Lucy!

Fact. I live in the longest-running I Love Lucy episode.

And since we’re talking about an episode(s) and it’s my episode and I’m a Beth rather than a Lucy, I’m starting with a flashback.

Two and a Half Months Ago

FADE IN

INT. STEP-MOTHER’S BATHROOM – DAY

An over-engineered pristine, porcelain, walk-in contraption resembling a bathtub sits in the alcove of a newly remodeled bathroom. Everything in the room pops with the crispness of “new.” This is NOT your Granny’s outdated 1970’s tribute to rose-petal pink. A breathtaking woman steps in. The audience senses her warmth, wit, and charm. (Hey, I’m the writer here. Write your own narratives.) The outside of the tub is covered in knobs and handles and a hint of jets, lights and other doo-dads peak out from the inside.

Ok, so enough of that. To the story. This tub actually intimidated my stepmom, and rightfully so. It’s a lot. It’s just not a straightforward contraption. It’s a bathtub leviathan, and there I was staring it down. Committed. I stepped in and spun the wheel to hermetically seal the door – a mechanism put in place in the event either the rest of the house or the bathtub itself floods. Unfortunately, the designer/engineer/what have you forgot to install a clear portal to allow you to wave any final or teary (if you’re on the dry side) goodbyes.

Fine. It didn’t have a spinning wheel lock, but I’m sure it was just another design oversight to this beast.

I sat down on the seat, plopped the stopper in place, and opened up the flume. Water rushed in, and rushed in, and rushed in some more eventually covering my ankles. Holy cow, it takes a lot of water to fill this thing. Guilt set in as I realized this was enough drinking water to hydrate a small community for a month, and we weren’t even up to my knees. Finally, there was enough to fill the front well of the tub; however, thanks to the volume of water needed to fill it, the temperature in the water flowing from the faucet was now cold. I’d emptied the water heater of every drop of warm water. Enough! I shut the water off. There was enough very warm (perfect) water in the space in front of me, and heck, I’m bendy-ish so I decided to slide forward and drop down.

It was absolute, slightly cramped bliss. Water was up to my chin, the ends of my hair were slightly damp, and steam rose around my face. LIVING MY BEST LIFE! I’d even turn the interior lights to a lovely shade of teal – ripples reflected off the ceiling and around the alcove. BEAUTIFUL! So, obviously, it was time to try out those jets. Bubbly water could only enhance this perfect experience.

I reached behind me, depressed the button for the jets, and was rewarded by an alarmingly fast-moving spray of water straight to the back of the head. Ugh. Since I wasn’t seated properly on the seat, my head was level with the jet designed to spray you in the middle of your back. I snickered. Whoops! I relaxed back into my bathtub bliss again and thought “ooh, jets would be nice.” And I repeated what I did before because I’m a big fan of expecting different results from doing the exact same thing. I burst out laughing and as I laughed I bumped the stopper. Water drained rapidly. I couldn’t get the stopper properly reseated in a way that the seal would hold. Ugh x1000.

So, there I was crammed into the front of the tub with no water as that last slurp of water rudely and loudly made its exit as it departed. (Earlier, I had used the water’s buoyancy to easily move up to the seat.) I was effectively stuck, which was made slightly worse because I was laughing pretty hard. I just kept picturing my stepmom saying, “Well heck, you silly goose! I swear!” and just laughing with me. She would have handed me a big fluffy towel while cracking up at this whole misadventure.

Dad eventually came by, calling through the door to make sure things were. I admitted I was stuck, but promised to work my way out of it; it was just going to take a minute thanks to the laughter. I would have killed to have that little door to the bathtub open out instead of in, then I could have just gracefully spilled my “warmth, wit, and charm” out onto the floor. Eventually, I worked my way out, but it was ridiculous and it made me miss my stepmom all the more. She would have been so tickled by the whole thing.

Last Friday

FADE IN

INT. LARGE GYM – EARLY MORNING

A tucked-away, but scaled-down football field yawns out towards a packed gym. It’s a new year, and the football field is a landmine of people trying to figure out what they should be doing because their resolution merely said “go to the gym” and were scant on details regarding the “plan” for going to the gym. A breathtaking woman pushes a sled laden with weights down the length of the football field. The audience senses her warmth, wit, and charm. (I’m still the writer.) The woman glistens from her effort and glides effortlessly across the field because that’s how she moves through this world.

Ok, this is a quicker story but speaks to this theme.

I made it to the end of the football field into the endzone and start pulling the sled backward. Yay hamstring stuff! This is my third time through and I’m nearly done. (FYI – sleds/tanks – 2nd worst thing in the gym narrowly behind the stair master – why do those stairs never end?!?!) I’m doing my best to avoid every other person in the universe who has decided to stretch across the width of this field (MOVE TO THE SIDES, PEOPLE! LADY WITH A SLED COMING THROUGH). On this third and final time back, I’m no longer able to pull it back in a straight line thanks to the people obstacles. “Oh hey, someone is moving the sled, but this open space they keep crossing is pretty great. BEST SPOT EVER! Imma work out in the middle and live my best gym life.” My path back is erratic as I plot a path to miss everyone. I make it to the end and begin to pull the sled into that end zone but am not finishing where I initially started. I’m actually now where my kettlebell is – 20 kg of small, unmoving darkness against a rich deep blue background. I don’t have my glasses on. Who can see detail? Not me! I don’t see it (because truthfully, if I did, there wouldn’t be a story); however, my foot finds it easily. As I’m slowmo falling I announce quite loudly and clearly to the gym “whoopsie!” and land with a wee bounce on my tush. I did a quick “who saw me???” scan (this is important), confirm I’m ok and promised a younger woman seated nearby that I’m good. Then I continue to just sit and giggle a bit.

