Birthday morning I was searching for my favorite bra while getting dressed and all of a sudden I heard my Dads voice from 28 years ago: "Happy Birthday, Bubba! Now you're 13 and wearin’ a bra!" Kind of creepy hearing Pops voice while in my underwear drawer but the memory makes me laugh. As if hearing my brothers tell me that the reason my freckles existed was because “Mom held a screen to my face while Dad threw shit at me” wasn't bad enough, I had my father cracking adolescent jokes to assist in bolstering my self-esteem. Apparently the nickname “Bubba” wasn’t doing the trick. Between my newly developed chest and my first period, I quickly learned that my Mom was the only one who could be trusted not to poke fun at this awkward phase of my life. These joyful memories triggered other recollections and, ultimately, led me to ponder whether or not I learned anything else fascinating from my 40-year existence on this planet. Spoiler alert: I did and it starts with poo.
I compiled a list off the top of my head, but the problem was that the majority of my life lessons have already ended up in self-help books so I almost immediately found myself yawning and ready to take a nap. You know the ones I’m taking about. “Always do your best, Slugger”, “Don’t take anything personally”, “Never settle”, and, one of my personal favorites, “Change your language, change your life.” Fuck that noise! My life is grand!
It wasn’t until I really dissected my inventory to weed out the Pollyanna crap and was left with just the down and dirty truth, that I felt confident in sharing. I would have been remiss, however, if I left out some of my top lessons from the late, great, Maya Angelou. So, if nothing else, there’s always real wisdom to fall back on.
Without further ado, I bring you…
Lessons From My Ass
1. Always have a legit alibi, or, at the very least, be a damn convincing storyteller!
I learned this at age 5 when I pooped in the bathtub and failed to claim responsibility. The following cover-up story had no chance in hell of being even remotely plausible because both components were missing.
I remember sitting very still in lukewarm water hoping that, by remaining statuesque, the little balls of shit wouldn’t come floating towards me. After the bastard turds failed to fall into oblivion down the drain, I began to frantically throw together a tale that would resemble the truth but before I could make it happen, my Mom walked in. Just as she was about to rinse my hair, I recall watching her nose wrinkle like there was some offensive smell permeating the air in her bathroom, and then, as her eyes grew wide, she pointed at the fresh creation made from my adorable butt and asked "What's this?" I found myself wishing that my crap had rolled down the drain as fast as that conversation had rolled downhill:
Me: "I think its poop."
Mom: "You think its poop?"
Me: "Yes. It’s poop."
Mom: "Whose poop?"
Mom: "So you’re telling me that Billy pooped in your bath?"
Mom: "Where is he?"
Me: "He left."
Mom: "So Billy pooped in your bath and then left?"
Mom: "Billy is at his baseball game so I am going to ask you this one more time. Whose poop. Is this?"
Bathing alone in poop can make you sad. Bathing alone in poop and having nobody to blame it on is stupid.
2. Never be afraid to fart.
It’s most likely what got me into the whole bathtub fiasco to begin with but it’s a part of human nature and my stomach always feels like it won the lotto when I can just get let it fly. Side note: It’s also so much fun to talk about with my most cherished friends and a great conversation piece when talking to someone who I would otherwise have nothing in common.
Lessons From Spirit
1. My intuition is there for a reason and should never, ever, be ignored.
If I had chosen to ignore it when I was 11, I am convinced that my younger brother would be dead. I might not have known what to call it back then, but I knew that when the hair on my arms stood on end, when my heart started racing and when I felt like I was going to vomit, that was a red flag that danger was looming.
