Sunday, October 29, 2017

Gandalf

Yesterday (I think) was national mental health awareness day. I'm pretty immune to these awareness days because they seem fairly insignificant in the pile of all the other days that we're told to be aware of things. I'm sure the awareness is helpful and has an end game that promotes health and well-being, but I can say that knowing I have struggled with depression - being AWARE of it- does not make it go away. It doesn't really make it easier for me to talk to someone else about it- because awareness and understanding are oh so far apart. It doesn't lessen my load or really impact me at all. I'm grateful that I do not live in a time when I would be thrown in the looney bin or ostracized for being a woman with deep thoughts, but honestly- it doesn't help me now to think about how much worse life was for people before me. That's just more depressing.

All that to say- someone's Facebook post reminded me that I struggle with depression. And I was annoyed by the reminder. Because for all my awareness, I still dodge that sucker as much as I can.

My last therapist (who was helpful to an extent) gave the advice that I shouldn't fight the depression so hard. I don't think she used this analogy, but I thought of how when you are drowning your supposed to stop fighting the current, but relax into it and it'll spit you out in the end. Here's the problem: you might be dead. Or half-drowned. Or on an island someplace you didn't want to be. To let the current take you is to trust that the current will harm you less than your efforts to fight it. This isn't always so clear, especially when the current is a black hole of depression.

I've mentioned this before- but my depression looks a lot like laziness. It looks like someone sitting around doing nothing and being useless. It looks like forcing yourself to do everyday activities like getting out of bed, showering, eating. I always brush my teeth though. If I get to the point where I don't brush my teeth- get me immediate help. Depression for me looks like me thinking about the mist below my dark thoughts. I ask the questions about the rain, but I don't dare touch the lightning inside the dark cloud. If I jump into the deep end, I might not find my way out. So I spin in circles in the haze, never being satisfied or content, but knowing somehow in the back of my brain, that at least I am avoiding the real darkness. If I confront that shit- I might drown. (I recognize that I've jumbled twelve different analogies here- but I'm going to leave it and let you sort it out.)

The thing about black holes of darkness (depression) is that they have a sort of magnetic quality about them. Your curiosity (or sickness) lures you closer and closer to the abyss, until you suddenly have a moment of clarity and realize you are about to stick your toe in it. I was going to say lava- but lava has a distinct quality of heat and fire and pain. Black hole of darkness is like that "Nothing" from Never Ending Story. It isn't something- it's nothing- and it's sucking your world void. You put your toe in- you will pull it back to find nothing. If you jump in all the way- you will vanish.

So my coping mechanism has always been to journey to the other side of the earth, get away from the black hole and fight the gravity that pulls me towards it. When the therapist recommended that I jump in feet first and trust that I'll get out on the other side- I pretty much thought she was full of shit. Really what I thought was that she was"Aware" of depression, but didn't quite understand. Because someone who understands knows that letting go is equal to giving up which equals blank stares for an undetermined amount of time. She might be able to write off a few months of staring as therapeutic recovery - but I have a family and dreams- and certainly have no time to give in to darkness.

So yes, I have considered the thoughts that she might be right, but I need a battle plan. I mean a dive-in plan. I need to know how to jump in to the deep end and not die.

Then, as I often do now, I thought about literature. I wish I had read more fantasy as a child, I think it would have helped me process more of my deep thoughts. But luckily I married a lover of Tolkien and the others, and I have now seen and read many fantasy and sci-fi novels that attempt to ask more of the deeper questions. I thought today about Gandalf. In the Lord of the Rings series, Gandaf encounters a Balrog- a demon of darkness. His quotable line "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" is his rebuke to this creature of darkness, who attempts to stop the tribe of travelers from destroying the ring. Actually, I don't think the demon gives a shit about their travels, they just tread on his turf and he's a demon.

Gandalf succeeds in stopping the demon from attacking his friends, but he falls into the deep crevice after the demon- and by all accounts, his fall into darkness is assumed to result in his death. Gandalf was grey-bearded then, a powerful wizard but not the most powerful. After his encounter with this demon, he re-emerges like a phoenix, splendid with white hair and more powerful than ever. Everyone is super excited to see him and that's that.

