It was a clear, full, wonderful afternoon. A day that was warm with the tinge of fall buried itself in the flashes of cool breezes. That morning I had traveled a few hours to do a photoshoot, one of my biggest gigs to date, and has just finished the session followed by an amazing late lunch with a longtime co-worker and friend. The photos, the conversations, the feeling of living into my professional goals… I had gusto! in my heart and an air in my chest. As a bid my friend adieu, I looked up the nearest Starbucks and headed over to back up my photos and get a caffeine boost for the long drive home ahead – and, of course, get my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season.

My newfound confidence emitting proudly from my very being, I quickly found myself in conversation with the barista who started it all with, “You look like you’re having a great day!” This young lady was one of the brightest people I had ever encountered.  Literally, I felt like there was a glow about her that whenever one found yourself in her radius, one couldn’t help but stand taller and smile a little bigger. Even in the busy afternoon post-school, mid-afternoon-need-my-coffee-NOW craziness, she treated every customer with a heartfelt concern and respect. She had long blonde hair in a ponytail that bounced as she walked back and forth to prepare coffee creations, and a perfect red lip I will never be able to pull off. She handed me my PSL with a laughy smile and the encouraging words that one day she’d see my photos somewhere big time and be able to say, “I met her!” I’d have jumped over the counter to give her a hug if I wasn’t draped in camera/computer gear.

I made myself cozy at a little table just outside. After a while of getting into my workflow, I get interrupted by a guy dressed very confidently who had loudly pulled up in a bright blue car that obviously was designed to garner attention. He comes over to my table with a friend floating behind him and asks, “Hi, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to bother you – but I just have to tell you, you are really beautiful.” “Um, okay, thank you for that.” “Can I get you anything?” “Nope, I’m great, just needing to get some work done here.” “OH, well, excuse ME for trying to do something nice.”

I chose to keep my face buried in my computer and to ignore any further conversation. He persisted.

“You got a man?”

I waved my left hand at him with my shiny, albeit a bit dirty wedding bands, careful to never look up from my computer.

“So, you like d*** then, huh?”

My face started burning with fury and embarrassment, but I wouldn’t stop typing or staring into my inbox.

“Fine. You stupid b***h.”

He and his friend scoff and move past into the cafe. A little pissed and a little shaken up, I wasn’t sure if I should stand my ground and keep working or run to my car and get out of there while I could, knowing he had to come back out.

By this point, a few more patrons, mostly women, had made themselves more comfortable outside around me. I hoped their presence meant he wouldn’t have the gall to come back to say any parting words. Instead, several minutes later, the sweet blonde barista hurriedly came marching out, the bounce in her ponytail now a heavy, forceful swish.

“Did that man harass you?”

“… yes.”

“He’s causing problems inside, too. Don’t worry, we’ve asked him to leave and we’ve called the police, they’re on their way. Can I get you anything?” she asked with a cracked smile and a quiver in her voice. Returning the cracked smile, I shook my head silently.

Minutes later, I hear muddled angry tones coming from inside the location, followed by the guy and his friend busting violently through the entrance. As expected, he comes up to my table on his way out:

“You f***ing snitch. You tried to tell on me? You’ll be sorry. You stupid b****, you’re about find out what d*** is good for you.”

Angrily, he stormed off to his car with his friend in tow. No one said a word to me. No one went after him. A crowded coffee shop full of people, and we all watched it go down. We went back to acting like it never happened literally the second he got into his car.

Too shaken up to get any further work done, I packed up my stuff and ran into the bathroom to splash water on my face to cool the burning sensation on my face and blot the pools of angry tears welling in the corners of my eyes. I pulled myself together as quickly as I could and heavily stepped out of the restroom, checking to see if that horrible blue car was still lingering in the parking lot. The blonde barista quietly leaned over the counter, noticing I was wide-eyed and frozen: “He said some really awful things in here,” she said, biting her perfectly red lip. I knew he said them to her. I wanted to jump across the counter even more now, wanting to give her a hug but badly needing one myself. “I’m so sorry,” she winced, no longer able to put on a smile. “Me, too.”


