aunt Linda gave gave it to me, that actually she took her wedding ring and used the diamonds to make herself, my sister, and I all the same, matching ring. I’ve been wearing it everyday since I received it.

“Did you smudge it first?” she asked.

I had no idea what she was talking about.

She then explained that gems, in particular, carry the energy from their past owner and that before they’re re-worn they need to to be smudged in a lengthy (though I guess you can find out how to do this on youtube) ceremony involving sage, usually white sage.

Whatever, I thought, I don’t believe in such mystic shit.

Then the other night I was at my mom’s house for dinner with my dad and Aunt Judy, who is visiting from New Jersey. My aunt asked if she could give Maddie some diamond earrings. I thought about it and said it was fine as I had received my first pair of diamond earrings from my great-grandma when I turned 12, which I still have and still wear. My mom then asked if I still had my other great grandma’s ring–a ring my mom had made for me a my sister (again, matching) from an old diamond ring of my great-grandmother’s years ago. I explained that while I did wear that ring religiously for years, I put it away when I received the ring from my Aunt Linda.

Then, remembering the conversation with my friend, I broached the subject of bad juju in gems.

To which my mother and aunt both looked at me horrified and said, “you’ve never had them blessed by a priest? But you must! Gems carry energy!”

Well, if I haven’t smudged my rings then I definitely haven’t had them blessed by a priest. I also thought, Am I the only one who’s never heard of this?

Slowly, my mind started thinking of the rings and earrings I’ve inherited. My Aunt Linda’s ring came from a wedding that ended in a bad divorce. My great-grandmother’s diamond earrings she wore–and she was married like 3 times. The ring from my other great-grandmother, I actually have no idea if she wore a lot, but both her husbands died. She had been, sadly, unlucky in love.

I actually started to panic a little and realized: Maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s bad juju. And my mom’s side of the family has fucked me!

So my dad, ever the pragmatic, said, “Here. Let’s try this. Give me your ring for a month and see if your luck changes. The you’ll know.”

So I took off my ring and told my dad to keep it somewhere safe, but my mom and Aunt Judy banished it to the garage–just in case.

I mentioned how naked my finger felt. I’ve had a family ring on that finger for decades.

Aunt Judy excused herself and came back with a ring for me. She said, “This was Nana Ann’s ring (my grandma on my dad’s side) and she had a great marriage. There’s no bad juju in this ring.”

It’s a beautiful ring, and I’ve been wearing it since Sunday now:

 

 

photo

 

But I might scrub it nonetheless or at least drop it in some holy water at the mission. Nana Ann might have had a great marriage, but who knows what secrets she held.

This seems crazy I know, but I’ll let you know what happens in a month. I mean, it really can’t hurt.

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an irish blessing (of sorts) June 14, 2011

Filed under: family fun,friends,kids,kindness toward me — courtsbrogno @ 8:44 pm

I have always loved the famous Irish blessing:

In this same spirit, and after having a week of many blessings, I’ve created my own Irish blessing for you. Well, an Irish blessing of sorts.

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May there always be preschool graduations. Because they are just so damn cute. My niece Cate graduated from preschool this past week, and seeing twenty 3 year-olds on stage singing and dancing, some enthusiastically and some frightened,  is akin to God smiling on every person in attendance.

And, during the course of a preschool graduation, may you have a son who has no self-awareness nor inhibitions; thus,  while Cate is on stage said son screams, “Hi Cate. That’s Cate. Hi Cate. Hi Cate,” while frantically waving his arms.

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May you live in a town with many places to hike and surround yourself with nature. I know it may seem redundant that I always hike, perhaps even boring, but it’s the one thing I love second to my kids. And I’ve been exploring different treks lately, stepping out of my norm.

May your hikes be abundant with foliage, trees, wildflowers, beautiful views, and cows close enough to pet!

May you always have a good friend to hike with, like my friend Leslie.

