Out With the Old

Remember that trip to Kohl’s in which I actually found shoes?  Well, you know where those shoes are now?

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Still in the box in my dining room—a month later.

Now do you see these shoes?

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These are the old janky ones I’ve had for around six months, and I can’t tell you how many miles I’ve logged in these suckers.

From going to the gym, for walks or to work, they’re basically my go-to footwear every single day. But as my stellar photography attempted to display, you can see that they’re not exactly in the best of condition.

I’m not blind. I can see that.

I can also see the box with the new shoes sitting right there on the floor.

I’ve walked by the box a million times, usually after taking off my worn-out shoes above, and the rational thought crossed my mind that I should just make the switch. I should demote the old pair to my “garden” shoes and lace up the new ones for every day use.

But yet…the old pair isn’t dead! There’s still some life in those laces!

I realized I do this with quite a few things, and perhaps this is simply a cry for help or an intervention that necessitates multiple snacks and a cocktail or two.

I start running out of something or fear I’m wearing things out, so I buy another new (insert anything here—vegetable steamer, pair of yoga pants, etc.) that will end up sitting around until whatever I’m replacing has simply just given up hope.

  • I will buy a new stick of deodorant, but use the old one until the container scrapes the inside of my armpits.
  • I will squeeze every last drop of a 99-cent tube of toothpaste like it cost me $20.
  • If the Kleenex box perfectly matches my bathroom, I will leave one tissue in there until I get tired of walking to the other bathroom to blow my nose.
  • I would use a tube of ChapStick until the plastic hurts my lips, but I still maintain that anyone who can keep a tube of ChapStick around until it’s gone without losing it is some sort of genius.

And while some of these practices are, well, practical—it’s good to use all of a product and makes financial sense not to waste things—some of it’s clearly insane.

What’s even more ridiculous is that sometimes I’ll notice that something like a bottle of body wash or dish soap is low and buy a new thing of the stuff. I want the backup—just in case—but then resent that I have to use up the old crap instead the “new scent” of said purchased product. I want my dishes to smell like a peaceful seaside escape!!!

Sigh.

I guess the conclusion is that even though more people see my footwear than smell my dishes and cups, I’m more excited to use a new scent of dish soap than I am to wear a new pair of shoes for some reason.

However, change is all about baby steps, and I did throw away my old bath towel the second I bought a new one. Now the next baby step that I take should probably be in that new pair of shoes…

But first, I have to do the dishes.

That soap isn’t going to use itself up.

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The Psychological Purgatory of Depression

I’ve heard depression described as walking towards a sunset. You can see the light ahead of you, but even when you’re basking in the warmth of the light, you’re always aware that the darkness isn’t more than a heartbeat away.

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That sounds pretty accurate, but what makes depression so hard for those on the outside — and even those on the inside — to understand, is that being depressed and being happy aren’t always mutually exclusive.

People with depression can be happy, sad or funny just like anyone else. And while we’re all aware of the dangerous places depression can go, what no one seems to talk much about is that there’s a kind of psychological purgatory that exists somewhere in between the high points and the end of your rope.

When you’re having a good day, no one can tell you’re depressed because the symptoms aren’t as obvious as we think they should be. You might not be feeling that miserable “I can’t get out of bed” type of way, but your internal dialogue and view of the world is pretty similar.

There’s relief in knowing that you appear normal until one little thing sets you off — a comment, an obstruction to your routine, maybe nothing specific at all — and down that slope you go sliding again.

These are the times I sit at my desk at work, feeling panic and claustrophobic with a need to literally go run away from myself.

These there are the times when I’m at home on the couch, mindlessly flipping through the same websites, the same channels, feeling nothing but a need to not think.

These are the times when I should reach out, but the world I created is so narrow that I retreat back into my head, to distractions, to exercise to numb out the pain. These actions become habit, the habit then becomes an obsession and from there I’m stuck in a vicious cycle again.

But in some ways, as miserable as you — well, that I — can feel, you get used to it.

Depression doesn’t ask much of you other than to suffer, whereas happiness — in as much as you can remember it — simply can’t be trusted. It’s undependable and often fleeting, and while depression saps your energy, happiness is exhausting in a different way.

Even though you know there are people willing to help, you can never tell them everything. Revealing the plot of your story would give away that tiny shred of control — or the illusion of control — that you so desperately feel that you need just to get by.

Plus, seeing happy people makes you feel as if you have some kind of obligation to get well, and you don’t want to have any obligations or distractions that you don’t invite yourself.

So instead you avoid people when you can so you don’t have to make yourself vulnerable to questions, to wondering if everyone knows that you’re really a big jumbled mess, unable to figure out how to get back to “happy,” or at the very least, back to “content.”