 

This is by far not the worst I or that blonde barista and I endured in this realm; it’ll be far from the last time, too. I have countless stories and know many other women who do, too. Though it’s been a year since this happened, it’s something I think about often, about how I should’ve handled it better, how no one raised eyebrows or questions. How people think that harassment and abuse only happen in the dark and with strangers and behind closed doors, involving power struggles and alcohol and opportunities for bad decisions to happen. That this guy was just “crazy” or high or not willingly acting in his right mind because, obviously, no one wanting to get away with what he did would ever do something like that in the middle of broad daylight in good conscious…

When I saw there was no evidence of that blue sedan in the parking lot but the lights on the cop car did show up, I bolted to my car. I bolted in hopes that if that guy saw me, he wouldn’t try anything with the cop car in the parking lot. I also bolted because I didn’t want to talk to the cops. I didn’t want to relive the last 15min, I didn’t want to repeat what he’d said. I didn’t want to think about his face and have to describe him.

I think about it more-so because I felt like I had no one to talk to about it. I didn’t want someone to say, “I’m so sorry that happened to you” or “Why didn’t you react _x_?” and have to explain myself. I didn’t want to acknowledge how scared I was, constantly looking over my rearview mirror for the entire 3 hour drive home, sure that the flashy blue car was “crazy” enough to follow me home. I didn’t want to admit how little I let this person made me feel after having one of the best and biggest days of my professional life. I felt like I had let that barista down: I could get in my car and get far, far away. She had to find the resiliency to remain collected through the rest of her shift, probably too scared herself to return to work the next day knowing he could be back at any time.

My story is not unique. It’s not going to move mountains or inspire or infuriate anyone enough spur a major change. It’s not the darkest, most shocking, click-bait story I could tell from my trove of experiences. It’s not suggesting I felt like I –had– to share it or that one is a lesser part of the cause if you choose not to.

But, maybe, my story will spark a conversation. Maybe it’ll be a piece in the larger momentum that does ignite a paradigm shift. Maybe it’ll reveal pockets of peace and safety through friends and communities and families. Maybe, just maybe, we can normalize respect and kindness instead of “joking” or “craziness” or “he was _x_” or “they didn’t mean it like _y_.”

I’m not sure exactly how I feel about the #MeToo movement. It’s a upsetting to see it so prevalent, also to not feel surprised by it… but, oh, how inspired I am to see other women — colleagues, mentors, younger generations — pushing this conversation to the forefront. Sharing so boldly their stories. Asking to make it stop. Asking to be heard. Asking the individuals responsible for the horrible behavior to recognize their actions and demand more action on the true guilty parties. To ask to no more being labeled the “victims” and “survivors.”

Please, let’s keep this conversation going.

Thank you to those who have shared and brought this conversation forward.

To that bright, wonderful young woman at Starbucks: Thank you for sharing your light with me even when you felt scared and defeated, too. I won’t let you down again.

Hugs & High Fives,
C

 

CGP2017_Beach-25

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It seems like the constant conversations I’ve had as of late circle around the fact that summer is basically coming to a hard and fast close. And no one is digging it. I get the sense that it’s less about saying “goodbye” to the carefree summer days, but more the realization that it was anything but… like the ultimate “Sunday scary,” that you’ve done everything and nothing and now that looming “back to the grind/struggle/monotony/busyness” is evermore present. It’s a feeling that’s both inexplicably jarring yet all too familiar… and this go round had me wondering, “WHY do I keep finding myself HERE?

I realize the quest for a life that feels full yet simple has been a reoccurring theme here on Harbour Affair (with its humble beginnings rooted in my early blog, Breakfast at Target). Embarrassingly, I haven’t made much headway in all these years, and these lessons have had to present themselves repeatedly. While there are some external variables that complicate that quest, ultimately I’m the only one responsible for where my life is heading – both in the big, slow moving string of events to the small, heavy-hitting moments.

In taking a big step back earlier in the year and looking at Harbour Affair’s mission and how it ties in with my “sister-frand” brand Celia G Photographie, I realized I was doing far too many things and trying to please (or appease, as the case may be) too many people. At the end of the day, while grateful for the opportunities, I realized I was trying to push Harbour Affair/CGP into a brand identity that others envisioned. On the flipside, exploring these prospects introduced to or further enhanced relationships with brands, businesses, and opportunities that did strike a chord with my little blonde heart… and I got really excited when the connections AND the products totally just worked.

It also got me thinking about what’s important to me as a consumer, and how can I more appropriately align myself with like-minded folks?

