The Burden of Hope


sunLike many, I’ve had a tough time with this election, my worry and fear culminating in the late night text from my best and typically most unflappable friend that read simply: ” May God Help Us All.”

Images from the Hunger Games and the Senate scene in Star Wars (complete with Emperor Palpatine’s smirking glare) have been dancing through my brain all night at the voting results…possibly a result of all the mainlined sugar. I woke up this morning with a horrible feeling of dread and a post-election hangover.  I didn’t want to get out bed.

I’m slowly moving out of shock. I’m saddened and sickened at the thought that so much anger and hatred exists within our nation, and I’m deeply worried at its direction and what the outcome of this election really means. I hate the thought of trying to find the right words with which to talk about it to my children.  I hate the thought that perhaps I am being overly dramatic, but somehow this really rocked me at the level of the soul.

I also feel guilty: none of this is new, none of it should have this power to shock me, and yet it does.  As someone who has struggled her whole lifetime with depression and anxiety, I’ve purposely shielded myself from a lot of what is going on in the world as a way of self-preservation.

And honestly, I have been able to do that as a straight, college-educated, white, middle-class female. While I’m aware there is a glass ceiling objectively, I’m not smart enough or driven enough to have hit it too hard myself.   I have suffered neither racial nor religious persecution.  I have not been a victim of violence.  I can still turn off my TV and my social media outlets and keep much of the ugliness at bay much of the time.

Breaking that habit over the last two days, in allowing CNN and the media and my own fears to turn me into a terrified, fearful and depressed little girl is on me.  I allowed that hated, those horrible words, and accusations to penetrate.  I allowed in that anger.  I listened to those speeches. I own that: both the shame I felt for our country and for my own helpless indignation.  Yes,  the stomach-churning anxiety and the generalized sense that something is horribly, terribly wrong is still here. But, post-Xanax and a few pounds heavier, it’s also opened my eyes and I am forcing myself through.

I’m a Christian.  I’m a Catholic.  I’m a Mother.  I’m imperfect as all heck at all three, but I know for sure if I search my heart I know there is more than this.  Not only do I believe there is the world beyond this one, but also I believe there is a better world *within* this one. We have fallen.  I have fallen.  I need to give more, take action, and speak up.  I need to use my hands to help.  I can’t hide from this any longer and still expect things to be different.

At the end of the day, hope is a verb.  Hope is a step taken.  Hope feeds the hungry, clothes the naked and protects the vulnerable regardless of race or skin type.  Hope is being uncomfortable in the unknown,  fighting the fear and being faithful that there is a plan.  Hope is getting up in the morning and taking a step and doing something. I can do more. I cannot expect more of my leaders than I do of myself.  I cannot change our culture, only my part in it.  I will be more.  I will be grateful that no matter what I think of the choice we made as a country last night that we had a choice…and that we can make better ones.  

So, I’m throwing out the Halloween candy I binged on last night, closing the wine cabinet, and putting on my big girl pants.  It’s a New Day.  I choose Hope.

 

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Choosing My Focus


I was blessed with dinner with my two best friends the other night. We’re not technically spring chickens but still pretty fabulous. 

Our parents however, well they are getting to that age where we start worrying about them, parts start falling off etc.  We learn what real worry and fear is.  We get scared.  We have bad dreams.

It’s easy to fall into that trap of almost continual panic and waiting for that shoe to drop.

I got to see my parents today.  I got to hug my mom.  I got to have dinner with my dad.  Yes, each is utterly crazy, and both are stubborn as hell but I love them both with all I have.

Just for today I’m going to choose to focus on the blessing of having my parents.  I am going to put my energies towards loving them.  I am pulling on the bonds that bind us.  I’m believing I can make up for a childhood of transgressions and focus on making them know how much I love and appreciate them.  I want them to know how proud I am and that I know how much they’ve given me.

The fears are empty, the anxieties are useless: instead I will focus on joy.

  

The path of life is sometimes soggy… Walk it anyway.


My brain can be my worst enemy, and has a tendency to go to the dark side (in a less than comic Star Wars sense) and fills itself negative thoughts faster than I can deal with them.  I feel emotions strongly, and I am a bit of an empath to boot which means I tend to suck in the emotions of others on top of my own.  While I will refrain from labels, it is a struggle to be fighting your own head all of the time while trying to be a career girl, a wife, a mother and a friend.  I’ve done everything I can think of through the years to try to deal with it, medically and otherwise, but recently one of my best coping mechanisms has become walking.

While part of my motivation is health – losing weight is a giant struggle.  I can eat well, but it take me as long to lose 5 pounds as others can lose 20.  My body does not give up its comfy coat readily, and I hypothesize (because the doctors look at me and shrug) this may be because my brain, in dark places, spends a lot of time in panic/anxiety mode.   Maybe nature is trying to protect me from the dangers my brain tells it to expect – or hibernate until it all goes away – I don’t know.  But what I have decided is that if I am going to be built like a short, boxy bear, I am going to be a healthy one with strong muscles and an ability to walk for miles without rest…and one who is at more peace with herself and her place in life.

This morning I was restless.  I was trying to work and I was getting things done but my brain wasn’t cooperating.  I decided to check out a nature trail close by for a quick walk…only to find the entrance flooded.

