In-between thoughts: sometimes a woman just needs a damn crown

Look what I made!

Earlier this week a friend organized a little outdoor happy hour haku-making party. It was sooo therapeutic and of course I dressed up to take an abundance of selfies with MY NEW TROPICAL FLOWER CROWN. They last a few days in the fridge, so I keep pulling it out to eat dinner on the couch or clean the kitchen or just to take another selfie. Sometimes a woman just needs a damn crown even if she has to (gets to!) make it herself.

But onto gym thoughts…

Have I mentioned that my herniated disc is acting up? It’s been better the last few weeks but after adding in lower body heavy lifting to my workout routine, I realized that that is what effed up my back the first time. Sad face. I still haven’t been able to add in deadlift or squats in any real way. Today I just did overhead squats with a 30 pound bar. I didn’t even need a squat rack. *cue all the gym sadness* And that’s the heaviest I have squatted in… A year?! Boo to getting older and more fragile. At least I’m building up my strength again, which, if I keep my form rock solid, will eventually help my back feel and be better in general, more supported by all the muscles in my core. At least, that’s the hope.

One last gym-specific note before onto my real thoughts… Wednesday Chris and I lifted together and at one point he irritated me (DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING), and he could tell he irritated me, so to make up for it he took it on himself to be my gym paparazzi. I gotta say I’m not mad about the end result. He can stick around.

Biceps brought to you by spousal irritation

OK, but for real thoughts. I have been feeling really lonely and isolated for a while now. I’ve had the kind of journey that people who are still where I used to be won’t understand (nor will most of them support it), and people who are where I have arrived but who didn’t have to make such hard decisions to get here also won’t really get the trauma and angst I still struggle with. It’s not that I think my circumstances are all that special, it’s just that I don’t have a lot of friendships with people who experienced something similar. Yet. I’m working on it. But at some point the last few weeks my loneliness hit hard, so I took a good look at where I was pouring my friend energy and where I was feeling unpoured into. I realized I had more I could give to new or potentially-deeper friendships that might help me find the connection I craved.

Then I read this article about how extroverts and introverts are being differently impacted by COVID. I can’t find the article now (lost to the black hole of the interwebs) but one takeaway I keep thinking about is that introverts are craving and missing connection. Extroverts miss the rush and energy boost of being in a crowd with people; introverts miss being in person with individuals to really, really connect with them.

And more Zoom is not the answer. Zoom is exhausting. It helps us literally connect, absolutely, but it is also so draining to those of us who put a lot of effort into making another person feel comfortable, seen, and loved. I cannot handle any more group Zooms. Individual Zooms are still great, but group Zooms with all the loud surface data but none of the wealth of small, subtle cues available in in-person gatherings makes it hard for me to really engage and locate myself “there”. I’m stuck sucking through a virtual straw and getting mostly “bottom of cup”. My social cheeks can only concave so much.

I have lamented about this before. What I have found wonderful, though, is that as soon as I realized I craved connection and wasn’t getting it where I had been looking, I started reaching out to some other friends whom I knew I could be fully real with. Some I hadn’t seen in a long time but I knew they were and would be wonderful. I wasn’t wrong. Those have been wonderful pockets of real connection, even if all-too-brief and exchanged via selfie videos. (Love me some Marco Polo.)

Then, magic of magic… I reconnected with one of my dearest and best friends from college. We hadn’t talked in 10 years (for reasons that are nunya) and starting to talk again was as close to magic as I have experienced with friendship. It was like no time had passed. Also, we have both changed in such similar ways and found ourselves in such similar places — right where we need to be to really, really get to know each other again and (eventually) to really support each other. It has been so special, and the timing so, so perfect.

I have so deeply missed connection. With connection, both the sips I get and the promise of more, I feel less lonely than I’ve felt in a while. Hope for friendships is a beautiful thing. and I am very grateful.

It’s been a good reminder that there are wonderful, enriching connections out there and sometimes I just need to do the tiniest bit of effort to find them. Of course I did it right when I have less time than ever to connect as I prepare for my MA culminating oral exam BUT WOULD IT BE A LIFE-CHANGING MOVE BY JANA IF SHE DIDN’T DO IT AT THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME NO IT WOULD NOT.

Flower crowns and connections. It’s been a good, if incredibly stressful week. Thankfully, as I write this I am working up a decent sweat and have a big glass of wine in my future. Not too shabby.

Sorry, one last thought. I’m listening to a female doo-wop playlist on Pandora and apparently there is a song about doing the Mashed Potato… Which is apparently a dance… What even is that?! The 60s were a mad, mad, mad, mad time, dude.

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