Quiet Reeducation 

I’ve been looking forward to tonight for days! Part of the fun is the anticipation right? I bought myself some wine, found a wonderful bath bomb, and planned to settle in for a sweat inducing, relaxing time with my book. 

I was so excited I told a friend at work, “So, I have a hot date with..” I trailed off for a split second as I reached for the next word. In that tiny moment I noticed her face grow bright with excitement as well, I could tell she wasn’t thinking what I was thinking. “A bath bomb and a bottle of wine!” I finished. Her face fell just enough. I’ve been single pretty much all of the four years I’ve worked there and while it was hard and I complained a bit about it for a while, in the last couple years I’ve grown to enjoy where I am in my life and the desire to have a significant other has passed for the time. What I was excited for was a date with myself. 

The next day was a the normal flavor of hectic; negotiating the circus act that is parenting, the struggle to get my coffee and breakfast, the endless joy (not) that is work, and a migraine to top it all off. I made it to the end of my shift and I knew I had a relaxing evening was waiting for me at home, so again I shared my excitement, with a different coworker this time.

“With a hot man? Or maybe a hot woman?” was the reply. Honestly, I’m beginning to think it’s impossible for anyone to enjoy themselves alone. She expressed that she didn’t understand why anyone would be excited for a night alone. Fun to her was being out with friends, not being at home alone reading a book or playing video games. To go a step farther, she even said she felt sorry for those people. 

The conversation meandered a bit and I tried to explain to her that as an introvert I need time alone; being around people is still fun for me, but it also takes a lot of energy sometimes. She said she didn’t actually know any introverts. That makes sense, she’s a highly extroverted person and most introverts wouldn’t fall into her social circles. On all points she couldn’t really relate. I told her she didn’t need to, but that she should respect others rights to be themselves and love what they love. I’ve heard her arguments before, but I tend to think of them as miseducation rather than offensive statements.

The introvert/extrovert subject is one that I’ve struggled with for a long time. When I was a child I was definitely introverted, but over the years I’ve figured out how to be more outgoing and even function as an actual extrovert at times. In Myers-Briggs and other personality tests I tend to register just barely as an introvert, straddling between the two. At this time of my life I’ve mostly returned to my introverted ways. Look back couple years ago and the last thing you’d think was that I needed time to myself. I probably didn’t, I was finding rest in being surrounded by friends. I’m learning that my needs change depending on what’s going on in my life and that I really just have to go with it. I suppose I have an advantage by being able to live in, and appreciate both worlds. 

My shift ended and I went to my car to resume my audiobook and make the 40 minute trek home. By some fluke of the universe (or perhaps the matrix is indeed real) the author was talking about her own struggle to embrace what she sees as fun, the exact argument I was just making for quiet time, books, and video games. I’ve been fighting hard to learn to love what I love without shame or regret. When your loves include things Sci-Fi, gaming, Fantasy, comics, anime, art, pottery, literary classics, Girl Scouts, teaching, history, languages, anthropology, civil rights, and a host of other random topics, you’re bound to find a few people who disagree and disrespect you and your interests. I decided that what I love is always to be embraced. My life doesn’t look like anyone else’s. That’s more than okay, that’s what makes me who I am. If I was to deny any part of what I love I would be losing something of myself. And the more things I love the more people I can connect with through the shared love of those things (see, there’s that extrovert). 

Embrace your loves, embrace yourself, and never let anyone tell you there’s something wrong with it. They just need to be reeducated. 

Organizing Crazy

I haven’t written in a while. At some point, I told myself that I wanted to write and publish one piece a week. Of course, the next piece I tried to write was a disaster. There were good elements, but it needed to be scrapped. Facing a frustrating hurdle because I didn’t do it perfect, I subconsciously stopped writing, the rest of my life became overwhelming, and doubt settled in. I had failed. 

In order to combat the crazy swirling tangle that had become my mind, I decided to try to make sense out of my thoughts and, for me, that meant writing them down. My life, I decided, was just getting too crazy and I was getting lost trying to keep it all together.

“Life is crazy,” we hear it all the time, but there’s some relativism that we can’t see in the phrase. What is crazy to you? What is too busy? I know people who take on things that would drive me into a nut house and others who can hardly manage to keep their house clean and watch all their TV shows. I’m beginning to realize that we all have our own level of acceptable crazy. For some of us the level just looks ridiculously high. 

I’m one of those high level of crazy people. I really can’t say why, but if I didn’t have a bunch of stuff going on all the time, I’d go out and find it. It’s just my normal and I’d probably get really depressed and sleep all the time if I didn’t have a gazillion things to keep me occupied. Sometimes though, even my brain obviously needs to rest.

