A couple of weeks ago, my sister came to visit.
I know for most families, this sort of thing happens all the time – on weekends, holidays, or any random day of the week ending in the letter “Y.” But I don’t live anywhere near my family, so this is more of an event. My parents are halfway across the country, and they’ve only come to visit once in the ten years I’ve lived here – they really don’t care for the hassles of travel (can ya blame ’em?) The only thing that enticed them to visit was my wedding. Barring any additional marriages, and factoring in my dad’s health, I don’t think it’s likely they’ll visit again.
My brother’s never visited, either. His wife…well, she likes to be near her parents. I’m told she dropped out of college (twice, if I’m not mistaken) because being away from Mom and Dad all week was asking a bit too much. (I don’t mean to be unkind with that statement. It’s just fact. And my brother literally lives across the street from my parents, so there’s a lid for every pot, I suppose.) Also, she’s kind of a germaphobe, despite having three boys, so hotels and gas station rest rooms really stress her out. (Also not being cruel. Being grossed out by public bathrooms is totally legit. With the amount of travel I do, I have to ignore the reports on how nasty these places are, lest I contract into an immobile, inconsolable twitch ball.
My sister is the more adventurous one. She and her spouse have actually been out to visit twice – once for my aforementioned wedding, and once for our annual State Fair, where you can see top-billing performers like Weird Al and REO Speedwagon* perform, AND you can get pretty much any food deep-fried and served on a stick.
*Side note: I didn’t get tickets to REO Speedwagon. To date, this is my life’s biggest regret.
This time, though, it was just my sister making the trip. She’s been going through some life-decision personal-type stuff, so she needed a break from reality. Plus, she had some vacation time to burn, so out she came.
I should mention that I actually haven’t had a bona-fide vacation in years. I use all of my paid time off for my kids’ stuff, and to visit family. Sure, I take time off – the week between Christmas and New Years is sacred rest-and-recharge-at-home time – but the last time I had a stay-overnight-in-a-non-family-member-town was our brief two-night honeymoon in 2007.
Suffice it to say I’m long overdue.
So when I heard my sister was coming, I decided to make it as close to a vacation as possible. I scheduled a day and a half off, and started making plans.
During the six days she was here, we:
Worked a volunteer shift at Feed My Starving Children, packing food for hungry people. This is a really cool organization; they’re tremendously well-organized and they help groups do a lot of good in a short time. If you’re looking for an opportunity to chuck some positive energy into the world, check them out. They make it stupid easy to make a huge impact: They set groups up assembly-line style, allowing you to pack hundreds of meals in just under two hours. You can volunteer at one of their facilities, or with a MobilePack event where the work comes to you!
(The food they pack tastes kind of like Rice-a-Roni, in case you’re wondering. They’ll usually let you sample it when you’re done. Incidentally, it’s vegetarian, and they beef** it up with some proprietary superfood vitamin-enhanced nutrient powder. Here’s the science.)
** Haha. See what I did there…
And speaking of food….
Tried a couple new restaurants. Well, new to ME, anyway. When you have food issues, you tend to stick with the tried-and-true…or at least the places where you have some hope of accurately tracking the calories in what you’re eating. But while my sister was here, I was able to give myself a break. I enjoyed pizza, a diner omelet, a MetaBoost Bowl***, AND a concrete mixer from our local Culver’s. (Because there is no Culver’s where she lives. Tragic. Simply tragic.) And I ate all of these things without beating myself up with the empty dish afterwards. (OK, I beat myself up a little, especially after Culver’s. But I did my best to forgive myself – and that alone is progress.)
***Kale, edamame, and unicorn sweat or something. It was really good, but I still can’t leap tall buildings or see through people, so I kinda feel like I should get a refund. #falseadvertising
Got coordinating tattoos. LOOK HOW CUTE THEY ARE:
I mentioned a while back that my sis and I have grown pretty close, after basically not speaking for several years. So when she suggested we get tattoos, I was all over the idea. Once she found the basic design, I put our fates in the hands of an artist named…wait for it… Bleach Methane. (I mean…with a name like that, he has GOT to know what he is doing. Right? And check out his work – the dude’s got wicked talent.)
If you look closely, you’ll see that the tattoos are slightly different. We each got an eighth note – hers is an A#; mine’s a Bb. If you know anything about music, you know they’re the same pitch, written differently. How freaking poetic for sisters is THAT? We are geniuses, both of us.
Shopped like it was our job, yo. I live dangerously close to one of the biggest shopping malls in the country. I can’t quite hit it with a rock (because my aim is atrocious, and throwing rocks at buildings will generally get you arrested, even if you miss) but if I go for a run outside, I can literally SEE the mall from some of my paths. It’s a huge tourist attraction, and we spent the better part of three days there.
You read that right. THREE FULL DAYS. When they finally recognize shopping as an Olympic sport, you NEED us on your team. We’ll make the US proud. Feel free to contact me directly for the endorsement deals.
Took a yoga class. Because ice cream. And pizza. And because it feels good to stretch and bend. I really need to remember how much I like yoga – not the getting up early and sweating part (duh. Have we met?) but how accomplished, energized, and centered I feel when it’s done. I’m more serene, more confident in my ability to…well, to adult. It helps me shift my overactive, anxious brain from marathon-sprint speed to engaged stroll mode. And afterwards, I’m a little bit kinder to my physical self, having a refreshed appreciation for all the cool stuff my body can actually DO.
So yeah, I need to get that shiz on the agenda more than twice a year.
Visited a tarot card reader. I’ve mentioned that I’ve dabbled in the occasional psychic reading/aura photo dealio before. To be clear, I’m not one of those people who needs to IM a mystic in order to determine what side dishes to serve at dinner or anything. I understand that it’s more like reading a horoscope – if you WANT it to apply, your brain will find a way to make it appear so.
That said, my experiences have been really positive. I’ve received fairly consistent messages with my readings – specifically, I need to take better care of myself mentally and not be so hard on myself. Since I’m fairly self-aware, none of this is exactly talk-show-interrupting news.
But these readings often give me validation for things I’m feeling or experiencing. They motivate me to challenge myself, to make changes…or, at the very least, think over some of the things I need to think about. (Like promising myself to spend more time writing, and when I fail to do that, not beating myself up quite so much.)
Ultimately, after a “good” reading, I almost feel like the universe has granted me permission to be exactly who I am. And if that helps me be a better ME, that’s not a bad thing at all.
Everyone has a different view on this sort of thing, and I wasn’t exactly sure where my sister sat on this spectrum. But, at the very least, it’d be entertaining, right? And maybe she’d get some direction for what she was trying to work through.
I made appointments for us to see Jeff Tyler. I’d seen him a few months earlier at some kind of holistic enlightenment fair, and had a mini-reading with him. At the time, I was pretty impressed. I totally dug his approach – he’s direct, doesn’t BS you, and drops the F-bomb a lot.
So we had our readings, and we each heard a lot of things…
…which I’ll share in a future post. 🙂
My sister flew back on a Wednesday evening. Her suitcase, packed with some of her new treasures, was just one pound shy of the weight limit. (Skillz, we haz ’em.) I’m hoping she was able to leave behind some of the soul-sucking stress she was carrying.
I know you can’t fill the pit of anxiety and depression with material things. New clothes and good food only give you a temporary feel-good boost; they do nothing to actually clean out the pre-existing clutter in your head.
But the exercise of unplugging from the daily thought patterns can help you disconnect from the stress that surrounds you. It’s a ray of light breaking through the fog to give you a view of the mountains you’d forgotten were just outside the window.
I had no idea how badly I needed the break until I took one.
Hey, sis? Same time next year?