Posted in 2021, Weird Wednesdays

It’s “Meh”day*

meh

Actually, it’s not. Today is Wednesday. It is. Trust me. I know that the pandemic and lock down has messed with our minds and that time has become a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, but it’s Wednesday. I think. I mean, I thought yesterday was Wednesday, but (checking calendar) yes, today is Wednesday.

Wednesdays are usually dedicated to News of the Weird, but today is also my brother’s birthday. This may be confusing to those who know me, because I only have one brother, and he used to be younger than me (now that he’s 50 he gets to be the older sibling). I’m talking about my other brother.

Mario was not my brother by blood, but he was my brother of heart, and today would have been his 63rd birthday. I miss him more than ever and I’m just not in the mood for weird and wacky – which is funny (ironic?) because Mario worked really hard to make people laugh, no matter how much pain he was in.

Mario had health issues which made it difficult for him to stand or walk, but it didn’t stop him from doing..well, anything. He just didn’t let it stop him. Period. He still drove to and hiked in his happiest place on earth (Yosemite). He still went to hockey games and worked 60 hour weeks and stood up when people entered the room and rolled around on the ground with his furbaby.

I know that the past 14 months have been hard for everyone. I KNOW that we’re tired of being locked in – that we miss our friends and family and movies and plays and travel and school and restaurants and all the things that made up our “normal” lives. I also know that (for most of us, at least) we are very lucky. We can still call or zoom or skype or facetime with those we love. We can order food from our favorite restaurants and stream movies in our living room. We can hike (thanks to the lockdown, the girl and I discovered a whole slew of trails close to our home) or “sweat to the oldies.”

It is in our nature to mourn the things that are missing and moan about the things we lack. It takes a conscious effort to appreciate what we have – but if we are to survive this year with sanity (somewhat) intact, it’s what we need to do.

I used to laugh when I heard people talking about “gratitude journals” and “the power of gratitude.” I thought it was a hippy-dippy mindset, and that the uber rich celebrities pushing the practice couldn’t possibly know how hard my life was. Trust me when I say the past 10 years haven’t been a cakewalk (side not – have you ever been on a cakewalk? Weirdest game ever).

This is hard for me to admit, but I was wr…

I was wro….wrrrrrrr….

Huh. I thought I only had issues with the n-word. Guess I was wrrrr….(OMG let’s not start THAT again).

I was mistaken.

If we are to survive the quarantine with sanity (somewhat) intact, we need to shift our focus from what we CAN’T do to what we CAN. We need to stop wallowing in our worries and start wondering about what we could do to help our friends and neighbors. It’s weird, but research shows that “In helping others, you help yourself.” 

Huh. Wednesday turned out to be weird after all. 

One last tip to holding on to your sanity – remember that this too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.

Also, furbabies make everything better..

mario

*In my search for a “meh” photo, I found this incredible shirt. Someone needs to buy it for me. I would buy it, but I’m feeling “meh.” 

meh shirt

Posted in 2021

Bon Temps? What Bon Temps?

It’s Fat Tuesday, and I should be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but I’m not.

I’ve never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (TBH I’ve never been to New Orleans for anything) and I had every intention of going this year. Sigh. You know what they say about good intentions….

I have good excuses for not going (good excuses are still just excuses):

  1. The Girl got accepted into a nursing program, and all of our pennies are going to college fees (we have to support her so she can support us).
  2. The Guy JUST started a new job (more hours, better pay, better benefits) and can’t take time off. When I mentioned going on a girl’s trip, he guilted me with his big brown eyes.
  3. I hate crowds (yet another reason to go THIS year). 
  4. Crawfish are creepy (but so are drunk people peeing in the alley). 
  5. The Mardi Gras parade was cancelled AGAIN. I love the fact that people are decorating their houses, but I don’t think houses can throw beads. Well, the Monster House could, but she’d just use the beads as bait to lure you in and eat you.
  6. We’re not supposed to go anywhere and I am a Virgo (at least I’m not a Cancer).

virgo

So instead of drinking Hurricanes and stuffing my face with beignets, I am sitting in front of my computer with a cup of “coffee”* listening to Zydeco and tossing beads at my family when they least expect it (they don’t seem very appreciative). 

Because I’m NOT in N’awlins I have been looking up “fun facts” about Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras. Feel free to comment below with any trivia/pictures/recipes. 