May you have a good-natured daughter who will begrudgingly hike with you because even though she hates the exertion to reach the top, she loves the accomplishment and the descent.

May you always, always, always push to the top no matter how much you want to give up. Because it’s always worth it.

And may you never, ever be proud and arrogant when encountering poison oak and exclaim with pride, “I never get poison oak.” And then rub it in to all your friend who DO get poison oak. Because the universe is funny that way and even though you may have trekked through poison oak many a times, you will be kicked in your prideful ass when luck catches up with you and you awake one morning to find your ankle covered in poison oak. You will be humbled and shamed and incredibly itchy.

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May you have a good friend, like my friend Mel, who has a HUGE backyard and invites you over so your kids can play. I mean, I love Mel, but I really LOVE her backyard.

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May you always take time from your week to spend some one-on-one with your kids. Like walking downtown with Luke to get ice cream on a warm day and then going to the bookstore. Happiness on every level.

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May you have a friend who needs a date to a wedding and asks you. Cause then you get free food, free drinks, some dancing, and generally just have a great time. But more importantly, you get to witness a couple starting their lives together with hopes and dreams of being better together. I’m a cynic when it comes to this, but let me just say, this couple was not only cute, but seriously in love and committed to each other and their families were supportive and the speeches made me tear up. Thanks to my friend Adam for bringing me along.

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May you have incredibly intelligent friends in your life to make you feel smarter just by being around them. Tasha, my dear, dear friend whom I miss daily (daily!) came down for just a few hours and I got to see her for just a short hour, which was not enough. The reason she drove all the way down from San Francisco though is because her Master’s thesis won Outstanding Thesis of the Year award!!!! That is amazing, especially since she lived with me the whole time she was writing it, and I still couldn’t tell you exactly what it’s about (feeding cells, feeding cells is all I understand and even then I just picture Pac Man). I told you she was smart–off the charts!

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May you never have a friend who battles cancer, but if you do may your friend be like the indomitable Colleen!

Colleen left this week for Seattle where she will be having another round of radiation on her brain at a metropolitan hospital that specializes in this. She will be surrounded by a team of neurosurgeons and oncologists, and I have complete confidence that this will be the last treatment she will need and will finally kick this cancer in its ass. But, let’s be honest, the last time she did radiation, it wasn’t bad at all, but she was also at a level 2. In Seattle, her radiation will be at a level 18. So send prayers, whatever your religion or faith, for an easy treatment and an end to this cancer.

Because Colleen and her family will be in Seattle for almost the entire summer, Colleen’s friend Katrina arranged a surprise birthday party for her daughter, Scarlet (Scarlet’s birthday is in July). Keeping a secret with this many moms and kids seemed impossible, but Colleen was surprised!!! Our good friend Matt was in town and since he’s a singer/songwriter of children’s songs, he played for all the kids. The party was a great success and a good way to send Colleen off to Seattle–with lots of love and support.

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May you have people in your life that love your kids almost as much as you do and support you in every way imaginable. And may you always cook them dinner in return. Like I said, my good friend Matt popped into town and I had him, Steve, and my sister over for dinner. It’s obvious how much my sister does for me (A LOT) and it’s also pretty clear how much Steve is a part of our lives, but since Matt moved away, we only see him about twice a year. Which is definitely not enough, but I’m still thankful for it. Because when he’s here, he’s hanging out with my kids, downloading new music on my computer, singing songs, and generally trying to cram in a year’s worth of love in just a few short days. My God, do we just love him. And Steve. And my sister. I’ll cook them dinners for the rest of their lives for all they’ve done for me. With friends and family like this, I never feel alone.

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May you have a couple of guy friends to drink beers with and eat greasy food and tell amazingly funny stories when you really should be grading but can’t focus and need to take a break. That’s right, I couldn’t stand reading one more essay and so I went out for beers with my friends Joe and Tim. We had a good time. they had good stories to share.

