Fasching Weekend in Helen

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It was a date weekend for Josef and me, and there were activities all weekend. Between costume changes and making new friends and staying up way too late each night, the weekend flew by!

My sister gave me Jem and the Holigrams earrings for Christmas this year, and this was the perfect occasion to wear them. I met this group of ladies who had stumbled upon Helen and found out about our party Friday night. I don’t really know what my costume was, but my wig and tights matched.

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I was very tall that night. Josef’s suit is made in the same material as the Bavarian flag. He was playing music between the sets of the live music.

That feather boa looked great, right? I danced with my friend Sue, and after the song ended, I smelled something funky. I wasn’t sure what it was, only that it smelled horrible. I left the dance floor in a hurry in order to leave the smell. BUT IT FOLLOWED ME. In the words of Cathy of the comic strip in the same name, ACK!

I made Josef smell me, and he smelled it, too. BARF.

I couldn’t last all night smelling like this. The culprit was the feather boa. The good thing about the location of the party was that it was possible to go home and change, so I did. I don’t have any pictures of my second costume, but the only thing it had in common with the first costume were the shoes, tights, and earrings. The dress, the boa, and the wig were set out to air out.  I’ve had the boa since college, and apparently when you store them for a long time and then introduce body sweat, what results is the nastiest smell I’d smelled in a long time. And that’s saying a lot as the mother of a young child who has had diapers in the recent past.

I changed into a white dress and wore a silver wig. And the party went on.

The next day was the tubing parade, and I put on my unicorn outfit!

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Here’s our whole group as we set out on our adventure.

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That night there was yet another party, and I went as a cat.

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It was fun, but I was pretty tired out. Plus I was developing a pretty bad sore throat. We invited folks over to our house, where they all made fun of me because I had no voice.

On Sunday, right before we left to go back to Atlanta, I helped Josef move some furniture. We were moving a futon, and I was walking backwards with it. Bang! went the side of the futon on my shin. I reacted to it hitting my shin by straightening my legs, and OUCH! went my lower back. Son of a gun, it hurt! Between my throat, shin, and now back pain, I wasn’t sure how I’d deal with a small child once we got back to Atlanta. I worried about work the next day, too.

I wound up calling in sick, got the child to school, went back home and slept all day. I’m much better today. My back is 95% better, my throat still hurts a lot, my shins still hurt, and I have a barking cough. I really want to go run but I think I’d better heal some more.

And today is Valentine’s Day, so I am sending lots of love to the readers who take the time to read this!

Thanks for reading.

My Weekend of Sobriety #1

As I mentioned before, I’m trying not to drink because I experience the inability to stop once I do. And that, my friends, is no good.

Josef went up to Helen without me this weekend, and I enjoyed a leisurely weekend took our son’s weekend schedule under my wing. Although, I did hire a sitter Friday night and got in some good time with old friends. Back in the day I sang in an a cappella group that I loved for most of the time I was in it. Then it stopped being fun and I quit. Another girl from the group left at some point and joined another a cappella group that was doing music more in line with her style. And another girl from the group quit, too; she and I went to see the girl in her newer group perform and it was awesome! I’m so happy for her. Their group is so good and I didn’t want the show to end.

The show was at a bar. I drove (despite my fear of not being able to find parking) and only drank a Coke. So I still had the calories of a drink, I suppose, but I only had one, you guys. Stop judging.

Saturday I took the little dude (who was all HELLO WORLD!!!! at 5:30 am!!!!) to a place in town at a mall with indoor inflatable games. He looooooved it, putting it lightly. One of his classmates from school and her mother joined us. We went to lunch in the food court. Not the most relaxing lunch I’ve ever had, but the place was super empty so it was okay. There were only two options for lunch — that’s how empty.

We did absolutely nothing on Saturday night. It was lovely. Little dude tuckered out pretty early after his exciting day and I was able to watch some Netflix before heading to bed pretty early myself.

Sunday, I went to church with the same friends from the day before, and it was nice! It took all of 4 minutes to drive there, we didn’t have to dress as nicely as we do for the church we’re members of, and the congregation there is very progressive and openly emotional about all the stuff going down in our nation currently. I helped teach Sunday school so my son would be more comfortable, and that was fun. The service was mostly fun — my son ran around and shouted a bit more than was comfortable for me. Luckily, he’s pretty cute so folks kept telling me it was totally okay. We took our kids back to a room where they could play with toys on some other adult volunteers’ watches, so we could go back listen to the sermon. It felt so good to be at church. It did not feel so good to not really know this congregation, which prompts me to figure out — do I get to know this congregation, try out some other places, suck it up and stay where we got married and our son baptized? This is to say, what church is best for us in town, as we will still be gone a great deal on the weekends.

