Life

I’m messing up my resolutions already

I’m not sure why we circle around the date of January 1 to recalibrate our lives. Lose weight, eat healthier, exercise, set new goals. The only goal I banged out of the park in 2018 was my reading goal which I consider research toward my goal of one day writing a novel.

But this year, as I was on my last minute shopping run to Barnes & Noble, my eyes lit up when I saw a daily calendar of writing prompts by Writer’s Digest. I have really missed the daily prompt on WordPress which was way more than just a prompt because it allowed me to connect with other writers and discover new voices and I admit it keeps me away from blogging regularly because I no longer get that daily email.

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Life

Another Christmas Past

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Time slows down for no one. Last I wrote, Christmas was sneaking up and I had my nose in a book. There was so much to do and here I am to report that whatever needed to get done, was. I had an awful moment of clarity on the morning of December 21st when I went to the store to purchase some items for Christmas Eve dinner, though. I was at Target and spotted a countdown to Christmas decoration and it was almost like a punch to the stomach because I realized I hadn’t retrieved ours from the basement this year. There were still no decorations inside the house. It was a very low moment and I vowed when I got home I would tackle the interior decorations.

I should probably go back and explain the reason behind all of this last minute decorating business. In late October I took a fall on a few stairs (while doing laundry – true story) and twisted my foot. For the next month I walked on it thinking it would eventually right itself until it was swollen and too uncomfortable to walk. We went to New York City for Thanksgiving (Liam’s 12th Birthday) and I could no longer tell myself it was going to get better on its own. It turns out I had a stress fracture and was relegated to a boot and crutches for the next three weeks which prevented me from doing the basement stairs.

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Life, Uncategorized

Books over Christmas

Christmas is coming but you wouldn’t know it if you walked into our house today. I have been procrastinating about cleaning the dining and living rooms which hold the remnant mess of our summer kitchen remodel. There are always better things to do (reading, reading, reading) with my free time! I kept telling myself I would get to it and even this week when I knew time was running out, I couldn’t ignore the siren song of my Kindle. I recently finished I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and then I became obsessed about anything else I could find out about the rapist and murderer who terrorized California in the 70’s and 80’s. And then I said to myself let me just start another book before I jump into cleaning.

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Life

Rage

I feel so much rage right now. Honestly, I don’t know where to put it. This is partly because my own #metoo story has been rekindled little by little since last fall and is now in a full-blown blaze of anxiety and hurt. After it happened, I packed it away because I didn’t know what to do about it 32 years ago. The thought of telling anyone – family, friend or trusted adult – was never of consideration. How could I point a finger at a beloved classmate, all-around sportsman, a boy who had suffered a devastating loss in the recent past of that time? I couldn’t do it. I can’t even do it now.

I think about all the brave women sharing their stories and I try to put myself in their shoes. How could I be that brave? Why not at least tell my husband? Does what happened to me really matter anymore? I’ve gotten past it, right? Dates are hazy, although I could pinpoint it easily enough as it happened on prom night of my senior year. I remember the setting (a car) but not where it was parked or why the two of us were alone in his car when we were going with other couples. Did I shun him for the rest of the evening? I honestly cannot remember. The words he said to me and the act itself are seared in my brain like so many others who have been sexually assaulted. He did not rape me so I told myself it was OK. It wasn’t.

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Life

Having a “me” day

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Today is a small miracle. A gift, really. Even with the rain and the damp and the lingering sad thoughts from watching the Kavanaugh/Ford hearing yesterday.  Today is good. I can finally rest and do what I want to do for me today.

I don’t take this gift lightly and promise myself not to spend any time on my phone cruising twitter for the aftermath of yesterday’s hearing or browsing other social media sites to kill time. I am not going to an exercise class or to the grocery store and I’m not going to do any laundry. Thanks to the very fun girl’s night (another important form of self-care!) at my house last Friday, the house is still in decent shape.

I survived a raucous sleepover last weekend with my son and his friends. I survived a week with my husband out of the country, running Liam to activities every night during the week and because he doesn’t take a bus, I’ve done drop off and pick up duty too. Plus there is the job I get paid to do as well. I am tired.

This is by no means a complaint. Being productive is a fulfilling achievement in its own right. I love ticking things off. I can handle the unexpected errands (like how I had to run and buy Liam a new school blazer – the fourth one since the beginning of the last school year – because he is a serial misplacer of things and because school pictures) and how we ran out of dog treats mid-week. I’ve got this.