I sat down, (while teaching my children – apparently only doing one thing at a time is not enough for me) and attempted to put down on paper all the things that run around in my head everyday in some attempt to objectify it all and maybe organize it better. I started with a note pad. That didn’t work. By the time I was writing sideways I could see that I need a better format. I moved to digital and started up a new document. This brain map ended up two pages, small type, with bullet points, and I’m still needing to add things. 

It feels good to have things on paper. It’s like I can see them while they’re sitting still and really examine their purposes in my life. With this tool, I identified some things that could be finished in a relatively timely manner and then be removed from my tremendous web of life. 

I finished off a couple books and deleted them. Yay!!!

I added another book… 

I added some notes to things to remind myself how I feel about them and their place in my life. I made these notes in color to show the emotion or severity associated with it. 

I’ve been able to add weight to some things and remove weight from others. It’s helping me prioritize. 

I added a volunteer event..

To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever get my life below this set point of crazy, but being able to keep a running map of things I have going on has helped a lot to manage it all and remember what is more important and what will work itself out over time. 

I’m the kind of person who wants to have already learned all the things, read all the books, made all money, paid off all the bills, and accomplished all the milestones of life before I’ve even begun. If I can’t do the things perfectly the first time or if I’m not already set for life I get frustrated. I have a hard time with the process of life. I have an even harder time with failure. However, I’ve been practicing at this whole failure and process thing on purpose for quite a few years now. Like anything else, I had to recognize that I had a problem before I could fix it. 

This brain map exercise helped me realize that I’d slipped back into the old habit of needing to do everything all at once and do it perfect the first time. It also helped me realize why I hadn’t written anything for a few weeks. I’m shifting things around and not worrying about finishing everything as soon as possible anymore. I’m just letting it all have it’s time. There is, in fact time. Seasons rotate and so must the seasons of my life. 

This season I plan to focus on writing. Not writing perfectly, but getting to know my writing better. Next season, I’ll focus on something else. It’ll all get done when it gets done and it doesn’t all have to be at the same time. There will be more time. Relax.


Rhianon Meets Japan

I have one tried and true passion in my life. Something that makes me who I am: Japan. When I was very little I saw my first Ghibli movie, “My Neighbor Totoro,” and it captivated me. I loved their home, their land, the way they did laundry, cooked, took baths, and the mythical creatures that wove through the story. It was so foreign to my young self, so entrancing. Where was this lovely place? I must have watched that movie a billion times. A few years later came the era of 90’s anime. Through this I found out where the wonderful world of Totoro came from and was introduced to their language. The late 90’s brought me imported goods full of the Japanese language and the discovery of the beliefs and customs of these people called Nihonjin. I ate it up. 

I learned quite a bit on my own, but what I truly wanted was to experience Japan first hand. I didn’t get the chance until I finally went to college in my late 20’s and took a Japanese language course. My sensei was sweet, open, and a bit hard on me I think. I showed promise in the beginning, knowing far more Japanese than my classmates and she wanted to push me. I appreciated her confidence in my skills and it made me want to work harder. I could see this language unfolding before me and loved that I was allowed to take part in this beautiful dance of syllables. I loved the sound of it, I loved the feel of speaking the sweet cadences. I loved the simple words that carry meanings so deep it would take a full English paragraph to explain. Japan had me. 

I loved Japanese but there was something else going on with me that I still don’t really understand. My reaction to school was fairly typical, I was nervous at the beginning and it subsided after a couple days, but not with my Japanese class. The nervousness went on for weeks. It happened again with each new class and intermittently throughout the quarter. I’d talk myself through it and let myself focus on what was in front of me and it would pass. This phenomenon has recently been named, “Rhianon meets Japan.” I’m not sure how else to describe it.

When I got the opportunity to apply for an internship in Japan I jumped on it. I was accepted and given the chance to fulfill my life’s dream. At the time, things weren’t going too well at home and my marriage was beginning it’s death throes. I couldn’t pass it up though, this was bigger for me even than my marriage. Yes, you read that right. It was only 18 days and unless someone was going to die, I was going to Japan. I figured that if my marriage couldn’t survive me fulfilling the biggest dream I had, it wouldn’t be worth trying to keep. So, heart in tangles, I focused on the dream in front of me, ignored my relapse of near-debilitating nervousness brought on by another bout of, “Rhianon meets Japan,” and strove forward. 

Japan was amazing! Our first day there we went bowling, and I bowled the best game of my life, nevermind the typhoon that had rolled in. We ate wonderful food, I got to work in a flower shop, we practiced using the little Japanese we had learned up to that point, and toured temples. It’s so beautiful there. It’s an artful collaboration of old and new, east and west. The people are so welcoming and we never felt like a burden. It was the experience of a lifetime!