And if you decide to keep the party going, and wander over to a friend’s house, a friend who likes to be called, “the nicest guy in town,” and whom I like to call “ONE of the nicest guys in town,” and in the middle of a conversation you feel the slight churn of your stomach and you silently count how many beers you had and realize you may have had ONE too many, and then have to bolt, mid-sentence, to the bathroom to vomit…
…may you have  friend like mine to hold your hair, pat your back, flush the toilet, give you his toothbrush, and tell you that there is no shame in puking, for that’s what toilets are for.

Oh, but yes, there is shame in this. I’m pretty sure I walked home with my head hung low. But in my friend’s own words, “You puked then made an instant recovery. No tears, no loud yodeling exhale. You’re a natural. You should do it more often.”

I did make an instant recovery and bought him a new toothbrush, but I also learned an important lesson:

May you know your limit.

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Finally, may you have a job that rewards you in a million little ways even when you’re cursing all the late nights and busy weekends and low pay. A job like mine. Where the biggest reward is finishing grading, pleased that everyone passed, and then getting emails from a few students wishing me a good summer and thanking me for the class. All the hard work, all the hand cramps from writing comments…it all seems so worth it in the end.

Oh, I lied. The biggest reward is having summers OFF!

And not having to look at this:

Let summer begin!

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An Irish blessing, like any other blessing, only holds as much fortune as we allow, but this week has been so full of blessings that I feel like every minute made an impact on who I am; perhaps more who I’m becoming.

Becoming me. Becoming myself.

Comfortable and happy.

Now, for another real Irish blessing. The best I’ve ever read:

May your joys be as bright as the morning, and your sorrows merely be shadows that fade in the sunlight of love. May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet, enough trials to keep you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to keep you happy, enough failure to keep you humble, enough success to keep you eager, enough friends to give you comfort, enough faith and courage in yourself to banish sadness, enough wealth to meet your needs and one thing more; enough determination to make each day a wonderful day than the one before.

 

coming down the mountain May 17, 2011

Filed under: family fun,favorites,friends,kindness toward me — courtsbrogno @ 7:45 pm

On Friday, I was tired. No really I was exhausted. But I didn’t have the kids, and I felt like a hike. I took my dog, a bottle of water, and headed up the mountain. Only a quarter of a mile in, I stopped. My body felt depleted of energy, my soul seemed sapped, my mind was on overload. I thought about turning around. But instead, I forged my way up, trying to appreciate the burn in my legs, fighting the exhaustion in my mind and body. By the time I reached the top, and watched the evening fog rolling over the mountains, I felt at ease, in every possible way, and thankful.

This week has been a series of ups and downs. Just like climbing the mountain, there were times that felt strenuous and not worth it. But following through, going to the top (or in some cases, just close enough), made the week’s adventures worth the hard work.

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My collaborative meeting group ended last week with a big dinner where we discussed all we had learned and how thankful we were for the opportunity to get together, become friends, and improve not only our teaching skills, but our professional development as well. This group has been amazing in every possible way, but it’s been incredibly exhausting as well. We kept ourselves on task and assigned readings and little assignments to keep every member engaged. There were times I walked in so exhausted, I believe everything that came out of my mouth sounded like nonsense. Teaching a full load, having 2 kids, arranging babysitters to meet from 7-9 in the evening was taxing at times. But the benefit, the end result, was so very worth every late night. I know I’m going to miss this group an incredible amount, but I also know that we all need a well-deserved break.

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My sister’s son, Braden, had a birthday this past week as well. It was one of the most successful birthday parties I’ve ever been to. She made it simple (though, to me, it looked rather complicated) by having a bunch of kids meet at a park after school for a game of baseball. Then there was pizza and cake. I really think Braden had the absolute best time of his life. In fact, every kid seemed to be having the time of their lives. Braden was in his element, surrounded by friends and family who love him so much. He’s a pretty amazing little guy (actually, a pretty amazing BIG guy now) and it was so much fun to celebrate this new year with him.

