Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole


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Courage {Prompted}

The following post is part of a writing exercise that my friend Kathy and I have undertaken together. We choose a weekly topic from a list of prompts found here. I intend to use a varying array of writing styles and techniques, and to limit my editing. I invite those of you with blogs of your own to participate with us.  And as always, thanks for reading!

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napolean-bonaparte

At first I thought this week’s topic pick “courage” was going to be the easiest topic ever. After all, I’m totally courageous! I possess so much courage that I….well I…I definitely did…

Wait.

Here I am, with this deliciously blank page in front of me, all ready to talk about the most courageous thing I have ever done. Certainly it was the act of picking up my life on the east coast and moving to California, right? I thought so. But the more I really consider it, the less courageous it seems. I mean, we left what basically amounted to a crappy life, for a really good life. Bad weather for good. A house that was a money pit to a home we love. A 9-to-5 commute to the office for a flexible-hours home office. Frozen peas for Farmers Markets.  You get the picture. We moved somewhere that basically made it easier for us to live. Big freaking whoop.

Going somewhere that’s easier for me to be happy might be considered efficacious, or even adventurous. But not courageous. A “courageous” move for me might have been driving to Alaska in January or relocating to a foreign country that speaks a different language. That would take some courage. And also some major survival skills that I don’t happen to possess. But I moved to the land of beaches and palm trees. I mean, come on. Easy-peasy.

So what’s so courageous about moving to California? The fact that we cashed in our life savings and drove across the country? Nah, we were lucky to have the money so readily available to us. Most people don’t have that. Besides, we both have jobs that we can do just about anywhere so there will always be more money.

Is it because we left all of our friends and family behind? In this hyper social-networking day and age when practically everyone you know is a text message, Skype call, Facebook post or nights-and-weekends phone call away, that’s hardly brave. Also, moving to a different state is pretty much as rare as a penny. And moving to California is even less rare…I mean, I can’t remember the last time I even met a native Californian. Everyone ends up here.

In all reality, this relocation wasn’t courageous, it was just the fulfillment of a longtime personal desire. Nothing a little gumption and some cash flow can’t handle.

So what makes me think I’m such a courageous person?

Am I courageous because of all the times I’ve spoken my mind instead of bowing down to people who have wronged me? Because I went to school for art instead of something “practical” or because I ended a bad relationship when I was scared to do it? Am I courageous because I’ve run an ultramarathon? Because I run even when people call me fat? Does it take courage to forgive and move on from your shitty childhood? A home you don’t want anymore? An unhealthy friendship?

What makes me assume that anything I do is so singularly amazing? I mean, I’m not exactly slaying dragons or saving kittens from burning buildings in my spare time, so what is so special and courageous about who I am and what I do with my life? What makes me such a fucking hero?

And why am I always questioning myself?

Well, maybe that’s just it: questioning. Maybe there’s something to be said about that guy saving kittens from burning buildings in his spare time. Most people would say that’s a courageous act, but when you call him a hero he’ll scoff and say he was just doing the right thing. Maybe courage isn’t something you recognize on a day to day basis. Maybe it’s not something you can see and pat yourself on the back for doing. Courageous people are the ones always asking themselves the important questions, and answering with honesty instead of bullshit. Maybe courage is about admitting that you’re not a hero just because you packed your shit into a car and moved, bought a house and raised 2.3 kids, or because you lived past 30 without bleaching your hair.

Courageous people do. They act. They think critically. They accept mountainous challenges. They problem solve. They don’t ask for help they could do without. They do things that are against the norm. Courageous people are the ones who just do what needs to get done. Not for accolades. Not for hero status. And the most courageous people will probably never consider themselves so, because they were just doing the right thing.

So I’ll just end by saying I’d love to be courageous someday. But I’ll probably never move to France, so if I were you I wouldn’t hold my breath.


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Regret {Prompted}

The following post is part of a writing exercise that my friend Kathy and I have undertaken together. We choose a weekly topic from a list of prompts found here. I intend to use a varying array of writing styles and techniques, and to limit my editing. I invite those of you with blogs of your own to participate with us.  And as always, thanks for reading!

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nerds
I hear it all the time, all over the meme-sphere: live your life with no regrets. I have no regrets in my life…blah blah blah. I call bullshit. I have regrets. And I’m glad for them, too. If I never regretted my shittiest moments, I’d be a total asshole today.

I regret my 4th grade antics of pulling Angela Kershner’s hair until she stopped being my best friend. It taught me about respect.

I regret trying to be like other people. It taught me the importance of individuality.

I regret relying on people who kept letting me down. It taught me about self-sufficiency.

I regret calling my elementary school friends “nerds,” to earn respect from the popular girls. It taught me the value of loyalty.