Sooo… remember the part where I said I do the same thing and expect different results? I should probably mention here that I did the exact same thing the week before (whoops!), but instead of tripping over a kettlebell and falling to the ground, I fell into a seated position on top of a plyo box (the boxes people jump on at the gym). I kind of failed to notice it was directly behind me, because why look when I have faith my paths are always clear?

For the record, pre-Friday’s kettlebell incident, I ensured there were exactly ZERO ply boxes behind me before starting. I wasn’t going to let that happen again. Who says I don’t learn? (Well me, but can you trust the author?)

I’ll end with a final note from a breathtaking woman who is both witty and charming. (Again, get your own blog, and don’t be so ugly/sarcastic in your heart that you’d say on the one hand “you should be more positive about yourself” then try to teach me a special lesson in humility for my hubris when I do just that. Whoops, side rant for another day, but don’t think I don’t see you. I absolutely do.) πŸ˜‰

Right, I got derailed.

Back to that final note to put a bow on this:

A co-worker recently told me, “Beth, I wish I could be like you. You let things slide off of you like water off a duck’s back. Something happens, and you just laugh it off. I want to be more like that.” I thanked her and my response was, “you can take the sting out of a lot of situations if you just laugh. Think about toddlers when they fall, especially if they’re not really hurt, they immediately check in with the people around them. A split second determines how they feel about what’s happened. If people react in a way that shows overconcern, they may start crying. If people applaud and laugh, they may start laughing, too. I can’t always laugh at everything, in fact, I can fall on a sword so fast and hard it will make someone uncomfortable, but if I do something ridiculous and then laugh about it – that informs everyone around me it’s ok to laugh, too. It’s a tactic that can disarm a situation – take away its power.”

And truthfully, or thankfully, my life is filled with these Vaudevillian-esque pratfalls and misadventures. They happen regularly and can be quite ridiculous. So, since I know they’re going to happen, I do what I can do since I can’t go back in time – I laugh.

You see, I live in my own I Love Lucy episode – one of my choosing. Life is easier and much more fun that way.

2022 in Review: Reflections from a Mess

When I originally conceptualized this post, I toyed with the idea of reviewing the high and low points of the year – a tapestry of words that conveyed “yay, I got to do this thing” to “boo, this happened” and the more I thought about it, the more I realized it could come off as very entitled, “oh boo, I didn’t get to do this thing that most people don’t have the opportunity to do” to “look at me living my best life – proof can clearly be found in these photos of my toes in exotic places!” (FYI, in case it hasn’t come out before, I definitely eye roll at your toe vacation pictures. Your well-curated triptych of Toes in Foreign Sand, Toes in Repose at Sunset, Sweaty Glass Drink in Foreground, and Toes Appealing to the Sky Gods in Hammock just don’t do it for me – even if your nails are well-painted. That said, I would be willing to change my tune if you could show me toes looking jetlagged, toes hungover after an evening bender, toes riding a whale or an otter or a sea turtle, toes toe-deep in BBQ, or toes being arrested. Give me some original toe shots and I might perk up and actually show interest. Also, why toes? Why don’t fingers get their own photo essays on your vacations? Seems rather exclusionary. Sure, toes take you places, but fingers literally open doors. They pack for you, lift the things, and put the things back down. They’re the unsung heroes of your day-to-day life. Surely, they can do more than show off that expensive ring from your future ex and deserve to pop up in their own photo essay from your trip.)

Ok. What the hell, I’ll share the ups/downs since, in theory, my posts are just letters to friends and family. For everyone else, this can be filed under “whining/celebrating from another over-privileged white girl – good on her.”

The Low Stuff

I royally screwed up my ankle early in the year by injuring my anterior tibialis. I went from walking 12 miles to not being able to walk a block without wanting to scream from the pain. It wrecked my trip to Boston, where I spent long hours staring at a wall, and not touring the sites, and it impacted my trip to New Zealand, because hooray, it’s still healing. (Can I add that apparently I’m still continuing to get old and my body’s ability to repair seems to be giving me a very loud raspberry, which is rude?) It also impacted my ability to use the stair master. My PT guy listed it as a “no no” piece of equipment. Oh no. I was very sad. (The last two sentences were written in heavy sarcasm font – you may not have that font pack installed, so I wanted to call that out. Also, maybe I should file that one under “highlights” – no stair master. I hate you stair master!) Thankfully, it didn’t impact my rowing, which you may all recall is my favorite cardio activity. (This sentence is NOT written in sarcasm font as rowing is the best thing ever. If you disagree, you’re wrong.)

Like so many of us, I finally went through that unwelcome “got Covid” rite of passage. Having done that, I’d prefer not to do it again thank you very much. Of course, this hit when we had another important trip planned to celebrate a friend’s child’s graduation. An amazing kid who refers to me as “Aunt Beth” and will state to others (not to me, because they’re a punk – fact) that out of their four real aunts, I’m the favorite. Anyway, I helped pay for a trip to the coast for a weekend celebrating them and got to spend it in solitude trying to breathe. The upside: I’m still breathing AND they all had a great time. The downside: I’m not over being a little envious; I will never have those shared memories and that is a bit of a kick to the gut.

As we all march forward in our lives, I also had some important/major players in my life move to the background of my life, which is absolutely ok, but it definitely had an impact.

Then finally, we lost my step-mom in August – a woman who had been a major part of my life and who I am for 40 years. She was a huge fan of my blog, and on that day my readership dropped down to nine. Now, how will I become famous?

… and all of that nutshelled stuff (and a bit more) is how I ended up back in counseling, because of that, as well as other thoughts, reinforce something I’ve been feeling since December 2019.

Ok, let’s not end on that particular note.

The Good (Arguably Great) Stuff

I gave my first presentation to a crowd of people, and I wasn’t nervous. Huge thanks to improv and to some of my friends whose presentation styles I borrowed from. I’m particularly proud because I did it on that newly injured tendon, and while I was thinking “OMG OW OW OW,” I managed to be engaging, had people laughing, and praise was sent to my supervisor. Afterward, people surrounded me and asked follow-up questions. I may have proudly punched myself in the shoulder. Way to go, you!

