I AM WORTH KNOWING by Kristin Andress                                                    3/4/24

I am worth knowing.

Starting this piece with a sentence like I am worth knowing may seem arrogant, boastful. It’s not. It’s taken a long time for me to claim that fact.

My life has been no fairytale. I’ve kissed frogs. I have no prince. My body shape has been a pear, an apple, a kumquat – hell I don’t know. I’m imperfect. I own some Tiffany and Gucci, but shop at Temu and The Thrift. Throw in Penney’s. Okay, Nordstrom (Rack). No fashionista. Flip flops – even though my toes are freakily long, except the pinky.

I discuss philosophy and the grand why’s of the world and listen to and tolerate the mundane. Snob on that front? Yes. Admitted. I tire easily of minutia. However, if I love you, I will last with you – loyal and always learning how to be a better friend. A better daughter. A sister if I am welcomed as such.

Death has not evaded me. Well, me, yes. Others around me, no. I miss Kent (brother). Often. It’s one of the only elongated ‘what if’s’ of life I will allow myself. What if he were here now and what if that made my life different? I bet some of you have one of those.

I’ve traveled. I’m the girl with you at the ER who can understand that doctor’s accent because I’ve heard it in a boardroom or in flight or in country. The non-original English speaking telemarketer (not assigning a race/culture here on purpose) is just another dude on the phone to me. Most of the time. The other times, never mind.

In Bangladesh I witnessed happy people living on a dollar a day. I spent three days on a boat in the Mangrove Forest with eight men, most of whom where Muslim. As they worshipped their god five times a day, I worshipped mine. It was a pivotal experience.

London, Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Berlin, Beijing or Bermuda, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, most of the Caribbean…and more, but many more still on the bucket list. My belief is that our judgement of others is in large part because of demographic limitations. Have you ever met ‘they’? Or heard or said, “Well, they did this or that?”  Give they a face and you might change your tune.

I love cities for the culture of fine dining, entertainment, access to a mid-night pharmacy or Chick-fil-A, Trader Joe’s or anything sushi. I love country/rural for…the people. Small towns are still the heart of America. If you social media fans want to know what a community is, visit a real one. I suggest attending a local fair to understand the local fare. (Give it a minute.)

Sometimes I go to Walmart to ensure I am not invisible.

When asked where I am from, I say, “A little bit of everywhere.”

When asked where I live, I say, “My body lives here, my mind out there.”

Am I strange? Situationally, yes. Ask my paternal grandmother. You’ll have to look up because her solid body lasted on earth only 90-plus years. If you hear a whisper back, pay attention. She may bat your ears. Not really. She never did that. She washed behind them hard though. Dorothy or Big Dot, my dad on occasion called her. They really didn’t know each other. He re-married. Grandma hauled ass on that relationship. Don’t do that. Regrets are multipliers.

I digress.

My other grandma, Ethelmae, was and is a bit of a mystery to me. Born before TV existed and when AI, a figment of the future, was more apt to mean auto insurance. She was the traditional housewife and mother. She hugged my grandpa in their Hampshire, Illinois living room when WWII was declared done (a Mom memory). She was a pianist and organ player. She loved Frank Sinatra and some smooth jazz. Moonriver, then considered traditional pop, was maybe a fav when performed by Audrey Hepburn. Granny liked to dance. She was put together at home and when she went out. She had reddish/blonde perms. Wore turquoise and moo-moo’s (not cows). Drank Scotch before dinner and beer with pizza. Smoked Eve’s until age 64 when they took her gall bladder. Cold turkey – the cigarettes, not the bladder. Couldn’t understand why quitting was so hard for people. She could be direct, and misperceived as mean. Maybe she was a renaissance woman. Maybe she was just…herself. Maybe Big Dot was too.

Maybe I am. Myself. Genetics? Nature and nurture.

I wrote part of Granny’s eulogy. And Kent’s. And Russ’s (beloved stepdad). And wrote and delivered Dad’s. None were easy to craft, the latter tough to recite with him behind me. It was hard. Why do that then? Because words matter and sometimes we don’t say them when we have the chance.

Say them…the words you need to. Now. You don’t necessarily have access to tomorrow.

Mom (Sandy) – I love you. Respect you. Admire you. Am grateful to and for you. Even if I have said it out loud or written it many times, it never gets old doing it again. I love you, Mom.

I own a sole proprietor consulting company. Since 2003. I work from wherever I am. I read. I write. I communicate. (www.KristinAndress.com) I did the big business thing for a decade after graduate school. I fast tracked to a load of ‘too soon’ responsibility with too little experience and too much of a super-sized ego. I swam upstream and learned from the best and the brightest. That decade I was mentored and never coddled. No participation trophies back then. I held my own.

I’ve worked with high profile people throughout my career. It doesn’t suck. But keep it real.

Enough…you know me some now.

What does any of this have to do with Tomes & Truths (the title of my blog)? I like Oxford’s definition of Tome – a book, especially a very large, heavy or learned book; a volume forming a part of a larger work. (For inquiring minds, the word learned in this case is pronounced learn-id. Word geek.)

Webster’s definition of tome is similar. Not the geek part.

Now, if you are an editor, you will scold that it is taboo (cliché/annoying) to provide dictionary definitions. I’m an editor. It works for me here. Maybe my readers wanted a refresher on what is a tome. Maybe I did.