Enter Nick with JORD, a watch company that specializes in luxury wooden timepieces. We met – where else? – through the internet machine. I was so impressed with JORD’s social media campaign, their quality of influencers, and their presentation of the watches themselves… seriously, how do they pull it all off? Always the ever curious consumer, I asked a million questions before pulling the trigger. Nick got back to me in record time (ha! watch pun!) stating the following:

“We believe that watches can be more than something that just tells time, but an intricate, beautiful, functional piece of a wardrobe. We focus a lot on Sustainability. A great majority of the wood we use comes from furniture remnants. It takes very small pieces for us to create the cases and individual links so we are able to utilize what would otherwise end up in a waste cycle. Both Bamboo and the Maple we source is completely sustainable, and as is expected in the industry – all of our Koa comes from damaged trees or trees that were brought down by a natural weather event.

Moreover, we concentrate on Environmental safeguards as well. All of our watches are treated with natural substances, no hazardous chemicals. Not only for the sake of the environment, but for those who work on the watches. The watches are conditioned with natural tung oil. That’s it!”

You guys, the experience from the time I ordered the watch (I got the Reese Zebrawood & Emerald) to putting it on for the first time truly did feel luxurious. The box is displayed in – what else? – a beautiful wooden box that feels solid and smooth. There is a teeny little drawer in the box with cleaning accessories and even comes with an oil applicator to keep it conditioned and vibrant. The watch itself feels soft and light, kind of surprising for such a solidly crafted piece.

The best part about the JORD watch is how well it pairs with a range of coastal inspired looks (which thank the son of Neptune I have such great help in that department because #ididnotwakeuplikethis). It’s an easy statement piece for a night of rosé with the girls or a beach brunch with my handsome fella. Not surprisingly is the number of compliments I get when people notice it. And believe-you-me, they notice it. Functionally, the clasp is quick to put on (which is great for folks like me to struggle to put on barre pants not-inside out) and feels secure – and speaking of barre, I put it to the sweat test: while I wouldn’t go for a run in it, it stood up to an hour of shaking & tucking without feeling heavy or slimy. And I also think it’s made for less-than-graceful people such as myself because even after bumping into things and carrying heavy loads this weekend INTO OUR NEW HOUSE (more pics/post to come on that), it doesn’t have a single scratch.

Most importantly, I appreciated there was a real person on the other line I could ask a multitude of (dumb/overly curious) questions to and feel like they put some love behind the whole experience of the product. Being a part of the direct-to-consumer/e-commerce marketplace, it’s priced reasonably and shipped quickly. I even got follow-up making sure everything arrived safely and was as expected.

AND did you know you can get the watch AND the box customized with engraving for a special touch? Just reminding you all the holidays are basically around the corner…

Pssssst… I should mention these watches are hardly exclusive to the ladies.
Gentlemen, there are stunning pieces juuusssst for YOU.

———

As I’ve gotten into more introspective questions and thoughts around where Harbour Affair is going next, the words “quality” and “sustainable” keep coming to mind. Exploring JORD’s products and connecting with their brand made giving the watch a try an easy and well-intentioned choice. And as my curiosity (read: obnoxiousness) must’ve left an impression, JORD asked about teaming up to make one of YOU lucky readers a winner (although you already were in my eyes). That’s right, friends! JORD is giving away $100 gift card to – who else? – one of YOU and they’re making it crazy easy to do so. Click the link here or in my ‘gram profile and fill out the form. Ah-that’s-it. Bonus? Literally everyone who enters wins a “prize” of $25 towards one of their products. I mean, c’mon you guys; you don’t even win prizes out of cereal boxes anymore.
(But hurry, giveaway ends Aug 27, 2017.)

So, while I haven’t nailed the “simple fullness” I had hoped this summer would offer, I have taken the opportunity while swirling in the chaos to explore more what that means… and, hopefully, start taking steps to quit asking myself “how I got here” and just BE here to appreciate what went into making it all happen. And I am grateful for the people who meet along the way who encourage along the way.

What’s next for Harbour Affair?
Only time will tell, my friends (get it…? “time”…? JORD watch post…? heh?!).

… hugs & high fives,

C

 

End Note: A big crazy magical from-the-bottom-of-my-heart THANK YOU to Whitney of W Photography who came in on the assist with shooting and styling these photos. Team work really does make the dream work, people.

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You guys. I started writing this post almost two months ago.

I’ll never understand how the sweltering heat and humidity of a southern summer make the days feel like they’re moving in slow motion but the weeks fly by… how is 2017 already over half-way over?