My kid brother Johnny was on his way to the playground located at the middle school behind our house. Usually I never cared what he was doing because I was much too cool to be seen with him, but that late afternoon was different. I was chilling out on the couch watching TV while my Dad was in the kitchen making dinner, when all of a sudden I jolted up and felt an overwhelming urge to go after my little bro. I tried to ignore the doomed feeling because that was our main hangout and there had never been any problems, but the feeling was persistent and all I kept thinking was that he was in danger and shouldn’t be alone. Couple those thoughts with weird images flashing in my mind of his funeral and I raced to throw on my sneakers and I was out the door. As I sprinted (and again, no clue why I felt the urge to run; it’s not like this was a going out of business sale at the Donut Hut) up the hill and out of our backyard, I saw Johnny making his way to the playground. I have to admit that when I saw that there was no danger to be had I was somewhat annoyed because I just ran a marathon and there he was all fine and dandy. “God that little bastard is always ruining my life! My shows are on and I’m outside for this nonsense?” I thought. I caught up to him, lied about dinner being ready, and we started our trek back home.
Out of thin air (I swear to this day I still have NO idea where he came from) a jogger literally just appeared. He looked to be in his 50’s, was wearing a pair of blue running shorts that were so tight and high on the thigh that it left no room for me to wonder if I’d ever dig dudes (I would not), a fishnet white tank top, and a thick red, Richard Simmons-esque sweatband. He was a cross between a masculine Jane Fonda and every pedophile I had ever envisioned. When I saw him my heart began to feel like it was beating out of my chest and I was certain that he was the reason for my initial fear.
The man claimed to have a litter of puppies “right back there in the woods” that he wanted to show us. I was at a brief cross roads between the decision to act respectful to my elder, as I was taught, or to bolt the scene knowing that a) said puppies most likely did not exist, and b) never talk to strangers. My choice ended up being a little bit of each as I said “No, thank you” and attempted to walk away. My asshole brother was not as bright. “I love puppies! I want to see them! Where are they?” and he turned to stroll off into the distance with this creepy man. I grabbed Johnny’s arm and firmly told him “NO! We have to leave!” The faux runner then proceeds to give me permission to leave my brother with him and made a promise to bring him back safely. I knew this was not going to have a happy ending had I allowed that, so, again, I politely declined and strongly urged my brother to follow me. It wasn’t until the bastard reached to grab my brothers other arm that Johnny finally caught on to what was really happening. From that point on it was a blur. I can just recall running away hollering for our Dad like a couple of lunatics. When I looked back over my shoulder he was gone.
The next morning there was an article in the paper about the very same man who was arrested for indecent exposure and endangering the welfare of a child. If I had ignored my intuition, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I would be living today in a world of hurt and deep regret. If anyone is going to make my siblings life miserable, it’s going to be me; not some child rapist, murderer, psycho! I watch TV. I know what happens in those situations.
Long story short, I am a hero and he should never forget that.
2. If I remain open to the possibilities and cease with the need to always have the answers, the Universe always provides.
I learned this as I was applying for massage school. While I always felt drawn to the profession, it was not an opportunity I expected to be delivered in my late 30’s and especially not while I was working in corporate America. But, one breezy, menopausal, summer day here in Arizona, I was having my bi-monthly “what am I doing with my life?” meltdown, when I suddenly felt the need to check out the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts website. I figured “what the hell.” It could provide a little extra income, it would get me out of my comfort zone, it was a way to meet new people, and perhaps I had finally found my calling.
I was determined to become only a Sports Massage Therapist which is an interesting tidbit based solely on the fact that I insisted on attending a “healing arts” school and not a straight up massage school. That should have been my first clue that the Universe had other plans in store for me. Almost as soon as I began the hands-on work, I discovered that I loathed sports massage and anything related to it. My rationale was that I should not be pulling my back out and sweating like a pig in oil on a blistering hot day just so some 300 lb. linebacker can have his quads stretched. I’ll leave that BS to someone else.
I am pleased to report that I graduated with a 4.0 as a “Master Massage Therapist” and my title of “Reiki Master” followed shortly thereafter, as I anticipated. What I was not expecting, however, was to be drawn to the spiritual side of the practice and having to face my own emotional trauma that energy work brought with it to the surface. But, I remained open and the Universe delivered what I wasn’t even aware that I needed. It turned out that my entire education was for my own personal growth and healing and never about the money or finding a new profession. Had I questioned every single part of the process I would not have understood it, I most likely would have quit and I would not be the enlightened, evolved, gal that I am right now.
