Posted in life lessons, mental health

The Stories We Tell

GirlTalking“Are you telling stories?”

I have a clear memory of being asked that more than once while I was growing up.

Ok – maybe not a clear memory. It’s slightly hazy. Or not so slightly. Geeze Louise people, weren’t you listening when I said that I lie?

Which brings us back to my opening sentence. “Are you telling stories?” was my family’s gentle way of asking if I was being 100% honest, or if I was “telling tall tales.” Full disclosure – I told a lot of stories when I was young. The pendulum swung way to the other side as the years passed, and by my mid-twenties I was brutally honest (TBH I was kind of an asshole).

Somewhere along the way I realized that although honesty may be the best policy, white lies don’t make people cry. But I still like telling stories. Not “tall tales” or “white lies” I mean stories – rambling “get to the point stories” about my day/the news/a social media post. I enjoy sharing stories about my life. My favorite story is the one that kicked off my blog – the story of how this happy anti-suburbanite DINK (Dual Income No Kids) became an Accidental Mother. I have to admit that my stories have gotten longer as I’ve gotten older. I blame hormones – menopause has kicked my ADHD into overdrive, and every thought triggers a new one.

My stories hold no risk. That’s not true – but the risk is small, and not life-threatening (at least I don’t think it is. If it kills me, I’ll pop by to let you know. I might also rearrange the objects on your dresser or turn your lights off and on, because that’s what ghosts do). The greatest risk with me telling stories is that I’ll ramble on and on and on so long that eventually you’ll lose interest, or that I’ll get so far off track that I can’t remember my point and eventually just trail off into an uncomfortable silence.

The stories I tell others are (hopefully) amusing and light, short and to the point. I aim to entertain – sometimes I miss the mark, but at least my stories won’t put you in danger. Some stories will. It’s hard to believe that stories can be dangerous, but it’s true. Not the stories we tell others (unless you tell them where you hid the body/treasure) – I’m referring to the stories we tell ourselves.

my story

I’ve been hearing a lot about the dangers of the stories we tell ourselves lately. Jen Sincero dedicates a whole chapter to the subject in You Are A Badass, the subject has come up several times in my favorite podcast, and Brene Brown spends a lot of time talking about our Stormy First Draft:

“When something happens that triggers strong emotions, we often immediately create a story to make sense of what happened… a SFD is our brain’s way of making sense of something when we don’t have full information. We are a meaning-making species. In the absence of data, we make up stories because having complete information is a self-protective survival skill. But these stories often magnify our fears and anxieties.”

The universe kept nudging me, but (because I am an obtuse magpie) I didn’t pay attention until it came up yet again in my women’s circle. In all honesty, I didn’t realize how dangerous these stories could be until I heard theirs.  

I know what you’re thinking (I do – I’m psychic! No, wait, I’m psychotic. Dammit I can’t remember which) – “How in the H E double toothpicks can stories be dangerous?”

The leader of our women’s circle explained that the stories we tell ourselves keep us stuck in an endless lifecycle loop – we keep repeating our story until we learn from it. Or, to paraphrase Jen Sincero – “If the story you tell yourself is that you cannot find a good life partner, you will continue to date a string of losers people who are the less than perfect match.” 

In her book Rising Strong, Brene Brown tells us that “The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity.” She goes on to say that the first SFD “may be the most dangerous (story) of all….Just because someone isn’t willing or able to love us, it doesn’t mean that we are unlovable.”

The women in my circle are amazing. Smart, talented, articulate. We vary in age, and our backgrounds and personal histories are differ, but the story we’ve told ourselves is the same.

“I’m not worthy.”

I’ve been telling myself that story for fiftyish years now. It kept me in bad relationships and stopped me from pursuing my dreams. I have no doubt that my story gave life to and continues to feed the EIC. I’ve finished that story and am starting a new one. Jen Sincero makes it sound easy. She says that we need to recognize that our story is “how we survived as kids but it doesn’t serve us anymore” and that we need to “Bust yourself in your own tired old broken records right now so you can set about rewriting your stories and create the kind of life you love.” Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Wish me luck.

