Being Boswell

Inspiration for a Monday morning

We happened to flip through to the Grammy’s last night.  As with any television awards show we watched with distraction. Folding laundry. Paying bills. Organizing for the week ahead.

Until…a bright, red haired Cyndi Lauper introduced a duet by Carole King and someone I didn’t know, Sara Bareilles. I love Carole King. Her songs comforted and inspired me as a teen. I was braver because of her words.

I sat down to watch. With all of my attention. I felt goosebumps as these two women, Carole older, Sara younger, sang and played their pianos to each other and to me.

I was still moved this morning, so much so I decided to share it with you.

Sit down. Enjoy.

Carole King and Sara Bareilles

 

 
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Patricia Boswell

Why do I feel bad when I compare myself to perfect people?

I know, I know, there are no perfect people.

That is what I tell myself when I am comparing myself to the woman standing in front of me in the check out line in Whole Foods.  A beautiful 60-ish woman, who is toned (specifically no giggle arm or belly), artistic yet casually dressed, well spoken with kind words to the check-out woman and the guy bagging her well chosen groceries. I am certain she has kept her girlish figure even though I imagine she has birthed babies.

I think her oldest is probably a brain surgeon who has developed a miracle non invasive procedure to help menopausal women remember their children’s birth dates. Her youngest is most likely a rocket scientist who is developing a garbage collecting space rocket to gather all the crap we have imagesleft up there…as evidenced in the movie Gravity — the debris blowing Sandra Bullock dangerously far away from the mother ship. This woman smiles warmly, with perfectly straight still white teeth, as she hands me the separator that will distinguish her stuff from mine.

She is not perfect. I am sure. I tell myself she has problems too. I even begin to make up some fictitious dilemma to soothe my screaming ego. I bet she can’t eat a whole bag of chocolate covered pretzels while watching a Big Bang rerun.

I always lose when I play the comparison game because I judge myself against people I decide are better than me, smarter than me, wealthier, funnier, cuter. As I age I compare myself with others who can get off the floor faster or remember where they parked their car.

So why do I do it? Why do you? I know that you do…but if miraculously you don’t, don’t tell me, cuz I will compare myself to you.

Perhaps it is the grass is always greener…or the 1960’s parenting technique of comparing kids to their more successful sibling or neighbor kid in an attempt to motivate Junior to learn his spelling words.

It is a lousy motivational technique.

In my family I was the shining star. The Hero child. It was as good a role as any, I guess, but I always had to succeed. Do well. Bring home accolades. And when I did, my brother, who was the Rebel child, hated me more each day. I came to learn that being the object of comparison sucks too.

Either way we lose.

Either way we feel bad about ourselves.

The truth is we don’t know what goes on for others. What we tell ourselves is simply a story that we have make up. Some of it may be true, most of it probably is not.

How do you feel when you compare yourself to another? 
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Patricia Boswell

You call me a Bitch…like it’s a bad thing…

27 years ago, in the Chicago Airport, I wanted to get home to my 6 month old son. My X and I were on a layover gone bad. The ticket agent informed us that we were not leaving any time soon since the plane to Pittsburgh was indeterminately delayed. This was not the answer I wanted to hear. I needed to get home to Landon.

I instinctively pulled myself up to my full 5-feet-10-inch height and leaned over the counter, closing the distance between myself and this unsuspecting man’s face. I informed him, in a dangerously quiet voice, tears in my eyes, that I had a son I needed to get home to and I WOULD be leaving soon. Very soon. And he was going to make it happen.

He did. He found a flight that got us home late that evening. Maybe he was glad to get me out of there. Maybe he was a dad and understood my panic. Either way he sent me home.

My X, Landon’s father, called me a Bitch for speaking to the ticket agent that way. I was infuriated by his lack of support that expressed itself in his name calling. I was also a bit ashamed of myself for acting badly to that nice man behind the ticket counter.

Two years later, when our son had a febrile seizure, the doctors insisted on doing a spinal tap. Hearing Landon’s terrified screams from the procedure room, as he was being held down by a team of nurses, I got-in-the face of another man, the doctor. Holding his white jacket lapels–mostly to steady my weak knees, I breathlessly asked if the spinal tap was absolutely necessary. He said it was. My X later told me I was (again) being a Bitch.

I did not intentionally try to be the B word. I knew the rule; If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. People wouldn’t like me if I was not nice. I was clearly aware, thanks to my moms early training, that it was my job to keep everyone happy-especially her. So I learned the act of pleasantness.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of one of my favorite books, Women Who Run with the Wolves, tells the story of being asked why she had to get so loud and angry when something negatively impacted her. She responded along the lines of, “Well, you don’t hear me when I am quiet.”

Why does an assertive woman get called a bitch? Why is standing my ground considered bitchiness?

