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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, all about me

Happy Fall Y’all

image courtesy of momdot.com

Happy Fall! FYI that’s Fall as in brisk mornings and changing leaves, spooky decorations and bonfires (unless you live in California), hot chocolate and pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING, not “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” You’re probably too young to remember that particular commercial (lucky you).

After two months of 70 hour workweeks my side gig is finally coming to an end. I have tons of free time, which should mean that I have time to clean, write, catch up on Lucifer and This is Us or just Get Things Done.

Instead I’ve taken up a new hobby, and I’ve been spending far too much time drawing (my husband has nicknamed me Simon).

But as Suziespeaks pointed out, it’s the final quarter of the year, and the hell that is 2020 is finally coming to an end. It’s entirely possible that the new year will bring a fresh level of hell (how many levels did Dante say there were?), but I intend on starting 2021 with a clean slate – and a clean house.

Weekend #1 didn’t go entirely as planned. I was going to prep the livingroom for a new coat of paint, but decided to take a daycation at the beach instead. The water was finally warm(ish) and The Girl and I were able to swim and boogie board and search for shells while The Man watched the Sooners get trounced.

Sunday The Girl worked as a PA on a friend’s movie and we watched football with socially distant strangers. I was sad. Not because The Girl was working on a movie and I wasn’t (that’s a lie. I really miss being on set) but because the Chicago Bears forgot how to play football. I’m not sure what they were doing on the field, but I wouldn’t call it football (yeah, yeah, I know – the Colt’s D is #1 in the league. IDC)….and don’t get me started on the Lakers. I mean hellooooo – Jimmy Butler is just one guy. The five of you can’t stop one guy? (fingers crossed that tonight goes a little better).

Sorry. This post wasn’t supposed to be all about sports, but OMG couldn’t just ONE of my teams have won? It’s probably my fault that they lost – the universe wanted me to paint.

My point (yes, I have one) is that I want to spend the last quarter of the year Getting My Shit Together.

If you haven’t done it by midlife – why start now?

Oh goody, it’s the EIC. How I’ve missed you – not.

(EIC sulks away)

Wow. What a pouty hormonal B (the EIC, not me – although it applies to me as well…and the Girl. Sometimes I feel sorry for my husband – but he can be a pouty hormonal B sometimes too.)

ANYWAY. When I first got sent home (way back in March. April sometime this year) I thought “oh, I can use the time I save not commuting to tackle the garage and give the house a coat of paint” (I’m not sure how much tackling and painting I thought I’d get done with my extra hour/day, but that’s not the point) – and here we are, half a year later, and I still need to tackle and paint (which has nothing to do with bait and tackle, but coffee has kicked my ADHD into overdrive).

So I am trying to get organized – going through closets and drawers and tossing anything that doesn’t “spark joy” – all I have left are a pair of sweats, my supersoft robe, a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates.

I’m also going through files on my computer (not that I have any personal files on my computer, because we’ve been warned about that)…and I came across a document from eons ago – back when I first started blogging and was trying to “find my niche.” I knew that I couldn’t be Erma Bombeck (sigh. If only…) but I wanted to help new mothers survive the wilds of suburbia and parenthood with sanity (mostly) intact.

I was having a hard time coming up with a name for my blog, and although I love “Twisting Suburbia – Tales From the Skewed Side” my first tagline was a little darker:

Twisting Suburbia – Putting the F-U in fun, and the FUN in dysfunctional.

I have to admit I’m a little sad that I didn’t use this one:

Because I’m a B*tch – confessions from a mediocre aunt and a horrible mother

The document also includes a list of games for exhausted mothers/fathers/siblings/babysitters. The following games should give you 5-15 minutes of “free” time. Time to go to the bathroom, or take a catnap or cry softly while adding some Irish to your coffee:

  • Hide and DON’T seek
  •  The quiet game
  •  Statues (note – never touch/unfreeze the frozen player)
  •  Post-apocalyptic planet: everybody’s dead. Dead people don’t move. (Please note – this game may be hijacked by older children playing post-apocalyptic zombie apocalypse, but never fear – you can outrun a zombie, unless it’s one of those zombies from World War Z)

Full disclosure – I played hide and don’t seek with my brother. After about 5 minutes he would come looking for me.