I am grateful to the women in my circle for giving me a much needed wake-up call. I owe a debt of gratitude to my long-time friend Dawn “Bambi” Taylor for suggesting that I “check out” Brene Brown. I want to thank Jen Sincero for reminding me that I am a badass. Mostly, I am grateful for all y’all for listening to my rambling story. 

So what’s my new story? Not to go all Stuart Smalley on you (and yes, I realize I’m dating myself with that reference – my husband won’t let me date anyone else), but I’m starting with something familiar:

I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

P.S. – for those of you who are interested, I came across an excellent TED talk from Dr. Colleen Georges on how to rewrite the stories we tell ourselves. You can check it out here

So tell me – what’s YOUR story?

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image courtey of sharonhuges.net

Posted in life lessons

I’m a Bad Penny

bad pennyHey look who’s back! Yep, just when you thought it was safe to return to your news feed, it’s the bad blogger. 

Ugh. I’m trying to avoid negative labels, but I’ve already failed. That’s okay – you know what FAIL means, right?

First

Attempt

I

Learning

It really should be First Attempt At Learning, but that would mean that I was FAALing, which is far too close to falling – and at my age, falling is something I need to avoid. Failing, however, is different. Failing is important. I know, I know, it seems counter-intuitive – we (as a society, but especially women) view failure as proof that we are unworthy impostors. We are proud of our successes and embarrassed and ashamed by our failures. Don’t believe me? Take a quick glance through your social media feed – do you REALLY think that all of your friends are living perfect lives?

We need to change how we view failure. By stressing the importance of success, we are teaching ourselves (and our children) to fear failure. We are quite literally failing our children by teaching them not to fail. There are plenty of TED talks on the importance of failing, but IMHO the most important reason is that failing means that you are moving out of your comfort zone and trying something new. 

ANYWAY

I’m back bitches! 

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA (again). I was going to blame it on Covid/stress/life or the fact that Time is a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing, but then I remembered what they* say – “When you point a finger, there are three more pointing back at you.” 

Yes, the pandemic and stress and work and grief and life contributed to my writer’s block, but I have no one to blame but myself. I have been going through stuff, but hasn’t everyone? Actually, I’ve been going through All The Stuff. I have spent the past 6 months organizing and getting rid of things. Boxes of books and clothes – donated. Old papers – shredded. Pictures – all stored in one bin (OMG digital albums are so much easier). I haven’t exactly morphed into Marie Kondo, but I have been purging. If I could just stop binging all the beers I’d be able to lose the Covid15.

covid15

But that wasn’t my point. Yes, I actually have one. Once again, the train has gone off the track. TBH not only has it gone off the track, the cars have rolled down the hill and into the lake.

ANYWAY. I’ve been wanting to write, but was having a hard time coming up with a topic. The longer I went without writing, the harder it was to begin again. It bothered me at first, but I found ways to avoid looking at the empty page (empty page? HA! I didn’t even bother opening the notebook). It’s amazing how many things we can find that “need” to be done when we’re trying to avoid doing the thing we should be doing or the one that scares us (Hey, writing is scary. So are spiders).

I started listening to audiobooks at work (I know this fact seems completely random, but hang in there, it will make sense in a minute – or maybe it won’t. Hang in there anyway). This week I am listening to Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. I love her – not only because her shows are AMAZING, but because she is a strong, powerful woman who admits that it is impossible to do it all (no matter what Cosmo magazine says). She begins by telling us why we should say “yes” to things:

“Saying no has gotten me here. Here sucks. Saying yes might be my way to someplace better. If not a way to someplace better, at least to someplace different.”