I went to New Zealand to see that little girl I met on my first day at school in Austin, in second grade. We had such a great time in an absolutely gorgeous setting. There was fire, rugby (Go Ireland?), hakas, mountains, fjords, Hobbit homes, tall trees, frothed milk, great conversations, hugs, and laughs. It was one of those “once in a lifetime” trips that revitalize your soul in a place I could breathe easier because it was with someone I adore who accepts me for everything I am. She also managed to at least pretend not to notice when my foot wasn’t working and I threw the occasional frustrated wee tantrum. There’s something to be said about a long shared history. “Oh, is that happening? How about this frothy concoction while listening to the tuis?” Ok! In friend, that roughly translates to “just breathe”.

A spot opened up in the intro to lap swimming classes, and I enrolled. I also joined an orchestra, where the folks in my section are delightful. I’ll tell one quick goofy story. At my first rehearsal, I had an immediate crush on a fellow who had come up to introduce himself, and like my brain does, my Tarzan’s brain took over with, “oo! Him pretty! He make nice words at Beth! He charming! You make charming, too, ok? You stop with babbling words and lift jaw up off floor, ok? Bad look.” And then he went to shake my hand – he extended that hand while I was in full-blown Tarzan mode – and I missed his hand not once or twice, but three times before I could remember how to shake hands like a normal person. SO AWKWARD! My actual brain fired back up and its first words were, “what have you done? There’s a reason we keep Tarzan brain on a tight leash, Beth. Oooft.” I now avoid this person, because well… that was mortifying.

Can I just say, those flash crushes are rare, but when they happen, I’m a complete idiot? One day I may tell those stories, but as teasers – I dropped cowbells in front of one fellow over and over and over again. Here’s a fun fact – nothing about a cowbell is discreet, not to mention 3-4 cowbells. For another handsome fellow, I threw everything in my arms up into the air in front of them and they all came crashing down on the floor. I was holding MANY small things – so many things.

I live in an ongoing I Love Lucy episode.

Ok, onward with the good...

I spoke in front of a crowd at the Capitol. I spoke my truth. I spoke clearly. I think I did very well despite a co-worker’s only comment upon hearing my speech which was to ask, “Were you told to speak? or did you volunteer?” When I said that I was asked, he simply responded, “well… I guess it’s good you didn’t tell them to go pound sand.” Gee. Thanks? No “you did a good job”. Nothing.

A quick call back to earlier, completely unrelated (totally related): Some people who moved into minor roles this year did so when they commented “…it’s good you didn’t tell them to go pound sand.” Although truth be told, they weren’t fully into a major role, yet. Thank God for the audition process.

Even more onwarding…

We raised over $9k for the walk! (To a few of our donors waiting on their incentives: Anna and I haven’t forgotten you! Mics have been purchased, and there’s a green screen and new/better lighting… we just need an attack plan and costumes. The videos will be terrible (aka funny – maybe not intentionally) and made with love.

Don’t you all wish you’d donated now? Actually, you can. However, today – December 31 – is THE last day. Dig through previous posts for the link to the fundraiser and chose the incentives that get you ACTING!) Also, this is your last chance to get one of those goofy/poorly-acted incentives. Here’s why, and I’m putting this here in all CAPS:

I WILL NOT BE PARTICIPATING IN THE WALK NEXT YEAR

I have a whole post written about the “why” behind that, which is saved in drafts. It explains it well but well, it’s in the drafts folder soooo that does you no good. Just trust that there’s a reason, and it’s long-winded (like most of my writing) and I’m not getting into it right now.

Actually, I currently have three posts loitering about in the drafts folder. See, I do still write – I just don’t always hit “Post”. A story teaser from the drafts folder: there’s a post about how I got stuck in a walk-in bathtub (mostly because I couldn’t control my laughter over the situation I found myself in) and accidentally managed to shoot myself in the back of the head with a jet of water not once (which oopsy if it were just once) but twice (the ol’ doing the same thing and expecting different results dilemma). It was hilarious – the moment, not the post – it still needs a lot of massaging and may die there. RIP little post!

To Wrap It Up

There have been ups and there have been downs, just like everyone else; it’s life – it’s a balance. These are a few stories carved from mine – one where there have been moments of great joy and profound sadness. Like everyone, a life whose spectrum runs from disappointment and heartbreak to laughter and pure love and joy – although mine now includes a counselor who GOT thrown in towards the end to help me right my ship a bit. (She makes adorable suggestions like “don’t go full-blown scorched earth on things if I can help it.”(paraphrased a ton) I’m currently taking her radical idea under advisement.)

As for 2023, I’ve never been one for resolutions, and I’m not about to start now, but I do like the idea of having an intention. A word to hold onto throughout the year, and I’ve chosen “Metamorphosis”. I have an idea of what I mean by that, and how to achieve it, but part of it will also be about discovery.

What is your intention for 2023?

Also, I’m 100% serious about the toe photos. I double-dog dare you to send me fun/funny toe shots of those mangly/much-abused digits that hobble you around.

That’s a wrap for 2022.

The Out of the Darkness Walk Speech

Today, despite casually researching flights out of Austin the night before to make an escape, I stood in front of the Texas State Capitol and addressed a crowd on behalf of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and delivered the following speech:

Good Morning everyone. My name is Beth Doughty, and I am the team captain of the Jay Walkers – just one of the many teams walking with you today.

Like many of you, I’m here because I lost someone. In my case, my husband Jay died by suicide at the age of 40. On that day, almost every person on my team lost someone – some lost a son, some lost a baby brother, some lost an uncle, and others a good friend. On that day, I stopped being a wife and a best friend, and I became a widow – our future plans and dreams shattered. On that day, each one of us lost pieces of ourselves. The loss was devastating. The loss was profound, and none of us will ever be the same person we were before July 9, 2016 – the day Jay died.