“Why aren’t you looking for me?”

“You’re such a good hider – go hide again.”

He would play for at least 15 minutes, and I know of at least once that he fell asleep while waiting for me to find him.

I tried playing Hide and Don’t Seek with my daughter – when I told her to “go hide again” she rolled her eyes and walked away.

So, tell me  – what’cha doing with the rest of the year? How do you plan to “start fresh” in 2021? I’d love to hear from you (and not just because reading comments is better than painting the livingroom).

And for those of you who missed it, here’s the Life Call commercial that everyone mocks:

Posted in self care

Filling the Well

I know, I know, I promised that I would post on Tuesdays and Fridays. In all fairness, I didn’t actually promise, I said I was trying.  I had every intention of blogging on a regular basis, but you know what they say – the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I don’t know who “they” are, but evidently they’re right. I know I’m in Hell, because it’s hothothot and everything’s on fire (yes, I live in California, how did you know?). 

I’m sorry I haven’t written (or called*). I could tell you that I’ve been busy, but I wouldn’t want to lie. No. Wait. That’s not true. I lie all the time. It’s not that I don’t want to lie, it’s just that I’m tired of lying. I’m tired of lying and I’m tired of being hot (what kind of cruel god/goddess/universe thinks that hot flashes during a heatwave is the height of humor?) and I’m tired of being stuck at home staring at my same two “coworkers” and I’m so fucking tired of 2020. Has anyone tried rebooting the matrix?

So I could tell you that I’ve been busy, or that I’ve been too tired to write, but to be perfectly honest, the black dog showed up his pack and they beat me up, dragged me through the dirt and dumped me into the four feet of mud at the bottom of the pit (based on the nasty taste in my mouth, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just mud, but let’s not go there). 

The good news is that when you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up, right?

Finding your way out of the pit is like navigating your way through a new city. The first step is knowing where you are. I have to admit that it took me a while to realize I was in the pit. I thought I was at the spa, and spent a week rolling around in my “mud bath.”

The second step is knowing where you want to go. In my case “anywhere but here” seemed like a good choice.

The most important step is having a navigational tool. Mine was broken, which is how I ended up in the pit. I followed my own advice and reached out for help. FYI help is not a four letter word. No, that’s a lie. Obviously help is a four letter word (I can count) but it’s not a filthy four letter word (unless you’ve been holding it and rolling around in the muck at the bottom of a pit). 

So I reached out for help, and she told me all the things I’ve told others, but somehow had forgotten to tell myself (TBH I told myself, but my inner child was being petulant and was refusing to listen). She told me that I needed to eat right, exercise, stop relying on chocolate and alcohol as coping mechanisms, and that “ignoring/suppressing your emotions isn’t healthy and doesn’t work in the long term.” She said that eventually suppressed emotions will explode like an emotional volcano of death that burns and destroys everything in its path. Ok, that’s a lie. what kind of person says that suppressed emotions become a death volcano? Me, that’s who. 

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that I need to recognize the slide and ask for a rope before I hit the bottom of the well. Or maybe it’s that I need to fill the well before it’s empty – that way there’s not as far to fall. I came across this 2013 post by Sheryl Paul that is still timely – especially this year, when stress and disease and loss and quarantining and politics and protests have left us all completely drained. She tells us that “There is a pervasive emptiness that afflicts a great many people in the modern world” and goes on to say that “it’s our birthright to experience life in all of its richness..and to feel wholly alive.” She reminds that “there are many paths” but lists several suggestions including

