Finally 2017: Uncovering a New Path

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I always like to look at last year’s New Year’s blog to see what I had hoped for the year ahead to see if I nailed it. Sometimes I do. Other times it’s not even close. I blogged on New Year’s Eve last year but not on the first day of 2017. I know that I went to my friend Cheryl’s house for soup and socializing on New Year’s Day, but I have no idea what else I did.

On New Year’s Eve 2016, I had a great hike at Warren Dunes with my friend Karen and her dog Tippy. It was obviously warmer than today as the water in the stream is not frozen in the photos. It was a lovely day, and about a month ago I contacted Karen to see if she would be up this way this year. I longed to spend some time with her adventurous soul again. She is building community in Texas and won’t be headed this way this year.

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A part of me would love to get out and snowshoe, but a part of me would like to stay warm and cozy inside. I made the trek to yoga this morning in New Buffalo to Dancing Feet Yoga where a warm and introspective yoga practice grounded me. Don led us in a series of poses that stretched my hamstrings, twisted my spine and spiked my energy. We were warm and toasty inside while the snow fell constantly outside like a Christmas postcard. The drifts by the parking lot were so deep that Ashok couldn’t even touch the ground when she got out for a walk. As opposed to last year’s high energy ending, I feel much more internally focused and relaxed.

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I’m now comfortably hanging at Infusco having a biscotti and a latte while Ashok lounges on her blanket. The people here are not as interested in socializing as they were at the hotel last weekend, but she keeps looking for it. She hasn’t been able to spend as much time outside as usual with the frigid temps and constantly falling lake effect snow. I ran with a running group yesterday for the first time, but it was too cold to bring her. Besides, I wasn’t sure how it would go as it’s been over 10 years since I’ve run in the ice and snow. I was a little afraid of slipping, but yesterday turned out just fine. Perhaps we’ll get out for at least a little walk or hike this afternoon if it slows down.

At Dancing Feet this morning….

As far as my reflection on this year, I’m not thrilled with my adventures this year. I’ve spent too much time ruminating on things I can’t control and more time than I’d like mired in depression. But I’ve learned how effective meditation can be, and I’ve settled in to a comfortable life in Michigan. My routine feels good although I’d like to get more consistent running in the winter. My hopes for next year are around spending more time creating – whether that’s writing or teaching or learning something new.  I have a goal of attending a writing conference, finding a writing group and beginning a practice of regular daily writing.

I am starting the New Year off just as I did last year with a 30-day yoga practice. Yoga with Adrienne has a 30-day practice focused on being true to yourself called True. A few friends are joining me in the free series. I recommend it if you’d like to start off 2018 in a more connected way. I think I’ll let this practice inform where I want to focus this year. I’ll be 57 in two weeks. The clock continues to tick, and I continue to be inspired to make each day count more than the one before. I certainly feel truer to myself at 56 than I did at 46. Ten years ago today I was waiting to be divorced and in a decidedly worse spot than I am today. I had no idea what gifts the future would bring.

This morning’s email from Adrienne asked me to think about what I’m open to this year. I like the thought of being open to something rather than trying to force myself into some kind of activity. Finally, it feels like I’m uncovering a new path rather than searching for a destination. I don’t have to know exactly where it’s leading. I just have to be open to walking it. What surprises might be in store for me this year?

Be safe tonight, and have a great New Year’s Eve. 2018 awaits with adventures we cannot even comprehend. Greet them with an open heart, a sense of adventure and a seriously deranged sense of humor.

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Fiction: Almost Given Up

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Tara looked at her running shoes on the other side of the room. They look like new but had been in her possession for many months. “There’s nothing like the feel of a new running shoe under my feet,” she thought. It made her smile. She glanced out the window at the road that she had run so many times. Running was freedom. It was a longing and an attempt to maintain forward motion. She loved it.

The Chicago Marathon was less than an hour from starting. Even with the warmth of the 70,000 people around her and the buzz of excitement, she was cold. But she had waited a long time for this. She had trained a long time and through a lot of humid, hot miles. It was her first event of this magnitude, and it would be the highlight of her 40s to finish it.