Immediately following his death, I not only felt isolated, I was isolated. People didn’t know what to say, so they wouldn’t say anything because of the stigma surrounding suicide. They worried that I was embarrassed or ashamed by his death. So when I went back to work, I wasn’t greeted with sympathy cards or flowers or expressions of condolence after my husband died. No one said, β€œI’m sorry for your loss.” Instead, several workers asked, “How was your vacation?” And I sat there gobsmacked – emotional wounds that hadn’t begun to heal widened further. And it wasn’t because the people at work who knew about his death weren’t kind or sympathetic people, they just didn’t know how to talk about suicide or mental health issues, and they certainly didn’t know how to share that information with others. 

It seemed like suicide was this boogeyman, and people were afraid to speak about it except in whispers lest you invite its gaze upon you or your family.

My first support group was the people you see walking with me today (and the walkers who are walking with me across the country and across the globe). They formed a protective phalanx – closed ranks, and we gathered around each other tightly – supporting and protecting each other.

Unfortunately, our experience isn’t uncommon.

I’ve been asked to tell you all why I walk. I walk because I believe we should and can normalize this conversation. I walk because I believe strongly in AFSP’s mission. I walk because of the support of this community and I believe that through it we can heal. I walk because you’re here – whether it’s because you’ve lost someone or you’re struggling, you’re here, and I believe together WE can make a difference, and that starts by having open and honest conversations around mental health issues and suicide. It starts by changing laws so that everyone has better access to mental health care. And it starts by being seen, like we are here today, and by talking loudly about these issues so that no one feels isolated again.

We thrive as a community.

We heal as a community.

And I also walk in honor of my husband, Jay, my favorite person and my best friend, so no one ever forgets him.

Jay was so much more than one event.

Thank you.

Community – Beth Doughty, Oct. 2022

A huge thanks to everyone who supported the walk again this year either by making a donation or participating in the walk (virtually or in-person).

We raised $7,747!!! (Once the auction closes, it will take us over $8,000! WOW! Great job all of y’all!!!!)

Special thanks to:

  • The Parks Family
  • Central Texas Archery
  • Our Silent “Let’s Get Loud” Auction Donors
    • Rocky Mountain Vacation Homes – April Bindock
    • Chuy’s
    • Dragon’s Lair
    • Anna Adam
    • Heather Barthelme
    • Dustin Colson
    • Leslie Nichols
    • Dianne Sheldon
    • Meghan Spear
  • Enid Kowalik
  • Katy Kowalik-Alcorta
  • Also, extra special thanks to: John Skaarup for keeping the Silent Auction alive.

And none of this could have been accomplished without my best friend and co-captain, Anna Adam who provided support, hugs, and willingly gave up Sundays to sit for long hours out in the Texas heat. She crafted incentives, chased down tumbling tents, and ultimately helped guide this unwieldy ship to shore.

There’s still a bit more work to do. Incentives to be shipped. Bad videos to be created, but all should be coming your way soon.

Thank you all for supporting us one last time. We had a good run.

If you’d still like to give to a great cause, you have until December 2022. Just click on this link to The “Jay” Walker’s AFSP Fundraising Page.

Every Year…

Every year she comes back and asks us to donate to AFSP. Blahblahblah. Hand outstretched yet again. We get it. Your husband died. But that’s your cause that ain’t mine. “Please donate to our walk.” “Please help end the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health.” “Please help end suicide.” I’ve heard that request before… again… and again… and again. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. Or it’s “Please just walk with us.” Like I have nothing better to do than walk with sad people on a Saturday in October. It’ll probably be 105Β° just like every other day in Texas. Plus, I have a Halloween party to go to. My makeup isn’t applying itself. Who has time for two hours outside. Hello? And don’t get me started on those cheesy incentives. Lady, no one wants your haiku or to see you poorly act out a scene or sketch or whatever it is you’re asking us to bid on. And seriously, is one of the higher-end incentives a “pay to come and play with you”? WTF? Let me just say that slowly in my head: I.. am paying donating (semantics) to hang out with you. Are you actually kidding me right now? I see through that one!

Ohhhh… and now a Silent Auction??? As if I wanted to attend the longest-running music program. I can get into an Austin City Limits taping whenever, bruh. Guaranteed tickets to the Houston Opera? Yeah. I have connections. A stay in a adorably quaint town in Colorado with some of the best BBQ in a nearby neighboring town. Dude, have you even been to Hutto? We have that here.

HEAR ME OUT!

The Why of Why I’m AskingAGAIN

Let’s start with the facts:

  • Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death
    • In Texas…
      • it is the 11th leading cause of death
      • it is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-24, and 25-34
      • (Have you been to a funeral for a teenager who’s died by suicide? I have. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever experienced. Watching teen after teen stand up, stand before a crowd sobbing as they expressed confusion and heartache for two straight hours of eulogies was profound. It was overwhelming and gut-wrenching. Another friend’s daughter lost a friend to suicide over the summer. When do we say enough is enough? When do we start having those real conversations where we talk about this openly and candidly?)
  • According to the Veteran’s Administration 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report:
    • Among Veterans between the ages of 18–44, suicide was the second-leading cause of death.
    • In each year from 2001 through 2020, age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates of Veterans exceeded those of non-Veteran U.S. adults.
  • In 2020, 45,979 Americans died by suicide
    • In 2020, there were 6,146 Veteran suicides.
  • In 2020, there were an estimated 1.20 MILLION attempts
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men.
  • In 2020, men died by suicide 3.88x more than women.
  • On average, there are 130 suicides per day.
  • White males accounted for 69.68% of suicide deaths in 2020.
  • In 2020, firearms accounted for 52.83% of all suicide deaths.
  • Almost three times as many people died by suicide in 2019 than in alcohol-related motor vehicle related accidents.
  • 93% of adults surveyed in the U.S. think suicide can be prevented.