When I reached my mid 30’s something began to change inside of me. I stopped feeling guilty for my edginess. In fact, I rather began to enjoy it. I liked speaking up, even if the other person didn’t like what I said. I didn’t stop being kind. I did stop being nice. There is a difference.

Several years into this transformation my X, once again, called me a Bitch. I don’t remember for what. I do remember thanking him for the compliment; explaining that I had been working very hard to develop this skill and I was glad he had noticed.

The world needs more bitchy women.

: )
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Patricia Boswell

Luv Ya

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s casual. “Luv ya,” I call over my shoulder as I head out the door.

I notice when I choose this abbreviated endearment to express my love. I notice when someone chooses to say to me. I feel a bit empty. Not necessarily bad empty, just empty. Like eating fat free ice cream. It’s fine. It looks like ice cream. It’s cold. It’s just not that filling.

Even if I formalize it a bit more by saying, “Love you,” my emptiness lingers. I feel the missing “I.”

Try it yourself. Say, Love you. Now say, I Love you. Do you notice a difference?

I do. I feel me when I use “I” and I feel you when you say “I”. (DId that make sense? Hope so. I hope so.) When I say, “I,” I am owning what I say. I am in my words. I am in me. I am holding myself accountable. I said that. I meant that. And you know it.

Anytime I drop “I” from my sentence it changes the fat content of my message. “Miss you.”  “Understand.”  “Sorry.”

Recently, before heading out to do some shopping, I stopped at our local diner for a late breakfast. Two eggs over easy, bacon, no toast. Two pancakes. My favorite. A little protein to modify the effects of the sugar and white flour high/crash of the pancakes. I sat at the counter with the other single diners enjoying my urban life.

There was a young man sitting alone at the end of the counter. He was hard not to notice. He was not using his inside voice. His amplified banter with the waitress distracted me from my book. I wanted him to be quiet.

At one point his girlfriend texted him. Maybe his wife, but I hope not. He apparently was late for something they had planned and she was wondering where he was. He reported this loudly and jovially as he shoved a large fork-full of his hungry-man breakfast into his mouth.Unknown-1

After he swallowed, he shared his antidote for an angry girlfriend. He had clearly used it many times.  “Luv ya honey.” He was very proud of himself. He had the formula. “It works every time,” he confidently confided to the entire diner. “That’s all I need to say and she will be fine.” He went on eating and enjoying the company of the waitress.

I thought how lucky it was for me to hear since I had begun writing this post and wasn’t sure where to go with it. Now I knew. I also thought, how unlucky for this girlfriend to be taken in by manipulative words that sound like I Love You, but I imagine didn’t feel like it.

Perhaps that is the litmus test. Regardless of the I, or lack there of, do I feel loved when you say it to me?

Likewise, do I feel loving when I am calling over my shoulder my many variations of those 3 simple words? Do I mean it as a perfunctory sentiment? Do I mean it at all? Am I offering all the fat or 2%?

Just something to think about over breakfast…since I couldn’t concentrate on my book.

XO

 
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Patricia Boswell

HO HO HO HCKAGGHHCCGGGG HAAACHHHOOO

The week before Christmas I told someone, with a naughty twinkle in my eye, that I may  just spend my whole Christmas vacation in my P.J.’s. I had asked Santa for a pair of extra warm ones and I was looking forward to lounging around.

Be careful what you ask for…or joke about.

I have spent my Christmas break in my jammies. Not because I wanted to…but because I got the flu.

I am not usually superstitious. I may rethink that. I said I wanted to be in my pajamas for a week. I discussed with someone how I never get the flu shot, feeling very superior about my choice. And I just did the blog post about how I used to get sick every 7 years and how I don’t anymore.

I think I jinxed myself.

Tom took me to see our doctor Christmas Eve day. I was touched when they fit me in with an appointment last minute. I am certain they all had places they would rather have been.

I was really sick. The can’t hold your head up; need to concentrate to walk; can’t sit up on the examining table kind of sick.

After my blood pressure and temperature were taken, 150/80, 102.2, Dr. H came in. Dr. H is from Eastern Europe. She has a warm smile, kind eyes and is like a stern mom. Often I resist her firmness. This day I was comforted by it.

“Ywo dun’t lolk goood.” she said, looking over her glasses. She ordered a Flu swab.

Her nurse appeared with two, foot long Q tips. One for each nostril. She said in her best pediatrician-lie-to-the-kid voice, “This won’t hurt, I am just going to tickle your brain.”

“Tickle my brain my ass.”

Unfortunately my body did not respond to the messages of DANGER, RUN, FAST, I was sending it. I simply laid there, passive, limp, defenseless. I compliantly tilted my head back as she tickled my brain. It didn’t tickle. She lied.

