What are you afraid of?

fear2When I was little, I was afraid of the dark. No, not the creatures that lived in the dark closet or the monsters who hid in the darkness under the bed – I was afraid of the lack of light itself. It hung in the corners at bedtime, waiting for my parents to kiss me goodnight and leave my room. As they crossed the threshold, it slid down the walls and crept across the floor until slowly, oh so slowly,  it reached the foot of my bed. I would huddle in a ball by the head of the bed, eyes opened so widely I feared they would fall out, lips pinched tight against screams and tears, until finally the darkness reached out to touch a toe, and I’d let loose with a shriek that “it’s coming to get me!”

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image credit to waxycamera.wordpress.com

I’m not quite sure why it scared me so. Maybe it was because I thought the darkness was a monster – a dark, oily blanket that swallowed everything it touched. Maybe it was because my overactive imagine could hear it whispering (it was just my imagination, wasn’t it?). Whatever the reason, I slept with the hall light on until I left for college (Just kidding. Maybe).

As an adult* I’m proud to say that I’ve outgrown my fear of the dark. What? No, that’s not a nightlight in my room. I mean, it IS a nightlight, but it’s not because I’m afraid – it’s because I’m clumsy. I need a light to help me avoid corners and legos and other little bits of clutter that reach to trip me on my way to the bathroom.

As a mother, I’m no longer afraid of the dark – there are scarier things than monsters that live in the closet or under the bed. Things like dangerous playgrounds filled with too tall ladders, slippery slides and swings without seatbelts and germ-laden ball pits and suburban soccer moms and snack duty and PTA meetings and awards ceremonies and school plays (as the mother to a child who was in a continuous growth spurt, school plays were always accompanied by a muttered prayer please don’t let her fall off the stage, please don’t let her fall of the stage…).

But there’s nothing, in all my years of phobias and fears (rational and irrational), that has scared me more than two little words. Two words that can bring me to my knees, eyes shut and heart pounding. You laugh, but trust me, these two words can send a grown man screaming from the room. I don’t like to speak for other people (I can hear you laughing – stop it!), but I’m pretty sure I can speak for parents everywhere, when I say there’s nothing scarier than these two little words:

“I’m bored”.

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image courtesy of pictures88.com

Every parent responds differently to “I’m bored”. I’ve heard everything from “You have a whole room of toys, how can you be bored?” to “When I was your age, I didn’t have time to be bored”. Evidently some adults have forgotten their childhood – how the days stretched on for hours, and summer seemed endless. On the first day of vacation, my friends and I would race outside after breakfast,  to play tag or ball or hopscotch or ride bikes until the streetlights turned on– and eventually, the newness of summer would morph into endless repetition and we’d be…bored. Please note, I’m referring  to the definition of bored as “To make weary by being dull, repetitive, or tedious“– I don’t want to suggest that, in an attempt to relieve our boredom, we’d bore holes into each other (if only because our dads locked their tools in the garage).

I know what you’re thinking. We’re a month past winter break and summer is a lifetime away – so why was I reminded of the chill of these two little words?

Because

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As a kid, I was too busy to be bored. As a college student, there weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, so boredom was out of the question. As “someone’s wife” I was a hyphenated woman (wife/masseuse/biller/coder/actor/comedian/cook/housekeeper) and much too busy following Cosmo magazine’s challenge to “do it all and do it all well” to be bored. As a pregnant woman (and then new mother), I was too sleep deprived to be anything but tired (which rapidly evolved into being too busy to be bored). Now that I’m the parent of a not-quite 17 year old, my life is becoming my own once again, and I’m bored, bored. B-o-r-e-d.

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Boredom is dangerous, because she usually brings along her friends apathy and despair.  The three friends like to grab you by the hair and drag you down the grey-bricked road to depression.

Because I’m a Virgo, I immediately researched the symptoms to and remedies for boredom. The internet provided a whole slew of images and ideas.

 

This one made me laugh:

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but only because I would follow Boredom all the way down the grey-bricked road to  limbo before doing chores to break her.