The only problem, for me at least, is that as soon as I got into my car at 4 to drive out to the party, I almost wanted to weep from exhaustion. I couldn’t even fathom how I was going to be a good aunt, a fun parent, an involved friend, when visions of my bed and pajamas were running through my head. It had been a long day, full of grading and lecturing, but the moment I arrived at the party, my whole mood lifted. Sure, I didn’t talk to many parents and spent most of my time pushing Luke on the swings, but to see 3-6 year olds running all over the place, having so much fun, made it impossible to feel tired or even sorry for myself. And I had fun. And the pizza was good. And the cake was better. And I’m thankful for Braden.

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Friday night, I though about all the grading I had to do and my serious intentions of staying home, taking a bath, and just giving myself a quiet night. But since my hike refreshed me, I let my friend Jenn convince me to go to a rugby game with her. It was a pretty big game as our town’s team was playing against a team from Scotland.

I’ve never watched a rugby game, and I don’t know the rules, and while I’ve heard that the “only rule in rugby is there are no rules,” I’m going to beg to differ. There seem to be a lot of rules, and once someone explained to me what they were, I could at least follow the game a bit more, though it still seemed to make no sense. Weird huddles, full-on violence, singing at the end: it was an experience. An experience that I enjoyed so very much. And even though the teams seem to battle it out on the field (brutally), they have such respect for each other. When the Scottish team was down a player after so many had been taken out of the game for injuries, the coach of our town’s team stepped in to play for Scotland. I love that kind of camaraderie: everyone playing to play. In the midst of bloody noses, the sound of bones crashing into each other, and injured players, my heart warmed, and I was thankful I went out.

On a side note: Though I know we speak the same language, I couldn’t understand a damn think those Scots were saying. I talked to a few of them after the game, and hell if I know what we discussed. Their accent is so thick. But it’s also incredibly sexy, so to make do with a conversation I didn’t understand, I just imagined they were telling me how much they wanted to make love to me (I mean, these were some seriously gorgeous, Scottish rugby players. Can you blame me?). It worked beautifully, and I stayed interested in our never-going-to-understand-you-conversation.

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Some weird things have been going on in my life, and I’m just not sure how I feel about it. First, I received the mystery book package in January. Which I loved, but it didn’t have a sender, just a nice note.

Then last week, I got in the car to take Maddie to school and noticed a CD in my driver’s side car door pocket. I keep a few CDs in there (and some receipts, and a pen, and a few other things as well), but it was such a colorful CD I instantly reached for it. It was the newest Broken Social Scene album, “Forgiveness Rock Record.”

Which I hadn’t bought. Nor remember borrowing. I sent out a text to all the friends I could think of whom also like this band (it’s kind of an obscure band) asking if I had borrowed it from them. They all replied “no.” I’ve wanted this CD for a while now, and even a few weeks ago, I watched some videos of the band from when they played at this years Coachella music festival, and I even thought to myself, “I HAVE to go buy that CD.” The CD wasn’t sealed, and there wasn’t a note. I reasoned that perhaps someone could have dropped it off in my car, but then I also thought how did it get into my car side door pocket.

Then I had a memory. I remember a week or so before I had gotten into the car and sat on a CD on my driver’s side seat, and in my mind’s-eye I can see the bright colors of the CD. I was in a rush, so I took the CD and hastily shoved it in my driver’s side car pocket. So maybe someone did put the CD in my car, throwing it through the crack in my window (I always leave my windows open a bit).

I put out a message on facebook, but no one responded that he/she had left me the CD. In the end, I shrugged it off, and have been listening non-stop to the CD, hoping I don’t have early on-set Alzheimer’s and did borrow it from someone and don’t remember or slept-walked to the record store and bought it in my pajamas. Neither are very likely though (mostly because if I borrowed this CD, a CD I’ve wanted for so long, why would I not have put it right into my CD player?? And also because if I stole it, I’m sure I would have woken up in jail.)