——–

Does anyone remember the scene in Garden State with Natalie Portman’s character, Sam, does a weird little spazzy dance and says the following:

Garden State (2004)

 

This is your one opportunity to do something that no one has ever done before and that no one will copy throughout human existence. And if nothing else, you will be remembered as the one guy who ever did this. This one thing.

When’s the last time you did something, expressed something, moved and grooved, painted, blurted, sang, jumped, or danced or created just ‘cuz you have something uniquely and profoundly YOU for you by you and because of you? Something or some moment no one can take away because you gave it life and you, ONLY you, had the ability to do so?

And not just the ability? But the drive, the audacity, the life experience, the naive hope, the push, the call to do it?

———-

It may be the afternoon daydreams of the lunchtime glasses of rosé in an airy cafe or the perpetual fog of humidity, but it’s a weird thought that’s been on my mind recently. Not sure where it came from, but embarrassingly, I have some idea.

Y’all, I put a lot of pressure on myself to come back from my Euro-Trip (that was in mid-May, might I remind you – how has 2 months gone by so quickly?!) refreshed, changed, and ready to TALLY-HOOOO! into 2nd half of 2017. And, admittedly, I’ve wanted to don my over-sized cotton underwear and hide in a corner with a handle of gin and package of Oreos more than ever.

Being at a cross-roads with my business in the last few months and trying to transition it towards things that feel full and more inline with my personal skills, values, and desires has been daunting, if not a little terrifying (okay, a lot terrifying). Throw in the current workload and commitments that require my immediate attention and the surmounting anxiety with wondering if I’m taking the best steps in my new direction leave me feeling heavy and weird and never feeling like I can do anything “right.” I hoped I’d feel more refreshed coming back to tackle that; but instead, I was ready to jump right back on a plane (even if the airlines’ computer system completely crashed and left me stranded in Paris an extra night). I’ll hide in an Airbnb with my oversized underwear with a handle of gin and stroopwafels over there, a-thank-yoooou.

“Gin salad” in Amsterdam

2017 so far has been a year of break-throughs, breakdowns, heartbreak, and CAN-A-GIRL-CATCH-A-BREAK moments galore. Empty promises and major disappointments. I have succumbed to the proverbial traveling salesmen and believed in the snake oil more often than I’d like to admit… and allowed places and people that were once full of joy and fulfillment to be cast in a shade of resentful gray.

Saying good-bye to my favorite little furry bud was just the giant pickle in the crap-sandwich of it all.

Anyone who knows me for 5 seconds or more knows I barrell full force into whatever it is I feel I have to do. They also know I hold on to that idea that something magical is always possible and every decision and opportunity can and just-very-well-might lead to it, even if it takes a few drinks to remind myself of it. And because I want so badly to feel and experience everything so big and fiercely, I often let my bedazzled dreams cloud my judgement. It’s not naivete, I think (I hope?). It’s a force I have yet to describe – yet that journey to understanding it all and harnessing it for good is what gets me up in the morning (that, and the 8 cups of coffee I can’t function without).

I feel like I need to apologize that this isn’t a “Top 10 Awkward Moments I Had Abroad” or “Best Places to Exhaust the Waistband on Your Stretchy Pants in Amsterdam” post (but if you’d actually read that, I will write it). And I hope I never come across ungrateful for being in our wonderful little island community because goodness knows I’m thankful every day for it. Often, I’m even more thankful for the people who have done nothing but support my weird and wild attempts to find out what the heck I’m actually supposed to be doing here… including my handsome highschool sweetheart for who, after 15 years, still embraces the crazy and encourages me to seek happiness in the small moments.

Friday night beach walks with this hunk

I’m thankful to myself for leaving little nuggets along the to remind myself it wasn’t all bad, like printing off sweet emails from clients or taking time to order photos of favorite shots or special times. In fact, some moments of 2017 thus far were downright frickin’ fantastic. And you guys: I still pinch myself that I did get to travel abroad and explore cities some people only dream of with my bestest friend of 10 years AND observe her sweet little family trying to find out just how they fit in their community, too – and, boy, did it inspire me to enjoy our journey here a lot more. (And for crying out-loud, I got to see the childhood home of Audrey Hepburn! And drink rosé with lunch without any dirty looks!)

