Why You Should Have a Life Philosophy

A carved buddha statue

I am not one of these people who take Pinterest quizzes. I am not new-agey. I don’t like a whole bunch of fuss. I’m not sentimental. I don’t have a spirit animal. I am the most pragmatic person I know. Ironically, I would never read a post called “Why You Should Have a Life Philosophy.”

The whole idea summons images of inspirational print art, t-shirts claiming my heritage as a mermaid or unicorn, and Tony Robbins… then they get all blurred together as a mental picture of Tony Robbins having sex with a mermaid with a scrawly script above it that says “Everyday is a good day when you’re fucking a mermaid!”

Mermaid GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

But having a life philosophy is not about higher thinking or spiritual fulfillment or having sex with mermaids.

It’s about organization.

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My Marriage is Easy?

I’ve been waiting for it to happen: that time in my marriage when I start to understand what everyone is talking about. The time when I start to nod along in agreement to people saying marriage is “hard work,” that it’s not “easy.” My ten year anniversary has come and gone and despite health problems, cross-country relocations, financial hardships, and family emergencies, the only thing that hasn’t been hard work has been my relationship.

Suspicious Tim Allen GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

My marriage, however, has been the cause of three break ups… seriously. My brother-in-law’s girlfriend wrote me on Facebook one day saying that watching my husband and I in our daily interactions gave her horrible proof of the way a relationship “could” be, and she couldn’t continue to settle knowing it was a possibility. One of my very good friends said she just assumed all marriages were like hers and seeing mine filled her with so much sadness for herself that she kicked her husband out of the house.

It’s bewildering. It’s not as though my husband and I are Gomez and Morticia, shamelessly making out at funerals, family reunions, and the DMV.

The Addams Family M Fangirl Challenge GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

On the weekdays he kisses me goodbye on his way to work, we exchange some loving words mixed with reminders of daily responsibilities. “You are so gorgeous baby, I miss your face. Also, could you pick up some scotch tape if you go out today?”

He comes home, we prepare a meal together while drinking a glass of wine or a Manhattan, eat, watch a little television, go for a walk. Maybe we catch a yoga class, or meet up with some friends. Repeat.

I asked my husband the other day, “So, like… is this supposed to get super hard at some point?” “Eh, I think we’re out of the woods,” he said.

So after 11 years of smooth sailing, this is the best advice I can offer:

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A Touchy Subject: How to Work on Being Touched

Old and young hands together

I am a very physically affectionate person. If it were socially acceptable I would introduce myself to new people by biting at their stomachs and nuzzling their neck.

Almost every week I swap full-body massages with my girlfriends. I kiss people goodbye and hello and my poor husband has bald patches all over his otherwise hairy body from being love-nuzzled.

Cat Licking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I think one of the saddest lessons life teaches us is to not let ourselves be touched. Men learn not to “be gay” and women learn, often through experiences with sexual assault, to be afraid.

With introversion finally getting its time in the limelight (calm down introverts, you can have the limelight on you and still hide under the stairs in the dark) and every talk show host/therapist/blogger talking about setting your boundaries, it is easier than ever to not let yourself be touched.

To touch is to trust

Yes, I think you should challenge yourself to let someone touch you. To touch is to trust. I think it is something worth working on. And I know no one else will tell you this because you are scary with your thick outer shell of scales and that look on your face like you’ve seen some shit. But I’m gonna because mama loves you and knows what’s best.

In all seriousness, I get it. Once you’ve been violated, not touching and letting yourself be touched is not only the instinctual thing to do, but it is easy to tell yourself that those feelings should not be questioned, ever.

So let’s prod at that sensitive area. Today I want to talk about how to touch and be touched when that’s the last thing you want to do.

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A Very Stabby Birthday

Shiny birthday balloons in the number 30

I don’t remember much about my dad. I know that all the stories my mom tells me about their time together end with “…and then your dad stabbed him so we had to get the hell out of there.”

Practice Stabbing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

My most vivid memory of my dad was his knife coming through the roof of the van we lived in. I can still hear my mom screaming, “Run for your life!” while I tried to super-speed activate my stubby toddler legs. It turned out my great escape wasn’t necessary; they reconciled and went on to have more children. It’s the rom-com you never knew would scare you.

They did eventually part ways. My dad got out of the van to take a leak one hot summer night and my mom just sped away. She traded the van for a trailer, the alcoholic schizophrenic for a heroin addict, and we never heard from my dad again.

Until this month. A few days before my 30th birthday.

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How to Be All Classy and Shit

Woman at the beach with a sun hat

I have been thinking a lot about class lately. My thirtieth birthday is right around the corner and I have really been trying to hone my style. I’ve always been horrified by my mother’s butterfly bedazzled bell bottoms and the ever presence of “big gulps, tractors, and pink camo” in my sordid memory bank. But what makes someone classy? The internet has nearly convinced me that the whole of classiness is kept in the human cuticles and if they aren’t on point, I should just hang myself with a length of the Confederate flag while standing on a crate of Pabst.

Not one to believe everything the internet tells me, I thought about real life. Who was the classiest person I know?

For me, that person is my dear friend Betty. Betty is a landscaper and ironically has the most mangled cuticles I have ever seen. When she comes by my place, covered in dirt, cursing up a storm, she brings with her an armload of dahlia bulbs or a length of hose for my yard. She clasps my face with both of her hands and tells me how beautiful I look that day. She tells me that my orchid is too dark green and will be happier in a sunny spot. She exudes a level of class that I strive for. Intelligence, warmth, openness. She is just so damn classy.

So put away your wallets and, cuticles be damned, today we are talking about the dos and don’ts of how to be all classy and shit.
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My Apologies: Conquering the World One Sorry at a Time

Woman's hands holding a flower

The oldest thing I own is a piece of homework from 1st grade. It’s actually an entire booklet of paper bound in little plastic rings. “Tiara, Grade 1” is written in purple crayon across the construction paper cover.

God knows how I still have it. It has somehow weathered a hundred homes (and no home at all). I swear one day it will be archived as a religious script because of the shit it has endured. In the future, people will tell the miracle of how the little plastic-bound journal survived tornadoes, fire, and the summer my mom kept goats in the house.

There isn’t too much to report about the Holy Scripts. Mostly pictures of birds in the distance signified by “M”s, yellow sunshines and broccoli trees, but there is one very memorable entry:

My shit list. Well, my “shite” list. Apparently I was an Irish child.

Grade 1 and already making a shit list.

You see, there weren’t a lot of rules in my house. No curfews, no chores, no expectations of grades or school attendance, and the expletives were free to fly. Al Pacino and Eric Cartman screaming “God fucking damnit” echoed around my living room and Tony Montana himself might balk at the curse words that came out of my step dad’s mouth.

But there were two dirty words, so filthy that to speak them meant swift and violent retribution.

Those words were: “I’m sorry.”

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