Then today, I walked to my car after teaching, and in my driver’s side car mirror was this beautiful flower:

It’s not really a flower, so much as part of a bush, and I thought it must have fallen from a tree and how beautifully, and perfectly really, it had landed. But then I looked up and there were no trees around. And then I walked around the parking lot and there weren’t any of these flowers anywhere in the vicinity. And then I thought maybe someone placed it there.

And then I just started thinking how weird all this is. And it could just be conjuncture on my part, and it seems pretty egotistical to think that someone is leaving/sending me stuff. And the flower could have been a student just passing by, and the CD could have been something I did borrow and just don’t remember from whom (though this seems like a stretch). Or all three could be from totally different people.

I’m just kind of weirded out and I don’t know what to make of it. I’m both flattered and scared.

But mostly, I’m just confused. I don’t think I like mysteries one bit.

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The community college finally ended this past Monday, and I was so thankful to be giving a final and ending my days of teaching in the morning. So on Monday, as I walked to my classroom, I was practically skipping. I felt like I had scaled a huge mountain this semester, full of tiring and endless work, and now I was at the top.

I got to the classroom, collected essays, and students started writing their final. I sat down to do some of my own grading. Then Student F (as in failing) came up to talk to me.

Student F has been a complete pain in my ass all semester. He started the class a week late (and it’s  a 9-week accelerated class), but had some lengthy excuse for missing the first week. I believed him and set aside time to go over the syllabus with him and what he had missed the first week (a lot!). From that point on, he missed class often, didn’t turn in assignments, and pretty much showed up when an essay was due. But he always sent me long emails about why he’s not making it: his car broke down, his computer crashed, he’s sick, etc.. Finally last week, he sent me another long email about how worried he was about his grade, about possibly failing. He had a bunch of excuses and told me if he doesn’t pass my class, his parents are going to cut him off, and so could I please just consider passing him with a “C.” To which I replied, curtly, not to insult me (the whole “give me a C” thing), that I was over his excuses, and that he just needed to show up to the final with his last essay.

Back to the day of the final: he comes to my desk and says, “I left my binder outside with my essay in it. Can I go get it?”

“Sure,” I say.

He leaves, comes back in empty-handed, and says, “I actually think it’s in the library. Can I take the exam and then go get it.”

“Sure,” I say, “you have until 11:45, when the final’s over, to get me your essay.”

He takes the exam. He takes a long time. He finishes. He leaves for the library. Guess what? Five minutes later, he comes back and says, “It’s not in the library. I’m going to have to email it to you later.”

“Nope,” I say, “You have until 11:45 to get me your essay. Otherwise I won’t accept it.”

It’s 11:15. He asks if I’m serious. I nod yes. He then proceeds to have a complete meltdown and starts screaming at me in front of the 3 students left taking the final:

“You’re such a bitch. You’re a bitch. You’re ruining my life. You don’t even care about me. I was in the E.R. twice this week and you don’t even care. You’re such a bitch…” blah, blah, blah.

The poor students left taking the final were so caught off guard. And I just stayed super calm and said:

“Student F. Leave my classroom. You have no one to blame but yourself. And you’re right, I don’t care. Get out now.”

He replied, “I’m going to talk to your principle.”

I said, “We don’t have a principle, but why don’t you go complain to my Chair.” And I told him how to get there.

Twenty minutes later, he came back into the classroom, and said, “Your boss said I have until Friday to turn in my essay.”

I said, “Get out of my classroom, Student F.”

So I went to check with my Chair, and of course he didn’t say that, and I explained the incident, and he is going to fail, but now I have to write a detailed incident report, which just means more work from me, and I left with my Chair’s warning to  “lock my doors” at home.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Just when I thought I had scaled this great mountain and everything was done–I mean I was skipping to class– Student F sends me straight back down. And while I was calm throughout the whole event, I just felt exhausted afterward.