But that’s all statistics – numbers can be hard to relate to…

So, all of that is why I ask you to support this cause (again). It’s why I ask you to walk with me (again). It’s why I ask for you to pick yourself up and go outside on October 29th at 9 AM wherever you are. You don’t have to be in Austin, TX to show support. I ask because I want you to help me. I want you to be part of the solution that drives those numbers come down. I want to see REAL change to how we talk about this topic and how we address mental health care in this country.

… and if all that takes is offering up a bad haiku, tickets to Austin City Limits or even a chance to Explore Archery then it’s worth it.

A huge shoutout to all of our donors who come back each and every year! and to our walkers! You’re making a difference! We wouldn’t be successful without your continued support.

And a special shoutout to one of our donors who is trying to single-handedly carry the Silent “Let’s Get Loud” Auction. Thank you!! Hopefully, you’ll get some competition soon or if you don’t, you have a lot of fun date nights coming up. πŸ™‚

The Jay Walker’s Silent “Let’s Get Loud” Auction

I NEED YOU!

This year the Jay Walker’s are all about trying something new, stretching their wings a bit, going out on a limb, and any other similar idiom you can think of that means all of that. But for new to be successful…

I NEED YOUR HELP!

This year, we’re trying out a Silent (not so silent) Auction to help raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

I’m not going to lie, asking for donations was super uncomfortable. “Hi, this is Beth, this is my cause, would you like to give me stuff? Please?” We reached out to friends, family, and local businesses to solicit donations. It’s for such an important cause, and hey, some even said yes! WOO HOO!!! Thank you thank you!

What we have now are some pretty awesome things. We have tickets from The Houston Opera (you choose your show), The Austin Symphony (their donation is being finalized but should be posted in a few days), the Fayette County Theater (more theater, because we LOVE theater!), Chuy’s (because we also LOVE eating!), Dragon’s Lair (games!!), Scubaland (underwater adventures!!) as well as personal training sessions to help you start your fitness journey (get ahead of your pre-New Year’s resolution now and start reaching your goals). And some of our walkers have also donated their own amazing handmade crafts. I even threw in a few things, because I’m swell.

Take a peek! Support a good cause! Help remove the stigma and make mental health a priority!

The Jay Walker’s Silent “Let’s Get Loud” About Suicide Prevention Auction

Like I said, I need you for this to be successful so go out and tell your family/friends!!!

Coming Soon!

More information about teaming up with Central Texas Archery for a fun Fall Archery Event to benefit the Jay Walkers and AFSP on October 23rd.

Plus, a chance to hear me speak from the steps of the Capitol!

Want to donate directly to our walk? Want to take advantage of fun incentives?

Visit my AFSP fundraising page!

Choose to make a difference today!

A Eulogy from a Chosen Daughter

Can We Play in the Photoboth?

I wrote her obituary…

“A beautiful eulogy!” “I could tell you wrote it.”

Those words…

… an outline of a person.

A collection of moments – of milestones. Not the person. Never the person.

Not a eulogy. An obituary.

This is a eulogy. Random memories.

On August 28th, I lost my parent.

She wasn’t related to me by blood, but that never stopped her from proudly boasting to anyone who would listen, “this is my chosen daughter” as a loving arm wrapped around my waist and she’d beam up at me.

For 40 years she was a major figure in my life. For the good times, the bad times, and everything in between. From belly-splitting laughs to Dad’s pleas of “can you both stop fighting?”

She had the worst memory of anyone I’ve ever known. Stories usually based in a truth, but the details a bit smudged, taking on a fresh new life. It wasn’t an aging thing – just a her thing.

“Honey, did you bring your epi pen?” “Why do I need an epi pen?” “We have bee hives, and I want you to be safe.” “I’m not allergic to bees.” A suspicious,”Hmmm…” would follow any story corrections. “Well, bring your epi pen.”

“Beth is afraid of mice.” “Wait, what? I am?” “Don’t go into Dad’s workshop, have Daddy go if you need anything.” “Ok?”

Hearing a story about yourself was usually an eye-opening event and typically ended with pulling people out of earshot to say, “soooo… here’s where that story came from and no, I’m not allergic to bees.”

She was my champion. I’ve seen her go toe-to-toe with other parents, with schools, with friends and family whenever she felt I might be slighted.

She loved books – no matter where she was, one was in hand – from the the livingroom to the tub and then to bed. When I walked into the house the morning after she passed, an audiobook sat on her desk. Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” – a great book – one I recommended she listen to instead of read so she could hear Trevor Noah tell his own story. I didn’t think she took that recommendation. She had. She listened.

She was my mom, my confidante, the woman who ensured I got to participate in summer music camps and showed up every weekend for String Project where I learned music history and composition. Yes, to a small degree I have been trained to compose music. Still waters… She showed up for every concert, every graduation, every major event often times insisting she go instead of Dad, especially if there was a party where we got to dress up. Trust me, it wasn’t a Dad thing.

She and Dad usually traveled independently; someone had to watch the property and mind the various critters, so when she had to miss Jay’s memorial, she sat on the phone and wept. She felt she’d let me down as a parent. She had not, but a hug from her in those rough moments were definitely needed.

I love bad action movies and bad SciFi – really bad SciFi, so she introduced me to independent films. My world opened. (Although, when she refused to take me to see Krull, there may have been an epic early teen girl meltdown. I still haven’t seen it. I’m sure it’s glorious, and I can continue hang onto that belief as long as I never see it.) While everyone shopped for Black Friday, we’d head off to the movies.

I’ve lost my day-after-Thanksgiving movie buddy.

I will miss the times that she wouldn’t let me let obstacles get in my way. The city shutting down because of ice on the roads? Why shouldn’t we go to the movies? She was skilled at driving on those treacherous roads! We had the streets and then the theater to ourselves. We sat and watched Ghandi.

