A friend of mine is very passionately devoting his life to bringing awareness to the bullying of gay persons. He recently had an experience on an airplane, as he was seated next to some older persons who represented Christianity abominably. You can probably imagine what happened – referring to my friend as though he weren’t able to hear or understand them, and when he stood up for himself, pedantically and self-righteously explaining to him that he’s a sinner who has chosen foolishly and to his own eternal demise. Bullying, plain and simply.

I can remember similar treatment when I was in school. I was (ahem) more than chubby and had my little spirit shattered often by the horrible things the other kids said to me. There were even two awful teachers – 3rd grade, Miss Miner and 8th grade, Mr. Kamaneroff – who also joined in the laughter and “teasing.”

“Teasing” my ass! They were all shits who should have been zapped with an electric cattle prod 10 times for every awful word they said to me.

I remember acting as though it didn’t bother me. I remember pretending I didn’t dread going from one class to another… knowing that every foray in the halls meant I was vulnerable to another attack. I remember getting home from school one day and accidentally crumbling emotionally in front of my mom and finally telling her how a day didn’t go by without someone saying something horrible to me.

My mom died a little right along with me that day. I saw it. I saw the look in her face – wanting to comfort her child, but feeling completely helpless to do anything about it. I saw the same look on her face when I told her that one of the elders at church had touched me in a way I didn’t like. She didn’t think she could do anything about that either. I honestly don’t know if she said anything to dad about either of these, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she had and he reacted in the same way.

I think they both believed that the right thing to do is to suck it up. Be the strong one. Turn the other cheek and don’t rock the boat. Just let it pass. You’ll feel better in the morning. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

And in fact, I am just fine now.

Oh, well yes, I did have an awful marriage that went on far too long, then a second relationship that involved cheating (him) and forgiving (me) THREE TIMES.

And then there was a job at which my bosses treated me like crap and I stayed… and stayed… and stayed and took it. Suck it up; be the strong one; turn the other etc.

There’s also the hard knocks in life that I’ve managed to work through because – well, compared to what I endured in the halls of grade school – those hard knocks were a piece of cake. And there’s the confidence I have that comes from living through what didn’t kill me.

It is possible to prosper in spite of hardship – perhaps because of it – though I for one would definitely prefer my hardship come a little more organically than from some snot-nosed, lack-luster want-wit who felt better about him or herself because at least they weren’t fat like me (I still hear it echoing).

I’m proud of my young friend for standing up for himself on that plane. I’m really glad that he blogged about it to the world and that blog is poised to go viral. I’m happy that he’s fighting to help us all put an accurate name on that bad behavior. I’m proud that he’s giving parents and friends and teachers the words to identify that behavior, so that mothers don’t have to die a little because they have no idea what to do with the gawd-awful things their child just told them.

I’m also grateful for the point of reference with which to examine my own circumstance. None of this would have happened if {gasp} my young friend hadn’t been on that plane, seated next to those troglodytes, which led him to blog about the whole ghastly experience… that is poised to go viral…

That Vacation Feeling…

You know the feeling I’m talking about.  It’s what lights up your senses and makes everything – rain or shine – better.  Sunscreen and pine needles smell better, sun rises sing, fires dance, that cup of coffee seems to be roasted just for your and shopping has never been better.   It’s that feeling you swear you’re going to keep after you return home.  It’s that feeling that leaves exactly 13 hours after returning home, no matter what.

Is it just about having control of your schedule?  It can’t be.  I’ve been on vacations with packed calendars under someone else’s control.  I’ve worked on vacation, had colds, hangovers, backaches and one really nasty spider bite that required a trip to the clinic, antibiotics and steroids.  I still had the vacation feeling and it still left once I got home… even though the work, cold, hangover, backache and spider bite didn’t go home with me.  What the hell?

It’s not just about new surroundings either.  I’ve traveled on business too many times to believe that.  So… that feeling is more about FEELING than anything else.  Dammit… once again, the responsibility belongs on my shoulders – or rather, between my ears.  It is actually under my control.

Alright, what are the common denominators of the vacation feeling?

Looking and seeing as though what is in front of you is fresh

That’s really it.  Seeing with a vacation perspective is what gives the vacation feeling and seeing the dull, same old work-a-day world from which one escapes removes the feeling.

So… the difference is just perspective.  THAT MEANS I CAN HAVE THE VACATION FEELING ANY TIME I WANT IT!