That’s why it can be such a dangerous thing.

You can appear absolutely normal and functional to the outside, but be silently screaming on the inside. And when you’re down, you wonder why you can’t just “be happy” again, and when you’re happy you feel guilty for those times you’re stuck in the dark.

Then there’s the middle — that psychological purgatory — neither way up or way down.

These are the times to remember that isolation is a symptom, not a solution, and that flowery language aside, there still are those small shards of light. For me, sometimes it’s sitting outside. Sometimes it’s trying to be funny to people I see. Sometimes it’s getting lost in a book or emailing someone I trust.

Those things can spark the good days.

Of course you have to sift through the muck and the mud, but it helps to just enjoy the good days for what they are and not question why. Life isn’t easy all the time, even to the most well-adjusted individual, and the dark times aren’t a reflection of weakness or selfishness or anything you might tell yourself.

In other words, just because you deal with depression doesn’t mean that you are depression. A bad day/week doesn’t mean a bad life. After all, it’s not sunny every day but we know the clouds won’t last forever.

Enjoy that light when you can.

Originally published on The Huffington Post

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Patti from “Insane in the Mom Brain” Has Issues

I was introduced to this week’s blogger on Facebook by Rach from RachRiot because a) they’re best friends in a “can’t imagine them in the same room” type of way and b) apparently both me and Patti had some of our blog material stolen by the same lovely, considerate person.

And as everyone knows, nothing bonds two people quicker than a mutual hate of someone else. Oh, and humor. Something else that she has a ton of and I pretend to have.

So without further ado, welcome to her world. Buckle up.

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Name: Patti Ford-Reedus-Pratt

Blog: Insane In The Mom-Brain

Where and why do you write?

I write in a van down by the river. I write a bunch of nonsensical words that spew out of my head very quickly and without any thought whatsoever. Most of the time I think to myself “Girl, nobody is gonna get this and they’re all gonna think you’re an idiot.” Then I post it anyway because if I don’t let all of this weird crap out of my head then I will probably explode.

Also, I’m an attention whore.

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning.

The first thing I think when I wake up in the morning is “F*ck you, alarm clock!” Then the second thing I think is, “Yay! It’s time to get up and have coffee and poop!” The third thing I think is, “I may have some sort of mood disorder.”

What’s the one “issue” or frustration annoying you the most right now?

My main frustration right now is that I’m not “allowed” to kick the junk all of the people who annoy me. I’d like just one hour to go junk kicking. ONE HOUR. No murder. Only nad and taco kicking. I mean, come on!

Three websites you visit every day.

Facebook (attention whore, duh), Amazon (one click ordering and free shipping are my bitches) and HOUZZ (who ARE all of you people with the beach mansions and why aren’t you inviting me over?)

What’s an unusual talent and/or accomplishment you could never put on a resume?

The fact that I won The Nobel Peace Prize for my accomplishments in the field of Physics in 2011. The reason that I can’t put that on a resume is because it isn’t true. That doesn’t keep me from saying it though. I think that most people are too lazy to research things anyways, so I could probably get away with it if I started wearing glasses or something so I looked smarter. And maybe just every now and then I can throw out words like “Alpha particle” or “Transverse Wave.”

Man, pretending to be an award-winning physicist is easy.

Favorite place to be?

On a beach in Mexico with a Modelo in my hand, at an awesome drag bar, on the back of a motorcycle being drive by Norman Reedus or anywhere in my imagination. Except when my imagination involves spidery or murdery things, which is actually quite often.

If you could rule the land for one day, what laws would you create and enforce?

If you’re a bully, asshole or Internet troll (all kind of the same thing) then you get a public junk punching followed by six months of house arrest where you have to watch only The Kardashians and listen to Celine Dion and Mariah Carey on a freakin’ loop.

What TV show would you want to appear on?

I’ll tell you what I don’t want to appear on: Naked and Afraid. My ass is my least favorite part of my body and that seems to be the part that they showcase on that show.

Ain’t no way no how I’d ever let all of America see my naked butt. Utah, maybe, but the rest of America? No thanks.

As for a show I’d like to go on, I’d want to either be a zombie on The Walking Dead (the first zombie that gets a make out session with Daryl) or maybe I’d like to go pickin’ with Mike and frank on American Pickers or do that Tight Pants dance with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show.

Best and worst things I could find in your refrigerator right now?

I don’t know if you mean best as in most healthy or most delicious. You really should be more clear in your questioning if you’re going to interview very important people such as myself. I mean, seriously.

