Posted in mental health

Rabbit Rabbit

rabbitrabbit

May was Mental Health Awareness Month.

I missed it.

Not literally. I mean, even with time being a big ball of wibbly wobbly time-y-wimey stuff that races, stops, slows and stretches depending on your point of view (and what you’re doing) it would be pretty hard to miss an entire month. I’ve spent days holed up in my blanket fort, but 31 of them? Not likely.

Not that I’d mind missing the month – or at least the last two weeks of it. Mother’s Day is in May. So is my mother’s birthday. I miss her. It’s been 27 years, but I still pick up the phone. The irony is that I gave my mother sh** for grieving her father with “It’s been eight years – you should be over it by now.” Yes, I was an asshole. Yes, I can hear her saying the same. She’s an asshole too.

So I didn’t miss the month, but I did miss the opportunity to add my voice to the growing number of people pushing for greater awareness of and reduced stigma for the number of people battling mental health issues. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that 1 in 5 people have some sort of mental illness or disorder.

I am one of the five. I suffer from high-functioning anxiety, PTSD and adult onset of  ADHD (not that ADHD is a mental illness, although it does make me crazy). I  have battle the black dog on a fairly consistent basis. Some days I win. Some days I crawl into my blanket fort and watch tiktok videos. I wanted to spend the month sharing my story(ies) and offering hope and helpful tips. I missed it.

I could say that I was busy, or that (thanks to stress, deaths and ever-worsening headlines) my writer’s block is the size of Manhattan, but that’s just an excuse.

I  mean, I was busy – busy playing. I should have been doing all the things that Need Doing (my honey-do list is huge), but I didn’t want to. I won tickets to two different music festivals, went camping with my 22 year old and discovered that I am not a snake. Or a lizard. Or any other desert creature. So much for my dreams of attending Burning Man (unless they move it to the beach).

And my writer’s block is huge. Maybe not the size of Manhattan, but close. I am trying to chip away at it, but haven’t had much success.

That’s a lie.

The “trying to chip away at it” part, not the writer’s block. Unless, of course, “trying to chip away at it” includes scrolling through social media, making tiktok videos and reading books by authors who strengthen my imposter syndrome. I just finished the House in the Cerulean Sea. TJ Klune is my new favorite obsession.

house

But everyone is busy, and most writers get blocked, so my excuses are just that – excuses. Some are better than others (really and truly, who knew that homes were so needy?), but none of them are helpful.

That’s another lie. Some excuses are helpful. I mean, we can’t just say “Aunt May, you’re a big ol’ B and I’d rather roast over hot coals than spend a day with you.” Not that I have an Aunt May, but if I did, I would need an excuse for missing her birthday.

But I di-Greg.*

I may have missed May, but today is the first day of a new month, which makes it a good day to start fresh.** I want June to be a good month, which is why I started my day with RabbitRabbit. Not that I’m superstitious. That would be crazy (like me). I know we’re not supposed to say that, but it’s ok – I am learning to embrace my crazy. It’s what makes me ME.

Happy Humpday everyone!

Or, as my fave tiktoker says:

Find your joy.

*I love Greg Kata. You will too (trust me)

**Quick reminder – you don’t need to wait until the first day of the week/month/year to start something new. You can start fresh at any moment

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. 

2863836-Neil-LaBute-Quote-Everyone-has-a-story

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

Posted in four letter words, on writing

Swimming With Chuck*

open-water-swimmer[1]The past few weeks have been hard. TBH, the past few years have been “less than pleasant.” I’ve spoken before about grief, loss and all the other four letter words that have stopped me from writing. I’ve also spoken about the EIC. He thinks the four letters words are “another lame excuse for quitting.” Writing keeps him quiet. Evidently it’s been too long since I’ve written anything. His words are red, because he’s mad that I’ve kept him quiet for so long.

I’ve been meaning to write more often. I’ve been meaning to return to the things I enjoy. I planned on blogging twice a week, on a regular basis. I also planned on signing up for NanoWriMo. At the very least I was going to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel.

You know what Robert Burns said about “The best laid plans of mice and men…..”

I had every intention of returning to stand-up and acting.

You know where good intentions lead.

Oh please, be quiet. Unless you have something good or helpful to say, just SHUT UP.

… 

Huh. Evidently standing up to a bully makes them back down. Who knew?

The good news is that I didn’t make it all the way to Hell. I’ve been stuck in the pit of despair.

I don’t mind it here. It’s dark, but not lonely – I have all my other personalities to keep me company.

I’ve been trying to blog on a regular basis, but I couldn’t seem to finish. Couldn’t think of anything to say, couldn’t find the words to say what I couldn’t think of.

The worst part was that I couldn’t figure out WHY I couldn’t write.

