Saturday, June 21, 2014

Gillian's Eve

With only an hour left in my thirties, here are a few thoughts:

DYKWIL: Depositing cheques with my phone. Technology FTW!

YKGOML: I miss landlines, because sometimes someone other than the person you were trying to reach answered, and you'd have a chance to catch up with your friend's spouse/lover/parent/child/cat.

Ultra Fine Advice: Friends are more important than money, but paying attention to your finances is more important than paying attention to Facebook. is my new spending conscience (and go-to distraction).

(Aside: Mint should let you send thank-you emails when someone buys you drinks or dinner, like, "Hey [insert name here], thanks! You helped Gillian stay in her Restaurants budget for June. Save on! Love,")

Finally and definitely most importantly, a big UFF shout-out to my amazing 10-yr-old godson Griffin, who saw the book I sent to his mom and said, "Why be perfect when you can be awesome!"

That, friends. That.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Unpacking and Packing

"Moving is the worst. You have to touch everything you own, and make a decision about it." - my (very wise) friend Doreen

A friend of mine recently shared with me that she underwent her own crisis several years ago. She said up until then, she thought that her stuff - her baggage, her issues, whatever you want to call it - were all packed up in boxes and locked neatly in a room somewhere. Then she had this crisis, and realized that no, these boxes were actually stacked high on a palette and she was dragging that palette behind her. She went to therapy and one by one, unpacked as many of those boxes as she could.

As I write this, I'm procrastinating the final stages of packing a house's worth of stuff to move to a different country and into a fourth-floor walkup. That last part is key: The thought of carrying everything you own up four narrow flights of stairs is great incentive to own less stuff.

To that end, last Monday I had six full garbage bags and three overflowing recycling bins on the curb for pickup. This morning, a thrift store came to pick up about about six boxes of donation items, plus a bunch of furniture (assorted chairs and tables) (why did we even have "assorted chairs and tables"?). There are at least two more garbage bags going out tonight, and one of the recycling bins is already full.

At the same time I'm doing this physical packing, I'm trying to unpack a bunch of psychic boxes. Normally unpacking is way more fun than packing, but this kind of unpacking is *hard*. It turns out that I didn't make conscious decisions about what to put in these psychic boxes, and now as I unpack them, I have to decide what I really want.

The thing I'm realizing is, there will always be a box labeled Misc., and the only way to find out what's in it will be to unpack it and make decisions about what to do with the stuff. Some of it will probably end up back in the same box, or in another box named Misc. with some other stuff, and in that context maybe it will look different, and the next time I look at it maybe I'll make a different decision about what to do with it. And while it's inevitable that I'll keep adding stuff to these boxes, hopefully I'll do it more deliberately, and eventually I'll end up with fewer of the Misc. boxes.

It might help if I start to think of life as a fourth-floor walkup.

In other news, I'm reworking my last post (the one about relationships that's no longer here, but Google can probably still find it somewhere). It didn't make sense. I wrote it as a response to a conversation, not really deliberately, and if any of you actually understood any of it, you were probably like, um, yeah, no duh (because it was about projecting and is in every relationship book ever written).

The real point of that post was meant to be this. My friend D has a chalkboard in her kitchen, with a TODO list on it. I noticed the other day that under "haircut" is written "rel'ship". I asked her what that was about, and she said, "Oh, that's to remind us us to work on our relationship."

"That's amazing!" I said. "I love that you're conscious about it."

She laughed. "Well, yeah, but it's under 'haircut'."

Fair enough. Getting a haircut is easy.

(Misc. box photo compliments of Mike; box may or may not contain: a shower curtain, one shoe, a fork, half a bottle of wine, his peewee hockey championship jacket, some computer parts, a pillow, and his car keys.)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Next Worst Thing

I hope this thing you're going through, that's so awful that you can't eat and you can't sleep and sometimes you can't even breathe - I really do hope this thing is the worst thing you'll ever go through.

You will experience trauma. You will experience loss. You will grieve. You will scream into your pillow. You will sob. You will fight it with every cell in your body, this worst thing. You will hold so tightly to your hopes and fears that you will sometimes become them and forget who you are.

People will try to distract you. You'll love them for it and you'll hate them for it. Maybe you feel like you deserve this worst thing, like you did something to earn it and this worst thing is your punishment. You will feel guilt and shame.

You'll read about forgiveness and not really understand it, maybe for a long time. You'll hold onto that guilt and shame, and it'll get so jumbled up with your hopes and fears that you won't even know which is which and who you are anymore. The guilt and shame (and even the pride) will keep you in the past, and the hopes and fears will distract you with the future, and you'll miss out on the present: The gift that is this very moment, where you are right now, in this body and this breath. Right now is who you are.

From this worst thing you'll emerge, eventually, it happens, I promise. Maybe you'll start to feel better, a little bit at a time, and then you'll remember this worst thing and feel sad and angry and hopeless again. Maybe you'll feel like you don't deserve to feel better. Maybe the times of feeling better will get a little bit longer, and the sadness a little bit less acute. Allow yourself that. Let it be a project.

And maybe, first in just one moment and then in a few of these moments strung together, you will start to wrap your head around this whole forgiveness thing. You will start to accept that we're all a bunch of human beings (yes, even you), and that we all make mistakes (yes, even you). You will start to trust. You will start to allow forgiveness.

I hope it's the worst thing you'll ever go through, this thing that you're going through right now.

The thing about this thing is, it probably isn't the worst thing. There was a worst thing before this one and there will be a worst thing that follows.

And every time you get through a worst thing, you'll be a little bit better at getting through the next worst thing. At accepting it, and forgiving it.

 It's a long, messy, wonderful life, full of next worst things. Fortunately, it's full of next best things, too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I stopped.

After we moved back from Argentina, and settled in the ‘burbs, I stopped.

I stopped writing.

I stopped publishing.

I stopped connecting.

And sometimes, I stopped living, as fully and completely as I could have.

Even at the (previous) lowest points of my life, I was writing here. I told you, Internet, about my separation. I told you about my divorce, and my starting anew, and Beginnings and all of that.

I fell madly in love with an amazing human being. We shacked up then packed up and moved to South America and had crazy awesome adventures, some that even included naked-lady towels.

Then we settled.

My advice to you? Don’t ever settle.

It was fine, for a while. I had a job. We had a nice house with a lawn and a garage and a washer and dryer in the basement. We bought a hammock and I built some benches.

But still: We settled.

Seven years ago, almost to the day, I wrote this blog post. It’s still here, on the internets, for everyone to see. And my, how I wish I’d read it monthly – even annually – for the past seven years.

I didn’t, though, and in that seven years, I forgot some of the lessons I should have learned.

But now, in the immortal words of Britney, I’m back, bitches. I'm back with more honesty, more late night blogging and more blood, sweat, and most definitely tears. I’ve got them all in spades, and as of tomorrow morning, I might even have a new bachelorette pad here in the BK.

If that doesn’t work out, I might be looking to sleep on your couch. I’ll bring the bourbon and the Kleenex.

And you guys, please: Read on. Write on. And most importantly: Love on.