In fact, her 40s seemed like a marathon. The death of her best friend, a divorce and the loss of the job that she had loved for 15 years knocked her off her pedestal of success. But inside, she felt that she was a better person for it. She’d learned how to ride the waves of grief, reinvent herself and ask for what she wanted. The muscle of her soul felt stronger. She’d chosen the marathon as a way to help her outsides match the badass strength of her insides. Every mile gave her the confidence that she was gaining ground.

Looking up at the condominiums on the other side of the park, she wondered what it was like to live there. Would she want to lug her stuff down 15 floors every morning to go to work? Slogging through snow and ice to catch a train could be an adventure if you looked at it that way. She thought of the empty space in her future where her dreams used to live. Could this be a future she’d love? Her heart jumped a little at the thought of it. She could see herself as a city girl.

The miles slogged on the roads through weather of all kinds was just a metaphor for her life journey. And her shoes lay on the other side of the room, discarded… a reminder of what she hadn’t done more than what she’d accomplished. After the marathon, she’d almost given up on herself. It was a great accomplishment, but it somehow brought on a pause instead of a celebration … a depression instead of joy.

She had wanted that 26-mile journey to be the start of something new. Instead it felt like an ending. It was the hard stop of the life that she had known before with a fist shaken in the face of defeat. The energy it had taken to get there – physically and emotionally – left her depleted. Her much-needed physical rest turned into a surrender to life. The grief was gone, but the hole left by her dreams seemed bottomless. Those almost like-new running shoes lay right where she had left them that day 6 months ago. When you don’t know the next step, who needs shoes?

She looked at the road again. The sound of her footfalls and the sight of her frosty breath on a cold day seemed like a gift. She thought about that morning in Chicago when she was so hopeful and inquisitive about her next steps. “Every journey begins with a single  step,” she whispered. She breathed in a big breath shifting the weight of the depression weighing in on her chest. “Maybe I could start with a walk,” she bargained. “Yes, I think a walk would be good.”

 

The Silver Lining of a Year Gone Bad

I’m kind of excited! I’m charting my calendar for the weekend. I have two parties to attend, and it looks like we are getting snow, snow and more snow! I may get a chance to snowshoe. I joined a local running club, and I plan to attend their Saturday morning run tomorrow. They seem so friendly and welcoming on their Facebook page. And I’ve started making the drive to New Buffalo to attend Sunday morning yoga at my old yoga studio. I went two Sundays ago, and I realized how much I miss Don’s yoga. His yoga is so different than the “exercise” yoga I find so many other places. His over 40 years of experience in teaching yoga puts him in a whole different universe than a teacher with five years of experience.

I also signed up for my first writing course! It starts right after my birthday. I’ve been noodling this for months and just decided to bite the bullet. If I can come up with $1200 for emergency vet bills, I can come up with $300 to invest in learning something new. My goal this year is to start writing some fiction to see if I like it.

Today is the day I start to ratchet down my overconsumption of caffeine and sugar that has been my habit over the last week or so. I can’t wait to feel better and have a fun-filled weekend filled with good health and friends – and probably a coffee shop visit or two. This week has been slow at work, so I’ve had a chance to be productive and create a few things that I haven’t had time to work on due to meetings and interruptions. Overall, this week has given me a chance to think about where I want to go personally in the new year. I think I will be writing more, trying some new exercise options, practicing more yoga and continuing to make new friends.

Most of my podcasts are doing “year in review” segments. 2017 was a monster  truck in overdrive, and it has never stopped. I’ve been looking for the silver lining in all of this because I know it’s there. It always is. The Daily from the New York Times is one of my favorite podcasts to explain the news. Their year-end review has been particularly inspiring and has helped me find the fabulous silver lining on the last year. I’ll link to some of them at the end of this blog. It is a reminder to me that the good in life is found in the interpersonal relationships of people and in the resilience of the human spirit. We are at our best when we focus on individuals and put down our stereotypes.

 

I hope you have a glorious New Year’s weekend, and I urge you to take a few moments to yourself to set up a plan for a better 2018 – for you, your family and friends, our country and the world. We all deserve it.