1. Crawfish are also called “mudbugs.” I have to admit that I side with Peachtown’s opinion that crawfish are disgusting. The writer points out the fact that “you’re eating bugs” (of course, crawfish are not actually insects) and “you’re eating organs” but it was the last two that I find particularly stomach churning:

1a – You’re eating poop
Crawfish have veins full of waste that are attached to the pieces of meat people extract and eat. While some remove the veins, others overlook them and scarf them down like it’s no big deal. The only problem is it is a big deal, because it’s poop. This is alarming evidence in support of outsider opinions as to why crawfish are disgusting. If you like to eat poop, no one is going to judge your life choices, but you should know the reality of what you’re putting into your mouth. And here is where everything comes to a head

1b – You’re sucking heads. This is the smoking gun. Louisiana folks love sucking the juice out of crawfish heads. Sucking heads. The juice. Out of heads. It’s actually hard to say that with a straight face, so it’s good this is typed. But hardcore crawfish fanatics love the juices that resonate within mudbug shells, and they aren’t ashamed of it. Regardless of how tasty it is, you should consider how this must look to people who are unfamiliar with this highly seductive ‘act.’ It’s perfectly natural to people in Louisiana, but the whole ordeal can seem strange to outsiders.

2. Fat Tuesday was originally known as Shrove Tuesday and is also known as Packi Day after the rich, jelly-filled donuts made by Poles in Poland and the U.S, but 

3. The French call it Mardi Gras. Wikipedia says that “as a celebration of life before the more-somber occasion of Ash Wednesday, (it) nearly always involves the use of masks and costumes by its participants, and the most popular celebratory colors are purple, green, and gold. Mardi Gras is often celebrated during Shrovetide (Sunday through Fat Tuesday). 

4. The typical colors of Mardi Gras beads, also called “throws” have meanings. The Purple represents justice, the Green symbolizes faith and the Gold exemplifies power. 

5. “Zydeco” can refer to either the dance or the music, and 

6. There is a difference between Cajun Music and Zydeco. 

7. I can play the hell out of washboard tie. Well, not really, but after a few Hurricanes, who can be sure?

Fat Tuesday wouldn’t be the same without a Fais do-do, so I’ll leave you with two of our faves – Laissez le bon temps rouler!

*useful tip #27: as long as you blow on your mug before taking a sip, nobody in the zoom meeting knows any different) 

 

Posted in 2021

TGIF!*

february

*Thank God It’s February

It’s Mental Health Monday which means it’s time to check in. How are you doing? No, really, I want to know. I’ve been spending way too much time talking about me (Not apologizing – it IS my blog, so of course it’s all about me) but it’s a new year and a new month and I’m trying to be a better blogger woman human.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled to be welcoming in a new month. Not only because Valentine’s Day = ALL THE CHOCOLATE (and no, you don’t have to wait for someone you love to buy you a box) or because February is black history month but because last month left a lot to be desired. For most of us, January 1st signals a new beginning/fresh start, and brings with it the promise that things will change.

On NYE, my FB feed was filled with “So long 2020, don’t let the door hit you in the ass” memes…but 2021 wasn’t just hellish, he was was an evil sneaky bastard. The old year locked Baby New Year in the closet and (just like a bad neighbor or the last person at the party) refused to leave…which explains why January wasn’t new and exciting, just more of the same. More illness. More anger. More loss. More divisiveness.

2021

I have to admit that I let the grief, stress and loss of the past 13 months stop me from…well, from doing ANYTHING. My WIP has been waiting on its “final edit” for at least 6 months. My blog has been neglected. My list of “honey-dos” is as long as Santa’s naughty list. I slapped 6 “paint samples” on my living room wall last year, but it remains unpainted (Good news – I saw a new “paint style” which appears to be just a bunch of paint samples slapped over each other – my wall isn’t undone, it’s avant-garde).

paint-decorating-wall-painting-ideas-21 (002)

But today is February 1st and I’ve finally put Christmas away. Well, not away-away. Everything is in tubs in the living room. I have delegated the moving of the tubs to my spouse and daughter, because my new year’s resolution was to let go of the need to do ALL THE THINGS. Please note, I spent yesterday cleaning the bedrooms and bathrooms and doing the dishes and putting laundry and christmas away because new year’s resolutions never stick, BUT

I resolved to try again – because it’s a brand new day and a brand new month and we don’t have to wait to a new year to begin again. You don’t even need to wait until tomorrow to get a fresh start. You can begin again at any moment. I’m going to say it again for the people in the back – and little louder for the people like me who are waiting for the coffee to kick in:

YOU CAN BEING AGAIN AT ANY MOMENT.

And because a picture is worth a thousand words (and Mary Pickford said it better)

begin again

So, today’s resolution is:

I will delegate to others.

Or at least I’ll try.

Hey, it’s a start.

Baby steps baby.

My second “New Month Resolution” is to start every day by thankful for (at least) one thing.

Today I am thankful for our fake Christmas Tree. If we had a real one, it would be nothing but a pile of dead needles.