When I got back to the states I had to confront life again. At first it was wonderful, I had missed my family so much! I felt like I had closed a chapter in my life and decided to change my major from Japanese to nursing. It was as if I had finished what I wanted to do with Japan. Part of me felt a bit sad about that. I know why now. What had really happened was that I had gotten scared and I was running. Being on the other side of the world took my already twisted emotions and imploded them. Suddenly, I was grasping for everything familiar that I could, my failing marriage, the medical community that I had wanted so desperately to get away from, anything. I’m happy to say that I came partly to my senses, ended up finishing my transfer degree, and finally got divorced. 

I stopped running from Japan, but things were different. All the stress had left me in a position that couldn’t support my love of the language either mentally or time-wise. Being a single parent takes quite a lot out of you. Having enough of me left for myself became my new dream. 

A few years and failed attempts to get my trauma-injured brain to work for me again and I’m finally feeling like I can partition some of myself out to nurture my love again. And again, on the eve of my first encounter with Japan again in a long while, I’m having another episode of “Rhianon meets Japan”-style nervousness. I cannot deny that part of my life will always belong to this incredible country and it’s people. It’s very possible that my destiny is intertwined with them, but my subconscious apparently is trying to tell me something. I wish it’d just spell it out already so we could hash out our differences.

I will say that I’ve encountered some resistance from my family and others around me. Here in America it’s not normal to be so engrossed in another culture, especially one so foreign and one that most people directly associate with the wrong side of WWII and anime (Which is often misinterpreted as children’s cartoon shows and therefore childish. Trust me, you don’t want your kids watching certain types of anime.). My family has gradually grown to accept my interest and slightly altered style of living, but it left a mark. I got the point, I’m weird. I should be eating steak and watching football, not studying language, eating mochi, and using chopsticks. My “you’re in trouble” voice with my kids should not come out in Japanese. I’m an odd American. 

So, one would think that I would embrace Japan without hesitation. It’s obviously not going to stop being part of my life. Instead, I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’ll get lost somewhere in the middle, America already thinks I’m weird, what if Japan does too? I suppose the urge to belong is also characteristic of the Japanese. Besides, I was embraced before, I shouldn’t fear, I’ll be embraced again. Still, I’m nervous.

I have to confront this, take my stand. I’m making the decision to go boldly forward with my life and my passions. I won’t cower and run again. I’ll fight the fears in my life in order to have the life I want, not the life that I settle for. It’s uncomfortable. I hate the nervous feeling, but I’ll take it as my internal dowsing rod that seeks out my future. If my subconscious is telling me that scary things are ahead, that means new experiences, and new experiences are what I’m seeking in life. So, bring on the scary and never fall for your own deception. Your body wants to protect itself, but being in a padded, adventure-proof life only kills you slower.  



Not Alone, Whole

In the time following my divorce I let myself down tremendously. In my mind I was an independent person and I swore to myself that I would be just fine. It is in my value system that a person does not need to rely on others to make them happy. Yes, being with other people and having meaningful relationships is a significant part of happiness, but not the only part. In no way was I going to let the dissolution of my ten-year marriage destroy me. And it didn’t. Not really. 

The problem was that I set my views of what “not destroying me” meant a bit too high. In my mind I wouldn’t cry but once or twice, I would embrace my new freedom and rebuild my life with enthusiasm. I got that partly right, most days.

At first it was great! I had new goals and hope and all sorts of wonderful things to look forward to! I moved, got a new job, and started at a university – which was a major life dream of mine. Things settled down. Then, I started to feel the weight of the last couple years. The stress of the divorce – and all the mess that went with it – had made my mind fragile. I couldn’t think. All the things I was trying to learn at the university felt out of my grasp. My mind was slippery and felt cramped. This had never happened to me before! I had always been able to learn effortlessly. This was the only thing I ever felt I was good at and I found myself dropping classes! So much for my goals.

Couple that with my life-long tenancy to stuff things rather than deal with them and I found myself becoming something I didn’t ever want to be. I had battled depression before, but this round was the worst yet. It went in cycles. I’d be fine for a few weeks, carrying out life, working on turning my new apartment into a home and paying my bills. Then one day I could hardly get out of bed and I started crying all the time and anywhere. I’d cry at work, in the car, on my days off I’d be listless in bed, not so much crying as a constant stream of tears and helplessness. This would go on for about two weeks. I’d start to feel better again, and then I’d crash again. Up and down and up and down… I began to feel terrified of the next down cycle. The whole time I’m telling myself “I can do this,” “It’s okay,” “It’ll pass,” “Things are better now.” They were, but I couldn’t get my emotions to understand that. I eventually dropped my pride, dropped out of school, saw a doctor, and got some help. Sometimes that extra help really is a necessity. 