If you are needing a more positive take on 2017, here are some great stories:

  1. This podcast illustrates the goodness of people when we connect individually instead of focusing on stereotypes. It is set in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and it is the story of a young man who vandalizes a Mosque and the reaction of the Muslims to his heart-felt apology. Forgiveness, humility and self-compassion are key ingredients. Click here for a story on vandalism and forgiveness.
  2. This podcast shows how one of the budding leaders of the alt-right changes his mind about his family’s political views. It’s the connection, kindness and respect of his Jewish and liberal-leaning friends that gently lead him down a path of awareness. We will never change people’s minds by screaming at them or shaming them. It is only with love and patience that people listen. Click here for this amazing story.
  3. This podcast shows a town learning the hard way how tougher immigration laws impact one of icons of their community. Nothing is ever completely good or bad, and this story shows the impact when hard lines are drawn. Click here for the heartwarming story of Carlos.

 

 

 

Superhighways for Moving Through Feelings

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Today’s reading from The Language of Letting Go urged me to be aware of my feelings. Dysfunctional messages tell us not to feel. Above are some basic feelings. We all have them. Normalize them. Let them move through you like a current. I promise they will change if you just let yourself feel them. Here are some superhighways for moving emotions through your body.

  • Talk about them.
  • Journal or write.
  • Cry.
  • Laugh.
  • Hug yourself.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Exercise.
  • Practice yoga.
  • Explore them in meditation.

Sundays in Sawyer: Dancing With Darkness

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The house across the street when I left this morning.

It was dark when I left out this morning at 8 AM. Christmas lights sparkled red and green against the soft luminescent snow. The Winter Solstice is this week – Thursday to be exact. I love Solstice celebrations. When I think of the significance of lightness and darkness in our lives, it makes sense to me that the days with the most light and the days with the most darkness should be marked in some way. And what would Christmas lights be without the long interplay of darkness in December?

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I’ve always loved the dark. I love seeing the stars at night, and I love the long nights of winter. They are times of rest and reflection. I don’t sleep as well in the summer with the long days of sunshine. While I feel more energetic during the summer, I don’t think it is good for us to be revved up all the time. There is a reason for the season, and I believe the reason is rest and rejuvenation – of our bodies, our souls and our lives. Our ancestors felt these seasons were so important, they were the biggest celebrations of the year.

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Part of my plan for getting through the winter this year is to be open to doing something different. I signed up for an 8-class yoga pass at my old yoga studio where I completed my teacher training. And, I decided that I would start doing my Sunday blogging at Infusco Coffee in Sawyer since it is on the way to the Sunday yoga class.  When I visited their website last night, I read about their mission. This is much more than a coffee shop. They sell “relationship coffee.” It makes the coffee taste much better when there is such a good cause behind it. If that’s not a light in the darkness, I don’t know what is. So now my Sunday blog will be called Sundays in Sawyer…. until I do something different.

The mission and history of Infusco ….

A sign on their counter said their eggnog latte was divine, so I ordered one. Ashok was out in the car waiting like usual, and I thought to ask if they allowed dogs. They do! Ashok can now hang with me instead of waiting in the car. I set down her blanket, and we both enjoyed the Christmas tree and the quiet setting of this comfortable and welcoming coffeehouse.

The darkness of depression is still lingering with me this evening. But I got up and made myself a nice, healthy dinner. A task so simple feels overwhelming when I’m depressed. But, I have to say it made me feel a tad better to put some effort into taking care of me. I think I’ll turn off this computer now and go read for a bit. Surely I have something light and humorous on my Kindle to ignite a little lightness in my spirit. If not, I can always fall asleep and get some rest. Either way, tomorrow will be another day.

We got out for a hike today at Warren Dunes State Park. That helped my mood a bit, too….

 

The Extraction of a Troublesome Tooth

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This morning I had a tooth extracted. But this was no ordinary run-of-the-mill tooth. This was THE tooth. This was the tooth that cost me hours upon hours in dental offices and literally thousands of dollars. This was my first root canal, and it would become my first extraction. “I know this isn’t what you want to hear,” the Michigan endodontist said, “but that tooth needs to be extracted. The root is cracked.” My heart sank as I looked out the window where the birds were eating at a feeder. But a voice inside my head, said, “Let it go.” And shame washed over me.