My son and I went out to lunch after that, as I had a massive headache and couldn’t deal with making lunch right then. He wanted noodles so we got Thai — my fave. The portions were huge so leftovers for dinner! Josef returned in time for dinner.

I really didn’t want to drink, surprisingly. I figure it has to do with not usually being in Atlanta over the weekend. I hope the success of this weekend can help me not want to drink next weekend. I think it will be hard as I’ll be back in Helen, among a lot of people who like to drink, and there are parties going on where alcohol will be a focus. Even people pretending to be Bavarians love them some bier und wein. Maybe I will discover a love of Shirley Temples or something.

I expressed some of my current issues to my friend who attended the show with me on Friday night. She is so wise, and she gave me some advice she’d gleaned from a mentor in her life: it’s not a light switch, it’s a journey. I shouldn’t expect instant gratification, even though everyone says I am doing all the right things to take care of myself: therapy, meds, exercise, and now not drinking.

Phew, this journey is full of trials and tribulations, but I have to muddle through so I can see where this journey takes me. I think I am not quite where I need to be in the journey to set goals. I’m just trying to feel better right now.

Thanks for reading.

Revving Up Again. But Still Stuck.

I realize yesterday’s post was not the most sunshine-y. I think I may have reached my optimism limit some days, yesterday being one of them. I want to speak my mind. Once heard someone say (paraphrased), “you may not know exactly what your thought is until you’re actually speaking the thought out loud.”

Or, in my case, writing it.

I took 3 days off from running. Mostly because of a certain vices in my life (cider, wine, etc.), but also because of rain, and actual general laziness (exhaustion???). When I ran last Thursday, I wasn’t feeling it, even though I ran 5 miles. I only ran 17 miles last week, as opposed to 30 the week before. I have this goal of running the marathon and it’s pressing on me too dauntingly. I was partially afraid of going running again yesterday because I thought I might not *want* to. Luckily I was able to run and enjoy over 6 miles yesterday. It was a cold and blustery day, but lots of folks were out and the morning rain had moved out. And I slept mostly well.

Self care is the hardest thing for me right now. It feels so selfish. Running is an acceptable form of self care to most – therapists, my husband, others who run. I don’t want to lose it so I have to take care of myself all the more. Running is how I blow off steam, clear my head. Running is also probably how I run away from my problems, like my issues are a gang of evil monsters with clubs on fire running at my heels. It’s a solitary activity, unless running in a group of course. Even though I am not a swimmer, I imagine the submersion into water feels so good to satisfy a person’s need for solitude. I know I like to submerge in the bathtub to disconnect for a bit. Running feels the same way.

I may not run a marathon quite yet, but at least it’s in the realm of possibility for me given how much I run now.

Sometimes, though, I hit a wall and have no energy. I shut down and have to rest. My brain overloads and basically gets stuck on an unproductive spin cycle, centrifugal force holding everything troubling against the wall and holding them in equally overwhelming importance. “Deal with me!” each issue yells at me at once. These are the very thoughts I am having right now:

“You need to work.”

“You need to think about dinner.”

“You shouldn’t have eaten that.”

“You need to go to church.”

“You need to take a shower.”

“You need to see how your friend you talked to last week is doing.”

“You need to donate to that cause.”

“You need to volunteer more.”

“You need to go to bed earlier tonight.”

“You need to wake up earlier tomorrow.”

“You need to do the laundry.”

“You need to run tomorrow.”

“You need to remember to get ready for that meeting next week.”

“You need to vacuum.”

“You need to go through the mail.”

“You need to get better at meal planning and stop wasting so much produce.”

“You need to clean off your desk at work.”

“You need to go to your friend’s show.”

“You need to call your state representatives.”

“You need to check your email.”

“You need to send that report.”

“You need to meet your billing deadline.”

“You need to apologize for hurting feelings.”

“You need to be a better mom.”

“You need more rest.”

“You need to use those gift cards from Christmas.”

On and on it goes, when I am not running.

This is why I run.

 

 

 

 

Had It Here, Lost It There

There was a volume of stories that sat on the same shelf as our family’s set of encyclopedias. I can’t remember if they were from the same publisher as the encyclopedias, Collier, or not. There were seven bound books, all a different color, and the volumes were categorized some way I can’t remember, but the volumes were called something such as “In The Air,” etc.