NBC news listed the top five lessons from her book. The first one resonated. That’s a lie (for those of you who are new here, I lie and swear – alot). It didn’t just resonate, it shouted my name and slapped me upside the head:

1) Say ‘Yes’ to Using Your Voice

Rhimes confesses to hiding her voice in her Grey’s Anatomy character Cristina Yang, allowing Yang to say all the things she wasn’t brave enough to say in the real world. But when Rhimes accepted that the real world could benefit from hearing her actual voice — that she could stand up and speak out on important issues and actually affect change — she swallowed her fears, wiped off her sweaty palms and began to speak.

Being Rhimes-level successful isn’t a prerequisite for using your voice. The single qualifier is that you’re a person on earth. You inherently matter and so does your experience. Whether it’s on a stage or through your Twitter feed, you have the power to impact your corner of the world for the better by swallowing your fear, standing up for what’s right and speaking out in love. You never know how your voice can change a person’s life.

One more time for the people in the back:

You inherently matter, and so does your experience.

Writing is scary. Speaking up is scary. Spiders are scary. Hell, just living is scary. It’s scary enough during “normal” times, and the times we are living in are nowhere close to normal. 

Swallow your fear and start to speak. Someone needs to  hear your story. 

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*Who are “they’ anyway, five little men on a hill?

Posted in motivational mondays

Love, Me*

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image courtesy of blog.terrificwords.com

It’s Motivational Monday. To be perfectly honest, I’m not feeling very motivated. But as I said earlier, I am trying to be a better blogger, so I am learning to write even when I don’t feel up to the challenge (yay me! Um…yeah. Even that small attempt at a boost failed to make me feel any less Meh.)

I could blame the environment (literal, political, social – take your pick) or the fact that this time of year SUCKS ASS (too many heavenly birthdays and deathaversaries) but it doesn’t really matter. To be honest (albeit not perfectly) it’s entirely possible that I’m just a Bitch (I’m sure my housemates would vote for the last one. After 14 months of quarantine, we’re all shopping for white oleander).

The why is not important. What matters is that I’m writing even though I don’t want to – because it’s Monday, and it’s the first day of a new month, which means it’s a good time to begin again quick reminder – you can choose to begin again at any moment – now is as good a time as any). I also got a nudge from Love Yourself Infinitely:

How To Move Forward In Life » Love Yourself Infinitely

“Life is not a bed of roses. We all learn this truth one day, in one form or the other. There are times when we feel alone, face setbacks, and end up feeling stuck in one place. This fear of failure or disappointment leaves one stagnant. Sometimes it is lack of motivation, positivity, or mere courage that holds us back from getting up and moving forward in life.”

I’ve been watching the replay of “Becoming Unstoppable: a 1-Day Live Confidence-Building Virtual Event” lead by Jamie Kern Lima. She created the event to celebrate the release of her book Believe It. The book tells her story of overcoming doubt, fear and haters (“No one is going to buy makeup from someone who has your body”). Her story is amazing, as were the guests who showed up during her event. So much love and support from so many incredible people. You should check out her video, book and website

I was going to share some of the advice from the event, but my husband has been binging Fringe for the umpteenth time (seems random, but stay with me, I have a point).. If you haven’t seen it, you should check out the first season at the very least (writing, cast and story are superb). I love Walter, and on Friday he said something that resonate. Something I want to leave you with. 

“I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. You have no idea how extraordinary you are. If you embrace that, there is no end to what you can do” – Walter Bishop, The Last Sam Weiss (S3 Ep21)

*Quick note – grammar is important “Love, me” is completely different than my original title “Love me?”

And here’s a little Walter Bishop for your entertainment

Posted in mental health, motivational mondays

Labels are for Food and Clothing

label

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? I had every intention of Getting Things Done, but the Universe had other plans. Of course, the EIC insists that I am making excuses, and I am just lazy. The EIC is an asshole, and he is constantly barraging me with a slew of negative labels. Lazy. Stupid. Bad. The good news is that I am getting better at ignoring him. We shouldn’t believe labels, but if we’re going to use them, we should pick the ones that are empowering and uplifting. Confused? Let me explain. Ugh. Now I have The Princess Bride running through my head.