Things got better. It’s been nearly four years now and I haven’t had a down cycle in months. It took way more time than I wanted it to. Things still aren’t perfect, but my mind is coming back and I am fathoms more comfortable being alone. Well, not alone… It occurs to me that we don’t have an adequate word to describe how I feel now. I’m not alone; I have friends and my children and family. Independent doesn’t really work either, I feel like that has nothing to do with relationships and more to do with just not being dependent. Single doesn’t work either because that just relates to romantic relationships. 

What I do feel is whole. I don’t feel like I’m missing something anymore. Yes, a romantic relationship would possibly be fun and fulfilling. It’d be nice to have someone to do things with, talk, cuddle, create dreams, and share the load of life. But I’m comfortable in my own skin again and I feel like I can see a path before me. Who knows what that path will hold, but my lover now is life and living the full breadth and length of it. My goal now is to sew into my children and sew into myself. My goal is to relearn how to learn and give my mind the combination of rest and exercise it needs to be able to recover. My goal is to use what I have gone through to be a help to others if I can. After all, what’s the use of experience if you can’t turn it into a benefit? 



I strive to be a positive person. Like literally strive

Strive~ verb:

To exert much effort or energy.

Synonym: REACH

Attempt by employing effort.


I am not a naturally a positive person. My inner running commentary would have you on the floor either laughing uncontrollably or holding your head, begging for it to stop. It’s a constant battle against myself and it’s exhausting. Over the years though I’ve developed a kind of statement and response mantra to combat this. 

Inner me: You need to lose a few pounds.

Real me: You’re just fine. Keep working on being healthy.

Inner me: You’re alone and always will be.

Real me: And? Even if that’s true there’s so much life to live, I’ll be fine. Plus, I have friends and I’m still really young there’s plenty of time.

Inner me: You’re never going to actually matter in life.

Real me: Liar. I’m smart, I’m always working on myself, I have so many things ahead of me, and a heart to make things better in the world. So shh! 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has these conversations. Ugh. 

The external conversations are exhausting too. I swear I find myself playing devil’s advocate a million times a day. I’m always trying to get people to understand each other and be more forgiving. Then, I listen to myself and want to crawl in hole. What’s with me? Did I honestly just say that? Why can’t I think the way I want to all the time? Yes, that person treated me like crap. Stop talking and think. What’s going on in their life? Why are they acting this way? How can you help them? Boundaries are a good thing, people shouldn’t be allowed to treat you badly, but then you join in on the gossip even as you’re cursing yourself for doing so? Pick one. 

I’m striving to be this wonderful person. The person who can set a boundary and then not speak of it again. The person who can hear gossip and promote understanding without joining. The person who can have a conflict with another and not be torn to shreds when the other person is still mad in the end. Just because I can’t make them happy, doesn’t mean I failed. People pleasing isn’t helpful, I know that. Promoting understanding, level thinking, and at least a mite of positivity is helpful. 

I’m not one to make resolutions. I prefer to acknowledge the fact that life is always a work in process. I’m never going to be finished. So, with the new year, my only goal is to keep fighting. I’ll fight the inner battles as I always have, maybe find a new weapon along the way. I’ll fight the outer battles with my ever strengthening patience muscles, and work on my self control while I’m at it. The only thing I’m going to add this year works in tandem with the outer battle. This year I’m going to try to help some people. I surround myself with positivity as a weapon against my inner battle. I’m going to try to help others with their inner battle and surround them with subtle positivity as well. I’m not sure how this will work, but it can’t hurt. I feel like if others could feel better inside, they might not make our shared outside space such a battle as well. 

Inner me: Quit squeezing, your turnip is out! 

Real me: They’re worth it and it’ll be worth the investment. Smart business, I promise. 


Time to Leap

A while ago I took my youngest out with me to do some errands. At some point, and I still don’t know what inspired this, she looked at me and said, “Mom, you need to take a leap of faith.” Huh?  I though about it for a bit and explained that I had actually done that not too long ago when we packed up everything and moved and her dad and I got divorced. That leap had been a very scary decision that paid off well, for all parties I believe. She replied, “I think it’s time for another.” My tiniest is eight. This was an odd bit of insight coming from the child we’ve nicknamed “Tornado.” Whenever inspired it, even if it was a TV show, she saw that it was needed in my life. I’m choosing to take her wisdom to heart. 