Well, if you mean most healthy then that would be spinach. If you mean most delicious that would be slice and bake cookies. The worst thing is some fresh mozzarella that’s been in there for weeks and has gone bad but I don’t want to touch it to throw it out because stinky cheese scares the crap out of me.

What question do you wish I had asked you and what would be your reply?

I wish you had asked me what I did this summer. I would have said, “I spent most of it at the beach. I met a boy there.” Then you’d say, “You hauled your cookies all the way to the beach for some guy?” Then I’d say, “Well he was sorta special.” And you’d say, “There ain’t no such thing.” Then I’d say, “He was really romantic.” Then I’d have started performing “Summer Nights.”

Oh well, opportunity missed.

Good going, Abby.

Good friggin’ going.


I know, I know. What’s my problem? Anyway, go check her out and I’ll see you back here on Sunday with a new post. I’m sure “Summer Nights” will be out of my head by that point.

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Halloween Décor for the Domestically Disabled

It’s officially fall now, which means women ages 21-45 have become pumpkin zealots and that Halloween is just around the corner.

So to help you prepare for the holiday season and prove you don’t have to spend a fortune to be festive, I’m sharing my absolutely finite wisdom.

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First of all, we’ll start inside. Stop dusting your house right now.* By avoiding the removal of dust, you will accumulate a layer of spookiness and cobwebs that people pay good money to artificially replicate.

*This does not apply to me, of course, as I have to dust everything every weekend—OCD trumps festiveness.

Once you’ve set the mood, there are simple household objects that can make cheap and easy decorations with minimal effort.

For example, if you put a tiny cape on a staple remover—and possibly some googly eyes if you’re really feeling ambitious— you have a quick and easy vampire decoration.

And what Halloween scene would be complete without a ghost or two? Considering my penchant for delightful smells, I suggest you pull double duty and simply drape a gel air freshener with a napkin, add a couple of eyes and voila! A spooky scented spirit to delight the masses. If you’re lucky, the “trick or treat” aroma will mask the slight odor of broken dreams and steamed broccoli that’s wafting through your kitchen.

If you’re only concerned with the external appearance of your home, cease all yard work two weeks ago and move to the next point below.

There have been orange construction cones just down my street for the past month or so (evidently they’re not in a hurry to finish whatever they’re doing.) And while most people simply see an annoyance, I see cheap Halloween candy corn decorations for my lawn.

Now I am in no way suggesting you (allegedly) take something that doesn’t belong to you, but if a strong wind happens to blow a couple cones your way—along with the leaves from your yard into the neighbor’s—that’s simply nature’s way of getting into the holiday spirit.

True, suggesting that you paint them to be exact replicas of the waxy candy might make things look suspicious, but most people will be too impressed with your creative prowess to be upset at the borrowing of said cone —allegedly.

In fact, they will probably stand in your yard clapping so hard it will set off the lame motion-sensored Halloween witch the other neighbors PAID for and put out.

Amateurs.

Once your house and yard are set, it’s time to prepare to pass out the treats. Candy can be expensive, and given the fact that everyone else passes out candy—not very creative, now are we?—I have a much more economical and creative solution.

Sometimes you even get jelly and jams.

Set yourself apart from the crowd by passing out more practical samples treats you’ve accumulated throughout the year. Traveling? Make sure to stock up on things like shampoos, hand wipes, coffee packets and jelly from the hotel room.

Stuck waiting in the doctor’s office? Cotton balls, tongue depressors and plastic gloves (do not give to children under age 3) make for hours of creative artistic play.

This step also requires a bit of planning, but if you start now you can be set for next Halloween. And while the kids might not initially realize the benefit of these alternative treats, when their hands are sticky from egging your house, they’ll certainly appreciate the hand wipes.

Happy Haunting.

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Nicole from “Moms Who Drink and Swear” Has Issues & a Giveaway

Today you’re in for a real treat, as this week’s blogger has more than 1 million Facebook fans—yes, I said 1 million in a Dr. Evil voice—but is still completely down to earth despite the picture she sent me below.

In her own words, she is “gently and consistently offensive, but tenderhearted! I mean no harm, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be harmed by something I write. However, since I’m only responsible for what I write, not what you understand or how you interpret what I write, harm is a subjective term, so you could feel harmed, even though I told you that I mean no harm.”

Amen, sister. Amen.

But more than a blogger, best-selling author and Facebook freak, she’s also a mental health professional with two advanced degrees – one in psychology, the other in gerontology—and is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor working part-time in private practice.

Given my own issues with mental health, this make me love her even more in a “non-creepy-but-I-will-stalk-from-a-distance” kind of way. I’m certain that once you read below, enter a giveaway for a FREE copy of her book that I’m jealous someone will win and then go check her out, you will become a stalker as well.

