Saturday, February 25, 2017

Here's Lookin' At You, Kid. (My Last Blog Post)

Dear readers,

Today I am officially saying goodbye to my blog.  This last post is #1,119. 

Haphazard Daily was born on January 18th, 2011, which makes it a little over 6 years old.  What started out as an attempt to keep my writing fresh while I stayed home with my infant twins ended up being an unexpected conduit to self-discovery and one of the best things I ever just decided to do.  (Which is how you should do everything, by the way.  Just do it.)  I was passionate and every day, I became a little braver as I posted, putting bits of my heart and soul out there for everyone to see.  At first, I wrote with no one reading, then family and friends began reading, and eventually I started getting readers I had never met. I had to work to keep from censoring myself as my readership went up.  I had to write the dirty word I wanted to use.  Say the thing that I was afraid to say.  “But everyone will hate me.”  Tell the truth about my life.  “But my grandma might be reading.” Push even though I might get backlash.  Sticker families and Confederate flags!   I teetered on a delicate line between being brutally honest about the way I felt and trying to show empathy to those who may not agree with me.  I had to learn to be okay with the fact that some people wouldn’t even read what I wrote, or sometimes they would, and they would criticize me and argue with me either way.  I refused to block people because I believe so strongly in freedom of speech and the value of discussion, which resulted in a lot of stress sometimes.  I always wondered if I had been fair, too harsh, wrong, etc.  I can honestly say today that I have certainly grown and as a result, I cringe sometimes when I see things that old Brittany said—but I was honest when I wrote whatever that was and that’s what has probably made it possible for me to decide to retire this sweet little thing I created and love.

I chose the name Haphazard Daily because I knew I would require full control of my creativity if I was going to remain passionate every day—I wanted to write about whatever I felt like writing about any day of the week.  She is stubborn and hates discipline!  (How many times have I and will I hear that in my life?) Who says that I can’t write about Syrian refugees on Monday and how I secretly think I am a race car driver on Thursday?  Well, she did, as ridiculous as it was.  Thanks for reading anyway.

I write to understand myself and my place in the world.  I write to find the truth.  And when you get to the end, you stop.  (Yes, that’s from Alice in Wonderland.) I have gone through a lot of growth over the last 6 years and writing here no longer challenges me.  I am by no means finished becoming me, but I dug at myself where I needed to and now it’s just time to do something else.  I am starting a collaborative project with other writers now because, quite frankly, the concept of TRUTH is under fire and that is very disturbing to me.  Truth is not an abstract idea and I am going to write where I am needed now.  I am excited about a new chapter in my writing and a little nervous, but just do it, right?

To close, here is a Top 10, like I used to do every Wednesday. 

What has this blog taught me? 