The test came back negative. Whew. Just a monster cold.

Dr. H had different thoughts. She repeated how bad I looked, saying she wanted me to go the hospital to get another flu swab. She explained the hospital had a more accurate test than the one they use in the office. This test used 4 Q tips.

Sure. Sure. I’ll go. NOT.

She must have read my mind. She scooted her rolling chair a hair closer. A risky thing to do with someone that, “dun’t lolk goood,” despite the mask she wore and the mask I was given to wear. It’s hard to breath in those masks. Every time I exhaled, my glasses fogged up. I also felt like a leper. Even though I couldn’t see anyone clearly, I could feel their looks. I was the one to stay clear of. I have discovered, in my bouts of every-7-year-sickness’s, that feeling like shit alleviates shame. I was too sick to give a rats ass. A small blessing. So when Dr. H closed the distance between us, laser-locking eyes with me, I didn’t exhale so I could see her.

Over her glasses, with finger her pointed at my nose and she pronounced, “Ywo gho.”

I went.

Thankfully Dr. H had it wrong and it was only one Q Tip. I asked the nurse to be gentle. He agreed saying it would still hurt. I appreciated his honesty.

The test came back positive.

I am in my 5th day of Pajama wearing but I feel much better. Tamiflu is a miracle drug. Today, being in my P.J.’s feels more choice-ful than it did yesterday. My illusion of control is returning. I think tomorrow I will venture into some real clothes and maybe finish my Christmas shopping and cooking.

Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I have enough gifts, food, whatever else I tell myself I need to make our belated Christmas celebration feel like a cherished memory.

Being sick slows life down. Slows me down. Another way to care less. As I feel better I appreciate the gift slower movement, fewer expectations of myself, more grace. It seems I repeatedly forget this…until I get sick. Then I remember again.

I didn’t think I had any New Years Resolutions for this year, but now I do.

Stop fighting, fixing, figuring and just slow down. Do less.

Tom recently described me to someone as a high performer. I was flattered. I don’t know though if he meant it as a compliment. I think sometimes I wear him out. I know sometimes I wear me out.

Maybe I could do less. You know what they say, Less is more…

I know as I write this I won’t do it. It is not me. I will slowly increase speed. But I am sure, when necessary, I will be reminded. Again.

 
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Patricia Boswell

I can’t know what I don’t know…and I hate that!

Sometimes we just don’t know. We don’t know the best way to go in our lives, what decision will move us in a desired direction or what will keep us safe in the future.

Staying in the not-knowing is painstakingly hard. I hate it. Most of my friends do too.

I often attempt to correct this unpleasantness with a lot of figuring-out-of-things. Making pro and con lists. Getting others opinions. Imagining into the future. Anything to know.

Living in the question is an act of faith. I have to trust that I will know when I am ready to know. That takes a tremendous amount of confidence…in me. It also means I must remain open to all possibilities, not just the narrow the options I have selected so I feel more comfortable.

My new daughter-in-law was struggling with some career decisions. She wanted to know what she should do…now! She went back and forth, up and down, trying to know the right choice.

I told her that she needed to be willing to live in her question, until her answer appeared. I assured her it would.

I felt like the wise sage offering advise to the fair maiden. Advise born of 5 ½ decades of figuring out life…sometimes more successfully than others. Life takes its own time and its own route. We are best served by being willing companions to the ride.

I like knowing this.
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Patricia Boswell

What do you want people not to miss about you?

Tom is always finding obscure online stories and sending them to me to read. When he asks, “What did you think of the piece I sent you,” sometimes I lie. I tell him it was good, interesting, something my life is better for knowing…I do imagesthis because I feel bad saying, “Didn’t read it.” My mom would call this a white lie. She was good at white lies. I think a lie is a lie. To be honest, sometimes I lie.

Sometimes Tom reads his latest, interesting story to me while I am making my lunch for work or getting dressed. I think he suspects my duplicity and wants to be sure I hear this one. Sometimes it’s a great story and I say, “Wow, that’s a great story, send it to me, it would make a fun blog piece.”

So this post is brought to you by way of Tom and his Wednesday morning internet article reading.

The story was about 75 year-old songwriter, Allen Toussaint, who wrote, “Working in the Coalmine” and “Southern Nights.” The article spoke of his reluctance to let people know he had finished an album because he was afraid of the critique it would face. Van Dyke Parks, a well known composer, instrumentalist and songwriter, came to visit him to support him in releasing the album. He told Allen to “Imagine you’re going to die in two weeks. What do you want people not to miss about you?”

In response to that question he wrote, “Southern Nights,” so that anyone who heard the song would know something essential about the people and the land that shaped him.

On my way to work I asked myself, out loud, I talk to myself…as shared in last weeks post, “What do I want people not to miss about me?”