Back BM (Before Motherhood) I was an actress. When I first started out, I had horrible stage fright. HORRIBLE, as in “I’m pretty sure I’m going to pass out or throw up on stage.” Fortunately, I had an incredible acting coach, and he gave me some important advice: Nervous and Excited feel exactly the same – the only difference is the way you label it. 

Sounds simple, right? It’s simple and effective. When I stopped labeling my butterflies and sweaty palms as nervous/afraid and started seeing it as “excited” I had a huge breakthrough. Changing the label changed my mindset, and I was able to use the energy to fuel my performance. 

Let me be clear – labels are useful for clothing and food (especially when you’re gluten sensitive, like the girl) – but other than that, they’re at best useless. AT BEST. But if we’re going to label ourselves, we need to choose carefully.

In a “There is no such thing as a coincidence” I came across a live event featuring Mel Robbins (thank you Facebook). In case you hadn’t heard of her (I hadn’t) she wrote The Five Second Rule, and she has a YouTube channel. She spent most of her time discussing about the negative narrative that runs through our head and the fact that we need to stop treating ourselves badly. 

I’ve spent too many years listening to the endless loop of negative voices telling me what I’m not. The good news is that it’s a new year and a new week which means it’s a good time to begin again. Then again, you can make a fresh start at any moment.

I won’t say “Have a great week” because that’s a lot of pressure for those of us who are people pleasers – instead I’ll say “Have a week.” Stay safe, and please be as kind to yourself as you are to your friends.

kind

 

 

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Posted in all about me, life lessons

Today I FAILed

once2Once upon a time, back when I was a beginning blogger, I knew how to set up a new blog. I added widgets and images and “about” and “contact” pages effortlessly (well, maybe not EFFORTLESSLY) but that was not the case today.

Today I decided that I have spent too much time playing Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells and Tsum Tsum and not enough time writing.

Today I decided that I have spent too much time scrolling through social media and not enough time interacting with my fellow writers.

Today I decided that I have spent too much time listening to the lies the EIC tells me and not enough time twisting suburbia.

Today I managed to create a copy of myself.

Well, not literally…(I could use another self or three, but the copy of the copy of the copy gets pretty blurry) 

But I did manage to create a new blog site. A place where I can be be fundaMENTALly me, which leaves me free to return to my Erma Bombeck/Tracy Beckerman inspired tales from suburbia.

But in the process of building a new site, I managed to lose my version of suburbia (evidently wordpress.com no longer supports Coraline and I’m not a huge fan of Colinear (“our update to the older Coraline”) – so….

Today I changed the theme of my blog. 

I also spent HOURS trying to create the new site…and found that I cannot, no matter how hard I try, figure out how to add the sharing buttons on my post or remove “twistingsuburbia” as the author of my posts. 

In short, Today I tried something new – and I failed. 

But it’s okay – because today I wrote (two posts – one to each blog!) and, as Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day.

It’s also okay because today I remembered what A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said about failing.

fail

P.S. you can check out my new blog here

P.P.S after spending hours trying to add social media sharing buttons, they magically appeared…guess they took pity on me 😉

Posted in life lessons

Love is Love

  • lk_wednesday_holmes_comingout

I’m hetero, but I  have friends, family members and coworkers who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and The Girl was an active member of her high school’s SAGA club. I don’t think having a personal tie to the community matters. Love is love. 

Today is National Coming Out Day. Most of you probably know what it is and why it’s important, but just in case you don’t:

Wikipedia defines it as an annual LGBT awareness day to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

Will Kohler’s post on Back2Sonewall tells us that “it was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, an openly-gay political leader from Los Angeles and then head of the national Gay Rights Advocates. October 11th was chosen because it was the anniversary of the 1987 national march on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.”

So that’s the “what”, now for the “why”:

National Today continues by saying that “Eichberg, who would later die in 1995 of complications from AIDS, said that the strongest tool in the human rights movement was to illustrate that most people already know and respect someone in the LGBTQ+ community. “

Harvey Milk agreed, stating that coming out was the most radical and powerful action members of the LGBTQ community could take.