I regret leaving in the middle of high school cheering tryouts Sophomore year. It taught me about courage.

I regret objectifying myself so much to win attention from boys in college. It taught me about dignity.

I regret smoking. It taught me to respect my body.

I regret staying in the wrong relationship for too long. It taught me about moving on.

I regret apologizing too much. It taught me about standing my ground.

I regret taking part in some of my biggest, stupidest arguments. They taught me about resignation.

I regret becoming a homeowner five years ago. It taught me about my need for freedom.

I regret being a complainer. It taught me about appreciation.

I regret being oblivious to the beauty of nature most of my life. It taught me about humility.

I don’t regret all of my mistakes – sometimes it’s true, the thing itself is the lesson and therefore not really a mistake. But other times, regret is the quiet apology to yourself, the one that happens inside your head, late at night when things are quiet. Regret is a little nugget of wisdom for next time around. You can learn a lot from the positive moments in your life, for sure. But if you fail to gain the knowledge from your worst moments too, the ones you so very much wish never had happened, then you’ll always remain oblivious to the deepest lessons life is giving you.


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Protect {Prompted}

The following post is part of what I hope will be an ongoing writing exercise that my friend Kathy and I have decided to undertake together. We are currently choosing topics from a list of prompts that can be found here. I intend to use a varying array of writing styles and techniques, and to limit my editing. Therefore many of these posts may not look anything like the rest of the stuff I write on this blog. I’m okay with that, if you are. I invite those of you with blogs of your own to participate with us! But if you’re not into it that’s okay too. I’ll title these posts differently so they are easy to skip past if you wish to do so. And as always, thanks for reading!

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Protect. Protection.

Protection can mean so many different things. Have so many connotations. It can be real or imagined. It can be beneficial
or it can be detrimental. It all depends on how you picture it.

peachtree

Protection can mean a way to stay safe from inclement weather.

sunscreen

Or even good weather.

parents1

Too much protection can sometimes make you soft.

parents2

Or keep you from enjoying life.

runningshoes

Sometimes protection is an illusion.

monsanto1

Or a down-right lie.

health insurance

And all too often, protection costs a lot more than it’s worth.

gun-8

The illusion of protection can sometimes even cost you your life.

condoms

Protection can assist you with your best (and worst) life decisions.

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

Some protections are considered your right.

monsando

Some protections take away your rights.

police

Usually, your protectors are the good guys.

mafia1

But they can be bad guys, too.

guard dog

But more often than not, your best friend is the greatest protection you’ll ever have.


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Ice {Prompted}

The following post is part of what I hope will be an ongoing writing exercise that my friend Kathy and I have decided to undertake together. We are currently choosing topics from a list of prompts that can be found here. I intend to use a varying array of writing styles and techniques, and to limit my editing. Therefore many of these posts may not look anything like the rest of the stuff I write on this blog. I’m okay with that, if you are. I invite those of you with blogs of your own to participate with us! But if you’re not into it that’s okay too. I’ll title these posts differently so they are easy to skip past if you wish to do so. And as always, thanks for reading!

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ice

Ice is often portrayed in a negative light. You may have been compared to ice at some point in your life. You may have described someone else as having an “ice-cold heart,” or heard someone be criticized for giving an “icy” cold stare. Used in this way, ice is a metaphor for emotional detachment or unwelcoming. Ice also has an air of danger about it: electricity-halting ice storms, sheer walkways and sneaky black ice are side effects of winter in the cooler climates. You have likely slipped on the slick stuff at least once in your life, and learned to be wary of its presence on the roadways.

But you’ve forgotten that ice is an exceptionally beautiful phenomenon. At zero degrees Celsius, H2O molecules expand and form patterns that cease fluid movement…just like that. Ice crystals fall from the sky in ornate, unique arrangements. Slowly freezing water drips down off the edges of rocks and buildings to form those characteristic transparent stalactites that we all call icicles. Ice blankets the earth in sheer mirrors. It forms glaciers that move like slow creatures, carving giant canyons into the rock that formed our world.

Ice is incredibly patient, and it is incredibly strong. While water is highly penetrable, allowing anything at all to pass through it, pollute it and drain parts of it away, ice is impermeable. Ice is a barrier, a stronghold. Ice can preserve things inside its frigid core for centuries, until it melts or is discovered by some curious scientists. Ice expands things that are stronger than human hands can build. Ice is a silent rogue: it can cause movement, changes and even destruction one day, and then melt away on another, leaving not a single molecule of evidence behind.

Ice can be our frosty companion. It allows us the benefits of walking across lakes without falling in. Ice can shield us from the wind and it can even insulate us from the cold. Ice chills out our drinks, cools down our bodies, and preserves our precious food supply. Ice allows somebody in New Jersey to receive an organ transplant from California.

