It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Until maybe it isn’t.

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This week’s Robinson Drive flashback flooded over me, almost literally, in the cold bathroom of my lunchtime break stop. As I squatted to potty (yes I hover and yes I clean any splashage, don’t judge), Andy Williams and the Williams Brothers were suddenly shouting at me from above…”there’ll be parties for hosting (always a good time on Robinson Drive), marshmallows for toasting (yes, please) and caroling out in the snow. There’ll be scary ghost stories (wait, WHAT??) and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.” I usually think of ghost stories in conjunction with holidays like Halloween, but you do you, Williams Brothers.

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Here’s what actually happened in that freezing cold bathroom. It was like being transported to pot-hole heaven, when Andy Williams started crooning. I could INSTANTLY see the regal, textured curtains in the living room of 38255 Robinson Drive. The floral couch, subtle (as opposed to ‘matchy-matchy’) against the wood-paneled walls. On either end of that precious couch were hanging glass light fixtures that could cause a mild concussion if you foolishly hopped up from playing, without paying attention to proximity. Perhaps that’s where I got my nickname of “Sh%# for brains.” Thanks a million for that, Ken.  It’s funny now, but I won’t lie, it stung at the time (both the words and the light fixture concussion;). I often joke that I thought that WAS my name (Sh%# for brains), until I went to Kindergarten, and they called me Tracy. That’s just how I have always handled my sensitivity to words and to the world around me – with humor. While sticks and stones have never broken my bones (yet, knock on wood), words have often hurt me. And Robinson Drive was a battle ground of hurtful words. Hurting people, hurt people…

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When I think back on the ‘Christmases long, long ago,’ they certainly weren’t picture perfect, although the snapshot above could fool you.  Pure joy, running deeper than my dimples, when I discovered the baby doll in that box. The wonder, the magic, of how Santa knew EXACTLY what I wanted. My stylish big brother next to me, checking out my treasures; don’t you worry, Scotty Boy – you can play with it while I’m napping. 😉 The tree in the picture, that we most likely purchased from the Boys and Girls Club tree lot, and carefully (and very quietly) brought it home to fight it, usually crooked, into the tree stand. There was often (almost always) an energy of anger or irritation with Ken, that existed very close to the surface. Holiday traditions, such as putting up the tree most often looked (and sounded) like the furnace scene out of ‘A Christmas Story.’

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Photo Credit: http://www.fanpop.com

And even that little girl, full of joy and wonder (and a fun nickname), knew to keep a safe distance from any project that might go south, especially during the holidays. Hurting people, hurt people…

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I don’t remember much about the guy in the picture above (happy Ken), but I sure wanted to know him. I’ve heard lots of stories about how he absolutely adored me as a baby, and toddler (the years I don’t remember). And I’ve seen a few pictures of my tiny infant self in his lap, next to an ashtray with a lit Merit Ultralight, which surely explains a lot about that problem I had with my brains;). I DO remember a guy who coached boy’s basketball through the Boys and Girls Club, and I think the team was quite fond of him. I heard he was a “nice guy,” but I didn’t really know that guy. I remember a guy who could sell lumber and nails with a smile to all the customers at Monmouth Building Supply, but I didn’t really know him either. *I* knew the guy who drank 4 cans of Hamm’s Light on the way home, just to be able to face an evening on Robinson Drive. Hurting people, hurt themselves too…

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New Bikes. And the infamous Green Recliner.

Ken played that Williams Brothers vinyl on repeat during the holidays, especially when he was on The Sauce. I thought of the year where he went out ‘shopping’ on Christmas Eve (pretty sure I was in middle school at the time), and as the day wore on and he didn’t come home, I knew he had taken a detour to Rocky’s. I don’t remember how bad the fight was before he finally passed out in the green recliner, but I’ll never forget that he actually bought me a gift that year. It was a white, leather-bound Bible and I cherished it. While it wasn’t popular on Robinson Drive to be a ‘Jesus Freak,’ it was my faith through those years (and still today), that gave me hope of a brighter future and a Father who loved me, despite my sh%# for brains. Hurting people, don’t mean to hurt people…

So it’s safe to say, I get a little sideways wonky around the holidays. Because, not unlike SO many other people I know – the holidays were some of my toughest, loneliest days in childhood. And no, I don’t live there any more. My childhood is NOT to blame for the challenges I face as a parent, or as an adult. But those flashbacks are very real, and the scars can be ripped open when certain memories are triggered. Because I’m human, because sometimes, I step into feelings.

And now, as a parent myself, I understand how very hard it is, to navigate the holidays. I want to create lasting, positive memories and traditions. And while I want to see their eyes light up at the excitement of treasures beneath the tree, I want to make sure they know and experience the treasures that Amazon cannot deliver. I don’t want my hurts of a childhood lost, to become their burden to carry, so I work hard to be aware, to own my junk, to try my very best to choose a different path. When you know better, you DO better…

And what happens, when despite all of our best intentions, the most wonderful time of the year, is far from wonderful? What happens when we’re facing the holidays with hurts and with memories of broken promises, failed dreams, and loss? The most revolutionary thing we can do, is to choose love, to show up anyway, and to rush toward the heartache.

 ‘If there’s a silver lining to the emptiness, here it is: the unfillable is what brings people together. I’ve never made a friend by bragging about my strengths, but I’ve made countless by sharing my weakness and my emptiness.’
-Glennon Doyle Melton, ‘Carry on Warrior, Thoughts on Life Unarmed.’

So that’s the best I can give you this holiday season – my truths. Some days are hard and ugly and lonely, and even scary. There are days when the silence is deafening, and the rejection is SO very hurtful, from almost 40 years ago, and still today. Hurting people sure do hurt people. But guess what? Loving people, love people. So let’s save space today, for being the people we needed when we were younger. And for being the love we wish we had been shown. Love may not be a victory march, but it is always, always worth it. ❤

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BIG Business Launch, and a Little (Brutal)”Truth”

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So I recently became a consultant for Rodan+Fields, an amazing skincare line from the dermatologists who created Proactiv. I’ve spent the last several weeks learning (and trying) the products, and putting myself out there on social media (and beyond) to share the story of life changing skincare. Yup, I’m “one of THOSE” now. If you know me, you know I am incapable of making a recommendation that I, myself, would not follow (which is why I gave up peddling stogies for Marlboro several years back, despite the lucrative lifestyle). In the short time that I have been a consultant, I have already seen great results with the products – thicker, longer lashes with Lash Boost (an eyelash/brow serum), and a noticeable reduction in fine lines and wrinkles with the Redefine skincare regimen. Baby’s Daddy recently even told me that my “bags and wrinkles are looking quite a bit better”…ay yi yi (I don’t recommend the well-intentioned use of any of those words, combined into a sentence;).

I’ve also been on the receiving end of what I will call “social media silence.” I post a few times a week with before and after pictures, or product information, etc. I have only had a few people un-friend me so far ;), but talk about vulnerable – you create a dazzling post (I’m still working on the concept of simplifying, as opposed to novel writing;), only to be met with absolute crickets….

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It’s not as if liking my post is going to direct ship a skincare regimen to your door (although that’s a brilliant concept, now that you mention it;). “Social selling”, it turns out, is not for the faint at heart.

As I was preparing for my Big Business Launch this weekend, I was super excited for the opportunity to actually get in front of people and share the good news of R+F. Emma helped me make ornaments to give as a “thank you” for using the Skin Care Solution Tool, and we had some exciting gift baskets and various skincare products to raffle off to those who took the time to stop by and learn more. I invited friends and co-workers and anyone I could think of who lived within a reasonable distance of the event. This was allllll kinds of a big deal (to me;).

The event itself was fabulous – it was well-attended and I had THE very first table as you walked in the front door (EXPOSURE)!! There were several other vendors in attendance as well, including an amazing 88 year-old man who had created THE prettiest lighted bottles, out of recycled wine bottles and strands of LED lights. You can imagine, I was quick to offer myself up for drinking the wine to provide future bottles for his art. He was the sweetest ever, and I wasn’t alone in my desire to borrow him (just for Christmas, even), to go along with his beautiful art, that is now proudly displayed on our mantle. Side note: his daughter politely declined my offer to borrow him. 😉

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Mid-way through the event, a rather magical interaction occurred, that I will not soon forget. A charming lady lingered at my table for a moment, and then abruptly asked how my products compared to that of a well-known competitive brand. I offered up my truths – that I have experience with both product lines and (obviously) prefer Rodan+Fields, and I could share some of the reasons if she was interested. She quickly dismissed my response, and asked (in an increasingly grumpy tone) how long I had been selling the product. Again, I offered my truth and told her, just over a month, but have been following the results for quite some time, and know people who have used it for several years and swear by it. Once again, she dismissed my response and went straight for the jugular – “How old are you?” she asked, accusingly. “I’m 40,” I kindly responded. And this is where things got good (leaning in to get a closer look at me) – “REALLY!? I’m 54, and you look older than I do!!” She offered up, for all the world to hear. Straight faced and firm in her truth. “I look older than you?” I asked (just to be sure I hadn’t misunderstood). “Yes you do – I’m 54 and I look younger than you”. I was immediately launched into an epic hot flash over the whole interaction, but somehow mustered the following response: “I look older than you? That is very kind of you. Thank you.” (HUGE smile on my beat red face). But she wasn’t done, she proceeded to offer up her truths, just one more time – “I’m 54, and I look WAY better than you.” Emma’s eyes were huge, as she was taking in this amazing interaction. The woman had a younger girl with her as well, who was also seemingly a little uncomfortable with the whole scene. And with that, smile still on my face, I carefully chose the closing remarks – “well, you look amazing, have a great day.”

Thankfully, some good friends, who had stopped by to shop the event and support my business launch, witnessed the entire scene and were able to confirm the interaction actually happened, and as I thought it did. It’s still a little surreal, as I would never dream of speaking to another human being that way, let alone to repeat it several times, and louder with each proclamation.Wow. Just, wow. My point in sharing this story? I am reminded – people can be incredibly unkind. And sometimes, blatantly, repeatedly and on purpose. Starting a business and practicing authenticity, especially in a public arena can be brutal at best. I’m reminded that just because I have been there to cheer on my friends in their dreams and goals, does NOT mean that they will all reciprocate and show up to support mine. But I’m also reminded that sometimes the naysayers are my greatest inspiration and motivation. Doubt me, and even TELL ME I can’t and I will show you, I WILL.

No matter how old I am, or how old I LOOK ;), I hope I never outgrow the ability to see the beauty in other people and in the world around me. I believe there’s “enough” in this world, for each of us to be our own shade of amazing. In skincare – there are enough faces for more than one incredible product. In group fitness, more than one instructor can motivate and inspire a class to push themselves and reach their goals. Furthermore, your ability to be amazing and to shine bright, does not make my light shine any less. In fact, when I celebrate your greatness, we all shine brighter. No matter what you are pursuing – your art, a new business, your passion, that thing that breaks your heart to it’s very core. No matter how many people roll their eyes, ignore, or dismiss you – relentlessly pursue your dreams. No matter how many people tell you, you can’t – show them you CAN. The world needs your gifts. Keep shining. I see you. ❤

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*If you are interested in shining, younger looking skin (or the opportunity to get called out at your own business launch;), check out my website and get in touch!

https://tlewis8.myrandf.com/