I’m not a great leaper. I plan things and I generally have an idea of where I’m going and what my next goal is. So, jumping into something without knowing what’s at the bottom is slightly terror inspiring for me. I suppose that’s the point. I have actually done this many times, but it’s an anxious process and hasn’t always worked out for the best. Still, I’ve survived well enough that I know things generally work out as long as you keep working at it. 

This is part of my leap. The other part might take years and might never see the light of day, but I’m still doing it. 

And the thing is, this leap might be the only thing that gets me to where I really want to be. It might not, but my current path probably won’t either. There’s a little risk involved, but it wouldn’t be a Leap of Faith without risk right? 

I’ll leave you with some seriously meaningful lyrics. You might remember the group Hanson from the mid-90’s. They were very young kids with long hair, music that far deeper than it seemed on the surface, and seriously understated talent. I was a fan. Then, life happened and I totally missed their second album (which was pretty good too), probably due to the stigma they had picked up and the rise of harder, darker music in my life. Their third album got stuck in production for years and at every turn their label would thwart their efforts. They did a series on YouTube about the struggle if you’re interested. Finally, they took a Leap of Faith. They broke with their label and started their own. They’ve released four more albums including Underneath, the one that got stuck. The first song they recorded was Broken Angel, it chronicles their struggle to do right by themselves and their art. This song has meant a lot to me and serves as a reminder to, likewise, do right by myself and my art.

Broken Angel, by Hanson
So small, yet still so proud 

At night before he dreams he looks into the clouds 

A high-flyer’s what I want to be 

Seems they won’t let me

Says I’m too small 

I don’t feel small at all 
Break my dreams

That’s what they’ll do 

Well, I’m going to run away

And learn to fly like you 

I’m going to go so high

And swoop so low 

You can’t bring me down

Going to be so proud 
Little angel, you got to learn to fly 

Get up and earn your wings tonight 

Little angel, just look in my eyes 

Get up and earn your wings tonight 
Push and shove, then climb aboard 

This is the shuttle train to the top of the world 

When you look around, what do you see?

These are all high-flyers 

But none of these high-flyers look like me 
What is that supposed to mean 

What am I supposed to be 
I pull my way up through this crowd 

To find your body crushed on the ground 

It’s so obvious; why couldn’t you see

That you can’t go high-flying 

Without a pair of high-flyer wings?
Little one’s broken lying on the ground 

Trying to get up ’till his last breath out 

Wings are strewn everywhere; there’s blood all around 

‘Cause even angels die, but that light just fades 

It’s so sad, but he’d be so proud 
Broken angel, you’ve got to learn to fly 

Get up and earn your wings tonight 

Broken angel, just look in my eyes 

Get up and earn you wings tonight 

Get up and earn your wings, earn your wings tonight


Hello out there!

img_0004I suppose we’ll have to do a little introduction-type-thingy. This blog will be a place where I can reside in all my verbose, opinionated, slightly offensive, positivity-seeking, culture obsessed, colorful, super-mom-ness. I might rant a bit or explore some ridiculous topic or just report on some experience or another. Mostly, I just want to seek experiences; deep conversations, new wonderfulness to try, anything to broaden my scope.

I’m sure many are curious, so let me explain a little bit about what “|Life|” means. First, a little math. These symbols “|x|” are called absolute value. It’s a little hard to explain in writing so here’s a quick link in case I don’t do it justice.

Basically, an absolute value is simply the distance of the given number from zero on a number line. So if my number is |-3| Then it is three spaces from zero and that distance is three. Thus |-3|=3. Likewise |3|=3. Both are three spaces from zero.

So, how does this apply to life? My theory is that every experience we have can fall somewhere on the great number line of life. Some experiences suck eggs: car crash=|-42|. Some are life changing wonderful: climb that mountain you’ve always wanted to=|53|. If we take the absolute value of these experiences and see them as true richness and not a good or bad thing, just an event that further developes us into who we are meant to be, it will give us some perspective and maybe remove some weight from our shoulders. Life is not good or bad, just the absolute value of the things we experience.

I’ve chosen to live my life through this lens. I even got it tattooed! My life is a crazy one, but being able to see it this way helps me to embrace all that life has to offer and take what I can learn from it without even acknowledging any burden or dwelling on it.  I strive to see my life as a journey and learning experience. My experiences are there to teach me compassion, to round out my rough edges, and to enrich my life so that I may enrich others.

Ok, enough with the self-help-gobbledygook. Honestly, I just want honesty and compassion. We’re all stuck here together and there’s not enough time for pride or selfishness. I refuse to be miserable dammit.

Welcome. 🙏🏼💖🍵