A Saturn with a Clutch

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The Daily Prompt today is clutch.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the only new car I ever bought. It was a red Saturn coupe with a sunroof and manual transmission. I had driven several cars with manual transmission, and I actually preferred it. It was kind of fun to have so much control over it, and for every turn, start or stop to require my intervention and energy.

I bought this car when I was engaged to a guy from Seattle. We had just moved to Michigan, and he did not bring his muscle car that wasn’t very practical for snow. We needed to buy another car so he could drive to college, and I could drive to work. Saturn was a brand that catered to females and featured the first no-haggle buying promise. The price was the price. And when you picked up your new car, they put it up front with a big red bow on it. I was handed a rose and,  they took my picture with it. It was all very exciting.

It was exciting until we went to lunch afterwards to celebrate and my fiancee told me he quit school. That was a dealbreaker. He had already told me he didn’t want to find a job, and I was concerned about the direction this was taking. We broke up that day, and he headed back to Seattle with all of his crap two days later. I was left with two cars and a house note that was intended to be financed by two people. It was just another lesson in getting to know people better before you commit to them.

I loved that car. After he left, I remember driving up Hwy 31 to Manistee MI to stay in a bed-and-breakfast that we had booked for us that weekend. It was my first fall here, and the leaves were beautiful. My B&B hosts were really nice, and I had a very relaxing and beautiful weekend walking around in Manistee.

I never even paid the car off. My second husband didn’t like having a car with manual transmission. He didn’t find beauty in the simplicity of it. So, one day he told me he wanted to sell it so he could buy a car we both could drive in case we ever needed to switch. It was only one of the things I loved that I got rid of because he didn’t like it. He bugged the hell out of me to sell my beautiful four-poster bed because he didn’t like it, and I finally did. I think he got $500 for it on some website. I still want that bed back. And, to be honest, I’d like to have that Saturn back, too. I still see those cars every now and again even though Saturn is long out of business. They were good cars, and mine was really sporty and cute, too.

Funny, when I think about this story, I bought the car for one star-crossed lover and got rid of it for another. Maybe that car was just a catalyst for a couple of life lessons. I stood up for myself and sent one guy packing. In the other case, I swallowed my voice and let somebody else sell something I loved. I am a Capricorn, and Saturn is my ruling planet. I suppose on some level I should have known that a buying a Saturn would be much more significant than just a mode of transportation.

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….

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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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Some Days are Just Harder Than Others

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My friend Lori sent me this beautiful “hand-warmer” mug as a surprise. I knew I had to run tonight, but I was puddled in the lethargy of a post-Thanksgiving work pot luck lunch. So, I grabbed that beautiful little mug and fixed myself some green chai  laced with my homemade almond milk hoping it would provide a little pep. I read the NYT and sipped my tea until I started thinking that maybe I didn’t really need to run after all. I mean, it’s cold outside. I’m running a 5K on Thanksgiving. I ran a 6-miler on Sunday. I could probably take the day off – it being the holidays and all.

But this face was staring at me……

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So I called on my coach to pull me off the bench….

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You have two choices for dressing for a run in winter.

  • A) Be warm when you walk out the door and overheat later or
  • B) be cool when you walk out the door and be just right later.

Tonight I opted for Option A because I just didn’t feel like being cold. Thank heavens I did because it was much colder than I anticipated. It was only 37 according to the Weather Channel, but that dadgum wind was fierce. The streets acted like funnels for the wind coming off the lake, and I thought I was going to freeze to death. I slipped my hoodie OVER the hat I had on, and zipped myself up in a cocoon of fleece. But my ass was in the deep freeze! Nothing I could do but RUN!

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If I ran down streets that were perpendicular to the lakefront, the wind wasn’t as bad, so I changed routes midway. Once I got out of the wind, my eskimo swaddled upper body started overheating. I took the hood off and stuffed the gloves down my shirt. But my ass was still freezing! Nothing I could do but keep running. Since I was running half mile splits, I figured the faster I ran the faster I would get home and could go sit on my cooktop.

You can see I was motivated….

Faster and faster and faster I ran. Ashok thought we were racing some unknown invisible foe. I ended up right at my house, and I bolted for the front door. Brrrr…. that was a cold one, and it’s not even below freezing yet! I think I’d better figure out a way to insulate the junk in my trunk a little better, or it’s going to be a long winter. (I’m still not totally thawed.)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Get out and exercise before you eat all that stuff, will ya?  Now excuse me while I get a snack.

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Sundays in Saugatuck: Reflections on Gender

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Ashok and I ran our long run today in Saugatuck. I packed a change of clothes so I could make an afternoon of it. Initially, I hadn’t planned on coming here. I met a friend for coffee in the other direction, but I found myself wanting to keep to my routine of the last month. I’m running up to six miles now, and I get bored running the same routes in St. Joe. I don’t have time during the week to seek out new scenery, so I may as well do it on the weekend.

On the way up, I listened to The Daily, one of my favorite podcasts by the New York Times. They interviewed twin girls about scouting. One of the twins is a tomboy and wants to be in the Boy Scouts, and the other enjoys the Girl Scouts more. Times are changing that’s for sure. I wondered why we ever thought that girls couldn’t be interested in camping and archery and why boys wouldn’t be interested in cooking and crafts. I, myself, was a tomboy interested in baseball and fishing. Was it nature or nurture that turned me into a more girly-girl in my teens?

