Drama Queen.

My new flower friend, Virginia, has quite the flair for the dramatic. I walked into the office after the three day weekend to find her quite wilted and frail and all fainty, like a woman from a Victorian novel who is trying to get her beau’s attention.

Tragic, isn’t she? I had a moment of real panic, but upon closer inspection, I decided that really all she needed was a good dash of cold water to the face. And perhaps a bit of tidying up of her rather more wilty bits. I spoke encouragingly to her as I watered her and lifted her gently and cleaned away the bits that were weighing her down. After just a short time, she was very nearly as sprightly as ever, and I think rather more impressive for having been on the brink of death (oh, woe!) and returned to me.

(You can also see Oscar off to her left; he was a good deal more stoic about the three day period of neglect, standing at attention though some of his blooms curled lifeless on their stems. A few swift snips and he was good as gold, with two more thriving blossoms than he’d had when I left on Friday.)

Gratitude:

The resilience of nature.

Thunder and lightning storms.

The smell of nighttime spring flowers.

My sponsor.

Growing up, but only in the good way.

Routines.

I’ve never really had them. At least, not since I was a really young kid, and outside of school and work. Or if I did, they weren’t deliberate and satisfying, which I think qualified them more as “ruts.” Tomorrow begins a new routine involving (much) earlier mornings, a LOT of writing, and daily check-ins with my sponsor before work. Which means tonight begins a routine of earlier bedtimes, because otherwise I will epically fail at mornings. This is the start of what I’m viewing as the “maintenance” part of my program, having set myself up for the later steps with a sort of bootcamp-style first eight, and prepations for nine.

To clarify for those of you who are unfamiliar with Al-Anon and may have clicked through a direct link and didn’t see the sticky post that tells a little about it, being part of Al-Anon doesn’t mean I can’t or don’t drink, that I judge anyone else’s drinking habits, or spend a whole lot of time thinking about actual alcoholism or addiction in others, even though that’s what qualifies me for the program. This is about me and my behaviors, thought processes, habits, and flaws. It’s about the ways I have been affected, yes, but not with an eye toward placing blame or removing my own responsibility for the resulting behaviors. It’s about taking responsibility for what is mine, and letting go of the rest. Sometimes I want to take responsibility for other people’s hurts and anger and grudges even when I did not cause them harm; I’m able to relieve myself of those burdens and focus on the ways I have been at fault, and have hurt others and myself. I can see the patterns in my life that have ultimately hurt me, exhausted me, and shrouded the path to the life I want to live. So, it’s time to start “clearing away the fuzz,” as my sponsor put it. Taking all the crap that keeps me awake at night and makes my head spin crazy lies to taunt me and keeps me doing the same stupid shit over and over, and handing it over to the Universe, to a power far better equipped to make it all go away than all my failed efforts have been.

So in a way, I guess I have had some routines – ones that desperately need to be replaced with heart-and-mind-healthy ones. So here we go. :)

Gratitude:

Joshua time.

Long weekends.

Shared birthday plans.

My friends experiencing love and excitement and good feelings in their days.

Summer.

Tired girl.

But content girl. Which is something I’ve not been in what feels like a long time. I’m sure the overdose of vitamin D contributed, but mostly it’s the presence of so much love from friends, and the absence of anxiety and concern and focus on too many sources of information.

Between new friends and longtime friends and friends in between, I’ve had to decline or suggest alternatives to multiple plans over the last couple of weeks. While I hate to do either, it feels good to know that my company is desired and appreciated, and also that I can say that I need time to recharge or hang with Joshua and they get it, and it’s okay. No hurt feelings, no resentment, just cheerful acceptance and meeting in the middle.

