Friends We Don't Know: A Tribute to The Real Old Housewife.

You know, I started this blog about 8 years ago or so, along with my corresponding Twitter account. I used to write mostly about the Real Housewives franchises, and gained a small following and subscribers here. I had two small kids and spent my evenings home, so I watched quite a bit of TV while they slept. Over time, the blog evolved to include more of my adventures in motherhood, marriage, my relationship with death, crazy people, and plenty of posts where I laugh at my foibles. I spent less time on Twitter, but did manage to keep most of my followers and “Twitter friends”. One of whom, was Linda.

To be fair, I never knew her real name. I knew her by her Twitter handle. I often giggled at her posts as I scrolled through my feed on occasion. She and I saw eye to eye on a lot, and I enjoyed her posts. About a month ago, I popped onto Twitter and saw a post from her that left me unsettled. She posted that she had been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, and it had spread into her neck and spine. My thumb stopped scrolling. I paused, and began to cry.

My mom died from lung cancer. It’s the number one killing cancer, with an estimated 200,000 people diagnosed each year and 150,000 people dying from it. It’s a beast. I have multiple friends who’s parents died from lung cancer. It is swift, cruel, and painful. I felt so heartbroken for this woman I didn’t even know in person Perhaps it was the link with losing my own mom, perhaps it was just the knowledge of how it would likely play out, but it hit me harder than I ever would have expected.

Over the next few weeks, I found and followed her blog, where she details her experiences and thoughts. I read about her doctor visits, her husband, hospice, and how she felt about all of these things. I read about how she took charge of her care, telling the doctors she wanted to do things on her own terms, and I cheered her on from my little corner of the world. I worried about how her husband would cope without her. I was relieved that she found such good care in her hospice team. I felt dismayed I hadn’t seen her blog before because her writing kept me so enthralled and entertained. I was amazed at her grace and humor even during such a difficult time. I became invested in this stranger, and I was rooting her on, dammit.

It hadn’t occurred to me that I was checking Twitter daily to make sure she was ok. I didn’t write her too much but I was rooting for her from afar. Last night as I wearily crawled into bed, I suddenly realized I hadn’t checked on her all day. I hit my Twitter app, looked up her name, only to see a sweet post from her husband that she had passed away. I paused, and then broke down in tears. How do you ugly cry for a stranger you’ve never met? It’s funny how people have a way, even through just Twitter, to impact your life in a positive way. Maybe it’s the way you relate to them on some level, maybe it’s that they make you laugh or feel something deeply. Whatever it is, Linda struck a cord with me. She brightened the days with her frank humor and she handled the toughest of moments with grace, honesty, and a good old laugh.

I’m going to miss her, and if her timeline is any indication, you can see the wealth of people posting love, tributes and prayers for her. One person can make an awfully big ripple in this big pond called life. Thank you, Linda, for all the laughs you gave me, for the strength you showed me, and for posting a picture of yourself so we could see the beautiful face behind it all. Thanks for creating a ripple that reached me, and let me into your life a little bit, because I am better for it.

We were all better for knowing her, even if we didn’t know her well behind the screen.

Bye For Now, Or How to Starve a Control Freak

So most of you know I have a stalker. If you don’t, well if you look for posts tagged stalker on here, you’ll see a post r two about it.

The thing is, despite all my efforts, she won’t quit. She even knows I know exactly when she stalks me, where she’s stalking me from, and which devices she is using. But she can’t help herself. She needs to feed on what I am doing and feels entitled to my life. I must weigh pretty heavily on her mind because she’s lurking at 2-3AM and 6-7AM. Last night, for instance, I get an alert she’s on here at 2:47 AM. Who does that? It’s like she thinks about me before she goes to sleep and right when she wakes up. Creepy, right? I kept figuring it would stop eventually, even though people very close to the situation (and her) warned me it wouldn’t. Sadly, she’s a family member, so I’m sort of stuck with her leering at me at family events.

My position is that it’s a form of interpersonal terrorism. I constantly have to check my own social media accounts to see if followers are real. I have to stay block conscious. She has so many fake accounts it’s nuts. She goes by various names, has multiples on her own names. It’s exhausting and ridiculous to watch, so I can’t imagine the energy she must expend on it all. While I’m running busy with kids, work, charities, helping people, and just trying to keep all the balls in the air, she does…this. Creates her fake accounts and frantically tries to gain access to my life. When she can’t, she tries to rope her coworkers in to do the dirty work. Anything to talk around about me round that table, I guess. Folks kept telling me the crazy is strong, and I should stop writing, stop having social media, because she’ll never stop. I held strong in that I refused to give up writing my blog, something I enjoy, because she has no self control. I never saw why I should have to make huge efforts just to be left alone like any regular person. I’ve held strong that someone having mental issues doesn’t excuse their shitty behavior. Your crazy just ain’t my problem, girl. I don’t have time for it and frankly, no matter what you think you know, you don’t know me like that. Not even close.