Restraining orders, be damned.

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Name: Nicole Knepper, but I like to be called Sugar Tits

(Editor’s note: Who doesn’t?)

Blog: Moms Who Drink And Swear

Where, what and why do you write?

I write profanity-laced brain seepage all over the plan, but specifically on my blog and on Chicago Now. I like to write at McD’s and at home snuggled up with my wieners.

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?

I want coffee and I wonder if one of the dogs took a shit under the piano bench, and if so, what is the consistency of the shit?

What’s the one “issue” or frustration annoying you the most right now?

Myself. Always myself. I am chasing the fantasy that someday I’ll be able to manage my time.

Three websites you visit every day.

Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Vice

(Editor’s note again: By “Wall Street Journal,” I assume she means my blog. The two are easily confused.)

What’s an unusual talent and/or accomplishment you could never put on a resume?

I see auras. I’m not even f#cking kidding. It’s like energy coming off a person. I can just see and feel it and then I can work my own energy to make the interaction work.

Favorite place to be?

By the water. Not the bathtub or shower water or doing dishes or laundry water, but a body of water like the ocean or a lake.

If you could rule the land for one day, what laws would you create and enforce?

Oooohh. I think I would have a silent day. If people wanted to communicate, they would have to write down stuff. It would make people think a bit more about what comes out of their brains and why.

(Another editor’s note: sign me up)

What TV show would you want to appear on?

I want to be a corpse on a crime show and I want the backstory to be grisly and puzzling.

(Fun fact: I once went to a Halloween party in Chicago and Gary Sinise (from CSI: NY and Forrest Gump) and his band, the Lt. Dan Band, were the entertainment. I miss CSI: NY. OK. Back to Nicole.)

Best and worst things I could find in your refrigerator right now?

Best – Meyer lemon raspberry jam. Worst – Celery in the beginning stages of rot.

What question do you wish I had asked you and what would be your reply?

I wish you had asked me if my mother was a hamster or if my father smelled of elderberries. I would have answered in the affirmative, because of flesh wounds.

(Last note: I had no idea what she was talking about, but apparently it’s a Monty Python reference everyone knows but me. Let’s move on.)


Because she is so tenderhearted, she has offered to give away a copy of her book, “Moms Who Drink and Swear” to a random person who comments on this post answering the question below. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents with a sense of humor and a random winner will be drawn on Tuesday morning and notified via email.

Since there are a few movie references in this post, what’s a movie quote that you use all the time?

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Eight New Fall Movies You Won’t See (but should)

Given the high cost of admission, the fact that most theaters require real pants and an attention span that lasts all of an hour, I haven’t been to an actual movie in years.

Yes, I said years.

However, I am not completely disconnected from what all the cool kids are hitting the cinemas to go and check out (although I just called them “cinemas,” so there’s that.)

What you might not realize is that among the new releases with attractive people doing unrealistic things in situations that are resolved in two hours topping the charts, is that there are some other films being shown this fall that if given a chance, I’m sure would be a great hit.

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In this film sure to appeal to women everywhere, a confused young Charlie Brown and his sister Sally—who is adorned in yoga pants and Uggs—sit around and wait for Starbucks to release the elusive Pumpkin Spice Latte. Much to the chagrin of young Sally, Charlie learns that he much prefers actual Halloween candy to overpriced sugary coffee and turns as bitter as her drink.

50 Shades of Seasonal Affective Disorder

In this modern day meteorological mystery, viewers are taken from the sunny warm days of the summer into the dark freezing days of the harsh winter months. Will the residents survive on only eight possible hours of sunlight a day? Scrape inches of ice off their cars? Choose to hibernate and bond with their couch?

Frozen: Pizza

A gripping tale of love and survival, the female protagonist vows that if she burns her mouth on an Amy’s organic vegan pizza one more time, she will continue to eat pizza because it’s delicious and she can’t hold both a grudge and her fork. Although scorned by a lover yet again, she will never “let it go” and bravely moves on through the world.

The Negotiator 2

A young-ish writer is kidnapped in this action comedy, but the criminals are the ones who pay the price as they’re unaware of how often she has to pee and how cranky she gets when she’s hungry. Using her artistic OCD skills to cut out all the letters from magazines for her ransom note—if her name is on it, it has to look good—she hopes the news description of what she was wearing when gone missing doesn’t cause her family to pretend they don’t know who she is.

The Transformers

In this documentary, a film crew follows Internet commenters as they transform seemingly harmless statements read online into personal attacks they feel they simply must justify. This true-to-life account proves that for every reaction, there is an equal and opposite overreaction by someone on the Internet.