1.    People want to be inspired. People want to connect with others.  We have the desire to seek the truth and part of finding it is looking for someone we identify with.  I’ve always been shocked and humbled when people have bothered to read what I have written.  Then enjoyed it?  And WHAT????  GOTTEN something out of it?  I can’t thank my readers enough for caring enough to read my thoughts.  Thank you for your encouragement and feedback.  You have made me a braver, stronger, better person and writer.  I love all of the connections we have made.
2.    Pondering is golden.  Ask questions!  Be curious!  I cannot stress to you how important it is to think critically and take the time to think about things and develop your own thoughts.  I would like to put everything into little boxes that make sense, but it doesn’t work that way. Life is messy. It’s best if you give your soul room to roam through the chaos and find some peace. 
3.    Some people will agree with you and some won’t.  Who cares?  Better to be an authentic version of yourself rather than worry about pissing people off when you are bound to do so anyway.  Be sensitive to other perspectives, but in the end, be you.
4.    Art is everywhere. I wrote a lot about things that inspire me because I really try to walk around in life with my eyes and ears open.  The world sucks, but it’s good too.  (Remember the guy in American Beauty who filmed the bag and cried about it?  He was weird, but he had a point.)
5.    People are passionate about their sticker families. Talk about religion, politics, and money before telling someone that their sticker family is stupid and an invitation to kidnappers, unless you really want to laugh at something absurd.  They get really mad.  (I did not see that one coming.)
6.    Your words will be quoted back to you if you write. I wrote a blog two or three years ago about becoming Facebook Official and how it’s stupid.
 I recently changed my status after careful consideration and of course, I was quoted back to myself.  Well, I still hold true to almost every word.  It’s lame.  However, I missed one giant fact while writing from my Single Ivory Tower: when you are in a relationship and you are on social media, you are outnumbered by creeps 1000/1.  Unfortunately, you can’t operate on principle because men want to send you pictures of their penises. Your goal here is to cut that number down to at least 1/3 of what it was.  They will stop at nothing to hit on you, so it is best to make it clear you are not available if you are not.  If you love your boyfriend and you are off limits, let the bastards know. 
7.    Men are not all savages. Men are not all one way, just like women are not all one way.  We all have feelings and we are complex.  (Hold it right there, man sending the dick pic.  I don’t mean you.) 
8.    The truest thing I ever wrote was about dick pics:  I guess the thing that makes me laugh about unsolicited dick pics is that penises to a woman are a lot like newborn babies are to people who aren’t the child’s parents.  You know how someone can have a baby and it’s hairy and its eyes are squinty and its head is shaped funny like a cone?  The mother of that baby really thinks her baby is perfect and wants to stare at it all day, but a stranger might think to herself “I hope his head goes back to normal.”  It’s the same way when it’s your man’s penis versus some rando’s.   When we have no emotional connection to you, possibly no attraction, and we haven’t asked to see your penis, you’re running a risk…..we may look at it like it’s someone else’s ugly newborn baby.” 

9.    When you change and grow, cringing at your former self is inevitable.  Technology has made it possible for us to look at things we have said, things we used to think, times we were wrong, and unfortunately, we want to go back in time and kick our own ass.  Having a blog is a constant reminder that I am constantly growing because I cringe sometimes when I read what I said.  HOW could I have said that?  That was so stupid!!!!  But if you aren’t doing that, you are more than likely arrogant and one-dimensional and one of those people who Mark Twain said not to argue with.
10. Alice had to fall down a deep hole before reaching Wonderland.  Damn. Best thing I ever did was deciding to take the risks I have taken the last few years. 

Thanks so much for reading.  It’s been fun. 

-Brittany Chenault

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Me on Writer's Block

Right now I am asking myself if I will ever write again.  That’s right.  As I write.  I figure the thought is just as good on paper than it is swimming around in the dark corners of my mind where all doubt and fear reside.   It’s as if I am taunting the thought by typing.  “Come out to play, you little bastard, where it’s sunny.  Hop on my Mac and we’ll see how powerful you are.” 

I’ll let you know how that works by the blog I write or don’t write soon. 

I have always considered my experiences, feelings and thoughts to be writing material, along with anything I learn.  I have realized in the last year that it is entirely possible to have so many experiences and feelings and thoughts and to learn so much in such a short amount of time that they can pile up in such a way that they begin to feel like a blockage.  I always thought writer’s block was a state of having nothing to say, but I feel like for me, it’s that I have too much to say.

My friends keep saying “You will write again…”

I know I will.  Writing is as useful as breathing to me, which makes me wonder if I have been holding my breath, waiting for the right moment to exhale….all over my blog. 

What. A. Year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This is what venting looks like....

This is by far the scariest, most sad thing that I have ever published.  At first I was venting, but when I told my friend I had written it, she told me to publish it…without even reading it.  To my friend reading, I love you and I am sorry that you were not supported more and that you can’t go back in time,  but you are a beam of sunshine regardless.  Don’t quit believing in your wonderful spirit.