Yet something clicked the other day. Yet again, she was lurking, seeking, and hoping for any nugget of info. She feels entitled to my life, my story, and to know what my family is doing. It’s coocoo for cocopuffs my friends. Yet here’s the thing….she won’t find anything though, because I’m taking an indefinite break. I own the domain, and I’ll hold on to it. The fact is, not everyone needs to know my every move, not everyone is entitled to a glimpse at my life. So while The Messy Housewife blog will be here, I will be on another blog I’ve created so I can share my thoughts without some sad sack of shit lurking at my every move just to see if I am happier. Newsflash: I still am. 🙂

I’ve got some changes planned in my little corner of the world, some big news coming. Not one itsy bitsy iota is hers to know. I’m excited for what’s to come, and none of that excitement will be hers. When you have a controlling person, who feels entitled to attention and information, sometimes the only solution is to starve them of every drop of attention and info. The time has come for a diet.

I’ll reach out to those of you who I know frequently like, read and comment on my posts. I hope you’ll join me on my new blog. This blog is and has been so important to me as I’ve worked through my life the past few years, but the only way to stop a control freak is to starve them of the info they so desperately crave. Maybe I’ll be back one day. For now, however, Happy Holidays to you all!

Love, Messy xx

PS: a note to my stalker: Are you even aware your daughter was going up to people at the Christmas party asking why people are mad at you and why people don’t want to speak to you anymore? No? Don’t worry, when she approached me, I didn’t tell her all you’ve done. I didn’t tell her how you’ve caused endless problems and destroyed relationships. Instead, I adulted and referred her back to you, said some kind things to her, about her, and told her she would always be loved and missed, but that adult things are messy. You’re welcome. She told me she misses me and misses coming to my house. You did this to her, not me. Just remember that. I hope your antics trying to harass me were worth it. Now please, just go away. There will be nothing for you here. No pinterest to stalk, no social media to try to gain access to, nothing for your coworkers to lurk on, nothing to gossip about around the table.

The Buzz Continues

Thanksgiving weekend is finally over, and I am positively buzzing with energy, which is surprising really, as I may have a bit of a stomach bug. Mentally, I’m in a great space, which also is surprising as I’m once again learning that I need to pay a bit closer attention to actions and less to words. Regardless, I feel like I’m going to come out of all of it just fine.

The weekend started with my daughter and I doing some baking and cooking for the holiday. She’s one of those kids who at the end of the day, really just wants to hang out with the adults she loves. It doesn’t much matter what she is doing, she just wants to help and be involved. She enjoys helping me cook, and I know it will serve her well when she gets older. I didn’t have much desire to learn how to cook when I was her age. Then I moved, my mom passed away, and I really learned how to do most dishes after I got married. My daughter will be ahead of the game. Even my son is learning to cook and happily will make a meal. After we finished, we packed up our goodies and went to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. It was a laid back day full of amazing food and loads of laughter. Occasionally after dinner, a few of us will do a little late night shopping, but this year I had to bail because I had packing to do, as well as some jobs around the house to prep for the weekend.

Friday, the kids and I headed up north to visit my dad, stepmother, and her family. After the married, this became a bi annual tradition. We also get together over the summer as well before the kids go back to school. They have truly become family and it’s always a good time filled with food, wine, and fun. This year the huge group of us went to see Frozen 2, and then topped off the night with a Christmas parade. The little town we were in is really quaint and beautiful, and the crisp air made everything just perfect. We all headed back to the house to allow the kids to run and play (there are 7 in total now) before we had dinner.

It was lovely to see my dad, as I haven’t been able to see him much this year. Even when we met up in the UK for my grandfather’s funeral, it was a busy time for both of us and we didn’t get a ton of time to spend together. This weekend, he seemed much more relaxed than the last time I had seen him and we had some really good conversations. I felt lighter and refreshed after having talked with him. I’m truly lucky to have him. He always has my back and is certainly a calming force.

The weekend trip was filled with great food, delicious wines, and great people. The kids had a great time and got along really well, being silly and joking with each other more than usual. The quiet and peace allowed me to mull over some things.