The Little Engine That Can’t Even

Tween audiences will love this relatable tale of how a car full of teenage girls drive to the mall, but choosing to spend their money on Starbucks instead of gas, end up stuck on the side of the road. Seriously. The Little Engine literally “could not even.” Find out how they get out of this bind and what hashtags will they choose for their Instagram posts.

Silence of the Birds

In this psychological thriller, Clarice is pulled from her training at the FBI Academy to investigate what’s being dubbed as “Flight Club,” a group of loud ass birds that meets outside bedroom windows to screech in the early hours of every morning. The first rule of Flight Club is that you don’t talk about Flight Club, but that doesn’t deter tired Clarice.

Still Single White Female

She’s 33. She’s independent. She sometimes lights so many scented candles in her house, it would appear that she’s trying to seduce herself. And despite the fact that she wears her “good” T-shirts to Target (sometimes), she’s still single. Follow this lovable loner as she navigates through life—and the path from her couch to the fridge—one day at a time.

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The Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva Has Issues

It’s Friday! Another blogger is spilling their issues, and seeing as I’m domestically disabled myself, it only makes sense that today’s blogger is here to help show me the way.

As you can see from the picture below, Susan actually puts curlers IN HER HAIR which makes her super fancy considering I’ve been known to leave the house with one still stuck in my head.

It happened once, okay? Let’s move on.

Anyway, I now present Susan—Mom. Blogger. Humorist.

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Name: Susan McLean

Blog: The Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva

Where, what and why do you write?

Generally I try to stick to writing humor only and I’m coming to you live from Delaware. I started writing to keep my brain from atrophying when I quit my full time career to stay at home with a four year old, two year old and an infant.  They were really cute, but not much for conversation.

Before staying home, then transitioning into my current social media role, I used to be in corporate training. I created training materials, played system administrator (which was surprisingly a lot like Atari’s Space Invaders), and mostly practiced my stand-up and passed out lots of candy when I would facilitate classes in hopes of winning over the hearts and minds of my captive audience. (Seriously, they were captives. They had to be there).

Mostly you’ll find me writing for myself on my blog because when I actually have something that I think is funny, I like to make sure I’m getting full credit.  I’m also officially a Huffington Post Blogger, and every once in a while you’ll see me popping up someplace reputable like Redbook (seriously, that happened).

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning.

Plotting how and when I can drink my first cup of coffee.

What’s the one “issue” or frustration annoying you the most right now?

My kids are getting older, smarter and they keep finding my best hiding places.  I’m worried they’ll find my stash of high-fructose, non-organic, GMO snacks soon that I’ll be forced to share.

Three websites you visit every day.

The Facebook, Pinterest and The Weather Channel.

What’s an unusual talent and/or accomplishment you could never put on a resume?

I’m double jointed.  It’s not as sexy as it sounds.

Favorite place to be?

I like going to yoga, or as I like to call it, my “book club for one!” You see, when I “go to yoga” instead of doing classical yoga poses, I drive myself to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee and a snack then sit in my car for about an hour reading a book. I wish I had listened to people and done this sooner. Yoga is so refreshing.

If you could rule the land for one day, what laws would you create and enforce?

If I could take a swipe at the Internet troll population, I’d try to ban as many of them as I could from the Web in one day.

What TV show would you want to appear on?

I love the Walking Dead!  I’d make a great love interest for Daryl or I’d even settle for being a zombie extra. I’d also do unspeakable things to be on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. (Call me, Jimmy!)

Best and worst things I could find in your refrigerator right now?

Lots of fruits and veggies – and lots of cheese.  I special order my cheese from Vermont, not because I’m fancy, but because I’m lactose intolerant. Also, I’m intolerant of my lactose intolerance, so I searched high and low until I found a great naturally aged and lactose free cheese from Cabot.  I order about 15lbs at a time. Don’t judge.

Editor’s Note: I’m a vegan with OCD who will spend more time picking out a head of broccoli than picking out her clothes. I don’t judge.

What question do you wish I had asked you and what would be your reply?

I wish you would have asked me if I always looked like this and the answer would have been “no.”  I used to be fit and sort of fabulous.  Now I’m usually frizzy and frazzled.  I once had legs that were long and lean, but now that more accurately describes my breasts.  Whoever said “kids keep you young” must have never had them.


I’ll assume by “never had them” she means kids and that this isn’t another blogger taking a swipe at the fact that my chest is concave. Perhaps I’m projecting.

At any rate, do yourself a favor and go check her out after answering the following question:

What’s one snack that you hate to share and would hide from anyone else if you could? (We’ll pretend that you always share.)

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