And then I got an email from DailyOm.com** telling me that The sense of feeling bored in life can be an indicator that we need to be proactive in creating change” (I love it when the universe/God/the Goddess/the force dumps an answer in my lap). So it looks as though I am looking to change, which is not as easy as looking FOR change. I hate change. It’s hard, but I suppose it’s not as hard as being dragged down a brick road by your hair.

The bad news is that I’m not sure I know who I am, now that I’m not just “someone’s wife” or “someone’s mother”. The good news is that I’m returning to the things I did BM (Before Motherhood) and I still love them. The best news is that I may be bored, but at least nobody’s drilling holes into my abdomen – or my brain.

So tell me – what do you do to combat boredom? And how do you being to change, when your inner child is kicking, screaming and going limp at the very idea?

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*I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again – what is a dult and why would anyone want to be one?

**The DailyOM is amazing. Really and truly. If you’re not following them, you should be.

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Hormones and Whore Moans

_20170131_080930I’m in hell (not literally, although that might explain my absence). They don’t have Wi-Fi in hell. They also don’t have ice water or chocolate. I don’t want to be here, but I’ve wound up here, despite my good intentions. It’s not that I’m evil, it’s just that lately I’ve had an overwhelming urge to reach out and touch someone – with a baseball bat.

It’s possible that my agitation is a reflection of all the hatred and anger that’s out there right now –but I don’t think that’s it. I think my violent urges can be blamed on the fact that I am a “woman of a certain age” and that I’m going through the dreaded M word. The word that-must-not-be-named (with apologies to J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter). No, not marriage, although the thought of marriage can cause dread among a select (mostly masculine) portion of the populace. And not Maternity, although that can cause dread, anxiety and flat out fear (and rightfully so – children are assholes! I would know, I used to be one).

I’m talking about Menopause. My friends and I prefer the phrase “mental pause” (for good reason. Ever since it started my brain has been permanently paused). TBH, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve only had a few “personal summers” (during the summer, which seems incredibly cruel) and zero night sweats. I gained 10 pounds, but that could be due to my newfound love of Modelo Negra.

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One of my biggest issues has been hair loss*. Then there’s the newfound sleeplessness associated with shifting hormonal levels (granted, mid-life insomnia is not unique to menopausal women, but I’m including it here because it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want, so there ;-P). According to an article on WebMD, a study published in the journal Menopause in 2001 observed that “insomnia is a frequently reported complaint in menopausal women.” The reason: You may be sleeping – or wanting to sleep — but your estrogen levels are still up dancing all night long. And that continual action can interrupt healthy sleep. I’d really like to know why, when I’m too tired to stay up to watch CSI, my estrogen levels have the energy to stay up dancing all night long. Ah well, I’m using the extra free time to power through my reading list.

I consider myself fortunate in that I have friends who have battled the M word. Women with whom I’ve been able compare notes and commiserate over a glass of wine (or three). I want to take this opportunity to let them know that I’m unfriending them. They failed to properly prepare me for Menopause Mood Swings. In their defense, NOTHING can prepare you for MMP. Severe PMS? Nope, not even close. Pregnancy hormones? Close, but no cigar. As my sister-in-law Jasmine put it “These hormones are no joke – I can want to kill someone and then sob uncontrollably at my own crazy in under five seconds.” I have her beat. I can go from upbeat to homicidal in 2.3 seconds, and I’m buying Kleenex by the buttload (damn those people in advertising anyway).

There are definitely things you can do to offset “power surges”. With two hormonal females under one roof, my husband learned fairly quickly that the best thing to do when someone you love starts riding the hormonal rollercoaster is throw chocolate and hide the pointy objects.  I’ve found that a glass of wine takes the edge off (added bonus – red wine has health benefits!), and that the aforementioned chocolate releases endorphins. I’ve heard rumors that endorphins are released during exercise, but that seems like a drastic measure. Experts recommend offsetting hormone surges with visualization and breathing exercises. I’ve found that this one works well for me:

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When all is said and done, I am forced to admit that menopause can be fun (trust me – menopause puts the f-u in “fun”). If nothing else, I’ve learned brand new games I can play by myself, including “Where did I put my___?” and “Why the hell did I come in here?” It’s because hormones create something known as “brain fog”. Evidently hormones, like zombies, eat your brain. Unlike zombies, hormones do not eat other peoples’ brains and cannot be killed by an arrow to the eye or a knife through the head (well, they CAN be, but it seems like a permanent solution to a temporary situation).