For starters, I took a little time to pause and mull over some changes that need to be made. My focus is on my little family of four, and my feeling is we need to make choices based on what’s best for us. Not everyone will like it, but I always feel that people who love you want the best for you. I feel the time is coming to start moving and shaking and getting things in a better place than they were. The chips are landing in just such a way that I am excited to finally be able to make some changes to really improve our lives. It’s exciting, and I feel light weights are being lifted. Each small step leads towards an end goal.

After coming home mentally refreshed (although physically not feeling so great), I was able to do a little Christmas shopping. I love Christmas shopping. Well, let me refrain, I love online shopping. The stores kick in my anxiety this time of year. I was able to pick up a few needed items for the husband and kids, which made me feel elated, some of them I am really excited about giving. I’m really trying to budget myself and pace myself out this holiday season. I’ve found that Christmas doesn’t really work well with my procrastinating nature. I’m terrible at pacing myself, and always end up stressed out, trying to tackle a million projects at the last minute. There is always so much to do in December. This year, I’m setting myself a goal to do a few things each day, so that I can spread the work out over a month. I’m already tackling my list, bit by bit, and it’s got me feeling excited for the season rather than stressed out. Again, small changes towards a bigger goal.

Now that I have my mind in a great place, it’s time to start making other changes too. It’s refreshing, and I feel much less stressed with each step I take. I have a good feeling that within the next year, I’m going to feel some big weights lifted off my shoulders. I’m ecstatic. I don’t know what it is about this time of year. It’s cozy and comfy, but it also feels like a hibernation that prepares us for the changing year ahead. I’m hopeful to get a head start on what’s to come. I know I’m mentioning change, and haven’t specified a whole lot of what change will be coming, but I’ll expand upon them as time progresses.

For now, it’s time to circle em up, look after the ones who look after us, and focus on betterment of not only myself, but my little family as well. After all, winter is coming.

Holiday Good vs Evil, My Adventures in Costco

If you’ve followed along on here you likely know I run a program at the school for children in need. I run it off donations and it has really turned into a second full time job (without monetary pay, but happiness pay instead). I provide uniforms, coats, toiletries and supplies to kids or families that need them. Occasionally, I get a parent who needs a coat or something, and if I have it available, I will let them have it. Unfortunately, I don’t work with shoes because it would be overwhelming and I have space constraints. Today I noticed on of my parents I have worked with, who is lovely, was searching on Facebook for a pair of shoes as hers had ripped and she hadn’t started her new job. I had a gift card and knew I could get her a solid pair of new shoes with a portion of the money, so I headed off to one of my favorite stores, Costco.

BIG MISTAKE.

You’d think it wouldn’t be too crowded on a weekday evening, right? Well, I can tell you that normally it’s not. I pop down during the week for items all the time (I just LOVE Costco), but stupid me forgot the proximity to Thanksgiving. Holy cow, it was CRAZY busy in there. I grabbed a cart, because I can never leave with just one item, and braced myself. Once inside, I navigated to where they had shoes. I was looking for the woman’s size when another woman tried to get passed, but couldn’t. I backed my cart up to allow her by. Well, she apparently didn’t navigate the corner well, and bumped the shoe display, causing numerous boxes to fall. She quickly started grabbing them and stacking them back up, her cart parked behind her. She was hustling to get the shoes back up, when an older lady stormed up with her cart. “I NEED TO GET THROUGH NOW!” she bellowed, and grabbed the poor woman’s cart and yanked it backwards. She demanded the woman move, and made some snarky remark.

Y’all, I couldn’t help myself.

“WOAH THERE!” I yelled, and proceeded to explain how we’ve all got stuff to do, but it’s just a dick move to be that entitled and that rude to people. The poor woman trying to put the shoes back looked at first panicked and then inherently grateful. People around us looked a bit surprised. One woman started grinning. The older woman turned and apologized to the woman with the shoes.

I swear, the holidays can pull out the very best of people, or the utter worst.

I grab 2 other items before realizing, horrified, that I had forgotten the gift card to pay for the shoes with out in my car. I mulled over leaving my cart, racing out to the car in the crowded parking lot filled with stressed people not paying proper attention, and decided that convenience overrode funds. I decided the shoes wouldn’t come from the closet project, they would come from me personally, and I would cover the cost myself. I headed up to the front where the registers were.

I have seen cows herded better than the horror show up at the front. I stood and sighed, knowing I’d be there for a while, although knowing Costco has great cashiers and I’d make it out sooner than I would at most other stores. I picked a line that seemed to have people holding their items in hand, figuring it was more of an “express lane” vibe and I’d be out pretty quick.

