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A Case of the Red, White, and Blues…

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I’ve had the title of this blog running around in my head for quite some time. I just couldn’t figure out exactly what it was that I would write about. Until now…

Today I had an awakening. A wake-up call. A realization.

I’m in a rut. A big, fat, seemingly bottomless, stupid ol’ rut…

And I know I’m not alone.

If you stop and think about all we’ve been through the last few months, both individually and as a nation, it’s mind-boggling. It’s almost incomprehensible.

The fact that Americans are able to function at all is something to be proud of. But that’s not something I want to hang my hat on. Functioning. I’m not one who just wants to function. I enjoy living life. Every day I hope to accomplish something meaningful. Maybe I’ll write a blog, or record my podcast. Maybe I’ll read, or send a random text to let someone know I’m thinking about them.

Maybe I’ll even attempt to clean out my closet, or find some other project to complete around the house. As much as I love to be completely lazy at times, I’m a worker. I need things to do even if I don’t feel like doing them. I always need a “to-do” list.

But this Pandemic has broken up my routine. With all the spare time I’ve had, you’d think I would have accomplished great things. Like Michelangelo, I could have painted a mural on the ceiling. I could have written a book (because I’ve done that before in a four month time span). I could have organized all those photos that have been waiting for years to find their home in a photo album.

The list of “could haves” is longer than the number of days I’ve spent wallowing in the rut that has become my safe space. As I look around the house, it’s in good shape (except for my closet and that is a whole other story…Jesus, take the wheel). So there’s that…

Everything on the surface is orderly. We planted grass in the yard, created a new flower bed, and built the Great Wall of East Lake Woods on the side of our house (really, it’s more like a terrace/flower bed).

I’ve scaled down my decor, and things are neat and tidy looking. On the surface, it appears I’m doing great.

But when I look beneath the surface, things feel wildly out of control. There are so many unanswered questions. So many unknowns.

I have started and not finished five books. I have exercised and not exercised more times than I can count. I haven’t been consistent in that, or my reading, or my schedule.

Every morning, I get up, drink my two cups of coffee, and try to figure out what I will do. I might watch game shows, or binge watch something on Netflix, Hulu, or Prime. I might sit out by the pool, think about writing a sequel to my book, or toss around the idea of possibly writing a children’s book. And then it happens…

I begin to think about the future and all that is going on. And I worry. You see, I’m a fixer. I always want to fix people, and situations. That comes from being a counselor. And I can do absolutely NOTHING about any of this. Or can I?

I think the answer to all of this lies in each of us. We can all work on ourselves. Now, I’m not saying you have work to do, so don’t get offended. I’m preaching to the choir and simply suggesting that we can all do better, try harder, and somehow in a mixed-up, crazy world, make a difference.

And the key to this is to look at your daily routine and see what needs to be tweaked:

This quote about daily routines is one that I have scotch-taped to the wall in my office. It is a reminder that in order to fully achieve my goals, I need to look at the choices I make daily. And as I peruse through my habits and choices, I need to figure out what things need to be added or deleted in order for me to become the best version of myself.

Being in this four-month-long rut hasn’t brought out the best in me in several areas of my life. I’ve become complacent, maybe even downright lazy. I have no urgency. I let things happen rather than making things happen.

And I’ve let myself go. My pride has flown out the window.

Today, I ventured out of the house. Brian is back at work, and I have many hours to fill with nothingness. I decided to drive to Whataburger and get a half coke, half coke zero. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will be thinking, “Hmmmm. I thought she gave that up?” Simmer down, now! I haven’t and it’s not my fault! The blame clearly falls on this quarantine/pandemic rut that I’m in. This nectar of the gods is my one guilty pleasure.

So getting back to my story. On my way to Whataburger (which is about 10 miles away), as I was listening to the Eagles and having a peaceful, easy feeling, I decided to go all the way into Tyler and run by the grocery store. We just needed a few things. Sounds like a great plan, right?