I’ve been told that, as I move further “post” my “post-menopausal” stage, things will get easier. In the meantime, I’m keeping Nathanial Parizek’s quote in mind:

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*Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m losing hair from my head, but I’m growing it in fun new places. My sideburns are particularly lovely.

So, tell me – how do YOU handle your hormonal shifts? Chocolate and wine? Meditation and yoga?

P.S. for those of you who have waited patiently to know the difference between hormones and whore moans – Both can be fake, but one responds well to chocolate, and one will cost you a little extra.

Dear Kids, When I fail…

I didn’t write this, but I wish I did – does that count?

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Dear kids,

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I see that you’ve grown over night. Your face is more defined, your eyes look older. A part of me is excited and in awe; I know you have so much ahead of you. Another part is scared because time is racing and I can’t slow it down. I’m afraid that I haven’t always been awake and noticing, and that somehow I have slept through the magic of your growing. I wonder, have I enjoyed you enough? Have I given you what you needed? Is your heart still whole? Is your spirit unbroken?

I’m not always good at this. I’m not always as good as I want to be at being your mom. I want to be great; and sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m not.

Sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes I do it right, and sometimes I completely miss it.

Everyday…

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Hippo Gnu Deer

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Image courtesy of Sandra Boynton

Happy New year and welcome to a brand new me!

I know what you’re thinking – really I do. Not because I’m psychic, or because (thanks to Miss Sally’s magic mirror) I can see you*. It’s not even because I’m a mom and moms know EVERYTHING.

I know what you’re thinking, because every year, when people would say “Whooooo hooo! New year – it’s a fresh start!” I would roll my eyes so hard that I was afraid they’d fall out.

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And then 2016 happened. It was an extreme rollercoaster of a year,  filled with highs, lows, marriages, births and near death experiences.

To be honest, 2016 wasn’t terrible for me. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t horrible. We (“we” meaning my family – I haven’t started using the royal “we” – yet)  made it through with sanity and sense of humor mostly intact, which is more than can be said of some. Again, it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great. We survived.

After five years riding Life’s rollercoaster, I’ve decided that survival is not enough. Surely I can do something more than just survive another year. Yesterday I started listening to “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes. She opened with one of my favorite quotes:

If you want crappy tings to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand something more.” – Christina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy

It occurred to me that in order to make some changes in my life, I might need to actually make some changes in my life. No, you didn’t read that wrong. For the past few years I’ve tried to make changes in my life by wishing and hoping, praying and swearing. Some things worked better than others (swearing always makes me feel better, especially when I’ve cracked my toe on the corner of the sofa), but they’ve only brought me so far.

Maya Angelou says it better:

“The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.”

I’ve decided that this year, instead of setting myself up for failure by making impossible resolutions (“I will cut out sugar, alcohol and caffeine, walk every day at lunch and have more patience for stupidity.”)I will try making small changes**.

I’m not quite sure what changes I’m going to make yet. The fact that I’ve recognized that I need to make changes feels like a big enough step for today. I’m with Bob. Baby steps to a new me.

*Romper Room was one of my favorite shows. For some reason, no matter how close I saw to the TV, or how loudly I screamed, Miss Sally couldn’t see me.

**I hate change. Change is hard. But I’m willing to try.

So tell me – are you making any new year’s resolutions? Have you broken them already?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmachanukwanstice!

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I know, I know, I’ve been remiss – I’m way behind in my biweekly posts (and have been for a while). Trust me, I feel really guilty (hey, I’m 1/2 Jewish – guilt is my specialty!) I’ve been crazy busy (or, at the very least, crazy). This week’s excuses are all holiday related – I’ve been tangled up in holiday lights, last minute shopping ,  holiday parties/plays/parades (not all at once). Wow. that was a lot of asides. Next year I’m finding a different way to express the voices in my head (I promise).

I’ve also been busy writing and mailing my generic Christmas letters. I know, you hate them. Most people do, but I just can’t stop myself (is there a 12 step program out there?). I started writing generic Christmas card letters when I was in college (too little free time, too many people who wanted to know that college hadn’t killed me). That was a few several more years ago than I am willing to admit to. It’s been so long ago that I’m pretty sure I started the trend (please don’t hate me). Here, for those of you who are interested, is my latest version (for those of you who aren’t interested, try learning how to adult instead).