But I don’t have to do any of that today. I can have a day for me and knowing that is enough to lift my tired soul. I can read. I can write. I can go to a movie if I want. I can stay in my pajamas all day or not. I can make cookies or do nothing. I can breathe.

MC

 

Life

Cleaning for guests

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Nearly a month has passed since I’ve written here, or even attempted to write here. I seem to have lost my voice. It’s not because I’m not feeling or thinking about things. I’m really not sure what it’s about. As I mentioned in my last post, the kitchen is done. Mostly. There are still a couple of items on the list to be completed when the contractor has time to come back. Do contractors ever find time to come back when they’ve moved on to a new job?

About three weeks ago I invited some friends over for game night. We get together about once a month and I couldn’t make the last event which was a movie night so I threw out the game night suggestion for this Friday. On Monday someone asked if it was still on. Gulp. My house is still quite a mess. Of course, I said yes and then one after another affirmed it was good for them too. The menu is set. But the house, not so much.

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Life

Free Time Free Fall

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You know those moments that aren’t sucked up by work and home life and other obligations? Those few minutes captured just for yourself. Maybe when you wake up in the morning or just before you go to sleep. A few stolen moments as dinner is being cooked or maybe you unexpectedly have the house to yourself for an hour or two. How do you spend your time?

Of late, I have to admit, I’ve been overdoing it on phone time and it occurred to me last night that I needed to step away. I’m usually refreshing Twitter to get a fix of what everyone’s talking about and often times I have to look something up just to get the gist of what’s being said. It is a foxhole I go down and before I know it an hour may have passed. And with Trump dominating my news feed, it is also mentally exhausting. Could I have instead been doing something more constructive like writing in my journal, meditating, reading or the many other things I love to do but don’t seem to find time for anymore?

I also have to put my house back together. For four months I have let it go to pot as construction ensued in the dining room, office, master bath and finally the kitchen. We are 95% complete! But the heavy lifting is still ahead as I go through our boxes and boxes of belongings to root out what we actually need and use. How have we accumulated so much stuff?! Last night I put down the phone and while Jim and Liam were at a baseball game I forced myself to focus on emptying out a few of the boxes. At the end of two hours, I felt more accomplished than if I’d spent that same time frustratingly trying to reach new levels at Candy Crush (an admittedly poor choice of how I use my free time).

I’m am not advocating for not doing frivolous or even mindless things with our free time because I think sometimes our brain just needs a break to chill out. I just need to be wary of how much time I spend this way.

What are some ways you like to just chill out and how do you set limits for things you know are time wasters?

MC

 

Life

An unexpected message

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I haven’t watched much TV in the past year or so. It used to give me so much pleasure to get involved in a show, (Downton Abbey, Scandal (through season 4) and my favorite binge watch of all time – Breaking Bad) but somewhere along the way I decided to spend more time reading and less time on television. Partly too, I was having trouble sleeping and they say less screen time, especially at night, is key.

Recently I let Liam (my 11 year old) talk me into watching a show he loves called The Flash which is a show about an (accidental?) Super Hero who is super fast and stops criminals from doing criminal things. I wanted to make him happy so I agreed to watch the first episode and much to my surprise I really liked it. It’s been a few weeks and I’m only on episde three, so there you go.

Last night, after watching the third episode, I decided to browse around Netflix and see what else was on. I wanted something no more than an hour and after several minutes of scanning titles, I settled on Hannah Gadsby’s, Nanette, because I had seen several people mention it on Twitter as a must see. It looked like a fairly typical standup comedy show but I was not prepared for what it turned into. In my opinion, everyone should watch it.

Hannah Gadsby is a lesbian who doesn’t know how to categorize herself. She makes jokes about coming out, people’s reactions, people who have suggestions and critiques of her. That she’s not lesbian enough for some and that others don’t think she should treat her mental health issues. So many opinions about how she should live her life. She jokes about it until she doesn’t. I really don’t want to give anything else away but it was an extremely powerful show that made me think and emathize and also it made me cry. A lot. Totally unexpected for a “comedy” show.

This is basically the TED talk of all TED talks that every human should see.

MC

Life, Uncategorized

This and that

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My brother and I, age 8 and 6

Today would have been my brother‘s 53rd birthday, so far he has missed 32 of them. It used to be a very painful day for me because our birthdays fall just 10 days apart and we often had a dual celebration when we were growing up. They say time heals all wounds and while that doesn’t fit in most cases of lost loved ones, it seems to have dulled the ache over the past three decades. These days I sometimes fleetingly think about what could have been if he hadn’t died, but living in the past is good for no one. It’s all about accepting our current reality.