One of my very good male friends called me a few days ago and said that he read my blog (two blogs ago, about time) and said he liked it but that he was jealous of my optimism. Although he is right, I am an optimist, I sort of laughed because it’s not like I smile 24/7 and my optimism does not exist from being blind like it did when I was a little girl, so there is no reason to be jealous of it.  Being positive no longer prevails from naiveté, but instead from faith and having witnessed things work out in my life and others’ when it seemed unlikely that they would. Honestly, I think the world is a greedy, dirty, violent place and that human beings and their disgustingness are the only reason it doesn’t look like a Bob Ross painting.  That being said, it’s a blessing once you learn to accept this.  Once you stop being shocked when people are a disgrace, you can focus on when people are not a disgrace, what is good in the world, those who need help, what is possible, and you start dreaming from a place that is much more realistic—I think this all starts with your attitude, your words, and the belief that you are capable of more than you think.  You have to tune the world out while at the same time, acknowledging that it is there. 

Even though it is our forced responsibility to screen incoming negativity, I really wish people would think first before spewing their negativity and cynicism all over each other because it really and truly can be influential.  Look at the effects of being bullied. I’m not sure who started “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” but whoever it was has a lot of explaining to do. Of course our words and attitudes matter to another person.  We leave imprints on each other; sorry to disappoint the oblivious ones, but we do.  I am going to admit, I am angry and brokenhearted right now because I was not able to protect someone I care about from others’ negative input.  I am a person who believes that I go through things so I can help someone else.  I wish I could transfer my experience directly into another’s brain.  Literally being able to do that would be amazing because then when I say “I know how you feel and I promise you’ll be okay,” they would believe me. 

I want to make very clear that this blog is not about whether abortion is right or wrong, but instead, it’s about being supportive of the people we love or “love” and watching what comes out of our mouths, especially toward people who are feeling weak and scared.   I never talk about abortion and I have avoided writing about it in the past purposefully for two very specific reasons:

1.     Because I was young when I had my first set of twins and I don’t want those who have had abortions to take my choice to have Logan and Lindsey as a judgment on them because I am not judgmental.  But seriously, how can I explain why I made the choice to have them without making them feel like I am judging them, especially if my reasons are directly related to my moral beliefs?  I can’t, no matter how hard I try, so I just don’t. 

2.     Because a lot of people (not everyone!!!!) who are pro-life refuse to accept or even acknowledge that we live in a broken society that makes it very difficult for a young mother to choose life.  People throw around morals because they sound good and yet they do nothing to show compassion, which would be understanding that single mothers are THE poorest people in our country—especially politicians, and that those children are going to be the most vulnerable to poverty and crime.  Be opinionated, but have a damn solution to the problem or sit down.  You simply cannot scream that you appreciate life when you are cruel to the life in front of you.  If you are dense enough to abandon and cast judgment upon a young, unmarried woman who was brave enough to be judged in order to save that life, well you and I aren’t ever going to see eye to eye.  I think you are a fraud.

To be blunt, there are a lot of people on both sides of the argument who annoy me, so I just stay out of the discussion altogether, until now.  I know firsthand how you get treated when you get pregnant at a young age and what you are up against and I probably should have spoken up long ago. 

I found out I was pregnant during my first month of college.  I did not have ONE college credit.  I was not married. I had never had a job before.  I had never cooked anything but macaroni and cheese and hotdogs.  I was nowhere near ready to be a mother.  I had been having severe anxiety attacks for a year, but I said to myself “It isn’t about you anymore, grow up.” The attacks went away because I told myself I couldn’t have them anymore.  (I know, weird.)  I told everyone I was pregnant and that I was going to keep what I thought was one baby at the time.  People automatically started telling me to have an abortion, to give them away, that I must have meant to get pregnant (no, I was just immature and thought I was invincible) and I got angry and silent and prayed for strength.  I found nice ways to tell people to fuck off, but their pressure and words hurt me and it would have been nice to have support, or just silence.  Silence would have been sufficient to me while I sorted out the stress.  I cried every night because I felt alone.  Then I had an ultrasound and found out there were two.  The people who originally wanted me to have an abortion then changed their minds to adoption, because you know, it’s not ok to abort twins, but a singleton, that is your free pass, so never mind, Britt.  Now give them up.