While I stood looking at it – I decided to hell with it and went right through.  And yes, my feet are soggy.  And I walked over 2 miles through grasses and wildflowers listening to the squish squish on the gravel.  I felt insanely proud that I didn’t let it stop me.

Life is hard.  Life is messy, and sometimes soggy.  But we are tough, and we own towels, and nothing should ever stop us from doing something that will ultimately make us better and bring us peace.  God gave us legs and put us in a world with puddles and rain for a reason, and that link with nature should we embrace it, is a powerful antidote to all the stuff that doesn’t really matter – even if it makes your Nikes smell like swamp it is really the smell of victory.

flooded

“Keep Trying, Keep Trying, Don’t Give Up, Never Give Up…”


Maybe like me, you’ve had that Yo Gabba Gabba song pounded repeatedly into your consciousness – or maybe you are far luckier and have been busier catching up on True Blood and Modern Family. As a working mom, I don’t get too much TV time, and sadly far too much of what I watch are the kiddie shows. But sometimes, even as adults we can learn a lesson or two from watching them.

Life is Hard. You know that, I know that. Lately, I’ve had some things going on in my life that have been a bit overwhelming. I will save you the drama of the detail, but suffice it to say there have been days (and days and days) where I want to throw the towel in and hide under the bed. I make stupid mistakes at work, my body refuses to downsize, I never feel like I am giving enough time to my kids or myself. I try really, really hard in all those respects, but sometimes? It just doesn’t seem or feel like I am enough, or that I will ever be enough, or that I am even up to the challenge of another day.

I keep falling down on my face. Hard. And sometimes? I don’t want to get back up. I want to lay there. It feels like too much. It hurts.

I watch my daughter. She is whip-smart, and a stinker to boot. But she doesn’t like to not be good at things. She doesn’t want to ride her bike if she’s not good at it, if it’s not easy. I tell her all the time that we have to learn how to do things, and that sometimes those things are hard. It is a constant battle. But she gets up and she tries again.

And if I don’t get up again when I fall, how can I expect to teach her to wipe off her bloody knees and get back up on the damn bike? How can I sing Yo Gabba Gabba songs to her and expect her to buy into them if I refuse?

Every day we have on this earth we have to make a decision, and sometimes even getting out of bed seems like a hard one. Standing up and looking at our awful messes is hard; facing our failures and trying again is painful. Convincing ourselves that we truly can be more, get better, and improve after so many years of trying is a challenge.
But I owe it to my kid, and I owe it to myself to persevere: to push what I can really do and who I can become. I will keep trying. I won’t give up.

On Rage: 5 options when homicide is not an option.


We learn as little kids not to hit when we get angry – usually after we’ve slugged somebody. Apparently, we find, punching your sister in the face when she hurts your feelings isn’t proper behavior. Throwing things, screaming, pulling hair, tantrums of incendiary proportion: all bad.

By the time we hit adulthood, we have learned to hide anger. Pacificism and enlightenment are the answers. We learn to repress, to justify, to just suck it up. We learn to drink, to medicate, and to hide. We are successful, it seems, when no one outwardly experiences the other end of what we’re feeling. The closer we come to the embodiment of Spock, the better we are.

I don’t know how that works personally for you, but for me it sucks. I am a woman of, good or bad, strong opinions and even stronger emotions. I don’t just get angry: if unchecked, that anger ferments into a fine, ugly rage. And with nowhere to go, the emotions eat at my insides like acid. There aren’t enough mashed potatoes I can eat (suddenly craving mashed potatoes) or veiled, snarky comments I can make to reduce the bile that burns me up from the inside out. It uses too much of my energy, and I burn out. I shut down.

Here are some things I’ve learned can help when homicide just isn’t an option:

  1. Get a tennis racket. Beat your bed with the tennis racket, or just use your fists. The bed won’t care, and you might feel better. If nothing else, your sore fists might distract you temporarily.
  2. Scream until your throat hurts. I have learned that doing this somewhere where you cannot be seen is probably best. Drive to a deserted parking lot or a park; wait until no one is home to hear you, and let loose. Try not to get arrested.
  3. Write. When I say that, I mean it cautiously: don’t write something you may accidentally send on in your fervor. Write out your feelings and your venom. And then? Destroy it. No one needs to go back and read what your wrote, especially you – or anyone who might inadvertently come across what you never wanted another set of eyes to see.
  4. Break something. Maybe you have boxes in your garage that could be broken down, or plates you despise. Give them names if necessary. Destroy them. Show them no mercy, the bastards.
  5. Go for a walk. Now, before you think I am just talking about a normal walk, I’m not. Walk as hard and as fast you can. Throw in some sprints that take away your breath. Jump – on something if you can find it. Yell at a squirrel. If necessary, find another neighborhood to roam so your neighbors don’t think you’re a nut job.

The Magic of actually Opening your Eyes to Nature


Rushing to the grocery store this morning at 6 a.m. (we were out of food yet again and the baby needed milk) my brain was on a million different things, including my woes. I hadn’t slept, I had work waiting for me at the office, and I was driving like an automaton. Suddenly I looked up from a stoplight and saw – this. Continue reading

Panic attack at 1am


Huh? What? I am awake – why am I awake?

My right arm is tingling and numb – am I having a heart attack or was I just laying on it funny? Which arm is it that you have to worry about? I should download WebMD so I don’t look stupid if I have to call someone. Continue reading