Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

I used to try to take care of evvvvvverybody’s problems. Their burden was my burden. It was my job after all. My self-appointed pro bono position in the lives of many unsuspecting family members and friends. Let’s face it, even strangers.

I have a hard time sitting by idly watching as things go awry when I always have the “perfect solution” cocked and loaded. That’s called micromanaging and I learned that it’s frowned upon. Even if the only one frowning is me. Because I’m exhausted from trying to control everything. I had to learn to say to myself Not my circus, not my monkeys and let people handle their own lives.

Then there are those people who request your assistance. Repeatedly. I feel like there’s a number of times you’re required to help, but I’m not sure where the cut off is. I remember recently my sister the sage told me a good rule of thumb for helping people.

“If I can help, I will…as long as doing so is not going to actively screw me over somehow,” she advised.

I’ve been using that guideline ever since. And only worrying about my own circus. I have stuff to do!

photo credit: Vintage Egg Cups – Circus Motif with Clown and Monkey via photopin (license)

Observations & Admiration On Memorial Day

I didn’t notice until I got older. All the blanks I could now fill in. About a quiet hero, my grandaddy.

Grandaddy didn’t give opinions unless he was asked. And if you were smart enough to ask, you could count on walking away with some new insight or life lesson.

He didn’t brag about his achievements though there were many. Instead, he set an example that you longed to follow.

He never complained, but worked very hard. He was strong and did what had to be done.

He offered generous help and support when you needed it, but would never mention to you how many times he had come to your rescue.

He had a sense of humor and a devilish grin. Always a new joke to tell.

I remember sitting in Grandaddy’s big Lincoln Town car which was the perfect car for him. Classy, handsome, dependable, smooth, unforgettable.

Grandaddy loved quietly, but kept the people and things that mattered close to his heart.

Please Exit In An Orderly Fashion

My friend got canned on Friday. Employer says he is welcome to stay while they look for a replacement and he looks for a new position. I thought to myself, wow, now THAT would be a conundrum.

On the one hand, you might as well stay and keep getting your paycheck while you find something else. Seems silly to cut off your nose to spite your face. On the other hand, how how how? I think it would be really hard to go back to a place that has let you go. To exit in such an orderly fashion after such an ego hit.

I think a lot of people would never go back. Or they’d go back for the paycheck, but secretly fantasize about burning the place to the ground.

But he said something very growing-toward-the-sun-ish that won my admiration. “It’s just business. I don’t have any hard feelings. If I get all bitter about it, it just makes things worse for me.”


And that’s how it’s done. <mic drop>

Can You Take The Baby Outside? And Other Things

Going to public events is the epitome of growing toward the sun. We went to a lovely school spring showcase last night at Hannah’s school. The kids were like little grown ups playing their violins, singing their opera and reading their angst filled poems. Each of them sharing their gifts with us and giving the performance of a lifetime.

Then you have intermittently crying baby with a parent who doesn’t want to give it up and exit the theater. And late arrival peeps who can’t find a chair so they stand in front of people in chairs. And the low talkers who like to discuss performances in real time. And constant inners and outers who open and close the door so many times during performances that it reminds me of Cheers when someone would come it and all of the patrons would collectively yell “CLOSE THE DOOR!”

To all of whom I say, Bless Your Hearts. Or something.

But it was a lovely show!

Hannah Saves The World

“There’s this kid at school who is different and people always bother him,” Hannah told me on our morning drive to the bus stop.

“Like different how?” I asked.

“I dunno. Like he’ll sneak up behind you in the hall and scare you. And he doesn’t really talk much. I dunno…” she trailed off.

<imaginary question marks popping out of the top of my head>

“Mornings in the courtyard are getting so annoying because people won’t leave him alone. He likes to sit under the palm tree and save the ants and bugs and things. He builds them these little houses and tries to take care of them and then idiots just come up and step on them. They purposely taunt him until he reacts. So then he gets upset and chases them because, duh. But then the idiots turn it around on him and act like he’s crazy and they’re a victim,” she went on.

“Do you say anything?” I asked.

“Yeah Trista and I told them to leave him alone and that they could go be someplace else,” she said, getting worked up. “And the teachers tell them to get away from him, but don’t really do anything about it. This is how school shooters are born!” she exclaimed, her voice rising.

“Why do you think they pick on him?” I asked her, wanting to see what she thought.

“I guess people like to pick on the weak to make themselves feel stronger. Or maybe they need attention. They’re showing off. It’s SO ANNOYING!” Hannah sighed.

My heart broke for this kid, protector of the ants.