My immediate answer was, “That I care.”

Sometimes too much. I have written about that.

Sometimes in odd ways. I have written about that too.

By the time I got to work I realized this blog is my album.

This is what I want you to not miss about me. I write about my humanity, the good, the bad, and the ugly, so you can feel and accept yours. I am honest…even about my dishonesty, so that you can love and accept your contradictions. I let you know who I am, by telling on myself, so you don’t feel alone being more of who you are. This is how I show you I care.

Now you know!

What do you want people to not miss about you?
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Patricia Boswell

Let me call me sweetheart…

The other day I was on the floor stretching. I had a pain in my ass. Technically my hip, that tiny bugger of a muscle that is dead center on the hip bone. It can cause a boat load of trouble for being such a small thing.

Anyway, I was being very deliberate and patient with my stretch. The relief I felt was directly related to the angle at which I pulled my bent left leg my over my right hip. Straight to the right was not effective. Over and up toward my chest was the ticket.

Ahhhhhh. I held there for a moment. Breathing. In this pause I heard myself say, “That a girl. That’s it sweetheart. You’re doing great.”

I was speaking sweet nothings to myself. Wow, I was touched by me. How lovely and considerate. Friendly. Someone I would want to go get a cup of coffee with…

This self kindness has not always been my M.O.. There was a time, not so long ago, that I was rather hard on myself. I yanked myself around telling myself to keep-up; get-a-grip; that it’s (whatever “it” happened to be) my fault because I didn’t do it right, say it right, or plan well enough. I could be down right mean. Sometimes I even called myself names. (Sticks a stones can break your bones, but names can break your heart.)

I knew when I had been talking smack on myself because after a day or so I would feel like shit. My breathing was shallow, my shoulders were tense and I didn’t like anybody, especially myself. Hanging out with me was not fun.

But on this particular day I caught myself unawares; being kind, gentle, and encouraging. I was moonstruck.

Now I call me sweetheart. I ask myself if I want to keep up. I remind myself instead of getting-a-grip, I need to let-go. And, if it is my fault I apologize, then move on.

Perhaps I was my pain in my ass.

Go figure.
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Patricia Boswell

I’m headed under the covers…

I have a good friend that often says she doesn’t care.

Sometimes when she says this I feel judgmental, believing she should care. Other times I feel intrigued, wondering what would happen it I didn’t care either.

I think what she is really saying is she is not going to allow said person, event or thing to upset her. She is not going to get wrapped-around-the-axle like another friend describes herself doing.

My dad used to say, “I could care less,” when he was done with us and/or our behavior. (Grammatically speaking he should have said I couldn’t care less, but in that moment I wasn’t about to correct his English.) I knew what he meant was we were on the edge of trouble. I felt hurt when he said this. I wanted him to always care about everything pertaining to me. He usually didn’t. Maybe that is why I care so much today.

Recently, several days in a row, I came home from work and imageswent straight to bed. I thought I was tired. Tom determined I was depressed. That’s the thing with depression, the depress-e doesn’t recognize it, someone from the outside does.

I was depressed. And to my surprise, being truly honest here, I enjoyed it. I felt relieved  because when I am depressed I allow myself to care less. I didn’t worry about getting dinner ready or stopping at the store to pick up last minute items. I didn’t feel bad about not returning the calls I needed to make to friends and family. I didn’t care about the half finished house projects waiting for our attention. I didn’t feel not good enough or not important. Because, I didn’t care.

I had unwrapped myself from around the preverbal axle. This was a come-to-Jesus moment.

“Really?”, I asked myself in astonishment. Was this was how I was going to set boundaries? Am I going to take care of myself by going to bed at 5:00 and pulling the covers over my head?

Looking back, my early-to-bed was a break I needed. Kind of a deep breath in my schedule. I have taken this liberty a couple of other times in my life, always around big transitions. Deciding to end my marriage, moving into Pittsburgh and selling our families home, and recently Landon’s wedding.

Sometimes I just need to give myself a break. I depress myself to stop myself. Stop moving. Stop producing. Stop initiating. Going to bed accomplishes this. My mini depressive episode. I now trust this behavior in myself; as long as it is only a couple of days. My internal clock needed to reset.

I wonder if this is an option to getting sick. I used to do that. Every 7 years I would end up in the hospital. My doctor pondered this phenomenon out loud with me, “What’s up?”

Good question.

There are many ways to stop and regroup. This seems to be mine. It gets my attention and prompts me to make changes. I need to care differently. I need to care at least as much about myself as I do for someone else. I want to hold myself to a softer standard of accountability checking in with my energy level, my interest and my availability.

And after all that, I may decide, that sometimes, I just don’t care.