My current intention is to write many blogs over time, from which content will be accumulated and curated for other purposes, like publishing multiple new tomes to add to my current publications. Check Amazon under Kristin Andress. That’s me.

As for being learned (learn-id), I read. A lot. All genres. Numerous authors. I’ve recorded every book I’ve read since 2002 (not kidding). Never fewer than 24 and on average about 34. I read 65 books one year. No, not during Covid. Turn off Netflix or God forbid, those horrid Bachelorette/Bachelor schmoes and you’ll find you have the time.

Actually, you don’t find time. You don’t make time. Time doesn’t exist. It is simply man-created so we show up on time.

As for the word heavy, I will cover some heavy stuff. But only because the heavy can be made lighter. It’s all perspective and perception management and I’ll offer that. Sometimes being or feeling heavy is needless or at least we can engage in (new word coming) not-for-long-ness. There’s a place for it for sure. And a space to release, let go, and move on.

I try to see a lot of gray tones in life and not much black and white. There’s always a backstory to the whole story of which we get the half of it.  Read that again. It’s hard to generalize and stereotype if you have facts.

I do have more pet peeves than I’d like to admit and one of them is the perpetual ‘woe is me-er’. The spiral of consistent negativity drives me batty. Seriously, how is that working for you? And for how long can it actually work at all? I’ll help. I’ll be there. I’ll repeat. But I fully expect a person to do something about what he or she is diving deep into and deciding to reside in. It is very hard to help a person who won’t help himself or herself. Invest time in some YouTube positivity if you prefer watching over reading. There are loads of podcasts, inspiring stories and Yoga videos. 😊

It’s free. See me for ideas.

Am I cold, no. Real, most of the time. Do I get into my own spins? Yep. And out of them. Proof? You’re reading this. Guess I’m still here.

Other pet peeves: scraping teeth on silverware, loud chewing (please put the entire chip in your mouth before crunching down or break it in half), airport cell phone talkers who didn’t learn ‘inside voice’, not making eye contact with or thanking your server, not tipping, over-use of perfume/cologne or AquaNet (does it still exist?) and drum roll…please flush, whether it’s your home or well, anywhere.

My pet peeves grow into zero tolerance at mean people and abuse of pets or people.

Abuse. There are a lot of variations. None good. I’ve been abused. Mentally and physically. Yes. There I wrote it (my way of saying it aloud). No matter who you are there is shame in abuse – even if you are the recipient. Actually, especially when you are the recipient. How could that ever happen to a woman like me? A person like me? How could I allow that to get that far? I’m smart, right? Yeah…right.

If you’ve been there, you know. It’s another subject for us for another time. But I’ll leave you with this: you still matter, you always did. Don’t let the suffering begin to make you not care about yourself or what you do. Shame is a beast and a burden. Do not, do not give your power to any entity outside of yourself whether that is the abuser or people’s opinion. Both are uninformed about the true you. YOU – define you.

That shit’s heavy. Deep. At least I am a bit learned there. I’m not talking out-the-side-of-my-mouth – because I have been there.

I should probably sprinkle a little sunshine and fairy dust about now to counteract where brains are going at this point. Will do. That’s easy…

There is a lot of beauty. I nearly wrote there is a lot of beauty out there. But why does it have to be out there? It is in here (point to your heart). You see, the beauty of things is how you see things.

What things, you ask? The obvious beauty is in the visual aspects of nature or children or animals and oceans. The less obvious are the emotions of a hug, a look, a caress, a poem, a thank you, a tear or a laugh.

What do you assign meaning to? What is the meaning? What or who are you grateful for? What more can you love? Where are you in demonstrating gratitude? If you make the choice to consciously consider these questions, you just turned a light on. Inside – and for others too. Energy ripples. That’s beautiful.

Oh and this = yes this: What does grace look like?

I see it. Grace. All around me. I’m floating in it as I conclude this piece.

But for the grace of God go I.

And that is Truth. It’s the truth of this mini-Tome.

I’m here, from a little bit of everywhere, breathing in and out, accepting what is and creating what will be. This moment is mine. And it is yours.

Thank you.

As stated, starting this piece with a sentence like I am worth knowing, may seem arrogant, boastful. It’s not. It’s taken a long time for me to claim that fact.

I spent a lot of time, like many of you, thinking I’m not worthy or good enough. Or that I’m not ready or qualified. Or that I’m not pretty enough or too fat or have a gap in my teeth. What if people don’t like me and talk about me? (I know that’s familiar.)

I had and often still have doubts. Self-doubt.

I’m almost over my self-loathing since that particular passage of my life had a short shelf life (thank God). The only thing I’ve never questioned is whether I’m smart. I’m smart. Sometimes weirdly so. I don’t mind being weird. Anymore.

Sometime soon I’ll talk about that passage I mentioned just above. Not because I need any more catharsis around it, but because I hit rock bottom and nearly slayed my own soul. But I got a grip. Yep. And that soul? She’s a lot smarter now.

Give me a label and I’ll direct you to the door. Don’t define me by history or you’ll be history to me. Curious? Me too. Let’s see where I end up going with that line of thought in a ‘coming soon’ piece.

This blog episode has been to get to know me. In the process of writing it, I know a little more about me too. Seems I have courage.

It takes a lifetime to know ourselves as every day has changes and we shift as we go.

I am worth knowing.

You are too.