In my early thirties, this tooth had lost a filling or cracked or something, exposing a nerve. I’d never had any kind of serious tooth problem. But when I would drink anything hot or cold or even bite down on it, it would hurt. It keep getting worse and worse, and it got particularly bad one day when I was at a sportswriter’s convention with my ex near Gatlinburg. The pain was so bad, I called up a friend’s husband who was a dentist, and he agreed to see me right away.

I was so naive back then and so filled with anxiety that I was literally shaking as I went in to his office. I thought this was going to be horribly painful, and I would be broke for life. I had always been healthy, so this seemed like the end of the world to me. The pain was so horrible that I was literally traumatized by it. He was so nice. It was a tooth with 3 canals, he told me, and it needed a root canal. He usually sent those out, but since it was me, he agreed to do it. I’m quite sure he could tell I was scared to death and would burst into tears if he didn’t do it.

I drove the hour back to Gatlinburg and then returned the next day for the procedure. I was pleasantly surprised that the procedure was no worse than getting a filling. And the pain blessedly was gone. I was still woosy from the drugs, so the curvy hilly drive back to Gatlinburg seemed like a drug-induced dream. But the worst was over.

It was only about a year later that the tooth got infected. The very same dentist who now had my undying loyalty sent me to a specialist for a re-treatment. I wasn’t as afraid this time as I knew the drill – pun intended. The pretreatment went fine, and the tooth seemed happily content for many years. One day when I was in Louisiana, I noticed a bump on my gum above the tooth. That’s weird, I thought. It didn’t hurt. It looked like a pimple. I didn’t think much of it, but when it didn’t disappear I called my amazing dentist in Baton Rouge.

“That tooth is infected,” he told me. “The pimple is releasing the pressure so you don’t feel it, but we need to retreat the root canal.” Off I went to yet another endodontist to retreat the root canal. I expected him to advise extraction since it had already been treated twice, but he didn’t. The second treatment had lasted about 20 years. That was three years ago.

I found the pimple again the day before Thanksgiving. I’m trying to rid myself of troublesome things. I have beliefs that don’t serve me, and they haven’t served me for decades. I’m making headway in letting those go. I’ve made choices in my life and in my relationships that make my life lighter. I’ve downsized my belongings, and I’ve gotten out of debt. As I stood in front of the mirror and looked at the telltale sign of a hidden infection, I truly felt it was time to let this go, too.

Extracting a tooth is fairly serious. It’s why we put so much money into keeping them. After you extract one, you have to either bridge it which involves destroying two other teeth or get an implant which is surgery. If you leave the socket empty, you risk bone loss or shifting teeth which causes a new set of issues. Whatever my choices, it will take time and money and a bit of an attitude shift. And in a weird, surprising way I feel a bit of shame that I didn’t – or couldn’t – take care of my tooth. I remember feeling shame the first time it was worked on. Perfection? Failure? Loss? Not sure of the root, but there’s shame there.

So, today I have a hole where a tooth once lived. I’m eating soft, cold foods because it has to scab over. Luckily it’s hidden so I don’t have to look at it, but I’m sure I’ll take a peek. When the dentist was done, I asked his assistant if I could see the tooth. She gets a tweezer and picks up this tiny little bloody thing I could hardly see without my glasses. It came out in two parts because it was broken. “It’s so tiny,” I thought. In my mind, it was massive with big hairy tentacles and dripping with blood.

My first instinct was to ask to bring it home. I’d invested so much in it over the years, and it was a part of me. “No,” I heard. “Let it go.” And I did.

 

Owning The Story of Your Life

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On this beautiful 55-ish degree day in November, I am very grateful to have run a 10K down to the lighthouse from my house. Fisherman lined the catwalk manning the lines plunging into the clear green water that was uncharacteristically still. One smiled at me as Ashok and I ran by so I stopped to ask him what kind of fish they caught out there. Trout was what he was hoping for, but he said that they weren’t very big this time of year – not like in the spring when salmon might be running. He assured me that being out on such a beautiful day in such a beautiful place was its own reward.

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We have our rituals. Mine is sitting in coffeehouses writing and watching people. On other days, my practice might be walking in the woods. When I’m at home, curling up on the sofa by the reading lamp with a hot cup of tea and my fur babies listening to Enya and writing or reading is my favorite pastime. As I ran past the fisherman bundled up on the catwalk, I imagined that this is way they like to wile away their days when other responsibilities don’t intercede. It seemed so peaceful, and it seemed that they knew each other … each one in their chosen spot with their chairs and tackle and creature comforts.