So I took a mental health day at the university and called it a day.

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I’ve been dating. I know. Like actually going on dates with men. And it’s fun. And I like getting to know different people. And I like talking and I love hearing their stories (and note: none of the weird mystery gifts from above are from these men).

But damn if it isn’t so confusing sometimes. Just when I think something is completely uncomplicated, a little complication arises. A kink. A moment of pause. Because it’s hard for me to give my heart to someone and be vulnerable, and it’s even more difficult to decide who to give my heart to–even if it’s just a little piece of my heart, a tiny piece really. I’m not ready for a full-blown relationship, but I have to give trust at some point. I have to be vulnerable.

Because an old friend of mine, Greg, once told me I was a man-eater. And I think this was in jest, but this week he said, “Courtney, you just need a strong man who will say NO to you.” And he’s correct. All this dating has helped me figure out what I do like in a man: someone who’s honest, kind, funny, not a serial killer, etc…all the usual things. But I also like men who are a bit eccentric. Men with a sense of style (and not a specific style). Someone who doesn’t care about wealth. Someone who likes to have fun. Someone who’s a bit artsy. Someone who will read with me. Someone who doesn’t judge. Someone who likes to take hikes.  And dammit, someone who is a strong man, someone who will put me in my place (and not in an abusive way, obviously.).

But Greg also said this week to me, “I just call it like I see it Courtney. [You’re like:] No need to get up gentlemen, I’m just passing through.”

And the thing is, I kind of think he’s right (and also funny). Because I am afraid of getting hurt so it has been easier–and it is easier–to just stay for a bit, to kind of pass through. How safe. How unobtrusive. How easy.

But the real challenge now, I think, is how to stay. How to be vulnerable.  How to find the right person to do this with. How to trust. How to give my heart out a little at a time. But also how to be smart about it.

This.is.so.difficult.

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Finally, last Friday on my hike after I reached the top, I came back down. The sun was setting behind the mountain. My head felt clear. I felt a moment of perfection. A brief moment where suddenly everything in the world, in my life, made sense.

And then the moment was gone.

How confusing this all is. This game of love. This game of life.

But how very worth the climb.

 

it’s the little things February 24, 2011

Filed under: kindness toward me — courtsbrogno @ 7:59 pm

Today I left the house in a rush. I was late taking Luke to school and I knew I would be pushing getting to the community college on time. To add to that stress, I hadn’t had coffee yet, so I had to stop (or else a serious headache attacks my very being).

I ran into the coffee shop, and was so disappointed to be behind 2 other groups of people. The person at the counter was not only ordering a coffee, but also having a long conversation with the barista. The couple ahead of me where in deep conversation about what they should order, what their baby would like, and whether they should take everything to go.

I started to sweat and say, “shit, shit, shit,” in my head. I thought about leaving and just dealing with the headache when the couple ahead of me said, “Why don’t you go ahead of us. We could take a while.”

I promise I wasn’t acting outwardly annoyed and didn’t even tap my foot in impatience. I gushed, “thank you,” to the couple and explained that I only needed a coffee. Within 2 minutes, I had my coffee and was getting back into my car.

Really, it’s such a small thing, but I’m really thankful this couple allowed me to skip in front of them. It was such a kind gesture, especially since they didn’t know I was already running late and didn’t have to give up their position in the line. I do the same thing in the grocery store when someone behind me only has a couple of items and I have a whole shopping cart full, but in a grocery store, that’s expected. It’s almost grocery store etiquette. But in a coffee shop? Well, I’ve never had that happen before.

I’m sure this couple hasn’t even thought twice about this even, similar to how little I think about letting someone cut in front of me at the grocery store, but sometimes it’s these little moments that resonate so big in our lives. And this small gesture was big to me, in more ways than me just getting to work on time.