So, I’m going to experiment with that.  I figure all I have to do, is do things differently.  I’m about to drink a cup of tea before bed, wear my fancy pajamas, sleep on the other side of the bed… maybe I’ll sleep in the guest room tomorrow night.

As for work tomorrow, lets see… I can drive a different route, take two 30 minute breaks instead of an hour lunch and use a different bathroom.

I need something to remind me to look at things differently.  LOOK differently.  SEE differently.

When I’m on vacation, I take time to appreciate my surroundings and circumstances.  That’s what I need to do.  I need to appreciate – to love what is around me.  Should I wear cocoa butter and that silly little ring I bought at the beach two years ago?  Hell yes – it’s worth a shot.

I’m going on vacation right now!!!

It’s just not that big a deal

Note to self:  whatever it is, whatever seems like a life and death situation… for you, your career, your relationship, etc… is probably just not that big a deal.  That monumentally important and earth shattering news/risk/error/whatever is probably the result of a conglomeration of unchecked assumptions and emotions that have cumulatively magnified into an emotional Godzilla, trouncing upon the reality of a simple bit of news/risk/error/whatever.

So take a deep breath and consider the larger picture.  Is anyone you love – including yourself – laying in the hospital or worse?  No?  That’s what I thought.

Whatever it is, it’s just not that big a deal.

Now go on about your business….

I Knew It!

I hate it when people say “I knew it,” especially when what they knew was something unpleasant. Am I supposed to feel better because you’re so clairvoyant or observant or whatever?

And by the way, if you’re so doggone observant and wise, why didn’t you say something BEFORE it actually happened?

I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off my chest. Did you see that coming too?

Just Use It!

Oh hell, I dug my cherished Chanel Coco perfume bottle from the bottom of my jewelry box (where I keep the best stuff, of course), removed the topper and breathed in the aroma… of rubbing alcohol mixed with rotten bell peppers. 

I believe in using the good china, glasses and linens to celebrate even the most trite of occasions, if not every day.  I wear my good, matching underwear often enough that it’s nothing special and I use that expensive pen to write grocery lists, BUT, when it comes to toiletries, I become some sort of weird hoarder with the cosmetic equivalent of Auschwitz syndrome.  (and I already know I’m going to hell of even using that analogy – I couldn’t help myself)

Hello, my name is Donna [hi Donna] and I am afraid to use my own cosmetics.

What a loser!  Seriously?  Sometimes the perfume, designer mascara or incredibly expensive shampoo/conditioner combo is a frickin SAMPLE and I don’t want to use it… why?  ‘Cause this isn’t a special enough occasion to use the tiny Aveda bottles I got the last time we stayed at a Kimpton Hotel.  I know, right?

That’s been my secret for decades – publicly, I adore myself.  “Make way for Queen Donna” and all that, but in private, in the bathroom no less, I keep the good stuff capped and tucked away for whatever occasion I may someday deem special enough to open it.  Like…. meeting the real Queen, perhaps.  I’ve had luxurious vacations, meet-the-family visits, black-tie events, first days at work, last days at work, awards galas, graduations, opening nights and anniversaries that have NOT tempted me to break the seal of the La Fleur moisturizing oil I got ON SALE last Christmas.

So, when I smelled that rotten Chanel, I realized something awful: this shit goes to waste if you don’t use it.  Those divine scents and slickery textures will rot like a forgotten Easter egg cleverly hidden behind the couch if you don’t USE THEM!

SO, last Saturday, I did something amazing.  I used everything possible I had been hoarding all this time, even thuse things that were in the bottom of my jewelry box.  I shampooed, conditioned, moisturized, styled, made-up, moisturized some more and perfumed with the best my cosmetic case had to offer.  I was drunk in scents  and textures that made me feel as rich as a Hilton and a Marcos, all rolled into one.  I took my time.  I savored and I ADORED myself with goodies collected over years of denial and sensory starvation.

(okay, I probably went a little too far on that last sentence – I totally treat myself pretty darn well all the time.  No one starving here)

Anywho, ya know what?  I recommend it.  In fact, I did it again on Monday.  Today is Tuesday…. I drank my coffee, ate my breakfast, worked out, then got in the shower and brought out the big guns.  All those little and big bottles of lovelies I’ve been denying myself came out were used up and tossed in the trash, never to be hoarded again. 

Sure, my skin feels fan-frickin-tastic and I smell like the Greek Goddess Aphrodite visiting Oz on holiday, but the best part?  I have made room for more toiletries and I cannot WAIT to treat myself to my future!