There are only a few stories in there I remember, even vaguely, as my favorites. One was called “Soap.” It was about a young lad whose mother sent him off to the store for some (dramatic pause) soap. As he is on his way to get the soap, in order to not forget what he’s supposed to buy, he says, “Soap, soap, soap, soap,” as he walks.

While I don’t remember the details, the gist of the story is that the young lad gets interrupted by people he meets or things that happen along the route, and he forgets what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s KNOWS he’s supposed to going somewhere to get something, but it’s gone from his brain. He knew that when he was standing in one place, he knew what he was going to do, and then at another place, he know longer knew, so he paced back and forth, saying, “Had it here, lost it there. Had it here, lost it there.”

I think the story ends happily with him remembering what his errand was, and perhaps he completes it and returns home, albeit much later than his mother would have liked.

The part of the story I’m relating to today is that I have lost my keys.

Last night, I came home from work, went into the apartment, and went back out to go lift weights in our little fitness area. I recall my wallet and keys being in the gym with me. When I left, I didn’t have to use my keys to get into the apartment because Josef was home so the door was unlocked.

This morning, I was fully ready to go, my son was fully ready to go, and NO KEYS.

Tore the house apart looking. Called Josef. Retraced steps. Left a voicemail with apartment office. Ran to office (where fitness room is) to see if I could either find keys or lost and found. No dice, but the maintenance manager was able to give me a temporary set of keys. And I found my valet key for my car so I could at least get to work.

In the fitness room is where my keys were the last time I know I had them. So now, I feel like the boy in “Soap,” where I’m thinking of the space and time between “had them at gym, realized I’d lost them this morning. Had them at the gym, realized I’d lost them this morning.” No amount of pacing or digging has helped them turn up yet. It’s pretty frustrating!

But, I know I will either find them or get lots of new keys. This issue isn’t without solutions. I have this weird feeling Josef will find them or the apartment complex office will find them. I’m somehow remaining calm even though it’s meant spending a lot of time seeking and trying to find them.

I feel this way about a lot of problems, like they will work themselves out no matter how much fretting I do. For the most part, I think this is how I live life. It’s pretty passive, though, and I need to be more active in solving the lingering problems in my life. I think I tend to minimize issues, too, thinking to myself if I make a big deal out of something that turns out to be nothing, then I will feel foolish, cause unnecessary alarm, appear to be seeking attention I don’t know that I want, etc. Just like I’ve struggled with naming emotions, meeting deadlines, and letting things slip through the cracks, I now realize I’ve failed to recognize crises in relationships: not showing affection, not reaching out, not clearing the air, etc.

It all makes me feel like a dumb kid, sent on an errand to buy some soap.

Thanks for reading.

Susan

 

Hanging All My Hangups

Canned Heat By – Jamiroquai has this great line, “So I’ve got to hang out all my hang-ups”

We all have weird hang-ups. What are yours?

I think hang-ups are the things that cause anxiety in our lives. Our triggers.

I’ll share some of mine.

  1. The worst one: I am super weird about parking. I have anxiety about going places because I don’t know what the parking situation will be. Not so much whether it’s free or paid, but if there will be any. I just booked an appointment for a massage on my birthday next week and I am already nervous about the parking. I am so scared there won’t be anywhere to park.
  2. My midsection. If you’ve read me before, you know this. If not, please know that I hate hate hate my midsection – my tummy, my belly. I’ve hated it since I was 11. I have a journal entry talking about it then. Running has been helping with this. Eating too much food hasn’t helped. I hate for it to be seen, touched, tickled, no matter how beloved I am. It makes me anxious if someone even looks at my stomach (do they think I’m pregnant? do I have a muffin top? Oh, God, please stop looking at me!). It causes me to panic when anyone touches my midsection.
  3. I can be doing 99% of everything well or correctly in my life. One thing happens that is indicative that I haven’t done something important, or I forget something I was supposed to do, but basically something goes wrong, and I am basically devastated and think I am the worst. This is debilitating. So as a result, I try to be a high performer in all areas of my life, which only makes things worse when a devastating blow occurs. There are two triggers here: anxiety over the possibility and anxiety over what others (will) think of me if I fail to do something. I have made some progress here, and I recognize this is self-imposed.
  4. Communicating. If I don’t know the exact right thing to say yet, I don’t say anything. This causes anxiety for me because I know I need to say something (to a colleague, my spouse, my child’s teacher, a friend), but because what I have to say isn’t completely formed or will cause concern, I withhold. Knowing I need to say something creates pressure for me, and so I avoid.
  5. Deadlines. When a deadline is in the distance, I don’t worry about it. As it approaches, I grow anxious. Not necessary, as I could complete work in a timely fashion, but the alarm call to action hits a little later for me than it should. I sabotage myself this way, and I am worried I won’t get everything done. And I become a horrible person to everyone around me.

