Flashback IV: Little Favors

Oh boy, was I ever in trouble.  Before the haircuts there was (perhaps) something to be grateful for.  There is a mix of feelings that I probably couldn’t have faced without bitterness a mere six months ago when I read this.  But now I read it and feel as though I am reading the diary of a younger sister.  My feelings are rich and colorful for her – pride in her eloquence, sorrow for her innocence that would inevitably be lost, and protectiveness for her heart.  How adult she sounds, thinking of her 15 year-old self!  How readily she embraced hope!  How amazing was her confidence!  How naked was her writing!  This is the woman I was when I could use my hair as a scarf around my neck and it hung to just above the top of my jeans.

This is the flashback that pains me most.

I didn’t realize how much I worry until this moment. This single instant. I didn’t realize how much time and how much of me I have wasted on inward chewing until this second. It’s been a gradual process, this realization, but I HAVE ARRIVED!

These past few months I have been taking stock of my time. How much time do I have left in this job? How best can I enjoy the time with you before the distance starts? How much time will it take for the architect to draw plans? How much time will be left with my teenager after she turns 18? How little time I have in the evening to de-stress… how little time in the morning to be ready… how little time I have to spend with the people who matter most…

My baby cousin called today on the first Sunday I have had to myself in what feels like years. I had opened one eye, walked the dogs and come back to bed until her afternoon call. “May I stay with you tonight and you take me to school tomorrow?”

She is one of the loved ones much neglected in my time-budget to date. So, with no other plans but to catch more snooze hours, I said yes. She’s a darling, a giclee of my 15 year-old self, an eerie but delightful echo of my voice.

My awareness of my time-failings has grown every day thanks to you. You made me conscious of my worry, my intense focus on future problems and my failure to appreciate today. It’s a form of ungratefulness, you taught me. It is also a form of doubt. We worked several years ago to be here where we are now so how dare we scorn our previous efforts and not enjoy what we have been blessed with and worked hard for? Why waste it with singleminded focus on a future moment that we might not even stop to enjoy as we fail to stop and enjoy here and now?

And so I tried, channeling some of that intensity to the now, focusing on getting today right. At first it was difficult, seemingly meaningless, but you were patient and persistent. And little by little I saw pieces of me that I had sliced off to better focus. They came back to life, sprouting like new leaves on a fall Poinciana.
I remembered the joy of exercise: one evening after you and I fought and parted in anger I hit the road and remembered. I sweat and I turned red, I beat furiously at the pavement, each step opening my heaving lungs again and reminding me.
I remembered the joys of sport: focus on something completely unrelated to the future. So I drove to the other side of town to watch you play football every Saturday of the season in boiling sun and driving rain. Mrs. No. 16 remembered herself and screamed first at your quarterback and then beside you in the games to follow for the day. You reintroduced my competitive spirit to myself sitting against my knees on playoff weekend and cussin’ the ref’s terrible calls.

I remembered the freedom of a Friday night out without fear for my safety.

I was reminded about the exhilaration of a good fight over a table of dominos (obnoxious as you could be).

You introduced me to hitherto scorned and now highly developed taste for Irish cider.

You gave me someone to cook for after years of single and functional 5 minute meals, shaking off the rust and remembering the joy I used to find in creating something scrumptious and new.

And then you had to go away and leave me in my day to day. It had to be done. But part of the devastation of parting at the airport, apart from my love for you, was the fear that the parts coming alive would go right back to sleep. My joy was leaving, or so I thought.

This is my first full weekend on my own and I have realized in this one instant that that isn’t it at all. My cousin turned on my computer and went in search of music. Digging in folders I haven’t seen in months. She put on an old favourite I haven’t seen in even longer, a KT Tunstall song – Little Favours – and colour just BURST into my brain! It was like the skittles rainbow!

“I slip softly through.. your slim fingers… feel the traces… our embraces… feeling that lingers”

And there I was feeling like ME again – the Pieces matching up to make a whole puzzle – with hairbrush in hand and head bobbing in a half-crazed beat with the rhythm guitar sliding around on the kitchen floor like the pro Michael Jackson WISHES he was.

So take me faaar away…”

A vision of the me before the worries and the day I first bought the CD…

“…and hold me cloooose to your heart…”

a discovery of who I was again, a person full of colour and life and love and verve and ‘ganas’

…do me just this little favour…

A woman who loves her music and loves to dance, loves red wine and silver, loves to paint, to dream, to fight, to work, to sweat.

…for I do… yes I do… LOVE YOU

Loves LIFE.

To see the other Flashbacks in this series, visit the links below:

Ready to start again…

My hair is now a decent length, able to fit in a ponytail or a french braid like the best of them.  Like my locks I’ve come a long way.  And this is no relapse.  It is now safe to say that after a few false starts I am now ready.  Months of work and seeking, healing and venting, laughing and growing have flowed in a single stream.  These labours of love will not be wasted, not be put into the foundation of just any old thing, or be invested in the future of any old person.  My pearls will not be cast to swine.

He would have to be a star to pull me out of my paradise and into his heavens.  His heart would have to be made ready and swept clean of any other woman’s stuff.  No residue.  He would have to be prepared.  Prepared to adore every strand, even the three grey ones.  Prepared to hold me high and say with pride “she’s with me”.  Prepared to ride out tough times and bad moods, cramps and cravings, bad jokes and busy days.  Prepared to be part of my support system and be fiercely supported.  To worship my God with me and love me second only to Him.  To husband my home and father some of God’s masterpieces.

No small job description.  Big shoes.  But who’s waiting?

The Singlestream will continue untainted.  My essence is what it is no matter who is nearby and no matter who I love.

Resolution over…?


This happened very quickly didn't it?

The Singlestream has been silent for some time.  There are reasons for this.

THE FIRST is that Bushlings has been consumed with work.  It has invaded my dreams with deductibles and profit shares, has usurped the place of writing in my mornings with blackberry checks and emails, and completely depleted my energy stores. Many a 3 a.m. has found me fully dressed and fast asleep on my sofa where I took a stop to ‘catch my breath’ with Lola curled up next to me and Julius’ hairy tail in my face.  Just begging for a New Year’s Resolution is my work-life balance.

THE SECOND is that I have engaged a life coach.  She is in New York, we meet on skype weekly, and she rocks.  The first task we zoomed in on was my work-life balance in situation number 1 above as part of my general foundation of wellbeing.  But as so much heavy stuff has shifted to the surface and so many deeply personal discoveries have been made, I have struggled to write in my customary flippant voice.  There’s a lot of work to be done on me and my New Year’s Resolution is going to be packed tight with things dug out of this particularly fertile self-excavation.

But THE THIRD and scariest of all is my hair.  It has grown and grown hidden by bunches of tight curls.  The longer it grows the curlier it gets and the curls bounce up at their loosest around my ear lobes.  I don’t know how I got the great idea to take the blowdryer to it.  And the flat iron.  But BAM there it was.  Straight as an arrow and brushing my shoulders!  The time has come and my Resolution is complete. 

What do I do NOW?!

Sounds like another New Year’s Resolution?  We shall see…

Snip Snip… Again

This time it was for me.  A little trim.  A bit of pep in my step and breeze on my neck.  Not as short as the last one but a little step backward.  Or forward.  Or not at all.

Perhaps I have learned there is so much to say and that my hair grows so fast that I have given myself too little time…?

For those who have followed my blog, you know what I am about to explain to newcomers.  The Singlestream came into being with the Resolution that I will remain single until my hair falls to my shoulders again and that I will publish an entry for this blog every day of this period.  A sabbatical one might say.  A break from the rollercoaster of mate-finding to find meaning and purpose within my own space.

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”

tienne Balsan, Coco avant Chanel

It could be a sign of progress on this journey that I feel so confident and satisfied that I cut my hair and extended the period.  Perhaps I’ll get to love it here and make it my forever home.  Maybe I will find a way to face and eliminate the fears and negatives I see in singleness enough to stay here forever.  Even if I don’t, the journey has been worth it.

Today my head is light, I look good, I feel confident, and I am happy to write a little longer.

Haircut = $50

The confidence and growth it represents = PRICELESS

3 Steps to conquer Commitment Phobia

1. Admit You Have a Problem

Bushlings has a commitment problem.  I get bored with a single idea.  I get distracted.  There are so many other things I could be doing.  Telling myself “its good for you” or “you really should do this” is never enough to get me to really commit.

There are so many examples of this in my history, to my shame.  I quit playing the clarinet when I was 12.  I was good at it but I got bored with my teacher.  I quit playing the harp when I was 14.  It was a beautiful instrument but I liked piano better.  I broke up with all of my ex boyfriends before we had been together for a year.  I got bored with their flaws, I got bored with their strengths, I got bored with their interests, I got BORED.  I have never been in the same job for more than two years.  Ok… that last one is probably not the best example because the change has always been a promotion or for the better.  But it all amounts to the same thing.  I have no experience with commitment.

Always the first step to solving a problem to is to acknowledge you have a problem.  So here it goes… I have a problem.  I don’t know how to commit.

Step 2 – Take Steps Around Yourself – the GOAL

One thing I have learned in recent months is that people like me need to have a goal.  There needs to be an objective benchmark that we challenge ourselves to reach.

A perfect example of this need for an objective goal is my blog.  This blog has been an experiment.  I (a) set an idea I wanted to commit to – being satisfied and single for a healthy period of time, and (b)  I set the objective benchmark – until my hair reaches my shoulders.  Together they make up my goal.

The Idea: It hasn’t been easy to focus and to say no to dates and to ward off advances (not to sound arrogant) and it has been even harder to not pursue interesting avenues into potential relationships.  I am a romantic at heart and do not naturally have the self-discipline to maintain a state of satisfied singleness.  However I saw and still see the value in taking time out to enjoy singleness and enjoy being right where I am and being satisfied that this is where I was intended to be at this very moment.  But I had to set myself an objective benchmark for me to focus on.  A period of time.  A destination.  On its own the idea leaves me pretty much where I started.

The Benchmark: So it was decided that I need to wait until my hair reaches my shoulders.  It appears to be completely unrelated to the real matter at hand.  It is something that can be measured and followed.  It is unavoidable.  Every morning I wake up and look in the mirror and there it is, my hair.  It is half-way down my neck when I pull the longest curl straight.  I have some way to go before I can allow myself to let go of The Idea.  And that closes the case for the day.

In essence I am taking steps around myself.  Attaching something that I can measure and cannot avoid to what would otherwise be a very vague goal.  If I stuck to the idea alone I could rationalize myself into saying that today I am ready to step into the love world again. However, I cannot deny or rationalize myself around the fact that my hair is short.  The goal is set.

Step 3 – Accountability

Then comes pride.  Sure the goal is there but in your own head what does it do?  You still allow yourself the freedom to abandon it, to give it up, to change your mind.  But what if you’ve told the whole world that you have set the goal?  And what if you ask the world to help you keep to it?  Then pride becomes a good driver.

Accountability is one helluva thing.  I have had so much support in this blog from my friends and from readers I have never met.  And so when I go out for happy hour on a Friday night and am tempted to stray one of them will say “so Bushlings, about your hair…”  And when I write something out of the depths of emotional angst and in response to pre-haircut issues I get a comment from a reader, a new kind of friend, to say “Bushlings this isn’t within your focus.”  Accountability really is making this experiment work.

These are the three steps I have been inspired to share with you today.  Now I need to head for the gym.  Before I do…

… the practical application for today. 

Step 1: I have a problem – I am not at my best weight, my most fit body state.

Step 2: The goal is made up of (a) the idea that I need to eat right and exercise to get to my goal weight and (b) the objective benchmark is to have my wet dream body for Trinidad Carnival 2012.   …I still cannot believe I am doing this.

Step 3:  In creating my accountability I am telling all of you about it.  Kick my backside if you see me slacking off and eating junk.  Yell at me if I miss my workout for the day.  Make me ashamed of myself if I fail in my commitment.

The first 14

Today my blog is two weeks old and the Resolution of the Hair is firm.  I have made the right decision to lay off romance for a while and to commit to posting every day something of value that does not involve romance.  I knew it would be a challenge – especially the daily thing – and that I would learn a lot along the way.  But I had no idea what I was getting into or where it would take me.

Every so often I am going to draw brakes on this blog and review my lessons.  I’m in unchartered waters within myself and my own space and like all good explorers off on adventures before me into new worlds I feel the need to draw a map.  These reviews will be the signposts and the milestones of the journeys I have made – into my own soul, into the world, into new friendships, and through the internet.

First, my internet journey.  It has been remarkable to create a website almost from scratch with little zero knowledge of this world.  If I am honest with myself, and with you, I will have to admit that I am a bit daunted by technology.  Despite belonging to the generation that invented Facebook and Twitter, I have been a bit afraid to venture too far.  The social sites I get – they are made for the use of all people including the ignorant like myself.  The email thing is great for work and for life.  But to step out and choose colours, fonts, backgrounds, link to twitter accounts, link to previous posts and select and define parameters for widgets – I deserve a MEDAL for what I have had to overcome to get to this!   What has also surprised me is how much I enjoy it.  I had to stop myself with self admonitions from spending two more days on setting this thing up (“Who cares if there’s no photo in the heading Bushlings?  get on with it, you need content for this to work”).

I’ve found WordPress a bit baffling, a new world to dig around and play with.  The support seems to have been written for techno geeks but fortunately I have a few in my address book to bail me out when I need a little help.

Blog surfing is relatively new to me too.  I joined this expedition for the writing, not the reading.  But now I have been sucked in!  Into tag surfing, leaving comments, and meeting new people.  I have met a talented artist who likes to draw portraits in pencil, a father who loves to tell stories in rhyme, a young PhD student with an interest in the plight of single women (bless him), a Catholic devotee who believes married couples should be chaste after having kids (whatever happened to the Proverb about drinking out of your own well?), a grieving mother determined to comfort others with memory bears, and a couple of crazy college self-proclaimed Betches who are obsessed with all things Betch.

Something very exciting for me is the fact that there are people out there who want to read what I have to say.  Hundreds have popped in for a visit this past fortnight (212 in one day!!!) and some have committed to me, to hear me out every single day, by pressing the subscribe button.  What an honour!

I don’t know if this is a break if internet etiquette (and I don’t rightly care) but I feel the bursting desire to say “Thank You”.  Thank you for taking the time to visit, for taking the interest to commit, and for offering the grace of understanding in your comments.  Thank you for sharing and supporting my journey – a journey is only as good as the travelling companions.

Several of my friends have taken this a step further and started their own blogs.  Four of them to be precise.  Some are private musings, some are public offerings, but all are an enrichment to the world.  It truly amazes me how one drop of water in an ocean can start a ripple from shore to shore.

My journey has started strong on the internet but what I did not expect was how much it would push me off the computer and into the world.  In committing to delivering a post every day about anything and everything but romance until my hair grows I have forced myself off my couch and into the world to find things, do things, and live things to write about.  It has turned into a resolution to live every minute of life and leave no moment unfilled.  Almost like a renewal of vows with Life.

My personal journey, the sabbatical from relationships, is a cleanse.  It is a challenge for me as it would be for many single woman.  But it is so liberating!  I have conversations without digging for deeper meanings (because who cares if that’s what he’s after?)  I gently redirect away from flirtation (and sometimes not so gently).  I choose what I wear, what I eat, where I go and who I spend time with completely free from the hinderance and influence of “what-if-I-bump-into-Mr.-Last-Chance-on-the-street-today?” kind of thoughts.

If I do bump into him he’ll have to wait.

I am having too much fun to quit!  In two weeks I have learned that I like being pretty – for me.  I enjoy putting on my makeup for the art involved.  I relish walking my dogs for the fresh air and not the calorie-burning benefits.  High heels kick my confidence and don’t just perk my bottom.  Friendships of substance keep me revived and refreshed as the ideas come without potential lifetime mating consequences.  I am truly blessed and life can be such a joy with me on my own.

One day when the hair grows to my shoulders I will see how I feel about getting back in the game.  I suspect, if the first fortnight is anything to go by, I am going to want to continue on this journey.  It might keep me in the hairdresser’s chair!  But in truth, it will take something mind-blowing and special to take this train out of the Single Stream.

I love my life!


The Hair

And so I found myself in a chair with my eyes closed and my face in a silent scream as a piece of me died. Or pieces rather. Thousands of long fine brunette pieces. Denis, the dainty Filipino hairdresser flitted and tittered about how “AmAA-zinG” (hard G) it was. All the time severing cords that tied me to old lies and memories. Courage tightened in my chest and I could scarcely breathe as the chains dropped feather-light in dying screaming clumps to the growing darkness on the floor. Blow dry. Flat iron. Spray this, rub that. It was only when I opened my eyes that I realized how much of me I had let them kill.
Yup a future can be killed. And a future is such a painful thing to lose. The loss of it can knock you to the mat, jaw slackened, sweat soaked and brain shaken like Rocky. Losing sight of tomorrow can keep the strongest woman turning feverishly with no hope of relief in nightmare soaked sheets. Even the taste of food becomes synthetic and rubbery and salty with… grief.
The future is our own personal myth, tainted by our identities and perceptions of our purpose. A glorious picture that the little girls inside us all sit and color in our daydreams then project like a mirage that we walk toward one stiletto in front of the other. And then it disappears. In the time it takes for him to close the space between his vile disloyal hand and her unwitting (and worse willing) body. Our hard work at being perfect irreplaceable partner couldn’t prevent it. Our forgiveness and ladylike behavior couldn’t fix it.
And then we weep and mourn, call our girlfriends and go into therapy…
SCREW THAT. Enough is enough. My girlfriends need a break. I have a lost a future every few months for the last two or four years. It is time to set practical goals. The first one was to take matters into my own hands. Or, more correctly, into Denis’ hands. So deep breath, it’s over, let’s do this. I need to erase the images that my photographic memory replay in unguarded moments. Images of long brown hair splayed out on his shoulder. Or his hand, the one that later would do treason, sifting its way through the mess of my morning hair, or my shower hair, or my evening hair, or my swimming pool hair… it had to go. Cut the tainted strands off.
The hair is now somewhere between Halle Berry and Nancy Grace. Time for a new goal before I end up with a fade!
And here I am at the making of this resolution – I will not become romantically involved with a man until my hair touches my shoulders again. And here in this blog I will record my journey through trims and relapses (inevitable), adventures and discoveries, and the construction of my new future.
Until my hair reaches my shoulders…

Somewhere between Halle Berry and Nancy Grace