XO
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Patricia Boswell

Inspiration for a Monday morning

We happened to flip through to the Grammy’s last night.  As with any television awards show we watched with distraction. Folding laundry. Paying bills. Organizing for the week ahead.

Until…a bright, red haired Cyndi Lauper introduced a duet by Carole King and someone I didn’t know, Sara Bareilles. I love Carole King. Her songs comforted and inspired me as a teen. I was braver because of her words.

I sat down to watch. With all of my attention. I felt goosebumps as these two women, Carole older, Sara younger, sang and played their pianos to each other and to me.

I was still moved this morning, so much so I decided to share it with you.

Sit down. Enjoy.

Carole King and Sara Bareilles

 

 
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Patricia Boswell

Why do I feel bad when I compare myself to perfect people?

I know, I know, there are no perfect people.

That is what I tell myself when I am comparing myself to the woman standing in front of me in the check out line in Whole Foods.  A beautiful 60-ish woman, who is toned (specifically no giggle arm or belly), artistic yet casually dressed, well spoken with kind words to the check-out woman and the guy bagging her well chosen groceries. I am certain she has kept her girlish figure even though I imagine she has birthed babies.

I think her oldest is probably a brain surgeon who has developed a miracle non invasive procedure to help menopausal women remember their children’s birth dates. Her youngest is most likely a rocket scientist who is developing a garbage collecting space rocket to gather all the crap we have imagesleft up there…as evidenced in the movie Gravity — the debris blowing Sandra Bullock dangerously far away from the mother ship. This woman smiles warmly, with perfectly straight still white teeth, as she hands me the separator that will distinguish her stuff from mine.

She is not perfect. I am sure. I tell myself she has problems too. I even begin to make up some fictitious dilemma to soothe my screaming ego. I bet she can’t eat a whole bag of chocolate covered pretzels while watching a Big Bang rerun.

I always lose when I play the comparison game because I judge myself against people I decide are better than me, smarter than me, wealthier, funnier, cuter. As I age I compare myself with others who can get off the floor faster or remember where they parked their car.

So why do I do it? Why do you? I know that you do…but if miraculously you don’t, don’t tell me, cuz I will compare myself to you.

Perhaps it is the grass is always greener…or the 1960’s parenting technique of comparing kids to their more successful sibling or neighbor kid in an attempt to motivate Junior to learn his spelling words.

It is a lousy motivational technique.

In my family I was the shining star. The Hero child. It was as good a role as any, I guess, but I always had to succeed. Do well. Bring home accolades. And when I did, my brother, who was the Rebel child, hated me more each day. I came to learn that being the object of comparison sucks too.

Either way we lose.

Either way we feel bad about ourselves.

The truth is we don’t know what goes on for others. What we tell ourselves is simply a story that we have make up. Some of it may be true, most of it probably is not.

How do you feel when you compare yourself to another? 
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Patricia Boswell

You call me a Bitch…like it’s a bad thing…

27 years ago, in the Chicago Airport, I wanted to get home to my 6 month old son. My X and I were on a layover gone bad. The ticket agent informed us that we were not leaving any time soon since the plane to Pittsburgh was indeterminately delayed. This was not the answer I wanted to hear. I needed to get home to Landon.

I instinctively pulled myself up to my full 5-feet-10-inch height and leaned over the counter, closing the distance between myself and this unsuspecting man’s face. I informed him, in a dangerously quiet voice, tears in my eyes, that I had a son I needed to get home to and I WOULD be leaving soon. Very soon. And he was going to make it happen.

He did. He found a flight that got us home late that evening. Maybe he was glad to get me out of there. Maybe he was a dad and understood my panic. Either way he sent me home.

My X, Landon’s father, called me a Bitch for speaking to the ticket agent that way. I was infuriated by his lack of support that expressed itself in his name calling. I was also a bit ashamed of myself for acting badly to that nice man behind the ticket counter.

Two years later, when our son had a febrile seizure, the doctors insisted on doing a spinal tap. Hearing Landon’s terrified screams from the procedure room, as he was being held down by a team of nurses, I got-in-the face of another man, the doctor. Holding his white jacket lapels–mostly to steady my weak knees, I breathlessly asked if the spinal tap was absolutely necessary. He said it was. My X later told me I was (again) being a Bitch.

I did not intentionally try to be the B word. I knew the rule; If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. People wouldn’t like me if I was not nice. I was clearly aware, thanks to my moms early training, that it was my job to keep everyone happy-especially her. So I learned the act of pleasantness.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of one of my favorite books, Women Who Run with the Wolves, tells the story of being asked why she had to get so loud and angry when something negatively impacted her. She responded along the lines of, “Well, you don’t hear me when I am quiet.”

Why does an assertive woman get called a bitch? Why is standing my ground considered bitchiness?