There’s a quote in one of Mercedes Lackey’s books in The Last Herald-Mage series, and I’ve read these often enough that I was able to lay my hand on the right book and turn to the right page in a matter of about 72 seconds. I’ve always found this passage powerful, but not until tonight did I realize that it was not only advice, but a rebuke, as well:

“The great love is gone. There are still little loves — friend to friend, brother to sister, student to teacher. Will you deny yourself comfort at the hearthfire of a cottage because you may no longer sit by the fireplace of a palace? Will you deny yourself to those who reach out to you in hopes of warming themselves at your hearthfire?”

I’ll write more about this elsewhere, but I wanted to share this as a reminder to myself that if I am less than content, it is largely my own fault, and to thank my friends and loved ones for visiting my cottage even when the hearthfire has not been tended. I’m doing better at that, and have so many people to thank for that.

Gratitude:

Beautiful days spent in the company of wonderful people.

The San Francisco Public Library’s ebook selection.

Classic movies.

Nighttime strolls.

Aloe gel (because I never do learn the first time).

Serendipity.

I started a post with this subject earlier this evening, and decided not to write it for a couple of different reasons. Then another situation arose that fit the topic and I realized that the same outside influence that prods me to write when I don’t have anything in particular to say keeps me from writing when I can convince myself that I’m reaching, and that I need to — not stop hearing that influence, but stop giving it the power it currently holds. I will not *write*, or *not write*, because of something outside of me. That’s my goal, at least.

So, serendipity. A few weeks ago, I had a talk with my manager at work. I adore her: she is genuine and transparent and I trust her, plus she’s damned good at her job. A week or so after that talk, she met with me to follow up, and part of what she wanted to talk to me about was an opening within the organization that hadn’t yet been posted, but that she’d heard about and thought I might be interested in pursuing. She knows that my current position is not my lifelong career goal, and she recognizes my skills and wants to help me find a place where they can be utilized to the benefit of the company and also where I am happy. I watched the internal job postings avidly, but the minute this job went live last Thursday, she emailed me to let me know. A couple of hours later, I’d submitted my resume and cover letter. Less than half an hour later, I ran into the man I’d be reporting to at the water cooler (total cliche, I know; this made me giggle because I’d actually thought, “What if I happen to run into him later today?”). He said something conversational, and I responded, then said, “You know, I think I emailed you not too long ago…” He raised his eyebrows, said that word travels fast, and we had a little laugh and he said he’d find me to talk about the position soon.

On Monday, I arrived to work and saw an email from the recruiter; she said she’d neglected to mention that a writing sample was required for the position, and would I go to my profile and upload one? I did so immediately, using the newsletter I’d recently written for the USM VRC e-blast. I waited all last week, feeling mildly awkward every time the hiring manager and I passed in a hall or I walked by his office. The last time I applied for an internal position, I was contacted within days for a first interview, so by Friday, I was beginning to feel certain that I’d been culled from the pool of applicants. Then, toward the end of the workday, he came over to my desk. It turns out he’d lived in San Bruno, just a bit south of San Francisco, and his then-girlfriend, now wife, had lived in the neighborhood over from me in the city. We bandied about a few landmarks and street intersections and had a good little bonding moment, and he let me know he’d get an interview set up soon. It was a great end to the week, and I felt more confident about having applied for the position despite my misgivings with regard to my incomplete education.

Then, as I was driving from my al-anon meeting to Willard Scoops to meet a friend for dinner (yes, I had Coffee Oreo ice cream for dinner; stop judging me), I drove past a man I was certain must be that very manager. I parked and, while waiting for my companion, walked to the corner and saw that it was indeed, and we had a fun little chat about sunburns and children and enjoying the beautiful evening. He proceeded to walk and when we passed him on his return trip, he checked in to make sure I wasn’t planning to walk from SMCC to downtown Portland and didn’t need a ride.

There are some kinds of personal interactions that are maybe not great to have with your potential boss, but as far as they go, these were kind of awesome.

Later this evening, I was perfectly happy to be home and relaxing and was about to dive into a book when I got a text message from a new friend. Light conversation turned into a soul-baring discussion that lasted into the wee hours, and I reflected on the fact that, while I could have done any number of things tonight, I had deliberately gone home and settled in, and I knew that this was why. And I was very glad of it.