It’s called writer’s block (DUH!)

Oh good. You’re back.

Miss me?

No.

Hurtful.

….

ANYWAY. I couldn’t figure out why I’ve been stuck. And then I got an email from the terrible mind of Chuck Wendig. I follow him, which means I get an email whenever he posts a new piece. I get a lot of emails. I don’t mind, because I love the way he writes. He’s funny, and smart and writes on a regular basis.

Unlike you.

Oh, for the love of all the gods, will you please GO AWAY!!

Fine. I’ll go for now, but (just like The Terminator) I’ll be back.

Can’t wait.

Where was I?

Today’s post Swimming Sideways: Navigating Grief As A Writer And An Artist resonated with me. Chuck shared an email he received from a fellow writer: “I know you lost your mom recently and I wanted to share my condolences. I, also, lost mine over a year ago and it has completely paralyzed me – stopped me in my creative tracks.

And there it was, in black and white. The reason for my unsurmountable block.

Grief. Grief is a four letter word (before you say anything, I’m aware that it’s five letters – but my grief has come from loss, and loss IS a four letter word).

There have been too many losses these past few years. Loss of health, loss of career, loss of friends and family by blood and heart.

It’s been said that grief is a wet wool blanket, but I think Chuck got it right when he described grief as water:

Grief is water. Grief is wave, river, and lake, it is the sea, it is a current.

You do not control it; rather, you can only respond to it. It wants what it wants, and it is always moving, ready to fill the low spaces. Sometimes you’re in its shallows, sometimes you step wrong and you’re in its tireless, unrelenting depths looking for light, trying to find which way is up. But it’s always there. Sometimes wet on your feet. Other times a fog, a mist, a light rain….Maybe grief is undertow. You don’t swim away from it. You damn sure don’t swim into it. You swim sideways. You find a way left or right and you swim out of its current. That’s the only response, I think. What that looks like, in form, is up to you. But I want to say it’s okay to write, it’s okay not to write, it’s okay to write badly, it’s okay to write beautifully in a way that isn’t practical or useable, it’s okay to write about it or write to avoid it. Whatever it is you create, it’s a response to the grief or looking away from it. Toward it to see it and understand it, or from it to escape it.

It’s swimming sideways.

All I know is, keep on going. Keep swimming. Those we have lost would want us to, wouldn’t they? One suspects it might be their greatest wish, and so we honoring them by doing exactly that, in whatever way we can muster, in whatever direction we find best, with our strongest stroke.

Like I said. Chuck is smart. It’s just one of the many reasons I follow him. You should too.

If you or a friend or family have been swallowed by grief, you can find a local griefshare group here, or you can find online resources here or here.

And to borrow a phrase from my favorite fish – just keep swimming

 

*Swimming with Chuck is more fun than swimming with sharks.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Feminine Wisdom

GRRRL POWER!

1000139_1[1]Hey there! I know, I know, it’s been a while  a couple of months far too long since last I wrote. I’ve been meaning to write for a while now, but Life got in the way.

Sigh. I’m lying. I could go on and on about how I was derailed (again) by Loss and Grief (Death took too many people home last year), or say that I was (once again) thrown into the Pit of Despair by the hatred/violence/bigotry that made the headlines last year. TBH I was suffering from the dreaded Writer’s Block.

From Wikipedia: Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years. Throughout history, writer’s block has been a documented problem.

I prefer Calvin and Hobbes (who doesn’t? Bill Watterson is AMAZING)

thi4dkx12g

Thanks to NaNoWriMo and some friends who kept nagging nudging me to write again, I was able to push through my block and finish my 15 year WIP (deets to come) – and I realized that I MISS WRITING.

So I’m back from outer space/the pit/wherever my brain has been hiding these many months. I’ve been knocking around a few ideas for blog posts, but I have to thank Glenn Close for giving me a much needed kick in the pants. Her Golden Globes speech resonated with me:

“I’m thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life and in her 80s she said to me, ‘I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.’ And it was so not right, and I feel what I’ve learned through this whole experience is that women, we’re nurturers. That’s what’s expected of us. We have our children, we have our husbands, if we’re lucky enough, and our partners, whoever. But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, ‘I can do that and I should be allowed to do that.'”

It resonated with me because her mother could have been mine (no, not literally – but OMG how cool would it be to have Glenn Close as a sister?!)

I’ve spoken before about my life as an accidental mother,  but I’ve never shared the fact that I was an accidental daughter (evidently the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree). My mother was amazing – raised two kids while our dad traveled the world, kept a spotless house, hosted dinners and parties for dozens (she was an incredible cook), never forgot a birthday or anniversary, and drove us across country every summer…and yet…..

She thought she was Less Than. She, like Glenn Close’s mother, thought she’d “never accomplished anything.” I wish I’d had the chance to convince her otherwise.