And I’m thankful for you.

So tell me – how YOU doing?

Posted in 2021, four letter words, mental health

The S-Word Part Duh

Before we get started, I want to apologize for being MIA once again. That’s MIA, all caps, not Mia, as in Farrow. Although I have freckles and have been involved with at least one crazy actor, I find Woody Allen annoying, I would never have starred in Rosemary’s Baby (demons freak me out) and she looks much better in a pixie cut. 

Mirriam-Webster says that MIA (the acronym, not the movie) is “often used figuratively for someone or something notably or unexpectedly missing, absent or inactive.” If you’ve been following me for any length of time you know that I post on a far from regular basis, and that I’ve been derailed by stress, grief, loss and life on more than one occasion – but it’s a new year, and I am determined to write on a regular basis (I know, I know, I’ve said it before – but this time I mean it!).

Speaking of – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I know that last year was (for want of a better word) “challenging” for most of us. For others it was absolutely devastating. My family was very lucky – we managed to survive the year with health and sanity (mostly) intact. I hope you were able to do the same, and that you won at least one game of quarantine or zoom bingo.

But back to me (hey, it’s my blog, so it’s all about me). Again, I want to apologize for being away for so long. I’ve spoken (written?) before about my battles with the black dog and brain weasels – and 2020 brought them back with a vengeance. 

That’s not true. I mean, yes, 2020 was a shitty year, but it’s not entirely to blame for my silence. I’ve spent the past 3 months slaying demons. Not literally. I’m a huge fan of Supernatural (with the exception of its final episode – the finale was almost as bad as the last episode of GOT), but I could never be a Hunter (Hello! Weren’t you listening? Demons freak me out). 

Shortly after my last post, I had an incident (or an epiphany. Or an incident which led to an epiphany) which explained my perfectionism, my inability to say “no” and all the other things that make me unique. 

I’ve been thinking about this post ever since.

That’s not true. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I lie and swear (alot). But it’s a new year, and I’m trying to be a better blogger woman human. So although I can’t say that I’ve been thinking about this post “ever since the incident” I have been thinking about it for a while now. I realized this morning that I’m still not ready to share details, but that the details don’t matter. What matters is that I am slaying my demons, and that if I can do it, you can too. 

I’ve been reading Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. and The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. Although I’ve had several “aha” moments while reading both of them, Dr. Kolk’s book is a little dry/technical IMHO. Dr Shapiro’s book is written for the layperson, as either a self-help tool, or as an additional resource while working with a professional. It’s by no means a “light” read, but it’s proving to be the book I’ve needed for a while now. Solutions for Resilience lists seven basic concepts from the book including:

  1. Living in continual stress is unnecessary and life-threatening
  2. Our personal struggles are influenced by our stored memories of past events
  3. Many of us are running our lives on automatic pilot

One of the things Dr. Shapiro discusses are our negative cognitions. What are negative cognitions, you ask? (I heard you from here). RelifeCounseling defines cognitions as “the way we think about ourselves” and goes on to say that “when we speak of negative cognition, we are referring to a negative belief that we have developed from negative or traumatic life experiences.” In other words, it’s the negative self-talk that runs continuously in the background.  Examples include “I’m a failure” “I’m not loveable” and “I’m fat”. You’re not, you know.

Stupid. 

I’m not saying that the idea of negative cognitions is stupid, I’m saying that “stupid” is one of my negative cognitions and the foulest four-letter word I know.

Not literally (I CAN count). It’s just a nasty word that needs to be relegated to the trash heap, with the rest of the four-letter words.

I’ve had a problem with stupidity for as long as I can remember. Learning that negative cognitions drive our responses to life explained all the things. Well, not all of them (I still don’t understand string theory) but at least it explained why stupidity makes me crazy. Treating me like I’m stupid pushes all my buttons, and don’t get me started on my frustration with stupid coworkers. The EIC is a sneaky bastard, and although he’s very vocal about a lot of things, evidently he’s had “I’m stupid” running on a continuous subliminal loop for decades. 

I see (hear?) it now. Seeing the problem means that I can fix it.

Well, not fix it. Fixing something implies that I’m broken, and that’s yet another negative cognition.

Seeing the problem means that I can change it.

I’m not stupid, and I may be battered and bruised, but I’m nowhere near broken, and neither are you. 

So that’s it. My quest took me a while from writing for a while, but I’m back with a belated New Year’s wish:

May the best of your yesterdays be the worst of  your tomorrows.

TBH, Jason Miraz says it better

As always, if you or someone you love is struggling, please reach out for help. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line – text HOME to 741741

So tell me – what negative loop of yours needs cutting? Let’s do this together.