When I reached my mid 30’s something began to change inside of me. I stopped feeling guilty for my edginess. In fact, I rather began to enjoy it. I liked speaking up, even if the other person didn’t like what I said. I didn’t stop being kind. I did stop being nice. There is a difference.

Several years into this transformation my X, once again, called me a Bitch. I don’t remember for what. I do remember thanking him for the compliment; explaining that I had been working very hard to develop this skill and I was glad he had noticed.

The world needs more bitchy women.

: )
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Patricia Boswell

Luv Ya

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s casual. “Luv ya,” I call over my shoulder as I head out the door.

I notice when I choose this abbreviated endearment to express my love. I notice when someone chooses to say to me. I feel a bit empty. Not necessarily bad empty, just empty. Like eating fat free ice cream. It’s fine. It looks like ice cream. It’s cold. It’s just not that filling.

Even if I formalize it a bit more by saying, “Love you,” my emptiness lingers. I feel the missing “I.”

Try it yourself. Say, Love you. Now say, I Love you. Do you notice a difference?

I do. I feel me when I use “I” and I feel you when you say “I”. (DId that make sense? Hope so. I hope so.) When I say, “I,” I am owning what I say. I am in my words. I am in me. I am holding myself accountable. I said that. I meant that. And you know it.

Anytime I drop “I” from my sentence it changes the fat content of my message. “Miss you.”  “Understand.”  “Sorry.”

Recently, before heading out to do some shopping, I stopped at our local diner for a late breakfast. Two eggs over easy, bacon, no toast. Two pancakes. My favorite. A little protein to modify the effects of the sugar and white flour high/crash of the pancakes. I sat at the counter with the other single diners enjoying my urban life.

There was a young man sitting alone at the end of the counter. He was hard not to notice. He was not using his inside voice. His amplified banter with the waitress distracted me from my book. I wanted him to be quiet.

At one point his girlfriend texted him. Maybe his wife, but I hope not. He apparently was late for something they had planned and she was wondering where he was. He reported this loudly and jovially as he shoved a large fork-full of his hungry-man breakfast into his mouth.Unknown-1

After he swallowed, he shared his antidote for an angry girlfriend. He had clearly used it many times.  “Luv ya honey.” He was very proud of himself. He had the formula. “It works every time,” he confidently confided to the entire diner. “That’s all I need to say and she will be fine.” He went on eating and enjoying the company of the waitress.

I thought how lucky it was for me to hear since I had begun writing this post and wasn’t sure where to go with it. Now I knew. I also thought, how unlucky for this girlfriend to be taken in by manipulative words that sound like I Love You, but I imagine didn’t feel like it.

Perhaps that is the litmus test. Regardless of the I, or lack there of, do I feel loved when you say it to me?

Likewise, do I feel loving when I am calling over my shoulder my many variations of those 3 simple words? Do I mean it as a perfunctory sentiment? Do I mean it at all? Am I offering all the fat or 2%?

Just something to think about over breakfast…since I couldn’t concentrate on my book.

XO

 
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Patricia Boswell

HO HO HO HCKAGGHHCCGGGG HAAACHHHOOO

The week before Christmas I told someone, with a naughty twinkle in my eye, that I may  just spend my whole Christmas vacation in my P.J.’s. I had asked Santa for a pair of extra warm ones and I was looking forward to lounging around.

Be careful what you ask for…or joke about.

I have spent my Christmas break in my jammies. Not because I wanted to…but because I got the flu.

I am not usually superstitious. I may rethink that. I said I wanted to be in my pajamas for a week. I discussed with someone how I never get the flu shot, feeling very superior about my choice. And I just did the blog post about how I used to get sick every 7 years and how I don’t anymore.

I think I jinxed myself.

Tom took me to see our doctor Christmas Eve day. I was touched when they fit me in with an appointment last minute. I am certain they all had places they would rather have been.

I was really sick. The can’t hold your head up; need to concentrate to walk; can’t sit up on the examining table kind of sick.

After my blood pressure and temperature were taken, 150/80, 102.2, Dr. H came in. Dr. H is from Eastern Europe. She has a warm smile, kind eyes and is like a stern mom. Often I resist her firmness. This day I was comforted by it.

“Ywo dun’t lolk goood.” she said, looking over her glasses. She ordered a Flu swab.

Her nurse appeared with two, foot long Q tips. One for each nostril. She said in her best pediatrician-lie-to-the-kid voice, “This won’t hurt, I am just going to tickle your brain.”

“Tickle my brain my ass.”

Unfortunately my body did not respond to the messages of DANGER, RUN, FAST, I was sending it. I simply laid there, passive, limp, defenseless. I compliantly tilted my head back as she tickled my brain. It didn’t tickle. She lied.