On my headphones, Ginger Zee, a meteorologist who reports on natural disasters, was being interviewed on the 10% Happier podcast. Her latest book, Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I am One,  details the story of her life and her experiences and misadventures with depression. I listened as I clocked off miles 3, 4, 5, and six. She called off her wedding after she and her fiancé had mailed the invitations. She waited at the post office until it opened the next day, and the postmaster helped her pull the invitations out of the stack of mail. “This has happened before,” he reassured her. And I thought of the desperation and embarrassment of having to undo marriages and bad decisions and failed attempts at life. We all have had those moments of pulling sent invitations out of the mailbox – in one way or another.

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In yesterday’s 12-step meeting, a man said, “The only thing we own is our story.” I was taken aback by the truth of that statement. Money and relationships and careers and belongings come and go as easily as water beneath a bridge. But it’s the stories of our lives that define us and connect us with others. I feel most alive and spiritually connected when someone shares their deepest, darkest story with me. I live for the communities in my life where the stories are welcome and embraced.

We are living in a time where truth is being tested. Whether it’s sexual predators facing the truth and consequences for their choices, or the victims risking honesty for the first time, the secrets of the past are being unearthed. Reality was not what we thought it to be. I’m listening to at least three podcasts where people are being liberated through their storytelling. Addiction is rampant across all segments of society, and we are being brought to our knees by lies and deceit. Secrets make us sick, and our culture has been sick and disconnected for a very long time. We were a world of pretenders. Even though the truth alarms and shocks us, it will be the only thing that heals us. The truth tellers will save the world. Those who harbor their sick secrets will perish.

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The fishermen dress for the weather in the morning, pack their tackle, find their spot among compadres, bait their hooks and fish. This ritual is part of their story. It is where they noodle the problems of their lives and feel moved by gratitude for the present moment. They each have a story running in the background that has nothing to do with their sport. Yes, they may be fisherman on a catwalk in the morning sun, but this is only one thread in the tapestry of their lives. Are they addicted to painkillers? Have they endured a blinding loss? Have they recovered from an astounding mistake? While talking about fish is interesting in its own right, I would love to know more… and I KNOW there is more.

Where do you hear people’s stories? Where do you tell yours?

Podcasts where people tell their stories:

 

 

 

The Power of Gentleness

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I chose a meditation this morning from my 10% Happier app that promised to provide focus. Sharon Salzberg was the teacher, and she promised to help me focus on the space between the breaths. I noticed my breathing was labored. I struggled with pausing between breaths. As soon as the exhale ended I was gasping to inhale. My body was reacting as if I would die if I went a second without oxygen. I know from experience this is a symptom of my anxiety.

My anxiety’s creator is what I call my drill sergeant. He literally has a whip that he uses to keep me on the right track. “Do it right,” he screams and cracks the whip. “You can’t stop now,” he admonishes when I stop to rest. His goal is to keep me on track, to shame me into sticking to a standard is always be elusive. And when I’m meditating, he rails at me to “relax …. stop thinking … quiet your mind … breathe smoothly and easily …. you’ll never get this right”. What actually happens is I can’t do any of those things. I just get scared that I’ll never do it right, and I lunge at my breath to help me feel safe.

“Be gentle with yourself,” I tell my friends when they are lunging after their breath, their eyes wide with anxiety and fear over something that they can’t seem to accomplish or make right. I see their drill sergeant and can almost hear the crack of the whip as he admonishes them to meet an impossible goal. It’s not infrequent that people tell me that they can’t be gentle with themselves. If they are not harsh with themselves, they will fail.

When I recognized what was happening this morning, I stopped trying to follow her instructions, and I said, “I love you, Sharon”. I gave myself a big, imaginary, long hug. Immediately my body relaxed, and in a few minutes my breathing and my mind settled into an easy, relaxed cadence. I love the lessons of meditation and yoga. They are so subtle, and they only come when I pay attention to my internal drama. I think the drill sergeant is my internal voice, but he’s not. He’s an external structure built by a lifetime of experiences, demands and uninformed authority figures. He is not what is within me.