An older lady moved from her lane behind me, but almost next to me. “None of the lines seem great” she said with a smile, and the two of us chatted over how crazy it was in the store that day. I explained what I was doing, she told me she was getting her son a gift. She laughed and said “well, the line I was in moved faster than I thought, I could have been out by now!” I smiled and joked “but then you’d have missed meeting me!” It was a simple interaction, but I honestly enjoyed chatting with her. I let her go ahead of me. She resisted, but I told her I insisted. She put her items on the belt, and the woman in front of her turned and said something with a stern look on her face. I didn’t catch what was said. My new friend turned and told me the lady ahead had told her off for being “pushy” with her items on the belt. I guess those 4 little items the lady had got too close to stern lady’s brussel sprouts.

Really? This is the stuff people worry about? Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a pretty happy person. Maybe it’s the fact the reason I was at the store was because I know what it’s like to struggle and wanted to do something kind for another person. Look, I’m kind of an impatient person sometimes. I get grumpy too. But OOF people are testy as hell these days. A little kindness to each other would sure go a long way.

I cheered my new friend up and she smiled and waved as she walked out. I maneuvered through the parking lot (almost getting hit by a car as a woman tried to gun it through the busy lot) and was grateful to settle into the quiet of my own car.

Kindness. It’s important, folks. Try not to be a dick, eh?

Momma Fear

Y’all. I am freaking out.

Last night, my 13 year old came down to shoot the breeze with me in the kitchen. Every so often, we get a bit of time by ourselves and we get into some interesting conversations. Last night he was lamenting that he didn’t get the name I had originally wanted for him, when my phone rang. It was the school district, doing a robo call. The robo call system is a quick and easy way for them to let parents know if there is an issue, and early dismissal, and upcoming school closing, or other important info. This one came in rather late, and I pushed speaker phone to see what it said. The message was from my son’s school, letting us know there was an incident, and that it was being handled along with our local police department. I asked my son what had happened and he replied he wasn’t sure.

Today, while at work, my son texted me from the bathroom at school. Technically he’s not supposed to have his phone on him but as his mom, I allow him to keep it on him provided it is always on silent and that he never uses it at school unless it’s to reach me or his dad for an emergency. He’s been good about it, and frankly, with the amount of school shootings and other issues, I’m glad he has it on him.

He texted me that he had heard what the incident was, and that a student at the school had threatened to “shoot up the school”. Supposedly, the child had a “kill list” in his bag as well. My normally composed kid was uncomfortable and nervous…understandably so. How am I supposed to approach this conversation without any knowledge from the school as to what happened? A quick search on facebook reflected even more concern. Students were crying, anxious, and expressing fears. Parents were posting what their kids were telling them. The head “PTA Mom” in charge of the FB page yanked posts down. This pissed me off even more. Pretending these things don’t happen isn’t the answer. Hiding info only makes me more concerned, not less.

My son said his friend was unnerved enough today that he asked to go home. I think my son mulled it over as well.

These are such scary times. As a parent, nobody teaches you how to handle these types of things. There is no guidebook. There isn’t much help. Seeing police parked outside of the school doesn’t truly take the fear away of what is happening within the walls. Do we have our kids go through metal detectors? Check their bags each day? Do we treat our children like prisoners so we can ensure their safety? At what point do we stop and say “enough”?

Christmas Buzz

The other day we headed up to a mall to wander around for a while. Each of us was looking for something we needed, so it seemed like a good way to have a lazy Sunday. My son looked at me as we wandered around amidst all of the early Christmas decorations and said “I’m really excited for Christmas this year!”. I turned, admittedly thrilled to hear him say it, because let’s be honest, he’s 13 and, well, occasionally unimpressed by things as 13 years old are sometimes. I asked what it was in particular he was excited about. “It’s that feeling you get, you know, that buzz of excitement once you start seeing all the decorations go up. It’s that buzz of things to do.” he responded.

I know it well.

Christmas as a child, for those who celebrate it, always seemed to be a magical day. There is the magic of Santa, presents, food, and festivities. People seem (in theory) to be a little kinder during the holidays. Family comes around.