The test came back negative. Whew. Just a monster cold.

Dr. H had different thoughts. She repeated how bad I looked, saying she wanted me to go the hospital to get another flu swab. She explained the hospital had a more accurate test than the one they use in the office. This test used 4 Q tips.

Sure. Sure. I’ll go. NOT.

She must have read my mind. She scooted her rolling chair a hair closer. A risky thing to do with someone that, “dun’t lolk goood,” despite the mask she wore and the mask I was given to wear. It’s hard to breath in those masks. Every time I exhaled, my glasses fogged up. I also felt like a leper. Even though I couldn’t see anyone clearly, I could feel their looks. I was the one to stay clear of. I have discovered, in my bouts of every-7-year-sickness’s, that feeling like shit alleviates shame. I was too sick to give a rats ass. A small blessing. So when Dr. H closed the distance between us, laser-locking eyes with me, I didn’t exhale so I could see her.

Over her glasses, with finger her pointed at my nose and she pronounced, “Ywo gho.”

I went.

Thankfully Dr. H had it wrong and it was only one Q Tip. I asked the nurse to be gentle. He agreed saying it would still hurt. I appreciated his honesty.

The test came back positive.

I am in my 5th day of Pajama wearing but I feel much better. Tamiflu is a miracle drug. Today, being in my P.J.’s feels more choice-ful than it did yesterday. My illusion of control is returning. I think tomorrow I will venture into some real clothes and maybe finish my Christmas shopping and cooking.

Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I have enough gifts, food, whatever else I tell myself I need to make our belated Christmas celebration feel like a cherished memory.

Being sick slows life down. Slows me down. Another way to care less. As I feel better I appreciate the gift slower movement, fewer expectations of myself, more grace. It seems I repeatedly forget this…until I get sick. Then I remember again.

I didn’t think I had any New Years Resolutions for this year, but now I do.

Stop fighting, fixing, figuring and just slow down. Do less.

Tom recently described me to someone as a high performer. I was flattered. I don’t know though if he meant it as a compliment. I think sometimes I wear him out. I know sometimes I wear me out.

Maybe I could do less. You know what they say, Less is more…

I know as I write this I won’t do it. It is not me. I will slowly increase speed. But I am sure, when necessary, I will be reminded. Again.

 
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Patricia Boswell

I can’t know what I don’t know…and I hate that!

Sometimes we just don’t know. We don’t know the best way to go in our lives, what decision will move us in a desired direction or what will keep us safe in the future.

Staying in the not-knowing is painstakingly hard. I hate it. Most of my friends do too.

I often attempt to correct this unpleasantness with a lot of figuring-out-of-things. Making pro and con lists. Getting others opinions. Imagining into the future. Anything to know.

Living in the question is an act of faith. I have to trust that I will know when I am ready to know. That takes a tremendous amount of confidence…in me. It also means I must remain open to all possibilities, not just the narrow the options I have selected so I feel more comfortable.

My new daughter-in-law was struggling with some career decisions. She wanted to know what she should do…now! She went back and forth, up and down, trying to know the right choice.

I told her that she needed to be willing to live in her question, until her answer appeared. I assured her it would.

I felt like the wise sage offering advise to the fair maiden. Advise born of 5 ½ decades of figuring out life…sometimes more successfully than others. Life takes its own time and its own route. We are best served by being willing companions to the ride.

I like knowing this.
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Patricia Boswell

What do you want people not to miss about you?

Tom is always finding obscure online stories and sending them to me to read. When he asks, “What did you think of the piece I sent you,” sometimes I lie. I tell him it was good, interesting, something my life is better for knowing…I do imagesthis because I feel bad saying, “Didn’t read it.” My mom would call this a white lie. She was good at white lies. I think a lie is a lie. To be honest, sometimes I lie.

Sometimes Tom reads his latest, interesting story to me while I am making my lunch for work or getting dressed. I think he suspects my duplicity and wants to be sure I hear this one. Sometimes it’s a great story and I say, “Wow, that’s a great story, send it to me, it would make a fun blog piece.”

So this post is brought to you by way of Tom and his Wednesday morning internet article reading.

The story was about 75 year-old songwriter, Allen Toussaint, who wrote, “Working in the Coalmine” and “Southern Nights.” The article spoke of his reluctance to let people know he had finished an album because he was afraid of the critique it would face. Van Dyke Parks, a well known composer, instrumentalist and songwriter, came to visit him to support him in releasing the album. He told Allen to “Imagine you’re going to die in two weeks. What do you want people not to miss about you?”

In response to that question he wrote, “Southern Nights,” so that anyone who heard the song would know something essential about the people and the land that shaped him.

On my way to work I asked myself, out loud, I talk to myself…as shared in last weeks post, “What do I want people not to miss about me?”