There was a time I was laid up in a hospital bed unable to leave because thinking about moving made me nauseous and then actually moving was even less pretty. It was supposed to be a day surgery, and the hospital staff were considering admitting me overnight. She breezed into the recovery room and went from mom-mode into nurse-mode. She snapped up my chart, grilled the nursing staff., and then looked me in the eye, “You want to get out of here. You’re not going to get sick in my car. C’mon, let’s go!” Assertions – not questions. I went from feeling puny to let’s hold hands and Thelma and Louise it out of this joint.

She taught me…

  • How to drive
  • How to be safe by setting boundaries
  • To write thank you notes
  • To not shy away from using my voice

She drove me crazy – saying all the wrong words, and then all the right words. She embarrassed me and made me proud. She was perfectly and beautifully flawed – perfectly human – with a huge heart and a bigger laugh, and she was loved because of it. And in return she accepted and loved me for all of my flaws.

She defined my voice. She’s the “why” when I tell stories.

These stories have always been for her.

Letters to my #1 fan who just wanted to hear an anecdote about my day.

When I was in New Zealand she went into the hospital. “Honey, I don’t want to worry you. You have a great time and tell me stories when you get back.” It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t get to share those stories – to make her laugh at the adventures and misadventures – to show her all of the pictures. To be really listened to and enjoyed as only a parent can.

The last message I received said, “…hope to feel like talking soon.” and then a few days later she passed – a week after her birthday, two weeks before their 40th anniversary, and three days ahead of her own mother.

When people say I’m like my Dad or my Mom, they forget that I’m very much my other parent’s daughter. She shaped me. She is part of the DNA of my soul.

I love you, CJ!

Your chosen daughter.

I Want You!

#StopSuicide

As those of you who know me and follow this blog are well aware, Suicide Prevention is an important cause to me. Each year I talk about suicide prevention. I raise funds. I walk. I do it because I believe I can make a difference, and I know with your help, we can make a difference.

I do it for Jay. I do it for Barbara. I do it for Lyssa. I do it for Austin. I do it for my friends who I know struggle.

I do it because I don’t want to add another name to the list.

Information / Statistics

I want to share a some information and facts from the American Foundation for Suicide Preventions (AFSP) and the CDC, and then I’m going to ask that you help – that you choose to make a difference.

  1. Suicide is one of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States, and it’s preventable
  2. As the suicide rate continues to rise, we must make mental health a national priority β€” and advocate for more investment in suicide research and nationwide prevention efforts
  3. There is no single cause for suicide, and suicide risk increases when several health factors and life stressors converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair β€” learn the warning signs at afsp.org/signs
  4. Everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide, and together we can learn the suicide risks and warning signs, and encourage those who struggle to seek help
  5. Assume you are the only one who will reach out, have an honest conversation, ask directly about suicide, and let them know you care
  6. Conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance use problems, especially when unaddressed, increase the risk of suicide β€” most people who actively manage their mental health conditions go on to engage in life
  7. If we encourage more people to seek treatment, we will make a huge difference in improving mental health and reducing suicide
  8. Suicide is complex, answers may not come easily, and it may take time to understand the thoughts and feelings associated with a suicide β€” you don’t have to go through this difficult experience alone
  9. Driving demand for better treatment will improve the field of mental health
  10. We can #StopSuicide

Some Facts

  • 45,979 Americans died by suicide in 2020
    • It is the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 10-19
    • It is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 20-34
    • It is the 4th leading cause of death for ages 35-44
    • Over 1/3 of people who died by suicide were 55 or older
  • 1.2 million Americans attempted suicide in 2020.
  • In 2019, the suicide rate for Veterans was 1.5x higher than for a non-Veteran.
  • 54% of Americans have been affected by suicide in some way.
  • 90% of those who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death.
  • 46% of Americans ages 18+ living with a mental health condition received treatment in the past year.
  • 72% of communities in the United States did not have enough mental health providers to serve residents in 2021, according to federal guidelines.

How You Can Make an Impact

You can make a difference. Here’s how:

Walk with us!

  • Join the Jay Walkers on October 29th and walk with us either virtually (send us a photo of you walking to be included in our walk collage) or in Austin, TX at the Capitol. (Click on the link and select “Join Our Team”.)
  • You’ll be with a welcoming and supportive community
  • Let’s have the biggest group yet!
  • Show Austin, TX that Mental Health Matters and help remove the stigma around suicide

Make a Donation!

  • Donate to AFSP through the Jay Walkers Fundraising Page. (Click the link and select “Donate”)
  • We brought back a lot of fun incentives – haikus, custom disaster-pieces, and bad performances to name a few – all for a good cause!
  • Plus, your donation goes directly to AFSP whose mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. (Read more about the work they do by following the AFSP link)

Choose to make a difference today.

Thank you all for your continued support. I look forward to seeing you on the 29th when I will be speaking on the Capitol steps.

My Jupiter

My brother-in-law cannot stand two things: Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and the fact that anyone else provides the voice of Kermit the Frog. If you want to see a grown-up flip right on out, have Steve Whitmire or Matt Vogel (the previous and current voice actors for our favorite green fellow) sing the “Eye of the Tiger.” Hrm… I wonder if that’s doable. I’ll stick a pin in that idea. If someone were to play that song, he’d get up and leave immediately. People have challenged him, only to discover that he was not kidding. I know of another woman, a friend of a friend, who apparently takes great personal offense at the size of Jupiter… the planet. Why does it have to be so big? What is it trying to prove? (She’s not actually kidding. She’d like some answers there. The sooner those are forthcoming, the better.)

… and I’ve laughed at these. Retelling the stories with a snort and a giggle. HAH! Seriously? So crazy! So irrational!

Epiphanies

Then out came my Jupiter in the middle of New Zealand.

The Shire – Matamata, New Zealand

“…and over there is where they filmed Bilbo’s birthday scene… over 100 actors were… blahblahblahblah” droned our super enthusiastic tour guide.