What I failed to figure into this equation, was the fact that I wasn’t wearing any makeup. My original errand was simply going through the drive-thru, so makeup wasn’t required. As I thought about this further, I realized since I would be wearing a mask, half of my face would be covered, so it wasn’t that big of an issue. In a matter of seconds, I was back to congratulating myself on multi-tasking and accomplishing a couple of errands on a Tuesday during a Pandemic.

As soon as I stepped out of the car, mask in place, and looked down at myself, I was appalled. I was clad in an old pair of athletic shorts, and a hand-me-down UT Tyler t-shirt which was covered in paint splotches. Since I was already at the store, and I really wanted some Cholula sauce to put on my vegetables, I continued on the ill-thought-out quest to conquer Brookshires in my pitiful state.

I think it was when I got to the door, and the nice young man asked what size cart I wanted–the look on his face signaled to me something wasn’t right, and then I realized while in Tyler, Texas, a place known for ladies who would never vention into public in a disheveled state, that I hadn’t brushed my hair.

To add insult to injury, I didn’t even have to reach up and touch the tangled mess to know this. It was written all over the cart-giver-outer’s face…

To some, this might not be a big deal, but for me, it was beyond horrifying. I’m the girl, (yes, I still think of myself that way, even though I’m a quinquagenarian) who always leaves the house fairly well put together. But this rut, this pandemic, this hamster wheel that I’ve been on for far too many days, has changed all that.

Lipstick is my thing. I always have it on. Like American Express, I don’t leave home without it. But what is the point in wearing lipstick when you have a mask on? These are things I have to ponder…

So, as I gathered what little self-esteem I had left, and pushed my cart into the store, my one saving grace was that I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. I mean, it’s a random Tuesday at 9 something in the morning.

But there she was. A friend I don’t see often. A beautiful, always well-put-together friend. And even though she was wearing a mask, she had on makeup. Her eyes looked beautiful, and I’m sure as she was looking at me, she wondered if I was okay. Was I living on the streets? Was I suffering from mental illness? Had I just plain given up?

I immediately began to apologize for my appearance, and being the sweet lady she is, she brushed it off. Kind of like what I should have done to my hair!

If I can say one positive thing about being quarantined, and restricted, and staying at home, I’ve become low maintenance. I’ve come to appreciate the little things in each day. Maybe I’m not supposed to complete that long list of projects and chores. Maybe I’m supposed to relax, and refuel, and re-think. Maybe I’m supposed to gain new perspectives and insights.

And maybe, just maybe, this rut will make me appreciate the busy-ness of my life. How many days have I wished I didn’t have to go to work, or to the store, or clean the house, or go to appointments? I’ve been given unlimited freedom in this restricted world. Not the freedom to run around town, doing as I please, but the freedom to change. The freedom to make myself better. To rest, to enjoy all the little things that I’ve been too busy to see.

And maybe it’s made me take a long hard look at my vanity. After going for almost 100 days without having my hair cut and colored, you’d think I’d take more pride in my appearance. But I haven’t. Maybe I’ve realized that’s not what people see. Maybe they see what lies below the surface. What lies beneath.

And today, I’m hoping and praying that’s the case. Because I am a sight to behold!

Do you feel the same way? Do you want to have some semblance of control in these days that seem completely out off kilter? If so, I suggest that you look inside yourself. Figure out your “why”–the things, that you live for. The people, the places, and the things you value. Work on those things, and get rid of all the extras. Be better. Be kinder. Be stronger. And in your strength, realize that the days ahead might get even harder, God forbid. But you can make it through. Because you have already handled so much.

On the way home from my less than stellar store appearance, I heard one of my favorite Dierks Bentley songs, “I Hold On.” It has always been a favorite because he sings about his truck and his dad, and his dad being gone, and how despite his dad not being around, he continues to hold on…

“To the things, I believe in.
My faith, your love, our freedom.
To the things I can count on
To keep me going strong.
Yeah, I hold on.”

As I close this rather jumbled blog, which like my hair may seem to be in disarray, I hope that you’ll somehow understand the point I’m trying to make.

If you’re in a rut, I hope you’ll find a way out. And I pray that you’ll hold on to those things that keep you going strong…

Like faith, and love, and freedom.

“I HOLD ON,” by Dierks Bentley CLICK HERE to LISTEN

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