In the Laugh Because Otherwise You’d Cry Category

I saw an image yesterday that made complete sense to me as being a symbol of how I deal with tasks and problems in my life.

I’m particularly terrible — but getting better at!! — prioritization.

So let’s say there’s something terribly stressful going on. If I could just DEAL with it, it might very well go away. But, I allow myself to see something else that can be done more easily, and so I go on the path of least resistance, thinking I could relieve some stress by knocking something else off of my to-do list.

It doesn’t really work, though. My stress doesn’t actually dissipate despite lessening the burden with the item of less importance crossed off the list. My coping mechanism is a joke in that case.

Anyway, here’s the image. This is so me.

Me dealing with my life problems

“Yep, that’s a tornado. Yep, it’s an issue. But, dang it, I’ve GOT to mow the lawn, so I am going to do that instead so I’ll feel better about addressing something that I’ve been needing to deal with!”

 

 

 

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Making Mean Faces

The other day, I was picking up a prescription from the pharmacy counter at Publix.

I’ve always thought of prescriptions as a rather personal thing. You know the pharmacist has a lot of power with all the information they have in their database. They know why you may be taking the drugs they’re issuing you. It seems most folks uphold the modicum of privacy when it comes to transactions at the pharmacy counter, leaving a respectful distance (albeit framed by impatience!) between themselves and whomever is waiting ahead.

I was mid-transaction. I’d signed for my prescription and was about to get the goods and pay, when a man around 50 years old basically sidled up NEXT TO ME. My defense mechanisms sounded the alarms. I had a grocery basket on the counter in front of me for my drugs to go in after I’d paid for them as I still had some shopping to do. The encroacher put his basket on the counter NEXT TO MINE. The hell? All of this silently went down and I shot the dude a nasty look to tell him to step away, but he wouldn’t even look at me. He instead gazed at the pharmacist. I paid, being sure to cover his view of my card PIN, and shot him one final withering glance that told him where he and his drugs could go, and I walked away. Creep.

Why do I write about this? Because I have never been one to make mean faces at people to show my disdain for them. I never would have done that in the past. I might even get to the point where I could vocalize my displeasure to future encroachers to not stand so close to me. (“Don’t stand, don’t stand so, don’t stand so close to me.”)

Seriously. Dude. Back the F off.

This means I am changing! This is ultimately a good thing, I think. I hope.

It’s kind of fun, expressing myself with my real emotions rather than spending energy covering them. In the past, I would have tried to rationalize the man’s behavior rather than instantly concluding his behavior was inappropriate and doing something to let him know it. I would have told myself to calm down, that maybe he has some sort of social disorder or mental disorder. I’d try to find some way to forgive him for this lack of respect. This time, though, I didn’t process all of that and instead shot him a mean look. It would have been ideal if he had seen the mean look, but at least I did it. I let the world know I felt.

Feeding Myself: Dance

For Christmas I received a gift card for 4 classes at a local dance studio. I’ve been aching to attend a formal dance class for well over 2 years, and I finally went last night. Prompted by avoiding the massive dose of pollen outside, I ditched my plan to go for a run and instead went to a dance class. I’d wanted to do one with more movement, but I was able to go into a stretch class instead. I love stretching, so I was happy to go; I’ll go again soon to a movement class.

Ever the worrier about new places and things, I got there early and told the front desk attendant, I’m new. She kindly helped me out, gave me a quick tour, etc. The studio is really nice! It has a very swanky locker room area, 4 studios, and a good assortment of classes. It doesn’t have Zumba, but it does have Cardio Salsa, which I watched the tail end of as I waited for my class to begin. Will definitely be trying that one!

Stretch class was challenging, but all my stretching on my own paid off. There were only a few times I felt weak, but my abs and back are so much stronger than they’ve ever been in my life, and I felt like I was properly flexible, too. It was a challenge, but not over my head. I can only get better.

It was a little hard to see my physique in the mirror, though. Although I’ve been running, my midsection and thighs and upper arms looked enormous compared to most women in the room. There was a clearly professional ballerina behind me who was tiny tiny tiny, and the lady next to me was tiny tiny tiny and the instructor was tiny, too. I decided to turn my mind to my strength and not my looks. I even smiled, as I remembered how wonderful it felt to be in a real studio and letting my mind go to follow the instructions. I also had to laugh at the obscene amount of sweating I was doing under the very warm light right over me. I also kept spotting hairs from my head all over the floor. I was awkward in these ways, but again, I felt strong. Capable. And I didn’t want it to end. The hour flew by and it was time to go.

I can’t wait to go back. I’ve needed this.

Really Listening

Lean in, says my heart.

I have something to tell you.

Your feelings? They are telling you something. Listen to them.

Those places you described as starvation areas in your life? Feed them. Feed them well and regularly. Hear them cry to you to be fed. Feed them and you in turn will feed yourself.

It doesn’t make you crazy or less-than to wish to spend your time doing what feeds you. How will you ever become who you are meant to be otherwise?

This need to come alive and grow in a new direction? You are ready. Your hard work is paying off. Use your privilege of being alive and use your powers for good. Fear not.

Listen to the Mustn’ts by Shel Silverstein

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be

Being Assertive

standup

“For no one can fill/ those of your needs/ that you won’t let show.” – Lean On Me by Bill Withers

I’ve always been a humble sort of person. Someone told me in the last year that I’m the least pretentious person he’d ever met. Another friend said I’m so easy going that if someone couldn’t get along with me, then the problem was definitely with the other person.

It’s true that I don’t carry ulterior motives, try not to over-bill myself, and what you see is what you get.

Usually.

Sometimes, however, when you’re this kind of person, others sometimes walk all over you. And because you’re laid back and go-with-the flow, you don’t get out of shape about it.

And when you’re this kind of person already and you get depressed or anxious, you think you *deserve* to get walked all over.

stop-letting-people-walk-all-over-you-youre-not-a-sidewalk-quote-1

Until you get fed up.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I will go to bat for anyone else any day and never for myself. I see solutions to other people’s problems so clearly and know how to help them. Or at least advocate for them.

I’ve been working for months on telling others how I feel even if it scares me. There are still plenty of things I can’t say out loud even though I think they are true. I told a friend the other day that some of his behavior was scary to me. At the risk of losing a friend and of course questioning whether I had done the right thing, I did it anyway. That was probably the biggest example of me building the muscles I need to build in order to be more assertive like I’d like to be.

I have two minor, silly examples from the last 24 hours when I have been assertive.

  1. Last night at dinner, I placed an order exactly as the restaurant had told us in the past to order it. It’s a barbecue place, and even though I don’t eat meat, they have a salad I like, and it comes with two hard boiled eggs.  My son loves hard boiled eggs, too, so we started ordering an extra side of eggs for him. Last night, I ordered the salad (which comes with eggs, as you now know), and a side of hard boiled eggs for my son. My salad came out, with eggs on it, and the server said, there are your eggs. I was a little baffled and she flitted away before I could ask her if my son’s eggs were coming. Another server happened by, and I asked if she could confirm if the salad was supposed to come with eggs or if I happened to always get eggs when I’ve ordered it in the past, just in case, you know, they make it without eggs now. She said it comes with eggs (as I thought), so I told her I’d order a side of eggs. She looked pained and unsure that I was being truthful. The other server came by a few minutes later, set down the eggs in a little bowl, and said condescendingly huffy, “you were supposed to pay for them, but here are your eggs. Enjoy,” and walked away scowling. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, and I very badly wanted to assure them this was how I had placed my order, but they were busy and frankly I didn’t want to talk to either server again. But, I am glad I stood up for what I wanted, for what I ordered. In the past, I hadn’t. It wasn’t the first time they didn’t understand what I was ordering. I did decide to kill with kindness by cleaning up the table to make it very easy for them to clear: silverware together, trash gathered, wiped up crumbs, etc.
  2. I got a haircut a few weeks ago. It looked pretty when I left the salon, because, duh, it always looks amazing when you leave the salon. I had told the lady who cut my hair that I typically didn’t have time to blow dry it and that I needed a cut that would dry okay. Fast forward to pretty much every day since the first wash after my haircut. I don’t like it. It looks dippy and I don’t feel pretty. I want something else. Counter to what I would have done in the past, which was settle for the haircut and just deal with it, or go to an entirely different salon (avoidance), I called the salon owner and simply told her I had very patiently tried to get used to it, but that I hadn’t been able to really love this haircut. She can see me tomorrow! And I even asked if she’s going to charge me, and she said, of course not! Phew. So glad I asked.

Again, these are tiny examples but they signify progress I have made in being more assertive about the things I want.

awesomelifetip

Thanks for reading.

Energy, Where Are You?

Earlier this week I was feeling great, motivated, and ready to kick butt. I lifted weights pretty intensely two nights, then did major stretching on day 3, and then ran 7 miles yesterday. It was pretty cold outside yesterday and I had wanted to run a longer distance, but I was stopping to walk too often to keep going.

My mind is especially racing today and I want to either go to sleep or go do something different than routine. My body is sore, which is something that felt good the first few days this week but now makes me feel like I have the flu. Not good.

I was planning to run in the Atlanta Publix Half Marathon this Sunday, but I haven’t purchased my entry and am feeling overwhelmed physically by what would be a really busy Sunday if I were to run in it anyway. I did register for a half in Knoxville in April, so that will happen soon enough.

There’s a friend’s baby shower Sunday afternoon and another friend whose baby I need to go meet that has stuff for the girl with the baby shower. It should be something to look forward to, but thinking about it makes me feel ragged right now. Anticipating exhaustion is exhausting.

And I’m running a 5K next weekend with friends, which I hope will be easy as it’s less than half the distance of what I run usually. It will be my first 5K where I’ve actually been running a lot before I take to the course. I will be the seasoned runner compared to the old me, who, at age 23, could never run and then still run a 5K in about 30 minutes. I’m trying to decide whether to stay with the group of friends or try to be competitive against myself. I’ve gotten myself down to 8 minute miles a few times.

Oh, but that thought makes me feel tired. Pushing myself seems like the worst thing I could do right now.

I’ve been pretty grumpy today, too. Maybe I need sleep.

Thanks for letting me whine at you. Here’s to hoping for an energetic Friday where I can get stuff done.

Inputs

Ever want to cover your ears and go, “la-la-la-la-la?”
My senses get overwhelmed all the time lately. There are too many things competing for my attention.
Some attention grabbers are external: take for instance a moment last fall. My son won’t sit still, my phone is ringing, the waitress wants to take the order, and we’re at dinner with new friends as I’ve discovered I’ve lost my brand new credit card that I had just used to pay for parking. Okay, deep breath. This situation all worked out and I somehow kept my cool and even laughed through it. The phone call was my bank letting me know someone had found my card and had called them to report it. Dinner turned out fun and ended with ice cream. My son was a holy terror but somehow managed to eat his dinner and we didn’t get kicked out of the restaurant. And we made new friends.
If you’re like me, the attention grabbers that reside inside my head are the real stressors. I can’t diffuse them with as much ease as I did at the restaurant. On the outside, I have it all together, but inside it’s like being inside a movie theater and all the walls have come down between each theater and all the movies are playing at once. Loudly, with lots of vibrant colors to draw attention.
It doesn’t really matter what makes up the inside inputs, but it does matter how I control them.
I get overloaded more easily these days, trying to attend to all the things I need to do, need to remember, need to address, or want my attention. I compulsively, I admit, check email far more often than is healthy, and I treat it like I am the phone operator trying to connect all the calls coming in.
phoneoperator
Look how easy and glamorous I make this look!
At work, especially, I treat email like I am on a game show and I must reply quickly and exactly right or I can’t progress. The problem is, I was in the middle of answering another question when I stopped to check my email. I ran a report to answer the first question and checked email as I waited for the report to run. Then a colleague approaches and asks a question, which I try to answer on the spot, because I already know from experience I will never do if I keep interrupting myself. Which I will and do.
Same thing happens when I am home alone (home with family is a whole OTHER story). I start some laundry and then feel smug in how productive I’m being. Then I feel a rush of energy and decide to make something to eat. I look through the items on hand and realize I am going to have to either get creative or go to the store. That makes me feel tired so I end up grabbing an apple instead and sit at the table, chewing away as I look at my phone, meaning to reply to an email or RSVP to an invitation. Instead, I see new emails and posts on Facebook and Instagram, read articles, watch videos, and basically follow a rabbit hole far past the end of the apple.
I realize the washer is done so I get up to transfer the clothes to the dryer. Oh, there are clothes in the dryer, except they are all wrinkly, so I run the dryer for a while to fluff them up. I notice the trash is full, but I don’t take it out. “Later,” I promise it, as if it’s longing for its destiny to land in the dumpster, a thought that makes me laugh out loud. I register that the dishes need to be done, but I will wait on those until after I eat, so I can do them all at once. I may eventually turn on the tv, completely forgetting the laundry, a meal, emails, the trash, the dishes, and lots of other things. If I turn on the tv and lie down, it’s over: I’m taking a nap.
I’d make a terrible phone operator.
Putting A Call Through
A telephone operator putting through a call at a switchboard circa 1930. (Photo by Keystone View/FPG/Getty Images)

How do you deal with too many inputs in your day-to-day life without getting overwhelmed?

Thanks for reading.

Funk

I’m not really doing Lent this year.

My colleague and I were talking about Lent yesterday and he asked what I gave up this year. I told him nothing. And that I had thought about what I haven’t had and just saying that’s what I had given up. I thought I hadn’t had wine, but then I remembered, oh yeah, I have had wine since Lent started. Dang it. The wine was good, though.

I got a hair cut on Tuesday. I took a great run on Monday. My day got away from me yesterday and I wasn’t able to run. I’ve been sleeping okay, after I take something to help me sleep. But the kid still likes to wake up super early.

Self care exercise, hair cut, and sleep aren’t cutting it. I’ve been in a funk since late last week. Energy way down. I feel like sadness is emanating from my pores. Maybe I need to change my meds.

Being in a funk to me feels like being stuck in mud and not sure what to do about it. It feels helpless. I’m starting to feel like I am cycling through the downer part of my bipolar cycle. Or maybe I’m in the descent to it. I have some ideas of how to feel better immediately, but those ideas are things that aren’t necessarily good for me and would probably lead to the manic side of my bipolar cycle.

I’d like to get off this ride and just be normal. For now, you’ll find me doing this, I guess. I need to go find a wall to rest my undersized plump elbows on:

The_wall

Tell me a joke? Make me laugh? Please? Leave me a comment in any case. They don’t show up until I approve them, so if you don’t want me to publish it, I won’t.

Thanks for reading.

Feelings

I chatted with someone this past weekend who said he “wasn’t into feelings.” After some questioning, I understood his comment to mean he is uncomfortable or annoyed by people who are over-sharers of their emotions and feelings. That’s understandable, but for a while I was beginning to wonder how self centered he was!

As a person who struggles with identifying how I feel, labeling my emotions correctly, and then sharing my emotions with others, I was reacting to this guy by thinking, “wow, is he only talking to me about this because he knows me well enough to know that I don’t talk about my feelings all the time?”

This wasn’t a heart to heart by the way. He was merely making conversation.

I can’t stop thinking about it, though, as this is so central to the work I’m doing in my life now.

If you search for images on emotions or feelings, you’ll find A LOT of images.

299515_orig

Wouldn’t it be funny if I printed this out and started pointing to the face of how I am feeling when I talk to someone? I’m afraid even if I did that, no matter what I say in conversation, I’d still point to “Happy” unless I am either mirroring their emotions or trying to prove a point, usually through a joke.

I find other people’s feelings to be fascinating. Especially when I see someone who is willing and able to exhibit strong emotions.

emotion-faces-picture-e1429925480789

I’m also a seeker of the best word or phrase when deciding on expression. This chart is a great example of what I may go through, when I feel a certain way and I try to muddle through the nuance of how to describe it.

650_feelings-wheel-color

I think it’s a really good chart! I may print it out and see if it helps me pinpoint my emotions more readily.

I noticed that I keep using the terms feelings and emotions interchangeably. That’s not exactly correct, but I do have trouble with identifying both. Emotion describes how your body is reacting to a stimulus, and a feeling describes how your mind interprets that emotion. And, I have to add, your thoughts are the rationalizing of what to do and behavior is what you do eventually with the thoughts and feelings. Hence, the wise advice of thinking before you act.

My issues stem from questioning my emotions and the feelings they evoke. My default is to think WAY too much, question myself WAY too much, before I act (or not act). I squash my feelings so I often deny myself from letting my emotions evolve into feelings. I play it safe because my whole life has been a series of good results (mostly) when I kept my feelings to myself and bad results (mostly) when I reacted to something. In other words, I have been a lot less likely to make a fool of myself or hurt others if I keep my stronger, truer emotions to myself. I have been a cool, collected person. I deny myself so much eventual happiness this way — maybe?? — which is of course severely frustrating.

the-anger-funnel-feelings-chart

Thank God for running. And meds. And therapy.

Thanks for reading.