Paying tribute to the woman that brought us together in Brussels

Literally rosé ALL DAY in Paris

And by and large, my clients have been the sweetest, most fun people to work with, with good hearts and the best of intentions (and just #beautifulpeople to boot, MY GAH)… like I want to print and hang their photos on my walls because I feel so involved and obsessed with their stories. (And again, they’re really ridiculously good-looking.)

So here’s to looking at the latter-half of 2017, returning to my initial word of responsibility and giving myself the space to find that uniquely, uninhibited opportunity to create and to experience from a good, good place – whether I’m remembered for that One Thing or not.

Better yet, I’ve found it’s much more fun to get out of your own head and create space for others to discover and express their One Thing. And I hope that’s part of my bigger plan.

More importantly, I hope it involves lots of Oreo. Maybe gin. Oversized cotton underpants optional.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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You’re probably wondering why I didn’t phrase the title as a question.

The truth of the matter is that it is a constant question of mine, and the following is my feeble attempt to explain the enigma that is my mother.

Ladies & Gentlemen.

Who is Planet Sheila.

To understand where “Planet Sheila” comes from, you have to understand that my mother operates by her own rules and communicates in such a way that seems cryptic and bizarre yet is so profoundly simple and earnest. I first introduced Planet Sheila as a “character” of sorts in my life, far beyond the standard role of “mom,” to friends who questioned some physically present as well as world-view oddities I carried with me; the only way to make sense of what I couldn’t easily explain (at least not without a million back stories and “you had to be there” moments, which let’s face it, are painfully boring if you weren’t) was to tell people she hails from another planet: Planet Sheila. Maybe the laws of society and physics and reason don’t apply here on Planet Earth; but in a galaxy far, far away, the rules for which my mother is bound and lives her life is perfectly sound.

You see, her out-of-this-world behavior(s) and communication style are not merely wacky or utter nonsense. Quite the contrary, in fact. It happens with such frequency and pattern that it can’t be chalked up to typical “my mom is crazy” rhetoric. No, no… this is a social scientist’s dream of a case study.

Or space scientist, as it were.

^Behold, the humble beginnings in the evolution of Planet Sheila (circa 1986?). Look at how happy we all were before my other 4 siblings came along. LOOK HOW HAPPY.

For instance, when the dawn of texting came about and the shorthand along with it (LOL, BRB, WTF, etc.), my mother essentially invented her own. It took me months to be able to understand it without staring blankly at the glowing screen, and I wasn’t sure whether to be proud of myself or worried of my own understanding of it coming so easily. She also texts exactly how she talks, long before voice-to-text was even a thing, complete with emphasis on her word choice and with the same speed and chaotic jumping around she does in real life. During those days of running myself ragged in college and to this day of trying to manage a business, reading her texts between those intense moments of work bring me some weird little comfort of “hearing” her voice.

Probably the most famous of the Planet Sheila character points comes from the goodie boxes she sends on the occasion, whether special or just-because. I am 100% convinced she doesn’t realize she does this because it’s just too perfect (and maybe it’s a Planet Sheila social custom). Since I went away to college years ago, she still sends several boxes of items meant to bring some small joy and touches of the heart, but not without wondering where some of this stuff came from… it never, ever fails that a Planet Sheila box comes with the following three things: a practical item (ex: a travel wallet, a notepad, an “as-seen-on-TV” type device, etc.); a fun & frilly item (maybe a bracelet, some chocolate, wine with a fun label, cute slippers, etc.); and a WTF item. As in, I have no idea where it came from or who or why they would sell it… so random and bizarre it can only come from a store on Planet Sheila. A bright green St. Patrick’s Day stocking with my name embroidered on it (because on Planet Sheila, the elves fill a stocking then, too). Statues of religious icons (Child of Prague? yup, we’ve got him). A bright red shoe covered in bedazzles meant to hold your wine (as if we keep wine around long enough to need a holder). The list goes on.

But then there were the things that she introduced my siblings and me to from Planet Sheila in my early years and kept the spirit alive so well I can’t imagine having grown up without some of those memories.

For instance, we didn’t listen to Top 40 in the car driving to school or running errands, but rather my mother loved show tunes and ballads from big musicals. It opened up the conversation to things like history and asking what certain words/phrases meant in songs, and it wasn’t until I was in college I realized how weird it was to my siblings and I to beg for the Les Miserables soundtrack (“Red, the blood of angry men; Black, the dark of ages past!”… not exactly Kidz Bop).