Facepalm.  I lived this and didn’t end up in jail. 

I held my kicking tummy at night, let people have their judgment, and decided to let the cards fall. My revenge was making good grades and being a good mother and making everyone eat their words.  I clung to those who DID support me, let the deadbeat go without a fight, and now they are 15. It was not easy and I attribute the strength I had to the fact that God is indeed with me.

I recently saw a reflection of myself in someone else and I won’t lie, I am having a very hard time with the anger and sadness I am feeling because I couldn’t protect her.  I also cannot write everything out of respect for her.  She is like a little sister, she is young, she was pregnant, and she wanted to have it but she was also very scared.  It turns out that there weren’t enough words to convey to her that I knew how she was feeling and that it would be okay when the baby was born. She told me over the weekend that she had aborted it and she is not okay.  I talked to her as much as I could this past month about her pregnancy. She was scared, she was crying every day, and not one person supported her when she said she wanted to keep the baby.  She was basically told she was not fit.  There wasn’t enough optimism surrounding her because I was literally the ONLY one telling her she could do it on her own and I was out of state. I am angry that no one listened to her literally crying, her body language, her hyperventilating on the table when she was about to have the abortion. I am angry that she was bleeding from having done something she didn’t really want to do.  I am angry that the people around her told her that they knew what was best for her.  It was HER CHOICE, and while she did ultimately make it, having been there in that dark place and understanding how horrible that heaping pressure feels on your shoulders and how much doubt there is to succumb to, I am angry with the people who were in her ear. She immediately wanted to take it back and she can’t and she said that’s the worst part. I wish I could have been more comforting.  I wish I could be now.  I worry about her emotionally.  What will this do to her since she didn't believe in her decision?

We need positive people.  We need optimism.  We need people to tell us that things are possible and that we are capable of doing them. The world sucks, guys.  Don’t succumb to it.  Get angry, stay silent, and believe in yourself and the good things to come.  

And when you open your damn mouth, freaking think first.  That's all. I am pissed.  Stop tearing people down.  Be supportive, dammit.  

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Loft


I thought an update was due since most of you know that four months ago, I made the decision to sell my house.  It was a huge decision, one that I got a lot of support for and also one that sent a lot of snide, judgmental comments my way because I was doing something, well I guess, not normal. I am settled and into a routine since the kids are back in school, so I have finally found time to post some pictures.  I have not posted the boys' room because it is messy and I am not completely finished with it, and the two bathrooms because frankly, that would just be odd and unnecessary. I am posting pictures to illustrate what I did to maximize our family time, in case someone else feels the same way I did when I was in my house.

For those of you who don’t know, I had very specific reasons for selling the house.  Yes, the market was great, but I also began to take a personal inventory and decided that I was not living the way I wanted to, nor raising my children the way I wanted to. I work a lot, which I can't really get out of because we can't just starve to death.  And because I am not at home with them all day and our weekends were crammed with playing catch up, there was very little down time no matter what I seemed to do.  The kids' childhoods weren't looking anything like what I wanted for them at all.  I was disturbed when I thought about what kind of adults they would become by having this type of childhood, one filled with walls and technology and privacy and alone time.  I pictured uncultured zombies who have no critical thinking skills, who don’t go outside, who are detached from society, who are egotistical and insecure online.  We have no idea what the effects of all of this technology will be on these kids, but I think it's safe to say that if adults have become this way already, adults who have had limited exposure, our kids are in trouble.  Anyway, I feared what was happening, but I couldn’t find the time as a tired, stressed single mom to correct it.  The to-do list that I could not catch up with no matter how hard I tried, in fact, I fell more and more behind with all the time, was making me resentful.  I worked all day to provide them with things that I hated and I had to fight more and more for family time because I was competing with these mindless machines (the technology, not my children.)  I was beginning to hate paying and arranging lawn maintenance for a yard the kids wouldn’t play in.  I hated having to drive everywhere (we live in Atlanta, everyone does) and listen to them fight while I was trying to just do something nice together.  I hated that I was the only person in the house who couldn’t work any of the electronics and therefore, I couldn't control any of it.  I was just done, but when we were together, the last thing I wanted to do was fight and discipline.  I was like a hamster on a wheel.  So I sold the wheel.  Add to the fact that I woke up in a fire in that house, even though it was rebuilt beautifully, I still could not sleep without having horrible anxiety and it wasn’t improving. It was simply not where we were supposed to be. I prayed. A lot. And I decided to leave. 

Those who were judgmental, their opinions never mattered to me because the questions they asked were predictable.  I started to ask people when they would press me “Why do we need all of this stuff? Does it make you happy? Do you die with it?  Why do kids need their own damn suites to grow up in?  What’s worse, why do we think they do?”  Look at kids around the globe.  We are not the norm. I downsized and it’s been amazing.  To each his own, but it’s not for me.  And I may buy again one day. Or I may not. I have no clue because I keep surprising myself and the one thing I have learned about myself is that I covet the freedom and time to grow as a person and I know I can’t do that when I am drowning in mundane details and upkeep and bullshit responsibilities that I don’t really need to have. The more you have, the more maintenance.  Simple as that.   

Life is more manageable now.  My commute is shorter. I order my groceries on Instacart, which saves time and helps me plan and not buy things that end up going to waste.  I once ordered a heating pad and it was there in an hour!  I don't have to worry about fixing anything when it breaks.  I kicked the HOA to the curb because they SUCK.  I don't have to feel bad that I suck at growing flowers because I don't have a yard.  The bug man comes and I don't have to call him.  It's WONDERFUL!  I could really go on and on.  But really, the best part is that my kids are right there next to me in the living space because I set it up to be the heart and the bedrooms are just the limbs.  I SEE them more closely.  I can SEE how they are relating and responding to each other and I have been able to correct them in a more patient and loving way.  I have made it easier for them to choose wisely about how they are spending their time, rather than rotting in front of some device.  I have less errands, less cleaning, etc., and that's freeing up tons of time with them and now I am maximizing the time that I have when I have it. 

Here are the main things I did to change our environment and it’s ending up suitable for us:

We have ONE TELEVISION and absolutely no technology in the bedrooms. Bedrooms are for sleeping. 

Those little violins are the first I played as a child

We used to have 6 televisions/blu-ray players/every game system.  Why? Probably because I work all the time and I felt guilty and wanted to make them happy at Christmas.  I sold all but one when we moved.   The kids have their Wii and Playstation but they aren’t allowed to play on Sunday and they have to earn their time every other day.  They also have to play together or take turns, which forces them to socialize and work it out.  If we are watching something on TV, we pretty much all have to decide together, and if someone doesn't want to, they can read a book or play with a toy. 

I made jars and got coin rolls.  Each coin represents the minutes they earn to play.  For example, if they get ready for school and don’t give me grief, they get a quarter.  This has actually worked for them, and the amazing thing is that they think about when they want to use it. Carson likes to save his coins for the weekend and therefore, he reads with me at night.  (If we have time.  I didn’t say I have loads of time.  I work in Buckhead and still get home late.)


They are learning about music.  First of all, I won’t be buying crap, so they will be exposed to musicians who ACTUALLY PLAY INSTRUMENTS.  Also, I am hoping that they will take time to learn about the process of playing music before it was digital, look at the artwork, bond with the artist, develop nostalgia…as opposed to hearing some shitty song, pressing download, and having no appreciation for who they are supporting as an “artist.” Carson asked for me to put on a record last night and we danced for 20 minutes. He learned how to spin and dip me.  It was awesome.

Their Violins are out and easily accessible 

Speaking of music, they started violin and the reason is because, I won’t lie, I played violin and it’s good for their brains.  I can also practice with them.  They can play whatever they want one day; I am just trying to expose them to playing and creating music.  Anyway, I hung hooks for their violins so they would be more inclined to practice, rather than sayyyyy, playing Playstation.