Time is a true healer and the things that seemed urgent and insurmountable a couple of weeks ago are background noise today. I mentioned in a previous post that my dad had been the victim of a fraud scam (to the tune of $4,400). I was so angry about this and to be honest, initially, I couldn’t fathom how he could have fallen for the scam which is known as the “grandparent scam“.  After hearing him tell what happened I understood how he could have been duped and only felt the deepest heartache for a man who has only approached life with optimism and trust in his fellow humans. He has given the shirt off his back on many occasions over the years and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He is the last person who should have been the victim of a scam. My siblings and I have pitched in to make him whole and it has been a learning and growing experience for all of us.

That same week we were at the bottom of our patience reserves with our pre-teen. Every day was bringing more fighting than peace and my husband and I didn’t know how we were going to survive the summer and quite possibly the rest of his years until he was safely through his teen angst. We called in an expert and came up with a plan together to at least get through the next few weeks. It hasn’t been without its bumps but it no longer feels insurmountable. I’m constantly reminded that below all the turmoil is a good kid with a big heart and he often makes me laugh. The other day he posed the question “what if Wakanda didn’t exist” and then proceeded to tell me how all the other Marvel plots would fall apart if that had been the case. He is even making a Marvel lover out of me(this is a genre I had always avoided)! He loves magic and jokes and is always trying to entertain us. He is not out to get us! I have to remind myself he is trying to come into his own now and it’s time to loosen the strings.

This week will bring our contractor back to us. In the middle of our home renovation project, he had the audacity to get married and go on a honeymoon. The nerve! No, seriously, he is a great guy and I’m so happy for him and his new wife. He has been a tremendous worker and cares a great deal about his craftsmanship that I have no doubt we will be blown away by the end product. We are definitely in the final weeks of the project and the house will be back together by the time September arrives.

Happy Sunday.

MC

Life

Kate Spade

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The death of Kate Spade, only a few days old, has hit me hard for reasons that are hard to explain. I have read story after story, all the same version with very few details and I’m trying to make sense of it all. I do not own a Kate Spade bag, nor any high-quality statement bags save for a heavily discounted Coach bag purchased at an outlet because I can’t pull the trigger on anything over $100. I am all for clothes and shoes but for some reason cannot make the leap for an expensive purse.

I think what bothers me about this death as with all suicides is that the person did not see better days ahead. Could not comprehend in that moment or in the vastly larger blocks of time of their depression – days, weeks, months, years – that things would eventually change and make living bearable. Life is hard and we don’t always know in what ways for the people who walk among us. Some of us cannot comprehend a life that is so bad it is not worth living anymore. We think of them as selfish or weak. I do not.

Like most others, I experience those times when I’d rather not live either. Life can be HARD. I too have experienced many bad days on end where it seems like it would just make sense to pack it all in. Just drift into the nothingness of death so as not to have to deal with the hard stuff. Thankfully, these are fleeting thoughts because I remind myself that whatever it is, this too will pass. I also don’t have the guts to formulate and follow through with an actual plan. There is also the fact that my brother took his own life when he was 21 and I was 19. I saw the devastating results of suicide first hand and I couldn’t do that to someone else. Instead, I chose to seek help from a professional when necessary.

It doesn’t really matter what the backstory was for Kate. She was in so much pain that she couldn’t live anymore. Mental health holds a stigma as does addiction and these are a deadly combo when left untreated. My heart goes out to her family, for their long road ahead and the public scrutiny this death seems to demand. For many years I chose anger and denial in dealing with my brother’s death. I also succumbed to addiction as one of the byproducts. I had to forgive him and myself and even though it has been a hard road, I am better for my trip down it.

There was also a time when I was passionately involved in suicide prevention. I anonymously answered phone calls, often late into the night when the other person would cry or lash out or simply hang on the line in silence. Do suicide prevention hotlines work? Do people use them? I never felt adequate enough when I was on the other end of the line. Their voices and hopelessness stayed with me through the next few days as I went about life. Eventually, I couldn’t do it anymore for my own mental health. I wish I had answers but I don’t.

If you think you are out of options with nowhere to turn, please reach out. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

RIP Kate Spade.

MC