I needed just a few more details of what happened between falling down the dark demon cliff and rising white-bearded with a kick-ass power jump. I went and did some searching and it was actually quite fascinating. Moria- the place this creature lived- means "black pit" - as if my analogy needed some more help. In the search I found the story went that Gandalf pursued the Balrog for eight days and finally there was a battle between the two that culminated on a mountain top, where the demon was thrown from the top and died, splitting the mountain. Gandalf supposedly died as well, but was "sent back" to Middle Earth with greater powers as Gandalf the White. Very special, would love to have a few more details on the whole "sent-back" part.

So all I need is to know that I can kill the demon and that even if I "die" I'll be "sent back." Sorry Tolkien, but I need a little more to go on. How do you confront a demon, die, and live? How do you dive in to the deep end and make it to the other side? I think this is part of my reasoning behind shining light in the cave of questions (I mention that in a previous blog where I'm going to start asking the scary questions and have other people ask with me so we aren't so alone and scared.) Instead of calling depression something dark and demonic- I'm trying to turn on the light down here and invite people to join me in asking the dark demon so many questions that instead of being dark and mysterious it gets sort of annoyed and moody. That seems less scary. I can handle a moody and annoyed demon.

Maybe I shall emerge from this cave not as Gandalf the White, oh wise and powerful... but as Sarah the Persistent, obnoxious but not alone. Or maybe I'll make a home in the cave, since it's too well lit for a demon of darkness to dwell in anymore. Or maybe I'll throw a demon off a cliff and split a mountain and die.... and be sent back. Time will tell.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Neck Grief


Today I had a massage, and before you judge me, I judge me too. However, I signed up for this massage membership in a very low point emotionally, and it was one of my steps toward health. Although I feel embarrassed when I mention it (the frivolity of it!), today reminded me of why I signed up.

Every time I go in, I'm asked the same basic questions about what I need in the massage that day. Every time I go in, my answers are nearly identical. Yes, full body- but spend more time on my back, shoulders, and neck. Pressure? Hard. How do I want to feel? Relaxed.

I actually tried to think of a different word for how I wanted to feel, because relaxed seemed lazy. I want the relaxation to be the result of muscles forced into submission. Luckily my massage therapist understands what I mean. She is not afraid to hurt me. I know the places that will hurt, and I try to breathe into it. I'm not going to lie, I try to pretend it doesn't hurt as much as it does because I don't want her to back off on the pressure. 

Today, I asked her to focus on my neck and shoulders especially, because I felt like they weren't even my own. I didn't explain it well to her. What I wanted to say was that I wished they weren't my own. I have often wished this. That I could somehow trade them out for a new set. That I could hold my head up without constant stretching and adjusting. I want to feel like my head isn't supported by a janky set of sticks duct taped together and ready to collapse at any moment. In my mind I thought: if you can make me not feel like trading it out, you will have performed a miracle.

The complete focus on the neck didn't happen until the very end of the massage, so by then I had been lulled into a peace of silence and introspection. I was even writing a little dialogue scene for my book in my head. There had definitely been some painful muscle work, but I had expected it. She started working on the tendons around my shoulders that connect to the neck, painful but bearable. Then she moved on to my actual neck, focusing first on one side, then on the other. She held pressure points for what felt like a painful eternity. I felt my neck sort of twitch and release. It hurt. Like woah. 

Then I sort of had one of those kind of out-of-body experiences. Not a creepy one. I just sort of panned back and looked at my neck with such sympathy. I thought, God- she's been through a lot. And just naming that gave me this wave of grief. But the kind that you get when you finally think or say out loud something that has been buried within you. It was a release. 

I have had three spinal surgeries and my neck will forever be jacked up. I do not feel things like I should, and my body does weird stuff if I sit or lean or whatever for too long. Spinal injuries are really, really weird. You know how if you break your ankle, it's never really the same and you're more likely to do something to it later because of that crack in the strength of the bone? Spinal injuries are like that, except it manifests in the weirdest ways, and doesn't always make sense, and doesn't have a specific cure or treatment. 