Then there were the Christmases we’d bake an absurd amount of cookies or fudge or rice crispie treats to deliver to the usual suspects, but then we’d have the real fun and drop off goodies to those who we generally just found to be fun people in our lives: the attendants at the mailroom; our family pets’ vet; the shop owner of the quirky general store; the owners of the eclectic restaurant; the lead pharmacist at our favorite local drug store; etc. I grew up thinking that’s what you’re supposed to do, and I remember year after year getting so excited to see what new friends we’d add to the list of deliveries, thinking my lumpy and awkwardly designed in colored icing treats were better than any grocery store could hope to make.

Friday nights growing up, if not spent watching classic movies (okay, and occasionally Dumb & Dumber because Planet Sheila would snort-laugh at how stupid it was), were spent going to the theatre or opera or ballet. We learned the etiquette of applauding through movements, dressing for the occasion, and were always treated to a late-night dessert and discussion of the production afterwards.

Planet Sheila prepared food in such a way that either made you eat until you exploded or questioned the meaning of life. There was the one time she made a wild attempt at making biscuits when we moved from the Midwest to the South, and I thought she was trying to murder us by choking on the chalky, dusty hunks of flour and water (true story, I didn’t touch another biscuit until I was 19 because I thought they were supposed to taste that way and I thought Southerners were insane for liking them so much). But then she could make the most incredible corned beef or rack of lamb that to this day rivals any gourmet restaurant, and her invention of the “Squirrel Gut Cake” (a layer of brownie and a layer of cake separated by a thick filling of gooey red colored icing and topped with ugly green colored whipped topping and “guts” – basically nuts and a crap-ton of sprinkles and gummy worms) had all the neighborhood kids asking for that hideously delicious dessert.

On Planet Sheila, there are no strangers – only friends, and interesting ones at that. It took me years to realize she and my father didn’t “know” everyone in town… but they, especially my mother, gave them the space to be themselves and found everyone they met exceptionally fascinating. While I operate from a place of caution with a guarded heart, Planet Sheila opens hers to people she knows needs it most.

The attitude of gratitude is hallmark of Planet Sheila, as is the necessity of showing up BIG when called to do so (for Halloween one year she went full zombie and wore one of those creepy beauty peeling masks with some strategically placed makeup that was so perfectly horrifying, I’m still shocked Hollywood special effect people haven’t figured out how genius that was).

On Planet Sheila, time is a construct and not a fact, which can be so endlessly frustrating yet liberating at the same time. (If she’s 15min early or late, she’s basically “on time.”)

Sharing really is caring on Planet Sheila; she carefully choose several angel tags off the Christmas tree at church and invited us to shop for the people those tags represented, to whom I only knew by name. But I remember getting really excited to pick out sparkly pens and stickers and clothes for them and hoped one day we’d meet and share stories about who we were going to be when we grew up (and what their favorite scene is from Guys & Dolls, because doesn’t everyone have one?).

Generous. Bright. LOUD. Overtly positive yet with a hint of doom and cynicism. Curious. Hungry for new experiences. Full of life. Full of surprises. There is no word for “dull” as it’s a concept that doesn’t even exist, and bathroom sinks are used for vodka and wine storage. #alwaysprepared

These are the qualities you’ll find on Planet Sheila.

While one may never know when you’ll receive a transmission or maybe when her ship unexpectedly lands in your backyard, but I will say I can always count on her presence to light through the cosmos when you need it most. She can find the humor in anything and remind even the most self-inflated personalities, HEY MAN, we all put our green corduroy pants on the same way.

I hope one day I get the chance to visit Planet Sheila, as it must be simply marvelous. But until then, I’ll look to the stars knowing she’s always orbiting like a bedazzled spinning tea cup ride in the sky, sprinkling joy and absurdities everywhere she goes.

In the spirit of Planet Sheila and this weekend being Mother’s Day, I’d like to take a moment to officially announce my start of a new weekly newsletter inspired by the woman herself. Each week you’ll receive another piece of junk in your inbox with links to three new discoveries on the interwebs: 1 practical item; 1 fun & frilly item; and 1 WTF item. Sign up here (if you dare) and prepare to be amazed. Or at least mildly entertained.

And with that, I bid you all adieu, Earthlings.

Hugs & High Fives to infinity – and beyond!