Yoga, meditation, therapy, 12-step recovery and other spiritual practices quiet the unhelpful voices that cause us to lunge after our breath or material goods or addictive substances of any kind. These safe practices – and if they are not safe, they are not healthy – provide a different structure that provides a soft spot to land and an absence of expectations. We all have enough goals and demands and expectations that drive us nearly to our death. The inner voice of the spirit is so gentle and sweet in comparison. It’s only when we meet it with gentleness that it becomes audible.

Ms. Salzberg echoed my experience this morning when she said that we can only improve and succeed if we lovingly support ourselves. Want to stick with a diet? Need to stop drinking? Is your life not working? Don’t listen to the drill sergeant. He’s what drove you to this place. Listen to your inner voice that tells you what you need and want and who genuinely adores you just the way you are. In my experience, it’s in the safety of sweet gentleness that my spirit ignites. The human spirit is infinitely more powerful than being driven from the outside…. and a lot more pleasurable, too.

Be gentle with yourself. See how powerful you really are.

 

Gremlins: Low Self-Esteem

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grem·lin

[grem-lin]
noun
1. a mischievous invisible being, said by airplane pilots in World War IIto cause engine trouble and mechanical difficulties.
2. any cause of trouble, difficulties, etc., especially in a mechanical,electrical, or other system: A loose wire was the gremlin that blew out the lights.
Today’s prompt from The Daily Post is gremlins. I had a bout with a gremlins this morning. I ran the Thanksgiving Day Run with about 2000 other runners this morning in this lovely little town about a half hour from here. It was chilly at the start, and there was a lot of excitement in the air with families and friends keyed up for the holiday.

But I wasn’t feeling it. I did not eat well yesterday, and my energy was low. I was filled with anxiety. I have some thoughts on why, but I don’t want to give them any more power than they already have. My RunKeeper app asked me if I wanted to accept a 5K challenge for Thanksgiving, and I said yes. But when I tried to click the “Go Running” button to start the clock, it took me to some other page. Since I didn’t have glasses on, I couldn’t read it, so I wasn’t able to use the app. I was frustrated because I wanted to see my time. I quickly gave that up and just started running.

Then the negative self-talk started. My anxiety started rising, and my energy started going downhill pretty quickly. It was all I could do to hold back the tears. I could tell what was going on, and rather than fight it and get more irritated, I decided to walk when I wanted and just enjoy the run. I ended up walking a good bit but still ended up with a good time at the end. And then I was mad at myself because I could have gotten a better time if I hadn’t walked.

When I was walking out of the gym after the race, a big leaf on the wall caught my attention that said “low self-esteem”. As soon as I saw it, I realized that I was caught in a fight with my arch-nemesis gremlin “low self-esteem”. Calling it what it was helped to take some of the sting out the insults going on in my head. A sign surrounded by leaves said What are you leaving behind? 

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When I think of the things that have impacted my life, the most impactful and destructive one has been low self-esteem. It has affected my ability to speak up for myself, to go after jobs that I really want, to set goals that might make my life a lot better and to choose partners that would be helpful rather than harmful. In so many ways, this gremlin has made my life less than what it could be. Its incessant badgering that I’m too big for my britches or a loser or not good enough or not lovable keeps me from attempting things that would help me be happy with myself. I want to drop that gremlin on the side of the road and leave him behind.

I looked up the word gremlin, and initially I ran across the Gremlins movie. They are very sensitive to light, they reproduce when they get wet, and if they eat after midnight, they will change into a monster. And they are so, so clever….

Hmmm… that sounds like my gremlin of low self-esteem. I’d better stop feeding him in the middle of the night, and I’m going to expose him to the light. I’ll name him Gremlin so next time I can call him who he is and just leave him behind.

What gremlin do you want to leave behind? 

Life: EVERY … DAMN … DAY

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This is the moment. It will be fleeting, and Monday will be here in about 10 minutes. I savor the moment when vacation stretches before me like an oasis. Plans and rest and relaxation are visions in my future promising a beautiful new world with a changed attitude. What promise a vacation – one still in the future – brings! And in a flash, it will be Monday and gone like the passing of a sweet dessert on the tongue. After the pleasure is in the past, the memory will be tainted with regrets and coulda, woulda, shoulda. Ahhh … but the moment of vacation anticipation is sweet, sweet, sweet.