I may be wrong (but certainly not alone) but I tend to ignore the majority of my spinal issues. Because if I went to the doctor for every tingling sensation or weird symptom (like my hand curls up involuntarily sometimes, mostly when I've leaned a certain way)- I would be forever at the doctor and the only solution they would have is surgery- which would bring a new set of weird possible consequences. Spinal injury for me is deciding what set of symptoms you can handle. If it is too painful or too life-inhibiting, then you might be able to trade a few cards of symptoms for different few cards that are a little less annoying- but you can't fold. You can't trade in your neck for a new one. Some can only trade in twos and threes for fours and sevens. I think as far as spinal injuries, I've got at least a pair in my hand- it's not so bad. 

That's another thing about spinal injuries. They can be catastrophic, searing pain. So even when I feel weird and like my body will never be fully functional (and never knowing if something is related to the injury or something else), I still think "it could be so much worse." I think that mentality of comparison has been helpful sometimes for me to keep in perspective my quality of life. But today, as I released that grief for my neck, I realized that maybe I should have given myself a little space to grieve. 

Of course, it's hard to even know or name what you are grieving. I don't even remember what it felt like to be able to put earrings in my ear without looking, or to clasp the necklace without standing in front of a mirror. I don't remember what it was like to feel the fine texture of something. I do remember being able to do a back bend without much effort, curving my back and neck into a perfect U shape. I remember doing back dives into the pool, landing as well as a forward dive. I remember doing neck stretches in my PE class where my head would touch my shoulder. I kinda remember not having scars. But in that moment, when I felt the acute pain in my neck, I felt the grief. I felt love for my neck rather than anger. I forgave it for giving me so much trouble and felt sympathy for all the trouble it had been through. And now I'm thinking, I am thankful for the courage it has to hold itself together and heal as well as it has. 

I know I'm talking about my neck as if it is a separate thing, or even person. I don't why I do this or why it helps. But it does. It gives me space between me the part of me that causes me grief. Enough space I guess, to give grace. And then I can reclaim my neck as mine- painful and graceful- and continue to get massages. Because my neck, she's been through a lot, and even if I feel silly getting a massage, my neck could use a little love.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Worry


I do not suffer from anxiety. In fact, I might suffer from too little of it: apathy.  The way I handle anxiety or worry is by not caring about it anymore. This can be really helpful- or totally not a good idea. I have a LOT of things that I don't care about right now, which really means that I am deeply worried about a lot of things that I had to pretend don't exist to stay sane.

The other day I did a brief inventory of "expensive things we'll need to replace soon." That inventory got thick real fast, and the replace-by-date jumped right in front of my face like those stupid Halloween zombie actors. It scared the shit out of me. I dealt with it two ways: by texting my sisters that I was having a mid-life crisis and by declaring that everything is meaningless.

Neither were very effective. I will still need to buy: hearing aids, a car (maybe), new computers, and a new cell phone in the ridiculously near future. And keep paying taxes and being generous and shit.

The optimistic person would count their blessings. Remember that they won't starve. Come up with a systemic plan to possibly relax the chokehold. Hold a bake sale or yard sale. Things like that.

I'm not an optimist. I'm a realist. I know that everything will break in a three-month period, and that taxes will also be due then. So I'm 100% sure that I will have to go into debt or figure out how to function without a car (very seriously considering that already), or how to function without both hearing aids, or sell a kidney on the black market. Maybe my husband and I will share a computer and a car and a phone.

Once my brain is overwhelmed by the worry it starts shutting down. It says: woah Nelly! This is just to darned much! We're gonna just go watch a movie, eat some Cheezits, and then have an early bedtime sweet cheeks. When you wake up in the morning, you won't remember a thing. And she'll be right. Sweet little brain of mine. She tries.

But worry induced amnesia isn't a good thing, right? I mean - I'm definitely asking for me. It has been rather helpful, and the truth is that I have yet to starve or go into debt- which is basically the definition of stability and privilege. Don't get me wrong, I save money and am cheap as they come. I'm not just amnesia spending money with no regard. But I'm also not facing things.

Wait, maybe my worry method is fine. I stop worrying, everything works out, and if it doesn't- it wasn't for lack of planning. Maybe worry-amnesia is GOOD!