Ice is probably kinder than most people realize.  It tends to love in the harshest of ways, but it still cares. Ice is a mercurial companion, able to slice us and heal us at the same time. Like all of the most beautiful things in nature, ice is as placid as it is violent, as beautiful as it is dangerous. Ice is your cruelest friend and your most benevolent mother.

Smile the next time somebody calls you ice cold. A lukewarm bath has nothing on you.

  • Ice {Prompted} (riverramblings.wordpress.com)


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Defiance {Prompted}

The following post is part of what I hope will be an ongoing writing exercise that my friend Kathy and I have decided to undertake together. We are currently choosing topics from a list of prompts that can be found here. I intend to use a varying array of writing styles and techniques, and to limit my editing. Therefore many of these posts may not look anything like the rest of the stuff I write on this blog. I’m okay with that, if you are. I invite those of you with blogs of your own to participate with us! But if you’re not into it that’s okay too. I’ll title these posts differently so they are easy to skip past if you wish to do so. And as always, thanks for reading!

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sky

de·fi·ance [dih-fahy-uhns]
noun
1.
a daring or bold resistance to authority or to any opposing force.

2. open disregard; contempt (often followed by of): defiance of danger.
3. a challenge to meet in combat or in a contest.

On the whole of my life, I have never really done things the way that I was supposed to.

It all started when I was a baby. My father told me several times the story of my milk bottle. Whenever I had a bottle I would hold it in my left hand, and if he took it from me and put it into my right hand, I would switch it back every time. I defied him to change my left-handedness.

But I guess I never noticed my defiant streak until rather recently, as I’ve spent more time looking back on my life, and surveying the people I have chosen to surround myself with. I used to think that I was the obedient type, because I’m a nice person and I don’t really get into any trouble. But now I realize that even though I wasn’t a troublemaker, in very subtle ways I have always been as defiant as they come. And this defiance has led me to be headstrong, but also quite stable and independent in many very important ways.

When you’re a kid, being different from everyone else is a bad thing. Kids don’t really have enough perspective to find the value in differences: they see any all variation from their own likeness as an obvious negative. Well, come to think of it a lot of adults still think that way, always judging those around them for daring to do things differently. But this post isn’t about them.

As I think more and more about it, I realize I have always been kind of different from everybody else. Growing up, I was the only girl in my family with brown hair instead of blonde, and the only one who wanted to go outside and build forts instead of playing with Barbies or helping the adults cook in the kitchen. I was also the only girl in my grade who went to gymnastics class instead of joining the basketball team.  When all the kids wrote stories for a school-wide literary publication, I wrote a poem with an illustration. In a world full of teachers, nurses and electrical engineers, I got my degree in art.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to embrace my individuality. I feel that it helps me to know myself, and knowing myself has helped me to make decisions based on what I want, rather than what I’m supposed to want. For example, knowing that I don’t want to have children. That I don’t like the idea of owning the home I live in. That I prefer the west coast over the east. That I prefer to run barefoot. That I’d rather live in the mountains of North County than in the close, crowded downtown San Diego, where all my cool friends live. I support gay marriage, dig Paleo over Vegan, and would prefer to run with a bunch of obnoxious, tutu-wearing, beer-drinking Hash House Harriers over serious road marathoners, any day.

Historically, I’ve received a lot of flak for my individuality. People just don’t like it when you aren’t exactly like them. But even though I was nice about it, I’ve always remained defiant to the end: I don’t have to be like you, or your daughters or your sister or your last girlfriend or your best friend or the person whose job position I’m replacing. I only have to be me (so screw you).

These are all things I’ve learned about myself, on my own. Nobody influenced or told me to do these things. I don’t follow anyone, nor do I try to cut the first trails. I do what feels right for me, not for someone else. I don’t need anyone to agree with me in order to validate my choices. I just am who I am. I love this chick, and I defy anyone who would try to change her left-handedness.

 


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Sing {Prompted}

The following post is part of what I hope will be an ongoing writing exercise that my friend Kathy and I have decided to undertake together. We are currently choosing topics from a list of prompts that can be found here. I intend to use a varying array of writing styles and techniques, and to limit my editing. Therefore many of these posts may not look anything like the rest of the stuff I write on this blog. I’m okay with that, if you are. I invite those of you with blogs of your own to participate with us! But if you’re not into it that’s okay too. I’ll title these posts differently so they are easy to skip past if you wish to do so. And as always, thanks for reading!