Over the past few days (months) our newsfeeds have been filled with stories of the incredible women filling our Capitol. Women of different ages/nationalities/backgrounds/religious beliefs/sexual preferences being sworn in to the 116th Congress is an important moment in history. I’m not saying that it’s not worth the coverage, nor am I trying to diminish the historical/cultural significance of this moment in time BUT (there’s always a but, isn’t there?)…

We need to recognize all women. ALL WOMEN. We need to do something other than just pay lip service to the shouts of  “grrrl power!” We need to lift each other up, to remind each other that we are MORE THAN. More than a moment, a march, a punk rock slogan.

The next time you overhear someone making themselves smaller by saying “I’m just a ____*” remind them we’re not Justa. We’re women, and we ROAR.

* a mother, a daughter, a housewife, a woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in life lessons, the daily post

Time is NOT on Your Side*

Clock_Time[1]
image courtesy of gospeltoday.com
Hello, my name is Tracey. I thought I’d introduce myself since I’ve been MIA for a while.

I know, I know, you’re disappointed in me. You think I lied when I said I was going to write on a regular basis. I didn’t. Not really. Lie, that is. I said that I would TRY to write on a regular basis. I’ve been trying. Extremely. Trying, that is (ask my teen).

Look, I don’t mean to be a disappointment – I can’t help myself. It’s just…well…I suppose it’s in my nature (ask anyone). I had every intention of writing on a consistent basis. I even tried to make it a more manageable task. I changed “write something every day” to “write 2-3x/week” and then revised it to “or once or twice a week” in an attempt to make my goal more realistic.

I know, I know, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I realize that the proverb is supposed to be a warning against  good intentions, but I’ve started to think of it as more of a roadmap. The road to hell is paved with good intentions? It’s ok – all my friends are there.

The good news is that Today is a New Day, and we can start whenever we choose. It sounds like sappy pap, but it’s true – why wait for January 1st (or even tomorrow morning) when you can begin again at any moment?

Trust me – you don’t want to wait. You never know what tomorrow might bring.

Facebook was kind enough to remind me that four years ago, we almost lost our daughter. Well, not lost, exactly (it’s not like we took off on vacation and left her home alone, or that she was taken by strangers). Four years ago she was hit by a perfect storm (of growth spurt, sleep deprivation, wheat sensitivity and drug interaction) that almost carried her away.

Three years ago, my husband was rear ended on the freeway by someone driving 70+. He was battered and bruised, but walked away from the crash (well, limped).

Two years ago, the same spouse developed multiple life-threatening pulmonary emboli.

Last year I lost my brother-of heart to undiagnosed P.E.

Two months ago, I lost a forever friend.

A month ago, my uncle passed.

I’m not sharing to elicit sympathy (but I won’t turn down a hug) – I wanted to confess, but the priest wouldn’t let me*. I have let grief, loss and stress stop me from writing. They built a writer’s block so long and tall that I was certain that I couldn’t jump over or walk around it. I believed that my only choice was to Wait For Things To Get Better.

I realize now that waiting is a mistake. Ferris was right – Life moves pretty fast.

Or it seems to, at least. I’ve been listening to Why Time Flies by Alan Burdick. In the company of scientists, he visits the most accurate clock in the world (which exists only on paper); discovers that “now” actually happened a split-second ago; finds a twenty-fifth hour in the day; lives in the Arctic to lose all sense of time; and, for one fleeting moment in a neuroscientist’s lab, even makes time go backward.  It’s an interesting “read” on the nature of time. What I find most intriguing about the book is that the flow of time changes depending on the content. Time flies when I’m listening to the author’s personal anecdotes and slows to a snail’s pace as he shares information on the science of clocks. Or maybe it’s me. The NY times book review advises us that “physics teaches us that physical time happens to be astonishingly different from how we intuit it: runs at different speeds, at different altitudes; is distorted by matter; is not organized in a straightforward past, present and future.”

I think the Universe (aka FB memories) has been trying to remind me that life is short, that tempus fugit, and that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. I need to Stop Waiting and Start Doing.

Forget New Year’s Resolutions. I’m choosing today to make a New Day’s Resolution. I’ll make this one easy on me.

Hi. My name is Tracey. Don’t fret – Today I resolved to write on a regular basis.

motivation_write1600[1]
image courtesy of jerinsantosh.wordpress.com
P.S. For those of you who are thinking of emulating Ferris Bueller, by skipping school to catch a Cubs game keep an eye out for your principal.

*No matter what Earth Wind and Fire may claim.