Not every psychosis is bad.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Lonely Questions

There is something called Light Exposure therapy. I have no idea what it actually is except that I have heard of it. I think it is for seasonal depression- which is why I’ve heard of it. I’m going to take a different approach to it. I realized today that some of my depression is the loneliness in my questions. Or thoughts. I feel alone with my ideas, and not in a poetic way. I have questions and fears that I am afraid to bring to light, mostly because any time I hint at them, I get the blank stares of a population of people who either live in blissful ignorance, or perhaps live in better care of their dungeon of dark thoughts. 

My dungeon of dark thoughts frequently has a jail break. I can’t pretend they don’t exist. I used to think that my problem was that I had the dungeon. That I had these mysterious dark questions or thoughts -and that they really needed to stop existing. Now I’m starting to think that their existence isn’t the problem. It’s the loneliness that I feel in asking them. Maybe we all have the dungeons and maybe a lot of us actually know about them. Maybe these questions are part of what makes us human and alive, but the problem is that we’ve somehow internalized the idea that they are meant to be kept dark and isolated. Maybe I can shine light on these thoughts and questions. That won’t make them go away (like I had thought before) but it will make me feel less lonely. And my hope is that it won’t be a misery loves company situation.

So I’m going to do an experiment with this blog. I’m going to address some of those darker places. I’m going to do what I have wanted to do with the blog all along (and have been doing to some level)- I’m going to shine the light in dark corners. But not the light of eviction, the light of revelation. The light of honesty and truth. The light onto the questions that I do not have answers to. A light into the dungeon that has felt really lonely.

What’s my first question? 

Does our life really have meaning? I suspect that this answer (if there is really an answer) does not look like what we think. 

Think large scale: we as a human species are so teeny tiny minuscule in proportion to the Universe- even as we currently know it- and we know that we haven’t seen the half of it. Even in the narrowed scope of planet Earth- we are a point that has only been recently added to the giant composition of time and space. A dot. We have made a mess of everything within our dot, to be sure. But it could all be undone in a second. With a solar flare- we don’t even have to do it ourselves. Then poof- our existence is unknown. Unremembered. Like it never happened. 

Think small scale: our human body is so crazy intricate and interesting. We have dedicated our entire existence to survival and still don’t know the ins and outs of how our brains and bodies work. We are not easy to understand, we are complex. Panning out just a bit, we’ve seen how our decisions can affect generations. I have learned that my great-grandmother set the tone for generations of my family to be secure in love. One person who I didn’t even know existed until some years ago, was the foundation for the sanity of my family. Truly. This domino affect of the  choices we make is no made-up thing. I’ve seen it. Some of our choices really don’t matter, but some of them do in ways we could never comprehend. Maybe they all do.

But what is meaning? Is meaning assigned only to that which is permanent? Does your life cease to have meaning once the dominoes have completed their cycle? Does your life mean everything only and just because it exists at all? We’re all asking this question, and answering it in different ways. Physicists (I think) came up with this butterfly effect theory about how the beat of a butterfly wing can make a strong wind around the world. I do not get this and don’t know how it plays out or if it’s a dumb theory that everyone knows is not a thing now. But the point is- some scientists somewhere put their heads together to see if something insignificant became significant. Or what I would call: has meaning. 

Let’s say we settle on meaning as a value that is self-contained outside of lasting impact or permanence. Something can be meaningful in only a second. What then of purpose? Is that the same or something else entirely? Purpose feels a lot like something with results. Something that changes something. Meaning perhaps only needs to exist, where purpose maybe needs to change something. 

Here’s my fear. These questions fold into themselves. Part of my brain is engaged with these questions, but then something higher calls into question my entire existence. I become keenly aware that I’m using English, in the US, in a specific time that will be washed away by some other time. I want to ask the question but then I realize I’ve left the gate open to the dungeon and the peeking questions start calling from the darkness “DOES IT EVEN MATTER?!” “Are you wasting your time and everyone else's?” “Who cares?!” “What does this help?” “You will never answer these questions, so why are you torturing yourself with them?” “Are you going to turn into one of those lunatics on the street who talks to themselves about how everything is meaningless?”