Sometimes things happen just as they are supposed to. And once in a great while, we’re allowed to know why. I think maybe it’s to make up for the zillions of times we have no freaking idea, and have to just accept that there’s a greater purpose. But that’s just me.

Gratitude:

Aloe gel.

Ice cream.

The Bloggess.

New friends.

Possibilities.

Goodnight, my darlings. May this long weekend be full of things for which you are grateful.

Therapy Thursday.

I’m going to make this quick because I’m immersed in my audiobook and can’t write and listen at the same time, though I wish I could. I think I gave Rich an “I am a rock star therapist!” moment when I told him that I’d gotten off the ol’ fb, and how it hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I expected. Then I got to have my “I am a rock star client” moment when I told him that when I reactivate my account, my use will be purposeful and have intent rather than not only a filler when I’m bored, but a way to keep up with, take care of, and be a “first responder” to every person on my friends list. He smiled his wide smile, the one where I can’t see his eyes anymore, and said, “I was just about to say that,” and it felt good to know that I am learning, and that my actions are a reflection of those lessons.

I also had a silly but somewhat serious hissy fit around the science of attraction – not just in a romantic or sexual way, but in all relationships. Like a stubborn child, I kept saying, “But WHY is that the way it is? What’s the positive thing about these traits that are common among most of the people I’m drawn to? There has to be one, right?” I’m sure the poor guy was as exasperated with me as my high school teacher was when she told me that, as much as I hated science as a subject, I would have made a fantastic scientist, because I won’t settle for or stop at “That’s just the way it works.” To me, that’s the “Because I said so” of the scientific world, and that’s just a plain ol’ challenge.
Anyway, back to my audiobook (The Enchantress, book 6 and book the last in Michael Scott’s series that began with The Alchemist). I’ll leave you with today’s gratitude list.
Richard.
The committee I’m on at work – we only meet every few weeks, but for the first time, I feel like a real asset to the organization.
Growth.
Flowers.
The countdown to Lisa’s visit!

Keeping house.

The correlation between the state of my environment and the state of my inner workings is pretty remarkable. As a result, when I clean my physical home I find myself doing a lot of mental housekeeping, as well. When I pick something up off my desk or vanity or bureau or floor, the goal is to do one of three things: Trash it, recycle/donate it, or find a home for it. So often, I find myself saying, “I want/need this, but don’t have a place for it yet, so I’ll just make a pile for those things over here and come back to them as soon as the stuff I know what to do with is out of the way.” But without fail, that pile spreads across another surface, or grows into two piles, eventually becoming not only an eyesore, but a hindrance to the function of the room.

The same is true of my mental clutter. Plenty of it needs to just go, leaving room for the thoughts that will become actions that feel good and are representative of my best self. What remains after the junk is out also needs to be set in some kind of order, feelings and intentions and goals clearly defined, recognizable, and, most importantly, accessible rather than buried underneath resentment and fear and expectations and insecurity. Tonight as I sift through some of my physical clutter, I’m considering the state of my emotional home. Right now, there are a lot of things without a place, piled haphazardly and not really doing me any good. They deserve a dazzling display case, brightly lit and polished to a shine, with doors that swing wide open so I can get to all of the wonderful bits of me that I want to put to good use and share with the people in my world.

Today’s gratitude:

Improving relations in a situation that has been difficult for some time.

Books, books, and more books! I may actually hit 75 this year, for the first time since I started counting.

The little things that make me smile on my walks around Portland.

Sunsets.

The courage to embrace new things. Like broadening my plant collection. Meet Virginia: she is a lovely  and exotic lady I adopted at our farmers market yesterday. Since she is a Gemini, I think she wants to be both at work and at home, so I intend to attempt that magical feat sometime soon. Orrrrr, maybe I will adopt her twin to keep at home. Baby steps and all that.