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EveryHeartSings

26 Things that Make My Heart Sing

  1. Stepping outside into a warm and sunny, cloudless blue sky day.
  2. Walking barefoot on warm pavement. In public.
  3. Glancing down at my running watch and seeing  9:00 or 8:00 pace, when I just feel like I’m jogging.
  4. Watching my dog sprint across an open field.
  5. Remembering that I live in San Diego, California. Where I have wanted to live since I was a child.
  6. The sight of the ocean. Anytime, any ocean.
  7. The look on someone’s face when they love something I’ve just given them.
  8. Running all the way up a steep hill, instead of walking.
  9. Running Flying back down.
  10. Looking around a crowded table and realizing I that love everyone there.
  11. Waking up in bed and remembering it’s Saturday.
  12. Reading the first ten pages of a novel and knowing it’s going to be a great one.
  13. Signing up for a big, exciting race.
  14. The first few scenes of a movie I’m excited to see.
  15. Randomly coming across something I’ve designed or written.
  16. Singing at the top of my lungs to one of my favorite songs, when no one is listening.
  17. Remembering that I married the greatest man that I ever met.
  18. Standing at the top of a big hill and seeing the ocean and the snowcapped mountains all at once.
  19. Meeting a new person and knowing right away that they are going to become a great friend.
  20. Getting a package in the mail, and then realizing it’s for me.
  21. Sticking my hand out of my open car window as I speed down the freeway on a warm day.
  22. Cooking for a bunch of people in my home.
  23. Spending the entire day with my husband, and nobody else.
  24. The first sip of beer after a long, hard run with my buddy Kate.
  25. Taking a great photo of myself.
  26. Sitting down for coffee and looking across the table at my greatest friend, Kathy.


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Vengeance {Prompted}

The following post is part of what I hope will be an ongoing writing exercise that my friend Kathy and I have decided to undertake together. We are currently choosing topics from a list of prompts that can be found here. I intend to use a varying array of writing styles and techniques, and to limit my editing. Therefore many of these posts may not look anything like the rest of the stuff I write on this blog. I’m okay with that, if you are. I invite those of you with blogs of your own to participate with us! But if you’re not into it that’s okay too. I’ll title these posts differently so they are easy to skip past if you wish to do so. And as always, thanks for reading!

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revenge

Part of my journey through adulthood has been about trying to make myself into a better person. I try every day to look into myself and improve and grow and do good whenever I can, despite what I was taught as a child.

I’m rather glad my parents were able to put me into good Catholic schools (read: private, rather than the awful public ones that were around). Sure, a bunch of nuns who taught me all the basic principles of being a good, humble and forgiving person. I went to Church on Sundays back then, too. I understood all of that stuff on a scholastic level. But once I left the doors of the church or the elementary school, I was taught well by my parents and caretakers not how to be a good, humble and forgiving person, but how to hold a grudge, how to make enemies, and how to exact revenge on them one cold shoulder at a time.

Despite the fact that my favorite movie of all time is Kill Bill, which is about a female assassin who wakes up from a coma four years after her attempted murder and systematically avenges her enemies one by one with the help of one Hattori Hanzo sword, my taste for vengeance pretty much stops there. There are certainly times when I look back at the unfortunate events that molded my childhood and the enormous wrongs I have been dealt by those in my immediate family, and I sometimes still feel sad or angry about it. But the feelings are fleeting in comparison to the joyful song that I have managed to mold my own adult life into.

As a child I listened to my grandfather’s stories of letting his brothers go to the grave while he remained stoically unforgiving of them because of an unfair payout in their father’s will. I’ve watched my own father and his sister brew a pot of jealous hatred so seething and glorious that it trickled down and rendered their children enemies to each other for many years. I’ve watched parents disown their children, brothers disown their sisters, and I’ve even been disowned by my own grandfather…for insisting on paying for lunch. I think. But I’m not really sure.

For many people in my now heavily-fragmented family, the best revenge is a lifetime of anger, regret and uncomfortable silence. They take pride in their vengeful, unforgiving nature, wear it as a badge of honor. The Berube Blacklist, we would call it. Once you’re on it, you’re there for eternity.

Sometimes I feel that plague of the Berube Blacklist gene, running through my veins. It beckons me to dwell on the past, to spend more time feeling angry and to oust all those who have slighted me in even the smallest way, without ever telling them why. It keeps reminding me that this is what I know, this is what I’ve learned, and this is what’s comfortable to me. But I have a choice, and I choose instead to be happy, to live in the now, and to be grateful for everything that I have. I choose to forgive those who have wronged me, and instead take away valuable lessons from their actions. I choose to be a better listener, a more rational arguer, a kinder friend. I choose to get out all my revenge not by silence or by Hattori Hanzo sword, but by enjoying a life well-lived.

she taught me how to wage cold war with quiet charm
but i just want to walk through my life unarmed.
to accept, and just get by like my father learned to do,
but without all the acceptance of getting by that got my father through

i just want you to understand that i know what all the fighting was for
and i just want you to understand that i’m not angry anymore.
no, i’m not angry anymore. ~Ani Difranco