 

heartfelt ryan-love February 17, 2011

Filed under: friends,kindness toward me — courtsbrogno @ 5:22 pm

I have a friend named Ryan. I’ve known him for almost 20 years. We went to high school together and we moved to the town I live in together and even though we live in different parts of the state, we’re still friends. Good friends (and friends who have never, ever crossed the line into romance, which I believe is the key to maintaining excellent friendships).

This friend, Ryan, is really a complex man. He can be, quite frankly, one of the biggest assholes I’ve ever met, and he’s lost some friendships because he is sarcastic and sometimes even mean.

But the thing is, he’s really not any these things. He’s really a kind, gentle soul with a wicked sense of humor that some people don’t understand or appreciate. I always think of him like a real life Dr. House (minus the limp, the doctor credentials, or the money).

I think because I’ve known him for so long and seen his many different sides, I love him as a friend regardless. He’s the type of friend whom I won’t talk to for 6 months, and then he’ll call and say he’s on his way into town, and ask to stay the night.

I’m never put off nor offended by his random visits. I actually look forward to them because I know the kids and I will be in for a funny night, even if I have to make Maddie “ear-muff” it a few times.

The one thing Ryan is NOT, however, is sentimental. I’ve never seen him tear up; hell, I’ve never even seen him close. I’ve never really seen him be very complimentary either. He’s not one to hug or kiss or even offer me a shoulder to cry on. But he’s steadfast in other ways, and I can almost always count on him to call me or text me for mother’s day and my birthday.

Which is why I made sure to invite him to my birthday party this year. As much as I really do eschew personal birthday  bashes, my good friend Jenn convinced me to throw a big bash, not to celebrate my birthday, per-se, but to celebrate the end of my year of thanks. As I thought about Jenn’s suggestion, I started pondering how this bog, my year of thanks, has changed me. I realized that the one HUGE thing I’ve learned is that I have some really, really awesome friends, and that for my birthday, I’d like to get them all together and celebrate them and their huge, positive influence in my life.

So I wrote an overly sentimental facebook message to all my friends, particularly the friends who showed up on this blog. Since Ryan is not on facebook, I sent the message to his email account.

Today, I received his reply:

Very Oprah-ish, but I will definitely make it. I’m glad you’re snapping outta the funk.  I know it has been hard.
Your warm soul and helping heart have touched me in some dark times also. I thank you for your friendship and I will celebrate you whether you like it or not!
Love,
Ryan
This email is unlike anything I’ve ever–even remotely–received from Ryan. He’s never been so outwardly kind and sentimental.It was shocking.
But more than shocking, it was so kind and earnest and well, it just touched me, and I have to admit, I teared up a little in my office. It’s not that I didn’t think he loved me as a friend, it’s just that I never anticipated him being so forthright.
And endearing.
I do have friends who write and tell me sweet things, and I appreciate them all so much, but sometimes, getting a little unexpected note from a friend really makes life and the interconnected relationships we sew over the years (20 years!), and hold onto, and cultivate so very worth it. While I’m always thankful to have Ryan as a friend, today I’m extra-thankful for the heartfelt message.
It just made me smile all day.

 

my sister is awesome, my therapist is awesome, and are there any available men out there with the personality type ENFP? February 16, 2011

Filed under: kindness toward me,self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 6:37 pm

Last night I realized that I did not have a babysitter for the hour I am in therapy. I hated to do it, but I had to ask my sister if she would watch Luke and Maddie from 4-5, and this is especially difficult because Wednesday is her long day with Luke, when she’s with him from 9-3 already. She agreed to do it without any hesitation, and so as payment, I offered to pay for pizza to be delivered to her house after watching the kids.

But when I returned home from therapy, she had made dinner for me and the kids. Using a Sesame Street cookbook I have lying around the house, she had made a meatball dinner with some rice on the side.