Please share your hang-ups with me! I know you’re reading, so please comment.

Thanks for reading.

Susan

(Not) Rollin’ on a River

I love to people watch. If I know I will be somewhere particularly crowded, even though I hate crowds, I get excited about the chance to watch people doing what they do.

One of my favorite places to watch people in is the small Georgia mountain town of Helen. In the summer, folks like to go tubing.

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You can learn a lot about a person by the way he or she deals with the tubing experience. You see the full range of human experience if you sit along the river and watch the folks tubing float by you.

The thrill seeker. This is the person who is going to aim for every rapid (even though there aren’t any in Helen) and try to make the experience as exciting as possible.

The stoic. This person is here to relax, not react. They will contemplate nature while drifting along.

The bundle of nerves. Each bump into rocks or other inter tubes will stress this person out. They also don’t actually want to be in their swimsuit in public.

The sleepyhead. This person will promptly fall asleep, oblivious to times they bump into others or get stuck.

The chatterbug. This person has to talk to everyone the whole time. Often at the front of a pack. Often trying to entertain the group.

The beautiful person. This is the tannest, fittest, most scantily clad person, propped up for all to see. Male or female, they want all eyes on them, not to say that they’ll show they care if you’re looking at them.

There are many other types, but these are the main ones that come to mind as I write. I think of how I’ve seen folks on the river deal with the issues the river presents — places where you’ll get stuck, where a rapid might be, where a lot of tubes might pile up in a bottleneck.

If it’s a fast moving part of the river, the thrill seeker is going to try to figure out how to make it more exciting, and might try to stand in their tube. The bundle of nerves is going to fret and possibly cry. The chatterbug will tell everyone it’s coming and get ready. The stoic will accept their fate and go along with the flow. The beautiful person will outwardly look unruffled and might even smile to show they are having fun, but inwardly worry about looking stupid if fall out of their tube. The sleepyhead will completely miss the event.

I think however we deal with things in life can say a lot about us. The issue is almost always neutral: traffic, an issue at work, a cancellation of an event. How we react and regroup is how we inherently deal with the issue.

I’m more of a stoic type on the river and in life. I tend to believe a lot of things work themselves out. If I fight a situation, I’ll be more likely to make a fool of myself. If I gather information, watch others go through the same thing, and wait, the answer will emerge. A lot of problems can’t be solved immediately. A lot of situations can’t be resolved quickly. So why force them to? And why look for any fun in them? My secondary type is either the bundle of nerves or the chatterbug.

Sometimes, though, I wonder what taking a thrillseeker position for do for me. Maybe I should throw myself at opportunities more, even though it scares me. I hope I have this thought each time a new challenge emerges.

Be a thrillseeker, Susan. See where it takes you.

“If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have no money
People on the river are happy to give” — Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Thanks for reading.

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It Ain’t Easy, Bein’ Three-sy

And that’s totally cheesy to write, but it’s true.

I’ve kept stories about child’s life off of this blog mainly because I’ve been a blogger ghost the last while. I don’t have the time to devote to this craft in the way I used to. See, in the past, I would have ruminated over a topic, formed some whammy points that felt profound in my mind, start writing said whammy points only to fail but then somehow cobble it all together anyway, add some pictures, and hit “publish.” About two years ago I had a great idea to start a series on mental health topics, all of which are sitting in my drafts.

Heh. If you’re a parent of a three year old, you live for times that just don’t exist anymore.

TV? Basically a thing of the past. I watched Gilmore Girls through my sleeping eyelids when I was out sick a few weeks back. That’s this mom’s version of “Netflix and Chill.”

Running by Walgreen’s to print a picture of my child for school (as the teacher suggested)  – yeah, no, thanks, I will just draw a picture of him on this thing I have to turn in for school about my son. (Josef was able to print one, but it’s a weird color as some of our ink cartridge colors were out, haha).

Hang out with friends? Great idea! Do they have kids and do they want to go get dinner before our kids have to be in bed? Because that’s socializing these days.