-C

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In the last couple of weeks I’ve had several intense experiences with people in seemingly mundane, everyday occurrences. I don’t know if it was some cycle of the moon or the fact I maaaay have been sneaking an absurd amount of leftover Easter treats (I mean, COME ON they were 75% off), but it left me feeling out of sorts and anxious.

Being someone who feels and experiences things REALLY big, I’m used to having to take a step back to make sense of how I actually feel about things. But this was different. Like some force decided to take me down a notch, and do so in ways that would chip away at my weird little spirit. Small passive-agressive jabs. Belittling questions. Back-handed compliments. Seemingly normal interactions that seconds later make you say, “Wait – what?!” I chalked it up to reading too much into things but for some reason I couldn’t shake it.

And then the tipping point.

So there’s this lady, a new neighbor, who just moved in on our floor down the hallway. She’s got that croaky, huffy kind of voice that is only made louder when she’s got something to complain about… which is pretty much every time I’ve spoken with her. Since the day she’s moved in a few months ago, I’ve tried to be helpful and offer ways to get her acclimated to the island and share what makes this place so great when I run into her, and it’s only met with angry, self-important remarks. She’d carry-on about her assortment of medical issues then bark at me how I’d better get ready for the “joy of old age.” Then there was the host of “problems” she’s discovered about living on the island she’d rage on about while I’d listen as intently as I could and offer suggestions on some of our favorite spots. She’d respond with a scoff and an eye roll. So, I quit trying.

During this heightened period of WTF with humanity, I was walking out to my car to teach at the studio and she was talking with our downstairs neighbor, an older gentleman who’s been nothing but nice to us since coming to the island. I politely smiled and waved and caught some teeny bit of the conversation about one of her latest health problems and maybe needing some help with something in her car (?) and she literally yells at me while standing next to our neighbor: “Well I wouldn’t bother asking HER, SHE doesn’t care. SO selfish, that one.”

Bwuh?

Stunned and a little disoriented, I didn’t have the time nor wit to respond… and it really threw off the rest of my day.

Ruminating over all the moments I’ve interacted and all the conversations we’ve had with our new neighbor, I wondered over and over what I had done to come across heartless and selfish to this woman. Of course, John being the kind and wonderful person he is (and having had the similar experiences with her as I had), he assured me it was her just being a mean old bat and not to think so much of it. Which of course only made me do so more.

A couple of days later, still feeling out of sorts with life and letting our neighbor’s angry words get to me more and more, I blew off my normal morning workout and took to the beach. It was a particularly cold and drizzly morning (the last of those April showers, I suppose), but I felt compelled to so anyways. As soon as I heard the crash of the waves and felt the squish of  sand under my shoes, things suddenly better. To my surprise there were several beach goers that morning, all of whom offered a wave or a smiley “good morning” as they power-walked the shoreline or trotted along with their equally as friendly dogs. A long, brisk walk listening to one of my favorite podcasts started to put a lot of my glitchy thoughts and feelings back into order.


Sure enough, later that day the sun came out my downstairs neighbor and I ran into each other. He assured me he put her in her place after her shouting at me and didn’t tolerate her being so negative. Even for a guy that has to be one of THE nicest people on the planet, he felt she was just a mean old woman. “Don’t let her bring to her level,” he told me.

I think being a person who likes to fix and help and generally is anxious when things are out of order, it hurts at even the thought of someone believing I don’t have the very best of intentions. I prefer direct and open communication, and try to leave the doors open to that as much as I can. And I have to remind myself there are people who don’t prefer these things – and people who are so broken after a lifetime of choosing to be unhappy. Misery is so easy; it’s so easy to be down and stay there. And it’s a lot easier to bring someone down with you rather than try to rise above.

For those people, there’s a part of them missing that only they can fill with a sense of wonder and curiosity and gratitude. They’re often jealous because they feel others’ success means they’re just that much further away from theirs. They like busting chops. They’ll never have enough and never feel like they are enough… and the only thing, I think, we can do is listen when we can and pray they take that step out of fear and loathing to a place of hope and fortitude.

Something that brought me back, too, is remember how many amazing, kind, supportive, and generous people I DO have in my life. The sweet emails from clients. The messages on social media saying incredibly kind things about my work. The unexpected hugs from friends. The late night night texts to check in. The smiles from strangers on the beach. The shnoogles from my favorite shark-dog.

I can’t say I’m out of the funk yet, but at least I know I’ve got a hug somewhere when I need it. And I’ve decided a long walk on the beach should always be in my repertoire.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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