The other day I listened to Gary Gulman’s interview on the Hilarious World of Depression. This podcast features comedians who struggle with depression. It may seem to be a contradiction, but they say that 80% of comedians suffer depression. Robin Williams, my favorite comedian of all time, suffered to the extent of suicide. Does depression make comics? Or does a life of commenting on life make comics depressed? Or does 80% of the population suffer from it, and comedians are just one subset? I don’t know! Why are you asking me? It’s fun to listen to the podcast to understand how this contradiction fits together.

“The thing they don’t tell you growing up about life is this, ‘Life…  hmmm … it’s EVERY…. SINGLE…. DAY. ‘” 

– Gary Gulman

My friend Jessica, and sister from another mother, talk all the time about the nonstop onslaught of life. And I know there are others of you reeling out there, or this joke would fall flat on an audience. Jess and I text and moan about the exhausting treadmill of being single and having to handle work, a house, pets, relationships, a spiritual practice, an exercise routine (because we have to be healthy to keep this show going, right), car repairs, financial insecurity, cooking and the various surprises that life inevitably brings. It is tough having to handle it all alone, but I also know that if you have a partner and family, there’s even more complexity to it and even more to do. And, Gulman is right… there is no vacation from it. There’s no anticipation to a vacation from life. It’s EVERY …. DAMN … DAY. Even Nike gets it….

everydamnday

 

This treadmill – or is it a dreadmill – never stops. Today I woke up and the cats started meowing and Ashok stood over me as if to say, “When are you getting up?” I roll over and say out loud, “I’m on vacation today. I’m going back to sleep.” I close my eyes and roll over. A few seconds later, I open one eye, and she is staring me down eye-to-eye, standing on the bed. “Oh, alright. I’ll get up,” I say as all three animals fly off the bed and start yowling as if they are starving to death. It’s the Start button of every damn day for me. I let her out, go downstairs for pet food, feed them, drink a glass of water, take my antibiotic because I have a tooth infection, fix a cup of kefir, make some almond milk and tea, listen to the late night talk shows from last night, plan my day, journal, practice yoga so I can have 45 minutes of downtime, and today I even had time to blog. On a normal day I’d head to the office and work for 9 or so hours before coming home to exercise, cook dinner and maybe, hopefully, get a chance to check in on social media, read or take a walk to the lake.

And this is just the baseline. There are weekly chores. There are emergencies that come up. Yesterday, I had to go the dentist because I have an infection in my tooth. My car needs some work today, and I have to go get some eyeglasses. I set up an acupuncture appointment because I have a problem with my knee that won’t go away. Oh yeah, and I have Christmas shopping and making time to make new friends and build community hanging over my head. The leaves just fell of my tree in the backyard, so I have to make sure the lawn service can come out to clean that up.  And, there’s no “Honey, can you take care of this?” for me. So I have to make more money so I can pay for services that I don’t have time to do because I’m busy trying to make more money.

So, I say all this to remind myself that the next five days are a vacation. Yes, I still have to feed the animals. The only thing missing from the daily grind is the next 27 hours or so of work that I usually have on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. So, what can I do in those 27 hours of free time that frees me up to relax? Hmmmm … blogging for one is a good brain dump. The extra time with friends will help me feel the love and support and camaraderie from others on their own dreadmill EVERY… DAMN… DAY. Oh yeah… I’ll also make my own eggnog lattes and eat some extra comfort food that’ll loosen restrictions on myself to be perfect. I’ll still exercise, but tomorrow I get to do it socially in a Thanksgiving Day 5K.

The schedule for the next few days will be THE change of scenery for vacation.  The pace of my life will change. There will be more moments of downtime, and I can choose to add some heart opening activities to my daily drama. I know the Monday morning meeting is quickly approaching, but I’m going to let that go for now in anticipation of a break from the daily dreadmill. And I’ll be grateful that I’m healthy enough, wealthy enough, wise enough and connected enough to survive the daily grind with some grace and an intermittent good attitude.

Now, those of you who have to get to work, you’d better get going. As for me, I think I’ll have another eggnog latte.

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