Alone time? Running is my alone time, and it’s been pretty meditative for me, to the point that I can run an hour. I finally got to run tonight, and am feeling better as a result. Riding in the car from daycare to work and from work to home are my other alone times.

The sweet child whose birth I posted about on this blog several years ago is now 3. He’s amazing and frustrating and sweet and totally sour, and a complete angelic imp. He’s the biggest challenge of my life but a great joy, too. When other people like him, it’s like Deb from Napoleon Dynamite, when Napoleon compliment’s Deb’s puff sleeves on her dress at the school dance. Not missing a beat, Deb replies, “thanks. I made them myself.” So yeah, he’s totally my puff sleeve. Other times, no one notices how cute he is, and my humility is kept in check.

He’s been frustrating me to no end lately as each tiny thing becomes a battle of wills, like invisible lasers are protecting the treasure chest called The Peaceful and Well Behaved Child. These invisible lasers can be tripped by many innocent-sounding things, like “Let’s try and go potty.” “It’s time for school.” “Let’s get dressed.” “It’s not 6:00 a.m. yet, so no you may not watch TV” (I know, I know, bad parent but guys, it helps to let him watch tv as I get ready for work). I’ve accepted that there is just no way to tell where the stinkin’ invisible lasers are.

As with all reactions from others I don’t understand, I try to put myself in his tiny shoes to see his perspective, but that’s still a complete mystery to me most of the time. And as he’s a bad sleeper, our whole household are bad sleepers, so we’re already starting each day very tired, the first line of defense against feeling like a bad parent already broken. Then the previously-mentioned invisible lasers are tripped and the fallout from activating the security system, so to speak, is BAD, you guys. I dealt with no less than 5 tantrums and general bad behavior before even getting out of the door this morning. There is zero doubt in my mind that he has developed independence that will serve him well later in life. Now, if he’d just go pee when I ask him to, and not throw a fit when I tell him it’s sports day at school, things would be far less stressful.

I rocked him to sleep tonight, after he shined his light up stuffed animal in my eyes and elbowed me in the face a few times as he played shadow puppets on the wall. He won’t be this little forever. So I have to do what every other parent does: suck it up, figure out what I can let go of for the sake of sanity, and appreciate what a gift it is to have a child.

Little man, I will try to understand when you’re coloring on yourself again with the markers you aren’t supposed to have, or when you’ve gotten a brand new stick of butter out of the refrigerator yet again to either have a bite or rub your hands and face all over it, or when you scare the crap out of me as you run away from me and out into a parking lot or climb on rickety furniture, that you’re just a little dude trying to make sense of the world that is full of rules you don’t understand and all sorts of things you want to try to do.

I’m sorry I get mad at you sometimes, like this morning. I try really hard to not show it, but it comes out in my voice. I guess that’s just part of the parent-child dance, and you’re learning what my voice sounds like when I am mad, storing that information for down the road for the times we won’t see eye to eye. You’ve already learned some techniques for trying to sweet talk me. You’ve called me out when I forgot about something I promised you. I’ve learned from times that I said one thing but you heard another, how to tell you something more clearly next time.

It’s been a long, long time since I was three, but I am trying to listen and understand.

Won’t You Take Me (Out of) Funky Town?

Today is one of those days where everything feels heavy. Everything feels like a dream or like I am on one of those rides that takes you through the scenes (like “It’s a Small World”), and all I have to do is sit here and look at the world passing by. I just want to sit and look, but others need me to do things, so I can’t just sit here. I’m responsible.

I’ve slept plenty but I haven’t exercised enough.

Bad headache from yesterday has gone but I’m still reeling from it.

And I am still getting through the stuff I didn’t get done when I was sick a few weeks back.

What an exciting blog post, Susan! Please complain some more to me!

You’re right. I shouldn’t complain. I know I can get myself out of this the same way I always do, by working toward all my to-do items that have stacked up a mile high.

Oh, lord, that to-d0 list: Deadline early next week. Other pressing matters I haven’t addressed that are due. Things I’m pretending that don’t bug me, but do. Things I should have acted on already but only I know about my own internal deadlines on those things. Ongoing: Maintain normalcy on all fronts. Learn how to ask for help.

The days are getting shorter and my patience level is dwindling with the daylight. I’m irritated with myself.

Again: super engaging writing, Susan! Thanks for being so specific!

Okay, I am going to stop with the negative self-talk. I’m going to get over this funk.

I pray for patience, energy, gratitude, creativity. I pray that I can generate enthusiasm from these sources.

Thanks for reading.