I flash to a video that I saw by the Humans of New York guy. It’s of a homeless man who is talking about what he has learned as a 46 year old. He’s clearly homeless, perhaps mentally ill, and he is speaking absolute profound truth. NO one even questions the validity of what he is saying because we all recognize it as truth. But the painful thing is- that we see in this man the price you pay for learning the truth. It means you might not fit into the system, the machine might spit you out. Your comfort with the dungeon means you might be sent to live there. Because no one else wants to really think about it or talk about it. They want to live in the ignorance of the bright upstairs. So you become the keeper of the keys to the dungeon. You become the holder of secrets. You are burdened by the darkness so that the rest of us can function. There are so many utopian books and short stories that play on this concept. 

One of my favorite books of all time, which continues to re-invent itself (like it is now) for me is The Giver. In this book, the main concept is that there is a utopian society that has been set up to function utilitarian style, with careful consideration to what will make the safest and most functional community. As the outsiders reading it, we see clear problems with the set up, but within the community there is harmony and health. In the community, there is a keeper of memories. This person knows what’s in the dungeon, and a lot more has been shoved into the dungeon for the community to function. In this community (unlike ours), the Keeper is revered as wise and respected. Their task is misunderstood but deeply important. A boy is assigned to become the next Keeper of memories- and he is the Receiver and the Elder names himself The Giver. 

I think even as a 4th grader, my soul recognized that I would play the role of giver and receiver in a way that might be lonely. I recognized the feeling of seeing something that other people don’t see (or refuse to admit). I have long had the passcode to the dungeon. Sometimes I’m able to forget it. Sometimes I’m even able to pretend it doesn’t exist. But I know it's there, and you can’t un-know.

Spoiler alert- in The Giver, the boy realizes he can’t hold this knowledge. The loneliness is too great, and the sense of responsibility to help others change is too pressing. So he plans an escape, and his escape releases the memories into the community- like an invisible force field around the dungeon is broken. The Giver remains to help the community process and heal. 

So I’m not the Keeper. I’m not alone, I can’t possibly be. But I feel alone, and selfishly, I want to give a tour of the dungeon so I don’t have to process it alone. I need friends for the ride. I need someone more than the old white philosophers of western Christian Europe. I need you. 

Will any of you walk in the dungeon with me? Maybe we can turn it into a cool coffee shop with candelabras. I just feel so lonely down here and I’ve hesitated to bring it up for fear of ripping you away from the sunny day you are enjoying. But maybe you already are here. Maybe we just haven’t found each other because we were too scared to turn the light on. Maybe we can light some candles and it won’t feel so lonely. Maybe it isn’t a dungeon after all, but a magnificent cave with springs and jewels. Maybe it’s a gathering place and we can feel safe exploring. Maybe we’ll never reach the ends of it, but we’ll learn to have joy in the journey.


That’s what I’m really looking for. Joy for the journey.

Monday, October 23, 2017

That Time I Punched a Boy

These last few weeks have seen a resurgence of focus on women and the crap we have to deal with. Between the #metoo trend that caught on and the news from Harvey Weinstein's garbage pail, we have once again (remember #yesallwomen?) had to re-illuminate the obvious for ourselves and for our male counterparts. I don't mean that cynically, an obvious truth has a tendency to become background noise. Like the sound of the refrigerator running. When I got hearing aids that were advanced enough for me to hear it- I was furious that it made that sound all freaking day. Then I got over it because it was all freaking day. And if something is all day- you have to adapt so you don't go insane. The belittling and dehumanization and just straight up assault that women endure becomes background noise. For survival. 

Now, to be honest, I didn't really get involved in the hashtag movement, because I don't like to be trendy, and it feels like a slippery slope to me. If I change my profile to the France flag, then for everything I have to hashtag and change my filter. This is why my profile picture has remained unchanged for years. I'm just too lazy to keep up, and I don't want to be guilty of missing some awareness or hashtag or movement on social media. So I miss them all. In my head, this makes perfect sense.