My life became infinitely easier because I hadn’t even thought of dinner for us yet; plus, she was already doing me a favor, which makes my sister the most awesome sister in the world. Well, at least the most awesome sister in the world today (unless, of course, we don’t count sisters who’ve given kidneys and other vital organs to sisters today, but you get the point). I am so thankful!

While my sister was cooking and watching the kids, I was sitting in therapy. Sometimes I feel like therapy–at least for me–is really weird. Since there are no major dilemmas in my life right now, I just kind of go in and free talk. And my style of free-talking means there is no direction, no end point, and I always end up wondering how I got to a place in the conversation.

But my therapist must have the most brilliant kind of listening mechanisms ever because not only does he follow exactly what I’m saying but then he makes sense of it.

Truly, this is an amazing feat if you’ve ever had a conversation with me that’s not very focused.

As homework from last week, my therapist gave me a book about the Myers-Briggs test and I had to do the questions and find out what type of personality I had. Which I did four different times, with three different tests. Anyway, I’m an ENFP. So my therapist and I started talking about what this means and then I mentioned the event I had last Friday and we talked about that and then that some how weaved into how I became a teacher and then we weaved back to the whole ENFP thing.

I know I’m probably missing some other things we discussed, but that’s the general outline.

So at the end of all this my therapist says, “So can you see how your academic/work life and your relationship life are running parallel to each other?”

“Ummm…no,” I say because I truly was thinking about how much I liked Shakespeare and had not even really paid attention to my train of thought.

But, of course, my therapist had and he told me how focused and centered and how diligent and hard-working I’d been in my academic life/career and how I have behaved the exact opposite in my relationships.

Which is true. In the past, most of the men I’ve dated, I’ve dated because I just thought it was awesome that someone liked me.

True. Sadly, very true. (though not to say that these men were not awesome, but I definitely wasn’t being picky in the sense of dating men who were good fits for me).

So then my therapist suggests that I need to put the same diligence, attentiveness, and focus into my relationships.

Then he told me he wanted me to “go to my edge.”

“My edge???” I asked.

What the fuck is my edge?

Well, according to my therapist, my edge is relationships. I haven’t been able to figure them out and they scare me (SO MUCH) and so I need to be on that edge, to feel it out, and learn how to navigate my edge, feel comfortable on it, and work through the discomfort.

This guy is GOOD. I mean, really good. And he’s totally right.

It’s like he takes all my jumbled thoughts and puts them out in a clear, linear fashion and then everything just fits–like puzzle pieces. And then I know what to do and what to focus on. I’m so thankful for him.

So, you guessed it, for homework: Again, ask out a man.

Dammit, my kick-ass awesome therapist, I’m working on it!

But to make the whole situation more difficult, the reason my therapist had me figure out my personality type is because humans often choose mates who are their exact opposite because they think that’s what they need in life–the other half, someone who will be what they are not (makes sense), and I’ve been doing this exact thing for years! But studies show that we do better, are more successful in relationships, with people who are like us, not unlike us. So the kicker? My personality type ENFP only comprises about 5% of the population.

Could I narrow down my possibilities any more?

I mean, seriously, could I?

 

 

collaborative love February 3, 2011

Filed under: kindness toward me — courtsbrogno @ 9:57 pm

Tonight my critical thinking group was going over time, and since I had a babysitter, I excused myself to leave early (though really still 5 minutes late). On my way out, one of the facilitator of our group stopped to tell me that the leaders had tried to get my babysitting costs covered under our grant. They tried three different ways to get my sitter costs covered, even asking of we could increase everyone’s funding and then have everyone give me the extra money.

The proposal was denied, but I am touched beyond means by the thoughtfulness of my group. I am the only member who pays for a babysitter (other members with children have spouses watching their kids), but I am really fine with my arrangements; however, the unprovoked gesture is really resonating with me tonight. I feel so grateful and honored to have such wonderful friends and colleagues. I really didn’t even know what to say, except to express my deep gratitude.

I’m kind of in awe.