My brain exploded with expletives –

“Are you kidding me? F*ing Bilbo and his 500-page bloody birthday bash. Yeah, we get it, guy. You’re super old. No one needs 500 pages to drive that point home. This isn’t Dickens. Your author wasn’t paid per page or chapter to paint the world’s most annoyingly painful overly-described scene. No. He did it because he’s a sadistic word monster. It’s like that godforsaken turtle in Grapes of Wrath all over again. Just cross the road, turtle! More words to prove that you have a myriad mad skills at avoiding saying ‘very very very very very.’ Get on with it. ‘And all the little hobbits flapped their little feet in rhythm and cheered, “Happy Bloody Birthday, Bilbo.”’ Eat a noonsy or a gazillionth breakfast or whatever you lazy little hobbits need to do to get on with your adventure, form your fellowship, and finally change the bloody POV to Frodo FFS. For all that is holy, wrap it up and get those furry feet to the Prancing Pony, which has undoubtedly become a sinkhole in Middle Earth after being boarded up for five centuries. OMG!!!!!!”

Ok, I didn’t say much of that out loud, just some of it, and mostly to my friend Julie but honestly, all of that and much worse raced through my mind.

As I looked out on that empty field, with its lovely little maypole, I hissed silently – joy turned to unadulterated loathing – “hobbbitsesssss birthdays, we hates them, Precious.”

My friends will occasionally and quite foolishly (naively??) try and cajole me out of this crazy, “Beth, it’s not that bad…” “WRONG, IT’S 10,000x WORSE!!” “You could just skip that chapter, y’know.” “I could, but what if there’s something in the minutiae of the dumb fireworks that I need later???? You don’t know!!” “Umm…” “Yeah, exactly. Harumph.” The subject is almost immediately dropped because hey, we’re at an impasse, I’m in full-blown, unapologetic, insane mode and it’s probably better to say something like “ooh, how about those puppies! Those wiggly happy bodies! Plump little bellies, huh?!!” Because who can be mad about adorable puppies? No one!

I took a moment sometime later to again reflect on my overreaction to a single chapter, and I realized that Bilbo’s Birthday is really only one of my Jupiters – one of my Eye of the Tigers.

Soooo… funny thing. It turns out I have an entire solar system. I winced a bit in acknowledgment

Let’s Talk Jazz

I’m not talking the jazz age of the 20’s & 30’s or even New Orleans-style jazz. No, I mean the post-war era free jazz most often heard in the 1950’s and 60’s. It has less structure – less form and is more of an exploration. And… it’s basically the musical equivalent of Bilbo’s birthday to me.

You may recall that some time ago I gave dating sites a try (turns out there’s not a Jay 2.0, but that’s beside the point). Well, on one of those sites they asked, “What are your hobbies?” and I wrote “making fun of jazz” because it’s jazz and making fun of it brings me joy – you can collect stamps, paint watercolor goldfish, craft decoupage poodles if it amuses you, and I’ll poke fun at jazz (it’s a big boy/girl, it can take it – you don’t have to run to its defense). Well, some fella took great exception to this and sent me a note, “Making fun of jazz isn’t a hobby” and I wrote him back, “then you’re doing it wrong.” Weird how that didn’t work out.

Honestly, I can’t explain why or what it is about it that I dislike so intensely. (Did I mention these are irrational reactions?) I can’t show you on a doll where it bad-touched my tympanic membrane. Maybe it’s Muzak’s fault? Maybe it’s buried trauma from being stuck in an elevator/lift or placed on hold indefinitely one too many times. “Your call is important to us and will be answered in the order it was received. Please stay on the line and a customer support agent will be with you shortly. Now we return you to that one song. The only song. This three bar masterwork that we plucked from Dante’s very own Inferno collection – the one currently filling the level of Hell you find yourself indefinitely stuck in. Please enjoy it over the next hour as you regret the life choices that brought you to this specific moment. Say goodbye to your soul. Thank you.”

Whatever the cause, I simply don’t enjoy it – I don’t like the brush tapping against the cymbals. I don’t like the lengthy solos, or the musicians occasionally seeming at odds as they try to discover a direction. That said, I appreciate the genuine talent. It’s just not for me.

There are more Jupiters, but we’ll save those for later.

In the meantime, I’ll bring you some jazz I do enjoy! πŸ™‚

Jazz as it was meant to be!
I love love love Postmodern Jukebox – I may have seen them twice! (The upcoming show is sold out, which crushes me!)

A Quick Lesson in Rugby

After my last post about my trip to New Zealand, it was brought to my attention that there might be some confusion around me using the term “sea of All Blacks” in reference to the rugby team/fans. So, I wanted to clear that up for you non-rugby folks:

The All Blacks is the name of New Zealand’s national rugby team – a name that was popularized during a 1905 tour of the British Isles, according to Wikipedia. In fact, you can learn a lot about the history of the team here. (Likely most of it is true, but hey, anyone can edit that site soooo… That said, it’s still the name of the team.)

As you can see from my video below, the teams’ colors are black and white, and the fans tend to wear black and white in support. If you look into the bleachers across from where I was sitting, you can easily spot Ireland’s fans, and of course a woman in pink. (That’s not me, I was the one filming, so I’m on the opposite side. However, I’m now a little sad that I never noticed I had a twinsy. We could have been waving our hot pink arms at each other the entire time. Opportunity missed. Moment gone. 😦 Until next time, my hot pink twin!)

Thanks to my friend Elizabeth and her quick/dextrous fingers, we had some amazing seats. I’m not zoomed that far in. Anyway, below is my video of the opening haka.

What’s the story behind the haka? I’m glad you asked. Here’s even more fun info here and also here.

And for those who want to understand the words/lyrics: the All Blacks perform multiple hakas, but I believe this is Ka Mate (please someone correct me if I’ve got that wrong) Note: some directions are being called out ahead of the Ka Mate telling them to stomp their feet and slap their thighs. This was seriously cool to see in person.