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Happy Holidays! – To borrow from adequateman (you really need to read his hater’s guide to the Williams-Sonoma catalog) – “2016 has sucked – all the good guys died”. I beg to differ – we’re still here, and that’s what’s important. It has been, with few exceptions, a less than pleasant year – but it’s almost over, and we’re not dead yet, so here’s to not getting on the cart!

It’s been a busy year for our family – my husband continues to heal from his near death experience(s). He is 97% of normal, which is closer to normal than I am, by at least 62% (you do the math). At this point, we are just waiting for the lawyers, and then he’ll be ready to get out and GET TO WORK. It’s been nice having him home (dinner on the table when I walk through the door? Yes please!), but we’ve spent more time together these past two years than we have in the previous 29 😉

Our daughter is enjoying her junior year of high school (with the exception of all the acronyms – PSAT, ACT, SAT AAAGHHH). This year (thanks to summer school) she was able to load her schedule with electives – ASB, choir, dance and Drama2 (as if she needs help Being Dramatic). She’s also finishing her 2nd semester of ASL. She and her fellow thespians are looking forward to getting fluent enough in sign language to produce a “deaf-west” style performance (with performers both speaking and signing). She wanted to raise a steer this year for the fair, but she’s decided to wait until her senior year (if it is anything like raising a pig, I’ll be eating a lot of chicken next year).

As for me, well, I’ve been staying out of trouble (mostly). It’s taken a year, but (one year post-op, as promised) my knee is finally feeling good enough that I can run (Let me be clear. I can run. I choose not to). This year I fulfilled my dream of performing at the Hollywood Fringe festival. I played Gertrude/seamstress in a 30 minute production of A Little Hamlet. I had so much fun that I’ve actually started reading audition notices again. I’ve also returned to writing/blogging –  I actually submitted pieces to two writing contests this year (I’ll get my winning notification in January) and I’m hoping to complete my WIP before I retire die. I’m also looking forward to returning to stand up next year. In short (too late) now that my daughter is 16 and no longer needs me is getting a life of her own, I’m free to return to my BM* life.

WE spent another Halloween volunteering at the best “haunted maze” in Ventura county. If you haven’t been to Deadzone805, you’ve been missing out. But you don’t need to, because NOW THEY’RE OPEN ALL YEAR! (They are running escape mazes for private parties/celebrations). We’ve also been volunteering at the ventura county animal shelter – she walks the dogs, and I schmooze the people. I keep trying to pimp out the pitbulls, but most people refuse to believe that their reputation is just bad press.

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vicious pitbull

 

2016 has been…challenging**…for most of us. I’m hoping that in 2017 we can get off the rollercoaster and board the cruise ship – it’s time for some smooth sailing (just remember – don’t get on the boat marked “3 hour tour”).

Thank you all for you love, support and prayers – and for helping me to find my sanity when I lost it. I made a huge dent in my New Year’s resolution to spend more time with family and friends, but I want to spend more time with YOU (you know who you are). Let’s set a date!

*Before Motherhood

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May your holiday season be filled with L’s and F’s***

(Love, Laughter & Light and Friends, Food & Family)

***Or chocolate and adult beverages – whichever works best for you

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Happy Holly Daze

th99omay8cSo here it is, the first day of the last month of the year. I would have posted earlier, but I just woke up from my Thanksgiving food coma.

 I don’t know about you, but the year flew by. Not that I’m complaining – it’s easier to deal with all the sh…stuff when it hits you quickly and runs away. Or maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do when you fight – hit quickly and run away. I get confused.

In any case, 2016 has not been my favorite year for a whole slew of reasons. Like the last or least favorite child, I’m not sad to see it leave. Not that I have a least favorite child. I only have one, so I suppose she’s my favorite. Then again, she IS a teen, so some days she’s my favorite, and some days not so much.

Where was I? (told you I’m easily confused). Ah. First day of the last month. I don’t have much to say, but I wanted to take a moment to thank you for following me, and to wish you a safe and sane holiday season. Do me a favor – don’t let the holiday season make you crazy. Yes, there are a ton of things that Need Doing – cards to address and mail, presents to buy, wrap and mail, decorations that need to be put up (Here’s a tip – leave them up and tell your friends/family that you like to celebrate the spirit of the season all year long). OMG there’s so much that needs to get done, why am I wasting time writing? Trust me, it’s just not worth playing demolition derby with your car just because someone took your spot.

 

Be nice to each other, and have a happy holiday season

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Giving Thanks

thks6zppwwTomorrow is Thanksgiving – or, as we call it in my family, Black Friday eve 🙂

Like many who celebrate the holiday, our little threesome (no, not THAT kind of threesome) will gather together to eat too much,  drink too much, and watch too much football (as if there’s such a thing).

Every year, before diving into our loaded plates, each family member is invited to state one thing for which they’re grateful. Because I am a cynical/sarcastic sort, I usually pipe up with something along the lines of “I’m glad I’m not a turkey….”

This year will be different. This year, when it’s my turn to speak, I will raise my glass and tell my family that I am thankful for “almost”. No, you didn’t read that wrong.

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 (ôl′mōst′, ôl-mōst′)

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Slightly short of; not quite; nearly: almost time to go; was almost asleep; had almost finished.

Those of you who know me well (and those of you who don’t, but have been following my blog*) know that this year has been a rough one. TBH the past 2-3 years have been “less than pleasant”. In the past several years, I almost lost my daughter, almost lost my husband (twice), almost lost my house and almost lost my mind (which is bad, because it’s much too small to be wandering around lost and alone).

BUT

As they say, “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades“. My family has  experienced so many blessings these last few years – we have received so much love and support from friends, family and even casual acquaintances , that I can’t help but be grateful.

They also say “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – and it’s true. We have emerged from this year even stronger.

BUT

Thank you Life, for my lessons. I’m strong enough now.

I have two questions for you, my loyal listeners (I was going to say “readers”, but it doesn’t flow) – Who are “they” and what are you grateful for?

*Thank you for following me! You are one of the many things for which I am very, very grateful

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image courtesy of 28 days of gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

How to Adult

14322559_10208457641376300_3302490184261649212_n1 I don’t know what a dult is, or why anyone would want to be one, but welcome to lesson#1 of an occasional series

My coworker just insulted me. She called me a four letter word, and it pissed me off, but I’m pretty sure the HR director would laugh if I filed a complaint.

She said I was “nice”. If that’s not an insult, I don’t know what is.

I am not a nice girl. For one, at (mumbles quickly) years of age, I am no longer a “girl”, no matter how bad your vision or how low the lighting. And as far as “nice” goes, I am many things (smart, funny, sarcastic, cynical, bitchy and brutally honest*) but I am not nice, no matter what people say.

All of my life people have said “you’re so NICE”.  I’m usually quick to respond with “No, not really”.  What I am is polite. My mother was from the south, and it appears that her southern manners have rubbed off on me. She taught me how to behave in public – to be kind to strangers as well as friends, to say “please” and “thank you”, to hold doors open, and to respect my elders (yeah, that last one didn’t stick). I may know how to behave, but I have always been more Disney Villain than Disney Princess.

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image credit to Hayden Williams

I know what you’re thinking (I do. It’s because I’m psychic. Or psychotic. I always get those two confused) – what’s wrong with being nice? Let’s start by looking at the definition, from Miriam Webster:

adjective \ˈnīs\

Popularity: Top 40% of words

Simple Definition of nice

  1. giving pleasure or joy : good and enjoyable
  2. : attractive or of good quality
  1. : kind, polite, and friendly

adjective po·lite \pə-ˈlīt\

There are, obviously, worse things to be called (I’ve been called those things too, usually by people who have issues with strong, independent, opinionated women). I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being “nice”. What bothers me is the fact that being kind and polite has become so rare that people assume that someone exhibiting those qualities is a nice person**. I am not one of them. I’ve met some genuinely nice people – their kindness is not tinged with any sarcasm or cynicism. It’s weird.

Over the past week (hell, over the past year) it’s become apparent that we need to be kind. We need to treat each other with, at the very least, respect and dignity. We need to stop focusing on our differences and find some commonalities. We need to be less angry and more forgiving. We need to be nice to each other.

Yeah. I said it.

We need to be nice. Especially with Black Friday coming up next week. Trust me, there are worse things you could be.

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*Seeing that I’ve made more than one person cry when I was “just being honest”, I’ve come to the conclusion that honesty is NOT always the best policy

** There’s also this:

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And now I miss my mom, and my Okie relatives:

Hope

 

OnceYouChooseHope[1]It’s been a rough week – on top of everything else, my poor little limping-along Volvo went to the scrapyard in the sky (well, not literally – today it’s sitting in my driveway, like a giant paperweight or car shaped sculpture).

I came across this reminder (huge shout out to Livehappy.com), and wanted to send it out to all who are feeling hopeless this week. Sending love and light your way –

Life! Some things bring you closer & some tear you apart. I've been there, i've walked through the storm. Hope & Love made this Life Stronger than it has been in a long time.  Follow: https://www.pinterest.com/recoveryexpert/:

 

The Game of Life

th5I’ve done it again – allowed the four letter word known as Life to knock me off the writing track. It’s not that Life is a bitch (and not just in a strong, intelligent independent way), or that she cheats when we play her game. Life is a rollercoaster, and getting off track can be bad. Nobody wants to ride the coaster off the rails, especially when you’re rounding the top corner.

My life has been busy, and uneven, but no more so than usual – so why did I stop writing? (And, right on cue, the EIC pipes up with “Because you’re lazy!” Thank you so very little, Evil Inner Critic).

I blame S&H*. Stress and hormones melted my brain and kept new ideas at bay, caused me to lose sleep (boo!) weight (yay!) and hair (boo!). They also caused me to crave beer, salt and sugar, but that’s neither here nor there. Whatever the cause, I found myself spiraling, once again, into the pit of despair.

I spent a long time trying to figure out what “caused” my depression, and then it hit me. My life hasn’t changed, but our world has. I know that change is inevitable, but things do not appear to be changing for the better. This election (don’t forget to vote!) has brought out a level of hostility, racism and sexism that knocked me so far off track I thought I’d woken up in the past and found myself trying to collect green stamps again.

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I used to say that I was raised to be color blind. I’ve been assured by several people that “color blindness” is just not possible, so I won’t say that, but I’m not sure what else to say. I was raised by parents who chose to focus less on the external (race/sex/sexual orientation/religion/career) and more on what type of person the individual was. I was raised to believe that every person is entitled to an opinion, and that everyone’s opinion is valid, even if it differs from mine. I was raised to believe that we should be able to discuss and debate our opinions in a respectful manner. Yes, the debate might get heated, but it should never get ugly.

And it has. Our world has become an ugly place, filled with ugly people saying ugly things to each other. It breaks my heart. I could blame the media – in the race for ratings, they have chosen to focus on images of violence and hatred. I could blame the election – this race this year has been particularly nasty. I know that politicians are human (although it’s entirely possible that they’ve been replaced by the aliens from They Live), but I believe they should be held to a higher standard than most. The name calling and chants of “Make American Great Again” or (mockingly) “Make America Hate Again” do not inspire respect for either candidate. Mostly I blame myself. I blame myself for being naïve.

My parents raised me to believe that the world was becoming a better place – that people were overcoming their perceived differences and uniting in a way that gave me hope. Hope that my mixed-race daughter wouldn’t have to deal with the hatred my mother witnessed as a teen in the south (please note – my mother was Caucasian, so racism didn’t necessarily have a direct impact on her life). The violence and hatred she saw caused her to caution me against having children. I assured her that I had no intention of having children, but that, if I changed my mind, racism was “a thing of the past”.

I am no longer naïve. I am broken hearted, angry and sad, but not naive. The hatred/anger/prejudice that I believed was long dead is alive and kicking, like a cockroach that somehow managed to survive a visit from the exterminator.

Make America Great Again? I agree with Amanda Blanc – Let’s try making America kind again instead (image credit to Amanda Blanc)

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*Stress and Hormones, not the green stamps we collected in the 60’s

So tell me – how do you write when your brain has melted or is filled with fog?