**Evidently you’re supposed to be Catholic

Posted in all about me, Uncategorized

I’m Baaaaaaaaack

thgluoeo7zIt’s been a while since last I wrote (I am, however, doing much better at blogging than I am at journaling – my last journal entry was from 2011). I am usually derailed by

  1. writer’s block
  2. depression
  3. taking care of friends/family members
  4. taking care of myself*

In this particular instance, the reason is

5. Being too busy to sleep, much less write aka overextension syndrome

“5” comes with being a mom to a busy teen, impounded by my inability to say “no”. I’ve spent the past few months shuttling the girl and myself to/from rehearsal and performances, assisting with lighting design, running lights, working the renaissance faire (even though I SWORE I was taking a year off), volunteering at the animal shelter and going to the hospital. Not personally. I mean, yes, PERSONALLY (not quite tech savvy enough for a virtual/skype visit), but I wasn’t the one who was IN the hospital.

It’s been a rough couple of months for family and friends. TBH it’s been a rough couple of years for many of the people I know. Too many people sick and injured or recovering from being sick and injured. I keep telling people “please stay healthy, because worrying about you is exhausting”, but nobody listens to me.

Evidently the stress of being a caregiver caught up with me. I’ve told you before that it’s very important to “feed the well” and that stress is a killer. I should have listened to myself. Two months ago I was diagnosed with a minor medical issue** (minor to everyone else, including the ER staff). My brain took the issue and raced down the “what if” path to the worst case scenario, cackling like rabid goblin.

When I write on a regular basis, my overactive imagination is busy creating fiction, or expanding on reality in a fictional environment. When I don’t write, my brain has nothing better to do than to take the most mundane situation (a trip to Starbucks, for example) and twist it into some odd/one in a million scenario (“Why are there so many people standing around? I bet one of them is robbing the store, and nobody is able to leave, and OMG is that a GUN?”)

So when I was advised to follow up with a specialist, my brain immediately bypassed every logical explanation and went directly to “Oh, everyone is only pretending that it’s a minor issue to keep me from panicking” and I panicked. Big Time. As in, no sleep/eating everything in sight/calling-everyone-I-know-to-tell-them-how-much-I-love-them panic.

After weeks of testing and multiple reassurances from the specialist that everything, is in fact, fine, I have returned to normal (whatever that means). For me, it means that I’m able to sleep through the night (when not being forced awake by Midlife Insomnia and/or the Need to Pee) and that I’ve returned to my Regularly Scheduled Activities (including, but not limited to, eating something that isn’t chocolate, writing, and the dreaded E word).

So I’m back, and I’m better than ever* – I’ve missed writing – I’m happy to be back and I’m looking forward to catching up with you (yes, YOU). What have you been up to?

th9

*Actually, I’m a little rusty, and I can’t seem to be able to link to anything other than my own blog pieces. Hopefully I’ll remember soon. Any help is greatly appreciated.

And just because it’s TBT (Throw Back Thursday) here’s a little Back in Black for the Rock-n-Rollers out there:

 

 

Posted in four letter words, life lessons, Uncategorized

Help me help you

10310622_10202638688706120_4691273213818244861_n[1]One of my New Year’s resolutions was to write 2-3 times/week. As with most of my resolutions (diet, exercise regularly,  call my mother*), I have failed. I started out fairly strongly, but I’ve managed to get derailed by grief and writer’s block. Today’s daily prompt from The Daily Post “Help” didn’t knock the block down, but it tried.

When I saw today’s prompt, I thought “I can’t write, but at least I can re-blog one of my older posts. I know I just wrote about the importance of asking for and accepting help.”

“Cheater!” screamed the EIC (He’s gotten louder now that I’m not writing).

“STFU.” (He may be getting louder, but I’ve learned not to listen).

I was surprised  to find that the post I had in mind was written in 2015. I know that time is a big ball of wibbly wobbly..timey wimey stuff**, but I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I wrote about hitting rock bottom and learning to ask for help.

I think the post is still relevant. We are taught that help is a four letter word. We think that we should be able to do it all, and do it all well, and that we should be able to get it all done yesterday, if not sooner. We need to learn that not all four letter words are dirty, and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

More importantly, we need to learn to offer to help before anyone asks. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean you should try to “help” when you think someone is doing something “wrong.”

“You’re folding the socks wrong, let me help” isn’t helpful in the least, and it usually results in nobody ever folding the socks again (and the socks get mad, and run away, usually in different directions. One of them ends up in the dryer and the other one in the bottom of the toy box). I’m saying that, when we see others struggling, we should offer to help – and not the way WE want to help. We need to be willing to give them the help they want.

Which is a really longwinded way of saying that telling someone “I’m here if you need anything” is the best way to offer help. Sometimes knowing that help is close is all that we need.

* In my defense, my mom died in 1995, so I can’t just pick up the phone and dial

** For the Doctor Who fans in the audience: