Tag Archives: rambling

Under the Weather

If you’re tired of me complaining about the weather, I can promise this post isn’t just about that. Instead I’m going to use it as a fancy metaphor for depression in an artsy attempt to complain about the weather.

The fact is this winter has been brutal already. We have about 18 inches of snow right now, are already around 80 inches this year and they’re predicting another storm this weekend. We had four days in January with no snow and haven’t been above freezing in weeks. And it’s only February.

Needless to say, FTW.

Aside from the actual cold, I struggle with a commute that gets complicated and dangerous, keeping my driveway and car clean when there’s nowhere else to throw the snow, worrying about the impact of the weather on my house, the increased bills, etc.

And more than ever before, the weather has upped my depression. Well, I’m blaming it on the weather, but in reality that could be a coincidence seeing as it’s been just as relentless for years.

But much like the weight of this winter, lately it’s crushing me down.

The OCD, the exercise, the hopelessness—it’s come to a point where I wonder when I’ll break, either physically or mentally, and yet I keep  testing those limits. I keep waiting for some event so significant in my mind that I’ll feel compelled to change, that the cloak of depression and obsession will fade and voila! The metaphorical sun will melt the snow and everything will become sun-shiny great!

But of course, that’s just magical thinking.

So instead I fight myself from both sides—the terrifyingly powerful disorder that wants me to cling to it and the part that wants to live a life without it. Finding a balance between the two might seem like having the best of both worlds —Yay! I’m a semi-functioning person balancing disorders and depression, well done!— but we know that’s not the case.

Because while everyone has heard how things have to get worse before getting better, what it doesn’t say is that you should make things worse before they magically, somehow get “better.”

So for the first time in years I actually went to a therapist.

It’s early, but so far she “gets” me. She’s a vegan holistic yoga teacher and I want to move into her office, but I think that violates some kind of ethical code. Anyway, much like dealing with winter, therapy is a lot of work. It’s exhausting. It’s expensive. It’s not fun.

But eventually you just reach that point—breakdown again or breakthrough?—and that’s where I am right now. I don’t feel like I’m really “me,” and even more scary, I’m not sure who that “me” is anymore but I owe it to myself to find out.

Now you’re probably wondering a) why I’m sharing this with you and b) when I’ll shut up. Frankly, I wonder that, too. I mean, how do you respond to this as a reader? What good does it do to ramble on about this when I would rather put up something funny?

Part of it is healing for me, getting it out there and telling someone. Part of it is that social stigma (and pride) often prevents many people from discussing these things. However, I do it anyway because maybe reading that I feel this way will help someone to feel less alone — or at least ridiculously sane in comparison.

So to wrap this all up and come back to that meteorological metaphor, I’ll say I have no control over weather, but I have faith that spring will eventually come. The sun will shine, the gray and desolate cold will recede and we’ll start to dig out of this hole.

healing

I’m ready to dig out of this hole.

Like the blog? Buy the books!

Magical Thinking

There’s a quote in Augusten Burrough’s “Magical Thinking” that I love:

“I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

That’s me, pretty much to the letter.

I had good intentions of keeping things super light here and not addressing some issues, but I also don’t want to be dishonest and act like everything’s fine every day. So today you get this crap.

522369_388604667851424_1108814944_n

Long story short-ish, the past few months my OCD, exercise, weight, depression, etc. have really been kicking my ass. Everything except spacing out on the couch or exercising makes me uncomfortable. When I get uncomfortable my instinct isn’t to sit back and evaluate why, but rather to simply escape.

Quickly.

Enter the (maladaptive) behaviors I associate with relief. But the problem is it’s never enough, and it becomes harder to sit with the most fleeting feelings of discomfort. (And when you’re depressed, there’s a lot of discomfort.)

In other words, it’s a temporary fix for a permanent predicament—that “life” will always happen and things are always in flux.

I guess it’s a little comforting to know that what we all struggle with in our lives can be acknowledged as ordinary experience. Everybody feels the pain of not getting what they want or getting what they don’t want, and most of the time it’s not because they suck and can’t get things right.

It’s life, and we’re not the only ones who feel we can’t keep it all together.

But sometimes the internal issues offer no rhyme or reason—no big life event you can cite—which makes you feel kind of crazy and write blog posts like this.

Because even though my intentions are good — I know I’m not a horrible person — I cancel plans because it might interrupt my “safe” routine. I do a good job at work, but don’t enjoy it or the fact that I’m stuck at a desk for the day. I’m pretty sure at times I come off as a flake.

I’m not a flake.

I’m trying to get by. And while I know these bizarre things I do for self-preservation are technically making my life more complicated, it’s a “comfortable” complicated. I pretend I can deal with that better than I can deal with reality without them.

So why write this? I don’t know.

It doesn’t have some great motivational moment to end with other than the fact that my insecurity over publishing it trumps any insecurity you might have if you relate to anything written.

I can also add that if you do relate to anything here, just know that I pledge to try every day. Most days I fail, but I try.

427727_357790977599460_428690567_n

Maybe that’s it.

Maybe it’s so you (we) remember it’s easy to get sucked into online personalities presented in an edited version of reality, one where we’re often  given the good parts and a sliver of the flaws, just enough so that people relate. We forget that it’s only what they want us to see. 

Of course I’m envious of those who don’t have to deal with this stuff and can just be “okay” without so much effort, but I’m not ashamed that I have issues.

You should never be ashamed.

So while my next post is back to humor—writer’s block, be damned—this one exposes my flaws. After all, “I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

Magical thinking, indeed.

Like the blog? Buy the books!

Live and Learn

Not to stereotype, but the Internet is full of people who proclaim to be experts on everything from parenting and cooking to pictures of animals wearing clothes (thank god for that last group though, right?)

I am no expert on anything other than how not to do various activities, but I have still learned a few things in my 31 years. So while I don’t always follow my own advice—or remember everything that I say—I’m sharing a few things below.

And if you make it through my list, I demand—demand, I say!—that you add a couple things you “know” in the comments as well. Why? If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you people are funnier, smarter and saner than me.

That’s one thing I’ll never forget.

Life Lessons—So Far

  1. The universe owes you nothing. You owe it to yourself to make things work.
  2. You can get through anything if don’t look too far past today.
  3. Righty tighty, lefty loosey.
  4. You don’t have to win—or participate in—every argument.
  5. It’s far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without you having to tell them.
  6. There are those who dust and then vacuum and those who vacuum and then dust. The latter group is wrong, by the way.
  7. Work is work. Most people don’t love their job, but most people also need money.
  8. Time spent doing what you like is never time wasted.
  9. Hurt people hurt people. Often those who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.
  10. The best way to make yourself feel better about having to wait in a long line is to look at the people behind you.
  11. Teeth are jewels, not tools.
  12. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  13. You learn by doing, even—or especially—if that means doing something wrong.
  14. For every action, there is an equal and opposite overreaction.
  15. There is no baseline for normal. Once you realize this, it takes the pressure off.
  16. What you do every day is more important than what you do once in a while.
  17. Share.
  18. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  19. Non-stick pans and self-cleaning ovens? Lies, nothing but lies.
  20. Everyone has a story. Not everyone has plans and not excuses.
  21. A writer writes. A painter paints. Action trumps intention.
  22. The best sign of a healthy relationship is that there’s no sign of it on Facebook.
  23. People think their way out of doing everything that’s worth doing in life.
  24. Read. Books.
  25. Sometimes life does give you more than you can handle. Never be ashamed to ask for help.
  26. Don’t pull the tail of a goat or scratch the top of a buffalo’s head.
  27. Envy is a waste of time. Be better, not bitter.
  28. If you have more than one junk drawer, you have too much junk.
  29. Take your time.
  30. Everything can change in the blink of an eye.
  31. If a car is held together with masking tape and plastic wrap, always let them merge. They obviously have nothing to lose.
  32. Drop the ego. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  33. No. 32 is really hard.
  34. Busyness does not equate with productivity.
  35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  36. People rarely RSVP to pity parties.
  37. Thinking, “Could I make a bigger mess?” is basically just issuing a challenge to yourself.
  38. No matter how lonely you might feel, there is always someone who can relate to you.
  39. Never judge a book by its movie.
  40. If you mean it, say “I love you.” Say it often.
  41. You can—and will—always be humbled by something or someone. This is a good thing.
  42. Overprepare and then go with the flow.
  43. When in doubt, just take the next small step—even if you’re clumsy.
  44. Old people are wise beyond our years.
  45. Sundays are for washing floors and clothes, not for washing hair.
  46. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  47. “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” –Buddha
  48. I hate ending things on an odd number, so this is the last one is basically filler.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

P.S. I have been nominated as one of the Top 25 Humor Blogs over at SkinnyScoop. While I’m not sure what that means, I would be most appreciative if you could to click over, scroll down to my blog icon (the second one under When Pigs Fly) and click “like.”

But don’t do that before you add your own Life Lessons here.

Remember No. 17.

An Ego Trip

A lot of what I’ve been reading deals with letting go—letting go of attachment to results, to routine, to the ego.

At first I kind of rolled my eyes at the ego thing, as I never really figured myself to have much of a stereotypical ego. I don’t spend a lot of time or money on my looks, I can admit when I’m wrong and I’m pretty much self-deprecating to a fault.

But then I realized that was bullshit. Of course I have an ego. It might not be the, “Hey, look at me! I’ve been meditating for a month and suddenly all of the answers are clear! Praise avocados! Namaste!” type of ego, but I still find myself attached to my story.

storypic

You know what I’m talking about.

We all have a story, and at times I still let past chapters of mine continue to define me today. There are labels I had never removed because it seemed impossible to let those things go. After all, it’s easy to define yourself by the past—the things you’ve had to deal with that were out of your control, the way someone treated you—or by your struggles—OCD, weight, depression, etc.

But I’m learning that there can and will always be another story as long as I permit myself to “be” without worrying about figuring it out.

In other words, dropping the ego—or at least peeking around its rough edges—and letting go of control.

So I’ve been reading—slowly, not rushing through—and taking more time with more things. By deliberately slowing down a mind that has a tendency to run ahead without me, I’m much more aware of my space and of the fact that I don’t need to fill that space up with things and noise all the time.

That can be hard, as in this self-branding/social media world we live in we’re offered platforms to try and present flattering one-dimensional versions of ourselves and told to do, do, do and share it all the time. And then—because everyone else is doing it too—we’re given tools to calculate our popularity.

No wonder we’re a mess half the time.

And truth be told, I’m still a mess in a whole lot of ways and have no clue what I’m doing with things. It has nothing to do with anyone else, but simply with my own frustration. (If I hear “find your passion” one more time I’ll flip my shit out, but that’s for another day.)

Anyway, the best way to fight unhealthy habits is to cultivate a personal mindset that simply doesn’t promote their presence in the first place.

There’s a difference between content and complacent, confident and cocky, reaching out and clinging on, stuck and simply stumbling. Sometimes I’m all of these things all at once, but I’m finding is if you’re content with yourself and need nothing else, it helps solve a lot of problems.

But of course there still are problems.

So if there’s anyone out there hiring a mostly content slightly neurotic writer to move to a remote island to practice yoga and meditation while editing vegan cookbooks and selling sea shells by the sea shore, shoot me an email there buddy.

Hey, I said “peek around the edge” of the ego, not completely squash that crap down. Snark will always be a part of my story—and my next post—so praise avocados! Namaste!”

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Waterlogged

I wasn’t going to write anything about the Olympics because a) I don’t watch them that much b) there’s a saturation of coverage already and c) it’s hard to find a way to make it all about me.

But thanks to Michael Phelps, I found a way! So if this post is lame, blame him, as everyone seems to be doing that in some way, shape or form already anyway.

3156-phelps

Ugh…what happened?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock—no judgment, as I can imagine it’s nice and quiet under there—you know that he failed to medal in his first race this Olympics, the 400 IM. American Ryan Lochte took gold, and two other people with names I won’t attempt to spell took the other two pieces of hardware.

There was a bit of an uproar. “He didn’t try hard enough!” “What’s his problem…doesn’t he want it?”

Let’s come up for air a minute, people.

This isn’t 2008 when he accomplished complete and utter domination of the sport and came home with eight gold medals to prove it. While everyone said that they didn’t expect a repeat gold medal run, the fact that he didn’t dominate in his first race has already raised some concerns.

I get it.

We all have idols we put on such pedestals that when they fail to reach the superhuman standards that are placed on them—by fans, coaches, family, themselves—and remind us that they’re human, we’re disappointed.

He considered retirement in 2009. He was tired. He had accomplished everything he had set out to do. He was scrutinized after he was photographed practicing breathing techniques (ahem) on a bong.

I read comments he recently made that getting out of a warm bed and into cold water every early morning since the age of seven takes it’s toll. He told the story of being on vacation and having everyone tell him to go swim in the ocean but wanting to stay on the shore. Getting wet was the last thing he wanted to do.

I can relate, on a very minor scale.

I was a swimmer in high school, and although I wasn’t fabulous, I was All-City and had a school record. The training was ridiculous—5 am practices before school, two hour practices after, dry land work, summer camps—and I constantly reeked of chlorine. But while I enjoyed the sport, I didn’t swim my senior year.

The reasons were varied, but I was just tired of everything swimming and  tired—period. While I had support, others freaked out and I was also told I was insane, that I had talent I was wasting, that it was selfish not to compete, that I was lazy.

Maybe they were right — maybe it was a waste — but I never regretted my choice. My heart wasn’t in it anymore — to this day I have no interest in water — and a lesson I learned is:

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.

The same thing goes for Phelps. I don’t think he wanted to compete in London as much as he felt that he should, and I have no doubt that some of the rumors about less-than excellent training are true. From his interviews, body language and other speculative things that hold no weight, he looks like someone going through the motions.

But no athlete wants to lose—ever—and I can guarantee that no one is more disappointed than Phelps about that race. And at the time of this writing, he still has six more to go, six races I’m sure he will give all he has.

Phelps_2277413b

If you’ve never swam fly, you have no clue of pain.

When he was 16, he told an agent that he wasn’t worried about winning medals—although today he’s three away from becoming the most decorated Olympic athlete ever—but instead, "I want to change the sport of swimming."

And whether you like him or not, he’s done that with each race he’s won. He’s done that by establishing the Michael Phelps Foundation that provides swim programs at Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide. He’s done that by making the sport relevant through his accomplishments.

While it’s a “what have you done for me lately” culture and he might not be doing as much, what he’s done in the past has changed the sport of swimming—for the better— but he’s also changed as well. 

He is human, but if history is any sort of indication, he’ll do his best each race this year to show us that he’s not.

He’ll remind us he’s still Michael Phelps.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

*Back to regularly scheduled ramblings next post. I was feeling rambly. Blame Phelps—or better yet—NBC.

Cheaper Than Therapy

I have another post I was going to put up, but then I started verbally vomiting on screen and had the whole internal debate about letting you in on my crazy or not. But in the end I forgot what I was debating and accidentally hit “publish” instead of refreshing the screen on Maru the cat videos.

It happens.

Anyway, although people who check the stove two times before leaving or straighten a crooked picture often claim to have OCD—something I am not dismissing, mind you—most really have no idea about the mental marathon that others (ahem, me) run every day.

These things are why when I  try and write something funny about a bird shitting on my glass door, for example, my thoughts skip like a broken record and I’m too distracted to write anything other than a few tweets and a Post-It note with helpful things like, “write a to-do list.”

This happens when life happens, when a major or seemingly minor thing leaves me feeling out of control.

I think I’m focusing on something and then jarringly realize that my thoughts have shifted back to counting in my head over and over. Then a minute later I try and focus again, but then my mind reminds me, “Shit. Where the hell were you?” and then it’s back to obsessing about my serious things and kind of about the fact that I have nothing in me to write a real post, which is basically the most insignificant thing I should worry about.

It’s instinctive. It’s survival. It’s my default.

While I know these bizarre things I do for self-preservation are technically making my life more complicated, it’s a “comfortable” complicated. I pretend I can deal with that better than I can deal with reality without them. So I reassure myself that I can do “X” or “Y” and everything will be okay, that if I do everything the way I’ve always done it, discomfort from all those external things can be (temporarily) avoided.

I can survive.

But when something crimps that routine—even just having to do something for one hour out of my week that interrupts that constant—I often default into panic mode. I might appear calm and collected, but inside I’m either grasping at control with my rituals to keep myself afloat or wishing someone would come in and wave a magic wand, telling me exactly what I should be doing and how to do it, relieving me of the burden of thinking.

Because if this post proves anything, it’s that I don’t always make the smartest decisions. Well, this post and that time I cut my own hair.

Where was I? Oh yes. Sometimes more than anything all I want is someone to tell me to do nothing at all, to give me permission to take a break from my life and myself and recover and heal before the next punch is thrown.

However,  that’s not reality.

Reality is a lot of crappy things that happen without your permission mixed in with those small pleasures that make your heart happy and give you the strength to put on your big girl panties and deal with it the best way that you know how.

So sometimes I internalize everything and take all the weight on myself.

And sometimes I don’t make the healthiest choices or write the funniest posts or say the most helpful things—to myself and to others.

But that is reality, and at the end of the day—even when I’m laying in bed trying to stop the freaking automatic tape that won’t quit running through my head—all I can do is vow to try again tomorrow.

And if all else fails, watch more of Maru and finish my post about bird poop. 

Like the blog? Buy the book.