Welcome!

If you’re new to Femme Flavor, chances are that you’ve been directed here for one of a few reasons. The short list:

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Double-time.

Despite the fact that it meant speed-shopping and running around all crazy-like and trying to find right side of the street parking at 8:45pm on a rainy street cleaning night, I went to back-to-back meetings tonight and took a good bit away from each. I was prompted to really think about the serenity prayer and how I can make it more a part of my daily life; right now, I honestly don’t even think of it outside of an al-anon setting. I have some ideas about how to connect it to my thought patterns, and if those don’t work, I can always get a tattoo somewhere conspicuous. :)

The second meeting focused quite a bit on gratitude. This is something I know a little about, having had long stretches of time when I was quite good about daily gratitude lists, but I’ve not been consistent with that in a while. So, back to it we go. I want to get to a place where I’m starting my day with gratitude, either instead of or in addition to ending it with the list, but that may be a sporadic occurrence until I get my child of the night habits under better control.

In no particular order, tonight I am grateful for…

Reminders that my struggles are not unique, and that others have been where I am and emerged stronger and healthier on the other side.

Plans for Lady dates and phone dates and street-strolling dates.

Joshua’s new worker.

Books.

Possibilities.

What are you grateful for today?

Weekend wrap.

So the first Facebook-free weekend has been a pretty uneventful one, as Earth did not spin off its axis because I had no idea what 300+ people were doing every moment, my actions did not lose their excitement because they weren’t shared with the world at large – really, nobody besides the handful of people I told noticed or, just as likely, nobody said anything about it because it takes a whole new level of effort to contact someone now from what it did before the big fb.

Before I had my exasperated “I am so over this” fit and deactivated my account, I’d talked with a couple of friends about the negative effects of Facebook on interpersonal relationships, some of which are very obvious (more cheating partners thanks to the grass is greener/smaller world syndrome, for example), but others of which are far more insidious and maybe some people don’t even think to attribute to the Facebookification of our world. I toyed with the idea of performing a social (media) experiment, paying closer attention to how, how often, when, and why I use Facebook. And changing it. I think I may yet do this, maybe when I reactivate my account.

In the meantime, I have my first potential client from the letter to the student Vets that went out Friday, which is exciting. I am also feeling better equipped to handle life in general tonight than I was just a few days ago, and the only thing that has changed is that I spent a good deal of time working my program. Well, that and the fact that we actually had sun all weekend, but I’m going to give the greater credit to the former. I’m glad to be back at it, to bring the focus back onto me, and to know that I need only be concerned with my path and my progress. That feels pretty damned good.

Hope your weekend has been wonderful, and that your Monday doesn’t suck much at all.

Workin’ it.

I’m a pretty motivated person about many things, but sometimes I get lazy. I’ve been lazy about going to al-anon meetings and dedicating the time I need to every day to my program. My sponsor and I spent several hours together today, and part of our conversation was about how oftentimes we fear success as much as we fear failure. I think that’s part of my laziness around this. I’m afraid of what success will look like. I’m afraid of losing things I want in my life but know that it’s not really a loss if those things are familiar but unhealthy. I’m afraid of walking a new and unknown path, one that will need constant vigilance on my part to remain clear and unobstructed.

I want to want this. I want to give myself over to it and power through the growing pains. I want to have a new kind of strength – the kind that effects change for my personal well-being rather than the kind that holds the world on my shoulders and is a damned martyr about it. I have some ways of being, but more importantly some ways of thinking, that need reform. And that isn’t going to happen simply by force of will. I need to put these things in practice, the daily readings, the silent meditation, the review of my writings and inventory, and not allow myself to be baited or distracted by people who would like to see me and my relationships fail.

I am ready for a life full of love and happiness and fun and serenity, and without drama and hurt and emotional exhaustion.

Here’s to a beautiful tomorrow. I hope yours is as lovely as mine will be.