Wendy Ho says it is “based on the idea that the personal is political, that the most basic form of activism can be coming out to friends, family and coworkers, and living openly.” She continues by saying that “The core idea is that homophobia thrives in silence and people are less likely to maintain homophobic belief when they discover that a loved one is LGBTQ+.”

silence
image courtesy of TES

Although gay rights have come a long way since Matthew Wayne Shepard was beaten, tortured and left to die in 1998, we still have a long way to go.

Just this February former Miami Hurricanes running back T.J. Callan shared his story of being driven from the University of Miami football team due to homophobic taunts and anti-gay attitudes among the coaching staff. Throughout his time with the team, he didn’t hear a single positive message about gay people from anybody, including teammates who have gay family members.

Although things have (seemingly) improved since Brandon Teena’s rape and murder (I still can’t bring myself to watch Boys Don’t Cry), the number of transgender people murdered in 2020 surpassed the total for 2019 in just seven months. Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears was stabbed to death while attending a vigil for murder victim Tyrell Penney. Let me say it again for the people in the back: Aja was murdered while attending a vigil for a murder victim. 

Unlike Harvey Milk, I don’t think everyone needs to come out of the closet, and I definitely condemn “outing” by members of the press/gay rights activists. Coming out is a personal decision and should not be forced on anyone.

Even in these so called “enlightened times” coming out of the closet can be incredibly difficult. According to a 2018 review study LGBT teenagers are three times as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers. Individuals can face backlash from their friends/coworkers/church group, and are at increased risk for bullying as well as both physical and sexual dating violence. On top of everything else,  40% of homeless youth are LGBT teens who have been kicked out of the house or have left home due to negative relationships with family.

Look, I understand that some religions consider homosexuality a sin. What I DON’T understand is why one sin would be considered “worse” than another. Those religious leaders who condemn homosexuality are often guilty of adultery (lust), pride and greed (mansions, private jets and six figure salaries). What is it they say about pointing fingers?

ME_175_FingerPoint22[1]
image courtesy of quotesgram.com
But if Danny Cortez (a Southern Baptist pastor who describes himself as “everything that a conservative Christian is”) can change his mind, then anything is possible.

“Coming out” is scary for everyone involved – not just the individual who is choosing to share their truth, but for those they choose to tell. It is our job, as friends and family members, coworkers and neighbors, to be brave enough to support those who are coming out of the dark and into the light. This 2016 ScaryMommy post is addressed to parents, but I think we could all benefit from the first tip:

  1. Don’t freak out.

NCOD2

P.S. I shared this the other day, but I think it bears repeating – LOVE HAS NO LABELS (and yes, I’m shouting from the rooftops. Or my desk. Whatever.)

Posted in 2020, life lessons

To Be or Not To Be….

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Don’t panic – even though Life is a four letter word and I empathize with Hamlet’s rant on the pain and unfairness of life (really and truly, 2020 has been nothing but a clusterfuck of mammoth proportions) I’m not ready to shuffle off my mortal coil – I’m grabbing a bag of popcorn and settling in to watch the rest of the circus.

For those not familiar with it (no judgment, but why aren’t you?) the soliloquy appears in Act 3, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet….What? You’re not familiar with the play? Oh em gee – why not? It has everything – fratricide, romance, suicide, ghosts, murder, swordplay – it even has an acting troupe!

Confession time – Hamlet was my introduction to Shakespeare – and while the rest of the class moaned and groaned, I sped through it and spent the rest of the semester working through the First Folio. Twelfth Night is definitely my favorite play, but Hamlet will always have a special place in my heart (you never forget your first). I know everyone raves about Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, but I have to admit to being impressed with a pre-batshit Mel Gibson in the role, and You MUST see Benedict Cumberbatch (yes I am a Cumberbitch, why do you ask)..or there’s Tennant, or Simm or Scott…..