 3. Creativity

I’m always inspired and amazed when I ask my clients what they enjoyed doing as a child. Occasionally someone will say, “I don’t know” or “Not much, really,” but the vast majority will say, “Oh, I was so creative as a child. I loved writing stories and putting on plays. I painted and worked with clay. I was always engaged in something creative.” Where did that go? Does natural creativity die with age? Absolutely not. There’s an ember inside of you that’s waiting for you to fan it into fire. Everyone is creative. If you dream, you’re creative. And if you’re anxious, you’re evidencing creativity gone awry (the endless “what if” scenarios you create in your mind are actually creative!). You may not have accessed your positive creativity in many years – or ever – but I assure you that there’s creative expression inside of you waiting to be known. And when you touch into it and allow it to blossom, you’ll experience an aliveness unparalleled on this earth. Creativity unleashed is the elixir that calms the misguided longing for romantic love. When you’re tapping into your creativity, the need for a partner to fill your hole falls away.

In other words, writing helps keep me  (mostly) sane. Which means that I need to keep my promise to write twice a week…or at least to try. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m mental, not a mental health professional. If you or someone you love is struggling, please GET HELP

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255

I lied (hello? Remember what I said – I like to lie. And swear). The most important thing I learned is that the shit that’s dumped on your head doesn’t need to bury you. What, you’ve never heard the story of the donkey in the well?

So tell me – how do YOU fill the well?

*I would call, but I don’t have your number, and even if I did, would you answer? Even if I called at 3am while battling with hormonally triggered insomnia? 

 

Posted in 2020

It’s Friday

calendar-day-friday-picture-id171144943_0[1]It’s Friday, and I promised that I would start posting on Tuesdays and Fridays. I always usually try to keep my promises, which is why I’m here.

I don’t want to be here.

I want to be at my brother’s house.

Well, not right now.

I wanted to be at my brother’s house this afternoon, but I was working (I soooooo need a time-turner/TARDIS/DeLorean).

I wanted to be at my brother’s house this afternoon, because I wanted to be there to say good-bye to my niece. To give her a lap snuggle, a belly scritch and a treat.

Not my real niece. She doesn’t let me scritch her belly, she’s too tall to sit in my lap and she’s not a huge fan of dog jerky.

My four-legged furbaby niece.

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She crossed the Rainbow Bridge today.  She’s not my dog, but she was my niece. My sweet, funny, furry, little wigglebutt of a baby girl.

The vet found a tumor in January, and gave her “at most a month.”

She gave us 6 more months of love, laughter, licks and belly sritches.

My heart is with my brother, my sister-in-law, my nephews and two legged niece. I am sad, but they are devastated.

2020 can kiss my ass.

Safe crossings Noel. We’ll see you on the other side.

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image courtesy of the compassionate gardener
 

 

 

Posted in 2020

How YOU Doing?

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It’s Day 3 of 2020 – how are those New Year’s Resolutions coming? I only set one…and I’ve already broken it. The fact that I broke my one resolution in the first week of the new year kept me up last night (or maybe it was all the coffee I drank, or my ever changing hormone levels). In any case, on this third day of the new year I am both sleep deprived and overly caffeinated – a combination which sends my ADHD into overdrive.

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Image courtesy of btechfilms.com
Then again, maybe it’s stress that’s keeping me awake. My husband is “in-between” jobs, and my brain keeps asking me “What if he never finds a job? Age discrimination may be illegal, but you have to be able to prove that’s why you didn’t get hired.”  I’ve tried taking a deep breath and responding with “We’ve been through this before, and things always work out” which is when my brain switches to “He’s lost a lot of weight – what if he has a tumor?”  My brain is an asshole.

And so I find myself wide awake at 3AM (almost) every night. My New Year’s resolution to be as kind to myself as I am to others should probably have included “get more rest” and “worry less” but, as I mentioned before, I have a hard enough time keeping ONE resolution, and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure by creating a never ending list of things I want to change about myself.

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With all the “New year, new me” posts out there (as well as the media push to brainwash us into believing that we’ll finally be happy if we are thinner/stronger/have a new car/different shoes/different clothes/remodel our houses/spendspendspend and BTW you don’t have enough in savings and will never be ever to retire) it’s no wonder that most of us have a list as long as the Jolly Green Giant’s arm.