Christmas for me as a child was my favorite day of the year, especially when we got to celebrate it in England. I always loved it when my parents would take me to “Santa’s Grotto” as it was called. I loved every bit of Christmas. I loved gazing at the ornaments on my grandmother’s little tree. I loved looking out the window hopeful to catch a glimpse of Santa. I loved waking up to presents in a pillowcase ( we did pillowcases in England vs under the tree). While I didn’t get to spend the day with my cousins, we usually saw each other for a little while, and we always spent Boxing Day with each other. That was one of my favorite parts, Christmas with my cousins. When you grow up across the ocean from each other, having that special time together is priceless.

Christmas as an adult can be a bit different. A bit more stressful. Ok, sometimes a lot more stressful. We are the creators of the magic, and each family has their own kind of magic. Every family creates their own traditions. We used to open gifts, get ready, and race out the door. Then one year, all that changed, and we stayed home. I cooked, the kids played with their toys, and my husband got a bit of time to relax. We ate a big homecooked meal, then set out drinks and desserts for family to enjoy in the evening. We always have family over now, and the only recommendation is “come casual! Pajamas encouraged!” The kids really created this tradition, and it’s stuck.

This year, the kids are older and just want a couple of things, which are sort of bigger gifts. My son wanted a gift that is near impossible to find, but I may have found one, so I’m excited. For me, the joy is in the hunt to find the right gift for each person. It’s the care and effort put into the gifts that I enjoy. I love wandering around the mall and seeing the lights and baubles twinkling. I love the buzz of it all, just like my son.

Maybe Christmas can still hold the magic even when we grow up.

Burned out

Some days, I amaze myself with all I get done. Granted, it’s not always pretty….some days things get done by the skin of my teeth, me sliding into the parking lot at the last minute, and there may or may not be some blood, sweat and tears involved. Still, I get it done, or at least, I get an awful lot done. Other days, it’s harder. Sometimes, I just go and go until there is no more “go to give”, and I just sort of ground to a halt.

I’m at a halt. I’m torn between calm focus, vs the choice to turn everything upside down and shake things up. Sometimes you just need to go inward and regroup, and other times, you need to go “whirling dervish” and see where the chips land.

Getting burned out is a very real thing. I know when that feeling hits because suddenly, I just want to stop everything. I am no longer my (somewhat) patient self, and I get real tired of nonsense real quick. My inner dialogue gets more cynical, more sarcastic, and I get a very real urge to shake things up. The urge for a change of scenery is growing, and for the first time in a long time, I’m looking at what our lives could be like if we moved. I wonder what fresh places, fresh starts, and new surroundings would feel like. Then again, I like my familiar. See? ANTSY.

An introvert by nature, I know when the burnout is headed my way. Too much people-ing is a surefire way to make me want to hibernate. The past few weeks, even Facebook is becoming a bit of a chore. This weekend I cut back on it significantly and realized I was a bit happier for doing so. I’ve started hiding people who are exhausting. I’m starting to pay closer attention to the finer details about people. Behavior will always outweigh words. If someone is a garbage human being, I need to step away from that permanently. If someone aligns themselves with garbage human beings, I have to question who they really are as well. I’ve spent my life being far too tolerant of people’s nonsense because somewhere along the line I convinced myself that everyone is inherently good. Sadly, I’ve now learned that’s false, and that some people are just inherently twats, and it’s better to get away from them. When I’m feeling burned out is when I most want to circle my wagons and just keep the tried and true folks around me. Honestly, I should keep ’em circled.

I look around at all the jobs I need to do, and frankly, I think it’s time to step back, do some self care, and focus on things that either REALLY need doing, or things that would just bring in joy. Life is too short not to find the joy in the every day. I have a couple of projects lined up for this month. Neither are quite a NEED to do, but both are a WANT to do, so I’m choosing to focus on the wants for a couple of weeks. A bit of elbow grease and some focus, and I think it will help rejuvenate my mood. Of course, there are the “need to do” jobs, and they will get done I suppose, because at the end of the day we all feel better when we can cross some of those off our list as well.

In Denmark they practice a Hygge lifestyle which is the art of finding coziness and contentment in the every day. Candles, books, a fire in the fireplace, comfortable clothes, blankets, and good company. Sounds heavenly, no? After reading up about Hygge (I’ve seen this pronounced “HOO-ga” and “HUE-guh” it sounds like just what the doctor ordered, especially on the cold, bitter days of winter. It also explaines why Danes are noted as being some of the happiest people in the world.

So for me, during this little burnout stage, it’s Hygge, my close trusted friends, my family, and some quiet while I get myself feeling recharged. Whether I’ll go calm, or whether I’ll shake things up remains to be seen, but at the very least, I’m eager to reset myself and start preparing for the magic of the holidays.