Where was I? Ah, The Soliloquy. Hamlet has a lot of monologues (seriously, the guy talks to himself ALL THE TIME, but so do I), but this is one of the most well-known. Time’s compilation of Shakespeare’s 15 most beloved quotes puts “To be or not to be” at the top of their list.

I would sum up our (his) story so far, but you need to read/see it for yourself. Let’s just say that the Prince of Denmark is having a shitty year (sound familiar? Seriously though – has anyone tried rebooting 2020?). He starts Act III by contemplating death and suicide. He wonders if death is nothing more than a never-ending sleep, and worries about “what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil.” He eventually decides that most people will choose “to be” because we are cowards or “dread of something after death.”

But I digress (damn you adult-onset ADHD!). As I said at the start of the post, I am not having a Hamlet moment. I am having a “what do I want to be when I grow up?” moment. First and foremost – who thought that being a grown up was a great idea? I mean, REALLY. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely more Peter Pan than Hamlet.

I’ve reached mid-life without deciding what I wanted to be. That’s a lie. I knew what I wanted to be, but then I changed my mind. I’ve been a lighting designer, an actress, a comedian, a massage therapist, a Medx tech, a waitress, a receptionist, a medical biller/collector/coder, a wife, a mother, a referee, a coach…..and now I’m teaching myself to be an artist (thank you Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain).

I’m more than halfway through life and I still don’t know what I want to be (maybe this quiz will help) – but as nasty as 2020 has been, I think we should take a moment and listen to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

be-silly-be-honet-be-kind1

So tell me – what do you want to be when you grow up?

Posted in four letter words, life lessons

Life is a Four-letter Word.

I swear. A lot. If you’re offended by four letter words, this is definitely not the place you want to be. I swear so frequently that I was surprised that my daughter wasn’t sent home from school for using foul language.

So yes, I swear like a sailor. A drunk one. A drunk sailor who has just smashed his balls on a dare. But that’s not what this post is about.

I mean, it’s about four-letter words, but not the ones you shouldn’t use in church (even if you smash your balls).

I told you that I got waylaid by Life last week. It happened again yesterday. The funny thing about yesterday is that I thought I’d scheduled this piece to post at 8AM, and was really sad heartbroken when nobody commented on it. To be honest I was heartbroken by things that happened yesterday, but I was also sad because “nobody likes me liked my post.”

Yesterday was a reminder that Life’s a bitch, but so am I. It’s not necessarily a bad thing:

Beautiful

Intelligent

Talented

Caring

Honest

When I was young(er) my friends and I loved playing The Game of Life. I would spend HOURS spinning the roulette wheel and stuffing little squarish pegs into round holes. (sidebar – it just occurred to me that most of my childhood games involved cards, roulette wheels and other forms of gambling, which makes me wonder – is Las Vegas sponsored by Milton Bradley? Time to get out the tinfoil hat)

 

FYI Life is not a game, and she is not playing. We may get second chances, but we don’t get “do-overs” and can’t just sweep the board and start again when the game doesn’t go the way we wanted it to (not that I ever did that).

She’s a sneaky B who waits until you’ve set up all your dominoes before “accidentally” bumping the table. She’s the gust of wind that sweeps your house of cards to the floor. She’s the snake in the garden, the worm in your apple, the phone call in the middle of the night. She’s…well, you get the picture.

She also brings joy, and love, and puppies and kittens and laughing babies and spring showers – and the smell of freshly mown grass and laundry sheets.

In other words she’s a schizophrenic manic depressive suffering from multiple personality disorder who gives you priceless presents and then finds joy in pulling the rug out from under you when your arms are full of glassware.

She’s also the designer and operator of the world’s craziest roller-coaster. The ride is scary and exhilarating. It twists and turns, rises and drops unexpectedly, making you scream with laughter and then shriek in fear (sometimes at the same time). And occasionally it makes you pee your pants or puke.

