Note to Self

Author’s note: Note to Self is inspired by this song on a CD I just got by Ben Rector.

Note to Self: Let go of all the constant guilt. It's suffocating you and for no reason. It’s okay that you didn’t weed the yard this weekend. It’s okay that you didn’t let everyone into your lane. It’s okay that you didn’t text mom today like you meant to or thanked someone for yummy coffee ten seconds later than you wanted to. It’s okay that you hit the snooze and didn’t run this morning. It’s okay that you left your puppy at home for brunch and paid ten cents more than Costco for gas or tossed that food you didn’t cook. You’ll do better next time. On that note...

Note to self: Run more. I know you have a lot of blerches to beat. The weather sucks. Migraines make running really hard. But you secretly love it and you need it to maintain any amount of sanity. Don’t do it because you feel guilty about not having a perfect body. Run more because the gentle rhythm of your shoes on your pavement before the city wakes up is heaven. Run because you deserve it.

Note to self: Be nicer to people, especially Adam and your coworkers. Calm down about the rude drivers who don’t know how to use a turn signal. Give people a break. We’re all overworked and tired. Savor the little things and brush off life’s little annoyances. Always give a courtesy wave and duces to Wrangler drivers, let that person merge, and stop getting so angry about delays. People deserve to be treated well, even when you don't feel like it.

Note to self: Treasure the little things. Never pass up an opportunity to pet your puppy. Savor it when she spends a few more minutes outside playing than you’d like. Sing along to that silly pop song.  Drink your coffee slowly. Kiss your boyfriend when he’s not expecting it. Appreciate the pretty espresso machine you helped build and thank the people that made it happen. Throw the gross duck toy one more time. Shed a tear for that lion family reunion video. Your giant heart makes you wonderful.

Note to self: Stay diligent in the fight for civil rights. People deserve health care, an education, nutrition, a roof, opportunity, and respect. All people. Not just the ones that are connected to you. Not just because they’re your sister or father or friend. They deserve all the rights and chances you take for granted. Always examine your privilege and use it to make space for voices of people who have more to say than you do. Show up. Donate. Vote. And yes, occasionally re-post or publish. It matters, and it counts.

Note to self: Write more. Worry less. Bake more. Snack less. Spend less time worrying if things will go wrong. Play more games. Text your mother. Stop replaying that awkward thing you said weeks ago. Sweep the floor and fold the laundry. Buy that silly desk toy. Don’t buy that extra tomato (you never eat it). Stop denigrating your degree or qualifying it with how long it took. Weed the yard. Teach the puppy about soccer. Play more soccer. Drink more water

Table for One

Author's note: This post is a week late because none of my passwords are on the other computer and the squarespace blog app BLOWS (love the site but seriously, get your mobile game together)

This morning, I dropped my boyfriend off at the airport. I had an errand to run near Green Lake, so I drove up, did a slow lap, picked up my race packet for tomorrow's run, and headed home.

Being alone for breakfast, I did what we all do: found a table for one.   Today, that was at Cheeky Cafe right next to my old apartment.

There are a million reasons to love this place, not the least of which is the nostalgia that comes with it. My friends and I used to fill tables and then all order tomato soup and grilled cheese when we needed a break between board games.

This place is special for another reason though, one I'd either forgotten or just taken for granted. It's kind of a 'table for one' haven.  

Back when I lived next door, this was my home. It was a place my ex husband approved of, so long as I wasn't with anyone he didn't approve of (which meant anyone who wasn't him). When he deployed, it meant I could enjoy a meal by myself without feeling judged by the host or other patrons because half the dining room was people eating solo.  

Those meals turned into a kind of unplugged escape for me when it was rough between him and I (which was always). They sometimes were followed by movies by myself, especially when I needed to extend the outing and disappear into a happy fantasy. 

Now I'm living that happy, healthy, loving life I was dreaming of just a few years ago.  Brunch gets to just be awesome eggs and deep-fried French toast (at least as good as it sounds). It gets to be a quiet pause of appreciation; one that I can enjoy so much more because of those people I wasn't "allowed" to be here with.

30 by 30: Changed Priorities

#13. Read the entire Bible again
#16. Go on vacation alone
#21. Complete the first draft of my novel
#27. Go on a short-term missions trip

As I look over this list of items 25-year old Ila thought 30-year old Ila would have completed, these ones stick out the most to me. These four items have not been completed, and probably won’t ever be, not because my hobbies or priorities changed, but because I changed.

#13. Read the entire Bible again
#27. Go on a short-term missions trip

I’m not sure who knows this, but last Lent season (46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter) I decided to take a fast from church. Lent is traditionally a Catholic time of reflection. It’s a time where observers will give up something (coffee, alcohol, whatever) or start something (daily prayer or reading) in attempt to relate to the sacrifice Jesus was about to make for the salvation of all mankind. I’m not Catholic, but always really liked the idea of it. Since high school, I’d take that time to give up Diet Coke and think about how much I owe Jesus from saving me from hell.

’d been having a hard time justifying what I know to be true (all people should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of gender identity, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, place of origin) and with what the Bible teaches. I’d been looking for something in the Bible that made the god of the Old Testament and the god of the New Testament make sense as the same god, and I just couldn’t find it. So I took the season of Lent to fast from American Christianity.

It was incredibly spiritually and emotionally refreshing, which was all the affirmation I needed that it was the right path for me. The only downside was the friends I lost touch of because I wasn’t seeing them twice a week at church things anymore.

All that to say that I do not intend on reading the entire Bible again, nor do I intend on going on a short-term missions trip. I will, however, continue reading and researching, but probably less about Biblical scholars and more about philanthropic innovators with diverse religious backgrounds. I’m opening to finding balance within the scope of religion in the future, and I don’t know if I can really call myself a Christian anymore. I’ve settled on agnostic for now.

As for the other items on my list:

#21. Complete the first draft of my novel

I’ve just come to accept that I’m not a fiction writer. I got into journalism because I like telling other people’s stories. The writing that I do now is this page and my comedy (more on that later). Maybe one day I’ll come up with a story that I want to share, but I’m done trying to force it and invent something that’s not from someplace natural. I'll leave this one to the actually good writers (like Sarah Wheeler and Amie McCracken).

#16. Go on vacation alone

This is one I couldn’t decide the placement of. I put this on the list because of excellent books like “Tales of a Female Nomad” and “I Promise Not to Suffer” (like Wild, but better) and “My Life on the Road” I think the idea of going on some modern pilgrimage is romantic and scary and adventurous. The independent woman in me says “Hell yes! Let’s go!” and then says “Oh wait…. Uh, there’s no ‘us’ in that?”

I’ve read a lot about thru-hiking. I’ll write more about this when I go into #8 Hike the Wonderland Trail, but I love the idea of being alone in the woods. That said, I’ve never actually hiked by myself. I used to think I would once I had access to a trail-worthy vehicle, but now that I have that, I don’t.

I think I just like being around people too much. My boyfriend travels a lot, and the quiet of our empty condo is awful. I am the kind of person who just wants to be in the room as someone else like, 90% of the time. Now, after reading the previously mentioned books, I have a hunch that the universe provides. But it’s hard for me to put work and money and hard-earned PTO into something I’m not going to share with the people I love so much. Maybe one day I’ll take this alone trip, but I’m not stressing about not completing it before my 30th birthday.

Next post: the “seriously, Ila? Why?!?” items