One of my favorite things about my walls is my art, however, I hung all of these and then
set up the table and now have to recenter all of it. RRRRR. 

There is plenty of room to play in the living area with toys

Their room is plenty big, but they never play in it.  They bring their toys out and play where I am, which I like. 

Reading Areas

There are two places in the loft dedicated to reading and sitting quietly.  One has twinkle lights, which they love.  This is Lindsey’s favorite area. 

And just a little reading chair and table under the loft.

Lindsey’s Crib

Lindsey was the biggest variable in whether I did all of this, so I talked to her first.  The boys are small and young and they are happy no matter what right now.  Luckily, she loved the idea of having a bedroom up in the ceiling.  She loved the idea of climbing a ladder to get to her bed and since I made it clear that our new rule was that our bedrooms were only for sleeping and reading, she was on board.  I explained to her that I was trying to be more connected to them and change our direction.  Originally when I looked at the loft, we were going to build her room up over the kitchen, but there wasn’t an access point, so I improvised.  I knew I needed a lot of bookcases, so I designed this and had a carpenter build it.  My teenage daughter used to lock herself in her bedroom, she was on some kind of technology all night and even when I would take everything away, it seemed she would find some other device to mess with.  She also does not have walls…so I guess she won’t have a boyfriend until college. I totally didn’t mean to do that!

The Books

They can't say there is nothing to read.  Neither can I. 

My Room

My room is like a cave.  No windows.  No television.  Just a bed and the stuff I need to get ready.  It’s amazing, and dangerous.  I have to have an alarm clock or I could sleep all day. 

When I first told them we weren't having televisions in the bedrooms, Lindsey freaked out.  But then I told her that I was following the same philosophy and rules. I told them that we would all sleep better if we removed the technology.  It’s true.  We do.  

Never can have enough Alice pictures on your walls. 

Work Area

Lindsey sat here for 4 hours doing homework last Saturday. Poor thing.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is smaller and the kids eat on barstools; this is much more my style.  At my old house, I sat the kids at the table and I stood standing next to the kitchen sink shoveling chicken into my mouth as quickly as I could just in case I didn’t have time to eat before they finished. This habit started after my first set of twins.  I didn’t dare sit while the twins were eating because I was constantly preparing myself for a nuclear disaster-spaghetti flying everywhere, someone choking, etc. 

We have a family dinner once a week on the square; they take turns choosing the restaurant.  We walked to church for the first time this past Sunday, which is just awesome.  Dylan’s favorite store is an antique store on the corner. There are theaters, playgrounds, ice-cream shops, toy stores, and candy shops—they really like it.  The farmer's market is there every Saturday and Sunday, which is nice.  My favorite thing to do is have brunch because brunch is the best.  Plus, they have a cappuccino the size of my head. 

When Lindsey is in a bad mood, I tell her to take a walk or go to the rooftop deck, which is right above us.  The train that we are practically living on top of must be soothing because she comes back another person.  HA!  Speaking of the train, I used to wake up when I heard a tiny creak in the floor and now I sleep through a train (and it’s seriously LOUD) and sirens.  We are next to a hospital, the police station and the fire station and for me, this is comfort crack.  If something does happen, they are right there!

We also have a pool and a gym, which is very nice.  

Anyway, that's it!  If you are thinking about refocusing anything in your life, I assure you that it is worth taking the leap.  This was really scary, but I am SO much happier and so are my children! Someone came by when I was first moving in and he said "You felt closed in in the house, didn't you?" And I sort of dropped my jaw and said "Yes. How did you know?" And he said "You just seem like the type of person who needs room to breathe." It was so poignant, I wondered if he knew just how much.  This place is smaller and yet I can breathe better.  Go figure.  

Oh Look! Another Alice picture!  They are everywhere, I tell you! 

The only thing I wish here is that the door were magnetic. That would be sweet.