And just when you’re getting used to the twists, turns, lifts and drops, the ride is over. As you stand up you realize that it wasn’t as scary as you thought it would be, and you’re saddened by the fact that it was over far too soon. You grieve for the ones who didn’t make it to the end of the ride or choose not to ride at all. You wish that you could ride it again, but then you see the long line of riders who are waiting to board so you grab the things you brought with you, and you move on to the next big adventure – but not before passing along these words of wisdom:

Sit down, buckle up and throw your hands in the air. It’s more fun that way.

P.S. I wanted to take a moment to give a special shout-out to my sisters of heart. They listened to me vent, fed me food and wine, boosted me with love and laughter, and reminded me that the EIC is a lying asshat, and that we should always be as kind to ourselves as we are to those we love.

 

 

 

 

Posted in life lessons

Listen to the Whispers

281812_10151205599007755_768196085_n[1]We all hear voices. Or maybe it’s just me (do the voices in my head bother you?). I’d like to think that everyone hears voices – could you humor me, for just a bit?

Not voices coming from a burning bush (please, Cali is already on fire, if God wants to talk to me, he/she needs to find another way) and not scary voices in an empty room (what kind of person DOESN’T run screaming from the room when an unknown entity growls “Get Out!”?).

The voices are (usually) more subtle. Sometimes they’re helpful (“It’s time to pick up your daughter from school.”), sometimes less so (“OMG you’re always losing your keys, what is wrong with you?”). The EIC is definitely one of those “less than helpful” voices, but I’ve spent too much time on him already. He’s been quiet lately – could be because I’ve decided to be nicer to myself, could be because I’ve renamed him from “critic” to “coach” or it could be because I’m spending more time developing my own “voice” and less time listening to others.

But there’s one voice we should always listen to – our intuition. That “gut feeling” you get when you’re making a decision? That’s your instinct. She’s never wrong.

What is intuition? Ye Chen describes it as “a ‘knowing’ that cannot be explained by fact or thought but through a deep inner feeling. It’s those ‘I feel it in my gut’ and ‘something doesn’t quite feel right’ moments.”

In a year where everything is going to hell (it must be hell, because 2020 started with good intentions and now it’s hot hot hot and everything is on fire), it’s hard to tell the difference between anxiety and instinct, but Carolyn Steber’s article in Bustle might help.

She starts by explaining that “Your gut instincts are those nagging feelings that alert you to potentially dangerous situations or let you know when something may go wrong. these feeling are what keep you safe in the dark parking garages, and what steer you towards good choices. But the problem is, it can often be difficult to tell the difference between intuition and anxiety….By talking with a therapist, you can start to gather tools to better cope with anxiety so it no longer gets in the way of your intuition. Here are a few things to keep in mind, so you can be better able to tell the difference.”

Her article lists 9 ways to tell the difference, but these are my fave four:

1. Anxiety Doesn’t Let up. One of the easiest ways to gell the difference between a gut instinct and anxiety is how long your symptoms last.

2. Anxiety Causes You To Worry About The Future. Anxiety symptoms might even keep you up at night, as you think ahead to work projects, worry about your health or wonder about the future of your relationship. Unlike intuition, anxiety likes to zero in on things you can’t control.

3. Anxiety Interferes With Everyday Life. A gut instinct may steer you away from an unsafe situation, but anxiety might steer you away from most situations.

4. Gut Instincts Can Be Tested And Verified. “For example, if you have a ‘gut instinct’ that our basement is leaking during a storm, you can verify this easily with a visit to the basement.”

It’s taken a long time, but I have learned trust my intuition. In those instances when I chose to ignore the little voice telling me what to do, things did not go well – and the EIC was right there, pointing and laughing and reminding me that “you should have listened.”

She helped me the other day. She told me to walk the few blocks to my next stop, and she told me to help the older couple who were struggling in their doorway. I didn’t listen – I had a task that Needed Doing, and blew her off with “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and I am a stranger – besides, they’ll be fine.”

They weren’t fine. As I was walking back to my car, I passed the man pounding and calling for help at his neighbor’s door. “His neighbor isn’t home” my intuition whispered, and this time I listened. His wife had fallen on their doorstep and he needed help getting her up and into the car.