My immediate answer was, “That I care.”

Sometimes too much. I have written about that.

Sometimes in odd ways. I have written about that too.

By the time I got to work I realized this blog is my album.

This is what I want you to not miss about me. I write about my humanity, the good, the bad, and the ugly, so you can feel and accept yours. I am honest…even about my dishonesty, so that you can love and accept your contradictions. I let you know who I am, by telling on myself, so you don’t feel alone being more of who you are. This is how I show you I care.

Now you know!

What do you want people to not miss about you?
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Patricia Boswell

Let me call me sweetheart…

The other day I was on the floor stretching. I had a pain in my ass. Technically my hip, that tiny bugger of a muscle that is dead center on the hip bone. It can cause a boat load of trouble for being such a small thing.

Anyway, I was being very deliberate and patient with my stretch. The relief I felt was directly related to the angle at which I pulled my bent left leg my over my right hip. Straight to the right was not effective. Over and up toward my chest was the ticket.

Ahhhhhh. I held there for a moment. Breathing. In this pause I heard myself say, “That a girl. That’s it sweetheart. You’re doing great.”

I was speaking sweet nothings to myself. Wow, I was touched by me. How lovely and considerate. Friendly. Someone I would want to go get a cup of coffee with…

This self kindness has not always been my M.O.. There was a time, not so long ago, that I was rather hard on myself. I yanked myself around telling myself to keep-up; get-a-grip; that it’s (whatever “it” happened to be) my fault because I didn’t do it right, say it right, or plan well enough. I could be down right mean. Sometimes I even called myself names. (Sticks a stones can break your bones, but names can break your heart.)

I knew when I had been talking smack on myself because after a day or so I would feel like shit. My breathing was shallow, my shoulders were tense and I didn’t like anybody, especially myself. Hanging out with me was not fun.

But on this particular day I caught myself unawares; being kind, gentle, and encouraging. I was moonstruck.

Now I call me sweetheart. I ask myself if I want to keep up. I remind myself instead of getting-a-grip, I need to let-go. And, if it is my fault I apologize, then move on.

Perhaps I was my pain in my ass.

Go figure.
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Patricia Boswell

I’m headed under the covers…

I have a good friend that often says she doesn’t care.

Sometimes when she says this I feel judgmental, believing she should care. Other times I feel intrigued, wondering what would happen it I didn’t care either.

I think what she is really saying is she is not going to allow said person, event or thing to upset her. She is not going to get wrapped-around-the-axle like another friend describes herself doing.

My dad used to say, “I could care less,” when he was done with us and/or our behavior. (Grammatically speaking he should have said I couldn’t care less, but in that moment I wasn’t about to correct his English.) I knew what he meant was we were on the edge of trouble. I felt hurt when he said this. I wanted him to always care about everything pertaining to me. He usually didn’t. Maybe that is why I care so much today.

Recently, several days in a row, I came home from work and imageswent straight to bed. I thought I was tired. Tom determined I was depressed. That’s the thing with depression, the depress-e doesn’t recognize it, someone from the outside does.

I was depressed. And to my surprise, being truly honest here, I enjoyed it. I felt relieved  because when I am depressed I allow myself to care less. I didn’t worry about getting dinner ready or stopping at the store to pick up last minute items. I didn’t feel bad about not returning the calls I needed to make to friends and family. I didn’t care about the half finished house projects waiting for our attention. I didn’t feel not good enough or not important. Because, I didn’t care.

I had unwrapped myself from around the preverbal axle. This was a come-to-Jesus moment.

“Really?”, I asked myself in astonishment. Was this was how I was going to set boundaries? Am I going to take care of myself by going to bed at 5:00 and pulling the covers over my head?

Looking back, my early-to-bed was a break I needed. Kind of a deep breath in my schedule. I have taken this liberty a couple of other times in my life, always around big transitions. Deciding to end my marriage, moving into Pittsburgh and selling our families home, and recently Landon’s wedding.

Sometimes I just need to give myself a break. I depress myself to stop myself. Stop moving. Stop producing. Stop initiating. Going to bed accomplishes this. My mini depressive episode. I now trust this behavior in myself; as long as it is only a couple of days. My internal clock needed to reset.

I wonder if this is an option to getting sick. I used to do that. Every 7 years I would end up in the hospital. My doctor pondered this phenomenon out loud with me, “What’s up?”

Good question.

There are many ways to stop and regroup. This seems to be mine. It gets my attention and prompts me to make changes. I need to care differently. I need to care at least as much about myself as I do for someone else. I want to hold myself to a softer standard of accountability checking in with my energy level, my interest and my availability.

And after all that, I may decide, that sometimes, I just don’t care.

XO
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Patricia Boswell