The Words of Ka Mate

MaoriEnglish
Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!I die! I die! I live! I live!
Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!I die! I die! I live! I live!
Tenei te tangata puhuru huruThis is the hairy man
Nana nei i tiki maiWho fetched the Sun
Whakawhiti te raAnd caused it to shine again
A upa … ne! ka upa … ne!One upward step! Another upward step!
A upane kaupane whiti te ra!An upward step, another.. the Sun shines!!
Hi

All that to say, I wasn’t describing anyone’s skin tone. I’m not actually “pink” – well, unless it’s 105 degrees in Texas and I’ve been outside more than two minutes. Oh wait…

In fact, I can’t tell you much about the other people, other than: there was an overzealous wee girl behind me (easily under 10) who really wanted the All Blacks to get in the game and they kept profoundly disappointing her; she let them have it. There was also a very rude man at the end of our bleacher who seemed pretty insistent that he was not about to stand up to allow us to easily slide into/out of the row (he lost that battle of wills at least twice), and a really sweary guy who I’m pretty sure swore at me as we tried to make our way through the wall of people getting beer in order to get to our seats – I gave him my disapproving meemaw face, which I’m sure made him rethink some life choices or had no impact on him at all – one of those. I think they were also wearing the colors that supported New Zealand’s team.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Fact: Nothing drives my team lead crazier than when we’re encouraged to share “what we did on our Summer vacation” in one of our bi-weekly meetings. I know, I know, I just broke one of my writing rules – “Rule #1: Avoid discussing work”. But I promise you if she came across this blog she’d say, “OMG!!!! I don’t want to hear about another Summer vacation! You didn’t seriously tell perfect strangers about yours. GROSS!” and then she’d kind of laugh and shake her head. So, I’m writing this knowing most people probably aren’t dying to hear about my Summer vacation, but here we are – I’m writing, and for some reason, you’re sticking around.

Let’s pick up where we left off: Day 3 of Covid.

On the night of Day 3, I actually slept while laying flat down on my bed like a little bed sleeping hero. Go me! I mean, no offense to the recliner, but… Well, actually, it wasn’t bad, but I happen to be addicted to the bed.

My main accomplishments during my Covid stint included: making a tissue mountain, raising the stock prices for Puffs (you’re welcome Proctor and Gamble), and smothering my nose in copious amounts of mentholatum while perfecting the messy ponytail. I basically lived my best life – I smelled amazing (see mentolatum facial above) and looked great (also see sloppy hair reference above). Seriously, step aside Victoria’s Secret gals, meemaw is working this quarantine runway! Then, I finally got better. For weeks afterward more friends would rise up and attempt to steal my runway crown. Some people have no shame. Back up and find your own pandemic tiara.

Then in the middle of July, I spent two amazing weeks in Aotearoa/New Zealand – the land of the long white cloud. I went from Hakas to Hobbits – Fjords to Redwoods to geothermal springs (that smelled so bad and were so beautiful). I had the good fortune of taking it all in with one of my oldest friends and favorite people who now calls this place home.

However, I’ll do you a kindness by sparing you the details (my team lead would be so proud – ok, she wouldn’t, she’d be proud if I just dropped the whole subject altogether, but she can’t always have it her way). So, here are some highlights:

Seeing this girl again. The one who grabbed a new girl’s hand on her (my) first day at a strange school in a strange city and ran with her up a hill – their first recess together nearly 50 years ago.
Seeing my first rugby game where I landed on the jumbotron – a hot pink girl among the All Blacks (the name of New Zealand’s rugby team and color worn by the fans – see photo above) about to see her first Haka in Aotearoa mere hours after her plane landed.
Seeing my first sunrise on the first morning in a new country – one of many – all beautiful and perfect.
Seeing a place where adventures start…
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

The highlights (in words) :

  • Getting this wonderful moment to spend so much time (though not enough) with one of my very favorite people.
  • Appearing on a jumbotron at a major event thanks to some people going wild behind me. I squealed and pointed like you do. Well, I don’t know about “you” but definitely like that other person you’re sitting next to.
  • My first rugby match
    • My first Haka!
    • Cheering for Ireland the All Blacks!
  • Unexpectedly, running into friends in Te Anau, like you do in another country
  • Being handed Legolas’ prop bow while touring the Weta Workshop
    • “Who here has shot a bow?” “MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” “Here you go. Draw that.” “Please, thank you, and step off other tourists. I have THE bow! Ummm nooooo, you don’t get a turn.”
  • Sprinkle sauce (it’s a thing – trust me).
  • The Bucket Fountain (Hell Mouth – also a thing – trust me – every tourist should visit this national landmark)
  • Singing loudly along with a performer singing covers in a hotel bar and getting stared at by “proper Kiwis”.
    • Creating a playlist from said bar
  • Keas, Tuis, Pukekos
  • WINTER WINTER WINTER
  • Cheese, because… well… cheese
  • Every single other moment

It was beautiful – restorative – the place I wish I were right now sitting by a fire on my friend’s deck high up in the hills overlooking a harbor, drinking a cider, enjoying the cool night air while listening to my friend whistle to the tuis.

And yes, given the opportunity I would go back in a heartbeat just to explore one more path, see one more stunning/breathtaking view (New Zealand is kind of an overachieving showoff in this regard), and enjoy one more conversation – one more adventure.

One quick question though before I run off. Is anyone looking to adopt an adult? Must be wealthy. Must expect nothing in return other than super gracious notes of thanks and social media shoutouts. Must be willing to generously replenish empty bank accounts. Asking for a friend. Also, the aforementioned friend requested I note that Christmas is around the corner and nothing says Merry Christmas quite like adoption and a large travel budget. Please see me if interested in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Hope you all are having a great Summer (and surviving this heat).