But, I did see a video recently that made me think of something. It was that video that's been going around for a while about the ER nurse mom who was called away from work to address her daughter's behavior- punching a boy (which she did after a boy relentlessly snapped her bra to the point that it unlatched). I have no idea if this thing actually happened, and I hate melodramatic preachy videos, but I also have no problem believing that this thing happened (or has happened many times). It's almost like a parable in its universal relatability. (My spell check says that isn't a word. It should be- or maybe I am saying it wrong.) 

One reason why I think the story is totally believable is because it brought back memories of several times this sort of thing happened to me or my friends growing up. But like background noise, I had really forgotten it. 

But one story I have not forgotten, because it is my Wonder Woman story and one that my family told with pride. This story, the story of That Time I Punched a Boy, is one that I don't even know if I actually remember, or if my memory is my imagination from playing it in my mind every time I heard the story. In fact, I even start to question if the story is true, because it has risen to legend level. I do believe it is true, but perhaps some of the details have been altered for entertainment. So for yours, I will tell the story, with all the fun details.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl (it's me guys) who was about 3 or 4 years old. She was tall for her age, with an unruly mane of blonde curly hair (loose curls then). Her knees were often skinned and her fingernails filled with dirt. She was happy, healthy, and loved. 

One day, she was standing in line with her father (to this day I don't remember why we were standing in line). Behind her was a Boy with his father. The Boy decided that today he would poke the little girl over and over and over again. For fun. Somehow (I found a gap in the story here) the Boy's father either didn't notice or care. The little girl politely asked the Boy to please STOP. The Boy did not give a shit and kept poking her back. The little girl once again asked, but more firmly this time for the Boy to STOP. Once again, when she turned to face forward, the Boy poked. 

Then the little girl turned back, and punched the Boy in the face.

The Boy, startled, fell back onto his bum and looked to his father in protest. The father, suddenly realizing that there was something happening, told the little girl's father "Serves him right!" The little girl's father looked at his little girl, and though his words said "Don't punch," his face was lit up with pride and a smile. The little girl felt satisfaction and love and affirmation. And powerful.

The Boy never poked the little girl again. The little girl never felt like punching a Boy in the face was bad after she had repeatedly asked him to stop harassing her. The little girl (remember, it's me) was taught that day in a beautifully powerful way, that it was OK not to take shit from boys.

The End.

But of course that wasn't the end, right? I mean, boys continued to do stupid shit. But that story, the living of it and the hearing of it, reminded me throughout childhood that I was strong and if I needed to, I could punch a boy in the face. Of course there were times when I was told the cliche sexist thing, but this foundational memory, this moment, was special. I won't put so much pressure on this one event to say that it is why I was able to question all those stupid expectations of women, or why I was unwilling to mold myself to please men under the guise of submission, or why I somehow managed to date men who were not intimidated by my independence and punch-ability. There's also luck, a shit-ton of love and security from my parents, and more stupid luck.

But my God I love that story. And when I tell it, the nonviolent pacifist in me is not ashamed. Maybe that Boy tells the same story of the day he learned how to treat females? Let's hope so. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Things I Didn't Do

The shower is a fantastic place for ideas to be born. This morning while in the shower I thought about how I am excellent at writing up my "things to do" list, and terrible at actually doing them. Then I thought of all the things I didn't do, for all time. And then the idea was born. I should write a list of things I didn't do. Then everything is crossed off immediately, and it might be funny, sad, or at the very least cathartic for others who have a list just as long. 

Some of these things I have proudly not done, with no guilt. Some of them I learned to let go of. Some of them I feel sort of bad about, but obviously not enough to do it. Some are simply missed opportunities. All of this is true. 

So here goes....

