When we were lucky enough to go to DisneyWorld, my family and I had an agreement. We weren’t going on the It’s a Small World ride. We didn’t care that it was quintessential Disney. We’d heard stories of it getting stuck, and if there’s one ride where you wouldn’t want to chance that… So we didn’t do it.
A few years ago, budget cuts threatened to take my job from forty hours a week to thirty. It was decided in April—when I came back to work in July, I’d be at 30 hours a week. I was terrified. I loved my job, needed the schedule that gave me the same days off as the kid—I didn’t know how we’d survive.
Life, though, went on. I had to do stuff, not hide under my bed. Music helped with that, but at my most terrified, all my songs but one stressed me out more. So I listened to that one song over and over. For weeks, I listened to Adam Lambert sing “Time for Miracles.” People would stand at my desk for one reason or another, realize they’d heard that song three times, give me a funny look and move away…
Eventually I was able to expand a little bit. I made a “HALP!” playlist ten songs long—seven other songs and “Time for Miracles” three times over.
I listened to that playlist for months. Then the city passed a sales-tax hike to cover what the state should have, and my full-time job was saved.
That HALP! playlist is still on my MP3 player, now expanded to 27 songs, with “Time for Miracles” only twice. The other day my boss casually asked, “Wow, you really like these songs, don’t you?”
I didn’t even remember having switched to my HALP! playlist. I laughed and apologized and switched to SFW (safe for work) which has 564 songs in five different languages. But here at home—just now when I went to see how many songs are on my HALP! playlist, I discovered that I was listening to it.
It’s good to “hunker down” when needed. It’s not so good to stay there.
A lot of my hiding has to do with time—I work full time, have a high-maintenance kid with a lot of appointments, write books and take classes—but a lot of it doesn’t. I’m not as inclined to a life of seclusion as I like to pretend, either. No, a lot of it is just habit. I’ve been hunkered down so long, you see. And some of it is self-esteem. I didn’t think I hated myself at nearly three hundred pounds, but as I near onederland, I’m sure liking myself a lot more.
My weight loss may be the catalyst to my noticing that I’ve let my world shrink. Three years ago I had two close friends I could meet for coffee (as opposed to beloved internet friends hundreds or thousands of miles away.) People got busy and stuff came up and all, and I haven’t seen one of them in several months.
I don’t want to be stuck in a small world. So I’m trying to get my friend’s new number and reconnect. I’ve done NaNo at least seven times but I’ve only ever been to one write-in, and my friend and I didn’t stay long. So last week I went to a NaNo planning session, and this week I’m going, for the first time, to the Midnight Dash. The next time contra dancing doesn’t coincide with both trick-or-treating and the Midnight Dash, I might just go to that too. A friend at work keeps inviting me to her parties (I think she throws one every month or more!) I told her to keep inviting me, please—eventually I’m going to show up.
I let my kid put some red in my hair when she colored hers, and I liked it. Last time she put blue in. I love the way my few strands of grey (clean living!) (Ha!) sparkle in my darker hair.
And I’m finally releasing a book outside the Dream’verse. On November 1st, my world expands by a whole other universe.
I’ve tried to make it suitably epic. Because really, truly–I don’t want to be stuck in a Small World.