“Yes, people tend to pick on those who are different. They’re easy targets. I hope you stand up for him every chance you can. Maybe if they know someone is going to confront them when they harass him, they will be less likely to do it,” I said.

I realize we are at a fork in the road and wonder if I should call the principal. I play out different scenarios in my mind. Still cannot decide.

“I just don’t understand why people have to hurt other people for no reason,” she said. I like that she doesn’t understand this. I like that she questions this. I like that she chooses the path of growing toward the sun. I like her moxie.

Countless Breakdowns, Countless Repairs

“You’ll fix it. You always do,” my mom told me countless times throughout my life as I sat in front of her crying. “I really admire that about you, Jennifer. When something happens, you don’t give up until you’ve solved it. You keep at it.”

The time I knew my marriage was over, but was paralyzed by all that had to be done in order to end it. It was all so daunting, but I knew there’d be no peace until I walked through the mess.

When I graduated college, I had a super hard time finding a job and fell into a depression. I ate tater tots and watched Wings from my bed as she reassured me it would all work out.

I pictured her saying those words to me again when I lost my job. She interrupted the several conversations I had with myself during my 9 month sabbatical.

Me to myself: It’s kinda your fault you got laid off. Now what if you can’t find a job for, like, YEARS and…

Mom in my head: You’ll fix it. You always do.

After another fruitless doctor’s appointment where I try to explain my inexplicable headaches. Finally just breaking down in tears at the hopelessness of it all. Still working on that one.

After mom died, my sister found two identical silver heart necklaces. My mom had meant to give them to us for Mother’s Day. I took mine and got it engraved: YOU’LL FIX IT.

Nothing can ever take the place of the encouragement and faith of a mom. Luckily, I had one whose encouragement will last me a lifetime.

“Hey, No Cuts!”: Why I Drive Like a Second Grader

I really hate letting people in front of me in traffic. Sometimes.

Acceptable instances:

The lane ends suddenly without warning

There is road construction

There is an accident

It’s a personal affront to me when someone tries to merge in front of me as a result of their poor planning. OR IS IT THEIR DIABOLICAL PLANNING?!?! The traffic line is long. Really long. The lane to the left of you ends in a few hundred feet and everyone knows it.

Red Camaro thinks he’s special. Red Camaro thinks he doesn’t need to merge. Red Camaro thinks he’ll speed past everyone waiting in the right lanes and then cut in at the front. Red camaro doesn’t know that I will pretend not to see him and tailgate Blue Toyota in front of me JUST SO RED CAMARO CAN’T GET IN.

It’s a sickness.

“Yeah! That’ll teach you!” I think to myself.

Blue Toyota lets him in. “Dammit, Blue Toyota! I thought we understood one another!”

This happens every single morning when I drive Hannah to the bus. Right turn lane is packed with a long line of cars. Left turn lane is almost empty. Everyone knows that they need to be in the right lane. The left lane is garbage after we make that turn! Still, people speed past in the empty lane only to then cut in front of us after the turn. It’s so obnoxious.

Each day I grapple with my pettiness. I hate letting them over, but I hate feeling like a petty wench. Petty wench wins out most mornings. But today I decided to grow toward the sun and use the lane cutters to do it. So I voluntarily let one of the LCs over. I feel very mature. I decide to let an LC over every morning!

But only one.

It’s Just a Grain of Rice!

Have you ever held on to something so tightly that it was almost the end of you? Held on with a death grip to something that you knew you needed to let go?

I once read a story about monkey traps filled with grains of rice. The traps were planted where monkeys would find them and stick their hands in the just-big-enough holes to grab the rice. But their clenched fist prevented them from being able to get their rice filled hands back OUT of the coconut. The stubborn (and hungry) monkey would refuse to let go of the rice and were caught by the trappers.

I dated this guy once—a commitment phobe in hindsight!—who never wanted to “get serious”. This meant he was never to be counted on. This meant don’t ask him to do too many things. This meant don’t expect him at special events. This meant he reserved the right to be a disappointing mess anytime he pleased. It was in the contract. Our 4 year contract. Gulp.

This, of course, caused me to grip those grains of rice like they were the last ones on earth. I spent time trying to be good enough, fun enough, pretty enough, cool enough for him to want to stick around. Turns out, there was no one good enough, fun enough, pretty enough or cool enough to make him stick around. Because he had damage HE needed to tend to. It had nothing to do with me.

I finally let go of that rice. And I don’t miss the struggle.

What is your rice?

The Trump Phase

The phase where ignorance finds credence. The phase where intolerance is applauded. The phase where anger boils and brews under the guise of “telling it like it is”. This is the Trump phase.

It’s even keeping Hannah up at night.


I don’t know. But I hope it’s just a phase.