Lessons From My Dogs
1. Keep my nose in my own bowl.
Twice a day the puppies sprint to their bowl for chow time. When they hear that food bag open, it’s a pushing and shoving match until they claim their space and then it’s down to business. They know which dish is theirs and they are ready to hone in and eat!
Now, I may be wrong, but as Ella celebrates the end of her meal by licking her lady-bits, she doesn’t appear to be concerned with the fact that Henry is still eating his kibble one, slow, tedious, bite at a time. She doesn’t stop what she is doing, run over and get all up in his grill and then think to herself “if only I ate slower, I wouldn’t be so fluffy.” Henry, I’m going to assume, doesn’t give a hoot that Ella finished 15 minutes before he did and that she did so without dropping any of her food on the floor. He will eat at a snails pace and toss his cuisine all over the carpet if he wishes. It has no affect on Ella whatsoever and he certainly doesn’t give a shit that it drives me insane! They each have their own dining preference and they have zero concern for what’s going on around them. What a novel fucking concept!
The question I now strive to ask myself every time I am in comparison mode, or when I start to become overly concerned with what someone else thinks or says about me, is “whose bowl am I eating from, mine or theirs?”
These animals mock me with their simplicity.
2. Be present.
Every single day the words “you wanna go for a walk?” sends Ella and Henry into frenzy! It’s like they are being thrown into a ball pit of never ending cookies where they are allowed to stay forever. They get outside and strut around the neighborhood with purpose. No rock left un-sniffed, no cactus left dry. Pee, poop, sniff, explore, and repeat.
Let’s play a little game I like to call ‘Guess Whose Thoughts’:
“This is the best day of my life. I’m on a WALK!” Dog or human?
“If I request the search this morning I should have the results back this afternoon which is perfect timing for the closing and which leaves me plenty of time to workout this evening because I missed the last 2 days but I really hate what’s been programmed and it’s so fucking hot that I probably can just stand outside and sweat for half the time but if I don’t go I will regret it later and it’s my birthday so I want to be able to eat the ice cream cake without guilt and I wonder if anyone responded to my post on Facebook about aging which was just like the wittiest thing ever and I need to respond to that text because that wasn’t humor it was just passive aggressive bullshit that isn’t going to fly with me and FUCK!! I just stepped in dog shit!” Human or dog?
Presence. Saving sneakers and sanity one step at a time.
Lessons I Just Learned This Week
1. You really can teach an old lesbian a new trick.
Behold the evidence from my birthday party:
Making Mom proud since 1975!
2. As someone who grew up in a household of people who always had to have the last word, I’ve just now learned that sometimes silence is the best “last word” of all.
I learned this by quietly following the example of a friend who has had her good name dragged across the mud by a manipulating, sociopath. Rather than stoop to that crazy level, she simply goes about her business and chooses to remain in her state of truthful bliss.
I was tested when the Universe presented me with an opportunity to get into an ugly war of words with an acquaintance. Bearing in mind my buddy and her stellar example, I chose to remain silent. Despite my blood pressure being at a boil (especially when I had about 6-7 different replies back that would “prove” my case), I decided to test this silent theory and just quietly bask in my authenticity. The level of calm that eventually took over pleasantly surprised me.
Lessons Which Prove That Not All Quotes Are Crap:
1. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou
I once had a bizarre experience with someone sitting across from me at breakfast who looked me square in the eye, and, without hesitation or humor, said “I’m not a nice person.” I was confused, caught off guard, and chose not to believe the confession because I’ve never known anyone who would easily admit such a thing. In failing to heed the warning and see it for the certainty that it was, I became the next victim. Lesson received, loud and clear.
2. “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” – Maya Angelou for the win again! This needs no explanation.
Lessons That Only Require One Sentence: My Gift To You
1. Just say, “thank you” and stop pissing all over the compliment.
2. Laugh at yourself because it isn’t all that fucking serious!
3. If you have nothing nice to say, roll your eyes because your face will give you away regardless.
There you have it my peeps. The sooner you learn these lessons, the better your life will be. You have my 100% non-guarantee.
Until next time…