 

Which is why I liked this 2018 “New year, same me” post by Kathleen of JustKISFI HATE the saying, “New Year, New You”. Really, I do. I despise it. And every year at this time, you see it EVERYWHERE! Why do you need a completely new you? Is EVERYTHING about the old you just wrong? Is there not ONE thing you like about yourself?? I doubt it. Sure, we aren’t perfect, and we have things we don’t particularly like about ourselves. Honestly, I’d be worried if there wasn’t something about yourself that you’d like to improve. But a whole new you? I don’t think so.

I’m going to make 2020 the year where I ignore what society/advertisers/the media tells me I should be, and just be my best self. I’d love it if you’d do the same. Let’s start a Be True To You revolution (meetings at 3AM nightly).

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Posted in Uncategorized

Looks Like We Made It

th[10]If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve ridden the turtle around the sun again, and that’s something to celebrate. Hopefully you’ve managed to make it through the minefield of the holidays with body parts and relationships intact.  Most importantly (again, hopefully), you’ve made it to the end of 2019 with sanity mostly intact. If you haven’t, that’s okay too – sanity is highly overrated.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the past year has been…challenging. Hell, let’s call it like it was – a fucktastic nightmare of a year with far too many losses and way too much bad and sad for any human to manage on their own – which is why I’m incredibly grateful for my friends and family.

joy shared

The good news is that the year is over, and 2020 brings in one of 3 things:

  1.  The start of a new decade (if you count your decades 0-9)
  2.  The end of a decade (if you don’t)
  3.  The return of the roaring 20’s

Any way you look at it, it’s time for a fresh start – a time to look back on your year, see what worked, what didn’t, and make some changes if indicated. That’s right, it’s the scariest time of year – time for <shudder> New Year’s Resolutions.

A quick Google search of  “New Year’s resolutions” comes back with 45 MILLION results, including resolutions for students, for financial success, for health/weight loss, for parents, for single people and for your dog. Good Housekeeping has a list of FORTY New Year’s resolutions. I have enough trouble trying to keep ONE.

I came across a couple of links with helpful advice on how to keep your new year’s resolution this time, but I really liked the post from Uncluttered Simplicity’s Cheryl Lemily:

Did you know that on average, only 8% of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions? Each and every January we make pie-in-the-sky goals for the new year ahead. Only to give up come February. This is why the best month to join a gym is February… when it’s empty. Why then, do we continue to ride the crazy merry-go-round of pointless New Year’s resolutions? Is it possible to break free of this all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to our goals for the New Year? I think so. Here are some thoughtful New Year’s resolution ideas for 2020 that you can actually keep.

She had several great ideas, but the two that I found most helpful were

  1. Identify clear action steps. You can’t lose weight or get out of debt without action steps that will help you get there. Create a plan that includes objectives. Commit to taking action that will help you get closer to your goal (Note – don’t forget to set multiple small, easily obtainable goals as part of your plan. Take small bites of the elephant).
  2.  Start when you’re ready. There’s no need to launch your resolutions on January 1st…Whether that means you start on January 3rd or you wait until mid-Spring, don’t create a resolution just because you feel pressured to do so in January

I also enjoyed a 2018 post from Sara Saddington in which she courages us to “Ditch the negative Resolutions: You’re Already Great.”

When we say “I am going to be better” we are inherently telling ourselves, “I’m not good enough to begin with.” But if we flip the script to say, “I’m great, and I’m going to share that with others,” we might just have a happier, healthier, and more productive year ahead.

Most of the articles had reminders that we can “start fresh any day” (or any moment),  and that we shouldn’t let missteps or mistakes stop us from trying to be our best self.

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As for me? I’m taking a page from the people of New York by shredding the things I want to eliminate from my life #goodriddance2019.

I wasn’t going to make any new year’s resolutions this year – but I think I’ve finally found one that will stick. I resolve to be as kind to myself as I am to others. After all, as Christine Arylo reminded us several years ago, It’s hard to be happy when someone’s mean to you all the time.

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