Thanks to my years of working in a physical therapy office/limited medical experience, I knew what to do. Fortunately, she had just “sat down suddenly” and didn’t hit her heard or hurt herself. We were able to get her up and into the car (with help from the neighbor, who showed up just when we needed him).

Thanks to my intuition, I was in the right place at the right time to help a stranger. Of course the EIC reminded me that “If you’d listened the first time, she wouldn’t have fallen.”

Thanks dude. Once again, you are just soooo helpful.

Why should you listen to your intuition? Because she’s always there, and (unlike anxiety) she’ll never steer you wrong. Or, as Sonia Choquette says “Intuition doesn’t tell you what you want to hear; it tells you what you need to hear.”

Are you listening?

OIP8BYDZW7I

Posted in 2020, life lessons

On Hooch and Humanity

I’ve been crazy busy lately. If you know me at all, you know that this is not an unusual state of being (and not just the “crazy” part). I tend to volunteer for everything and help whenever I’m asked because help and hope are hard to find and I still haven’t learned to use the other n-word. Not that one. The one that means “opposite of yes.”

But I promised that I would try to post on a regular basis, so I am sneaking in 15 minutes before I’m off to my other other job (not a typo. as a wife mother woman we have at least 20 jobs).

I spent this morning scrolling through my FaceBook feed (as the EIC so kindly reminded me, “time that could have been spent writing or cleaning or getting your lazy Covid19 body into some sort of shape”). Yes FB is a timesuck, but it also keeps me connected to friends and family members who are scattered across the globe – and it reminds me of memories that have fallen out of my head (thanks oldtimers syndrome!).

This morning’s feed included a post about Hooch. Lower case H. Not hooch the alcohol. And not, in this particular case, Hooch of Turner and Hooch (one of my guilty pleasures).

For those of you who haven’t heard of him (and even those who have), Hooch is a French Mastiff who was rescued by Zach Skow of Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue (great group doing great work. You should support them). Zach found Hooch at a shelter in California. The staff said that the dog refused to eat or drink, and that he “would just toss his bowls around the room.” Zach suspected that the pup had a broken jaw, but when the veterinary staff examined Hooch they discovered something much more horrifying – someone had severed his tongue entirely (possibly to use him as a bait dog). The poor dog had been desperately trying to eat and drink, but he wasn’t physically capable.

I know what you’re thinking (I do, because I’m psychic. Or psychotic. I can’t remember which). You’re wondering why I would share this horrifying story on my blog. Good question. Hang in there – things are looking up.

As per a 2016 Country Living story “Hooch figured out that he could tilt his head back while his owner puts food at the back of his throat.” They also taught him who to eat with the help of a Bailey Chair.

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“So he can eat, big deal.” Well, it’s a big deal to Hooch, but that’s not the point. The article goes on to say that “Hooch wasn’t about to let a terrible past get in his way…He now spends his time as a therapy dog, working with autistic, abused, and special-needs kids. ‘Hooch has never met a person he doesn’t like,’ Skow told the Today show. ‘Tis dog is resilience personified…It’s very humbling to see him living life on life’s terms and being triumphant.'”

And THAT’S my point. This year is a hot mess, the news is nothing but doom and gloom and conflicting stories about COVID19 and protests and people screaming at each other.

I also know that that everyone is dealing with something. EVERYONE has issues/struggles – even those whose lives look perfect from the outside (they’re just better at hiding them).

But we need to learn to live like Hooch – to leave our pasts behind us, and to believe that people are good.

Well. most people, at least.

And, oh yeah, Hooch won the 2016 American Humane Association’s Hero Dog award because he’s “an ordinary pup that does extraordinary things.”

IMHO Zach Skow is a hero too. You can read his story here.

Hang in there everyone – the night is always darker before the dawn, and the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always an oncoming train – and don’t forget, hope is not a four letter word (I mean, it literally is, but..well, you know what I mean – don’t you?)

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