Things I Didn't Do:

-Make a wedding album 
-Get my Wedding dress professionally cleaned
-Baby albums, for either baby
-Save a lock of hair from either child's first haircut
-Any picture album of my family ever
-Updated pictures on my wall
-Completed all the thank you notes for the following:
     -birthdays (mine and children's)
     -Wedding
     -baby showers
     -anything I am forgetting
-Utilize the Study Abroad Program in college
-Travel a lot before I had kids
-Kiss a lot of frogs
-Get most of my dry-clean only clothes dry-cleaned
-Spring Clean
-Exercise consistently for more than two months
-Crafty thing of the day
-Teach my kids to ride a bike
-Teach my kids to cook
-Bake that thing
-Not procrastinate on getting my taxes together
-Clean the dyson like that youtube video says I should
-Clean the keurig like that youtube video says I should
-Write a book start to finish
-Follow through on that volunteer organization
-Volunteer to be a Room Parent
-Go to a PTA meeting
-Have a vegetable garden that I planted
-Landscape my yard in total
-Write that person regularly
-Call that person regularly
-Return that phone call
-Reply to that email
-Go to that event
-Have a career
-Paint that room
-Decorate that space
-Hang that thing
-Consistently mow the lawn
-Consistently walk the dog
-Stop cracking my knuckles
-Write letters to my kids every year like that pinterest thing said
-succesfully do any pinterest project
-Rescue any animal
-Foster a child
-Actively participate in a political campaign that I care about
-March in the Women's march
-Read that one Book
-Return those books to the library or person who loaned it
-Give the dog her flea and tick medicine the same day every month
-Clip coupons
-Not order delivery
-Not drive through
-Not let my kid watch TV
-Not let my kid play video games
-Chaperone the field trip
-Read that parenting book/blog/viral article.
-Watch that epic sad movie (Schindler's List, Hotel Rwanda, etc)
-Run 
-Jog
-Trot
-Ride that horse
-Snorkel with the barracudas 
-Travel to Australia
-Visit your friend in LA or NYC
-Get that eye exam
-Learn German
-Learn Spanish
-Invite your neighbors to a block party
-Host a fancy dinner party
-Fix the fireplace
-Refill the bird feeder
-Go to that festival
-Create my will
-Officially pick (and inform) who gets the kids if we die
-Pretend I liked that person
-Show up on time to that thing
-Go to the party
-Host the party for someone selling something
-Buy the thing from someone selling something
-Buy boy scout popcorn
-Plan an effective surprise
-Claimed that fart
-Introduce myself
-Say hi to that person I actually know
-Maternity Portraits
-Infant Portraits
-Pay extra to keep the ashes of my dog
-Tip the people who didn't do anything extra
-Live in another country (as an adult)
-Get a cloud data storage
-Save enough money for taxes
-Save enough money for new hearing aids
-Napa Valley train
-Take my husband to the Rockies
-Apologize to that person
-Consistently check fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
-Weed the garden
-Pay that one girl back
-Stand up to that person
-Return the bra that isn't the right size
-Return the tablecloth you borrowed
-Finish that book
-Fix your engagement ring
-Plant those bulbs
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There are plenty more things I didn't do. And I hope you'll make your own list, and then just burn it or something. Because all of us didn't do that thing at some point. And the guilt is just not really worth the weight on our chest. Or maybe the list will be a helpful reminder that you actually don't care as much about the things you didn't do. So maybe you won't care as much about the next seventy hundred. You can put it on your fridge with a note saying "shit I didn't do, and actually feel fine about." Or don't do any of it- no worries.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Grey

Today the sky loomed grey. It does this often in the winter near DC. I feel the effects of the grey, swirled with the gumbo of awful coming down the city pipelines.

When the Grey hits, it paralyzes me. I am not sad or happy or mad or anything. I'm frozen still as time whips by. Hours pass and I've done nothing. It's as if I'm moving in slow motion and the world spins faster. It makes me feel like I'm losing my mind. This is not my first rodeo on the Grey. I've been here before and I've got some tools, if I can get to them fast enough, I may not lose yet another day.

Today my tool is "treat yo' self" and not like the characters in Parks and Rec. I'm not buying anything. I shaved my legs. I am wearing knit pants and a tank top without bothering with a bra. I'm putting my hair into a pony tail. I am drinking hot tea. I read Mary Oliver. I'm going to put on nice socks. I'm writing this. Then I have a short and simple list. And I'm going to do that list as best I can today, taking breaks for meals. That's it. That's what I have. But I feel comfortable, I feel less overwhelmed. I've given myself permission not to save the world today. I've given myself permission not to write the novel today. I've given myself permission not to make the big to do list today. I'm just going to tackle this small list of three things. That's all.