The girls’ father was interviewed, too, and it was really refreshing to hear absolutely no judgement about the differences in his girls’ interests. The tomboy just wanted to do the things that the boys did in Boy Scouts. She didn’t like the crafts the Girl Scouts did. She wasn’t interested in equal rights or trying to press some kind of political agenda. And her sister liked hanging out with the girls. She wasn’t just trying to fit in. Hearing them talk made me wonder why we ever forced girls to do crafts and sewing and cooking and boys to do woodworking and outdoors activities. What does gender have to do with any of that?

And we have the shocking cultural upheaval around sexual harassment that is happening currently. I have been discriminated against at work because I’m female, and I’ve been sexually harassed as well. I can’t imagine any woman my age that hasn’t had to deal with that BS. But I will say that I’ve been blessed that what I experienced was never to the level of what I’m hearing about in the news. Times are changing, I hope. I hope that this awareness of the crap that women have gone through just to go to work in the field of their choice will open some eyes and change some hearts.

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I know many may disagree, but I welcome a world that is more gender-neutral. Both the masculine and feminine exists in all of us, and we should all be able to be who we are without fear of alienation. Men have been disadvantaged because they can’t access and feel their emotions because it’s considered weak. And women have been robbed of our power because we are considered the weaker sex. None of it is truth. I used to think each sex had its own strengths and weaknesses, but honestly strengths and weaknesses are part of the human condition NOT an aspect of our gender. God is both masculine and feminine. If we are made in the likeness of him, both are magnificent energies.

We are in a time of great chaos, but I’m seeing growth and healing for our civilization. I grew up in a world where women were considered the weaker sex, and our emotional expression was a liability. Men worked and stuffed their feelings until they couldn’t even connect with their children or their wives. Women put up with infidelity and out-of-control anger and addiction because it was their job. Men were forced to find approval through work or affairs or to numb out with alcohol or drugs. Children were robbed of a masculine role model and instruction on managing their emotions. Our society needs men and women that are whole. I hope this younger generation can pull it off. We sure screwed it up.

This week is a time to be thankful. There’s a lot of pain and heartache in the world. But if I look a little deeper and trust that God has a beautiful plan, I might see a silver lining to the current cultural storm. It may be time for us to crack wide open and bleed as a culture so that we can envision a new day ahead – a day where we are all equal, the beauty and riches of the world are open to all of us and where evil gets its due.

Have a great week, y’all. And just be yourself, please. We need ya just like you are.

Downshifting to Winter

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Almost as soon as Labor Day rolled past, the Lake Michigan winds started to blow. The temperature has dropped slowly but steadily since then. Sunday, we’ve got highs in the 30s, and there’s a chance of snow in the forecast tomorrow. Thanksgiving is next week, and that is what I’ve always considered the marker of winter here in Southwest Michigan. Tonight Saint Joe has their Luminary Festival, and, of course it is spitting rain outside. I’ll probably head over there a little later if the rain hasn’t doused the event.

My coats are hanging on my porch for ready access, and I’m starting to bundle up for my walks with Ashok. This year I’m running, so I’m starting to remember how many layers I need when it is 50, 40 or 30 degrees outside. I haven’t seen the 20s yet, but it’s coming. And snow is just on the horizon. I’m trying to decide if I’m going to run in snow and ice or take to the dreadmill in the gym. I hate that damn treadmill. But, it’s better than busting my arse.

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My energy changes in the winter, and my mood begins to drop. I find myself changing my self-care regimen a bit. I still need to exercise, but I find myself wanting to come home and curl up on the sofa with a couple of fur babies and a cup of hot tea. I still do my fit camp circuits, but I’m trying to add more yoga to the mix. I signed up for a yoga workshop Saturday, and I attended a friend’s yoga class last night. My body feels like it needs to stretch and breathe more in the winter. And I try to listen.

I’ve made the switch from coffee to tea. I drink lots of chai, and this year I started making my own homemade almond milk. It tastes lighter and sweeter than cow’s milk, and it perfectly compliments my chai. Lately I’ve been drinking gallons of green and black chai and a herbal turmeric chai. Turmeric seems to help my achy knees and joints and the ginger in this one is very warming. I’m having steel cut oats for breakfast instead of summer’s granola and yogurt, and I’m preferring cooked apples and pears to chilled fruit.

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I’m enjoying the warmth of being in the presence of people. I like the yoga class instead of practicing at home. The comfort of sitting in a coffeehouse is more attractive than being at home. And I’m craving the holiday lights in busy Chicago. I hope to make it over there next week.

I feel more reflective in general. I have the urge to blog and have long conversations with friends. My friend Ann and I have spent a good deal of time together the last few weeks, reflecting on our lives and our friendship. We’ve eaten soups and pasta and warm toasty bread. We’ve both shed tears. I sleep more and better this time of year, and there are mornings when I don’t want to get out of bed. I never really sleep late, but I certainly do enjoy cuddling under a warm wool blanket when it’s cold.

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When I was in the Upper Peninsula this summer, I saw lots of sauna dealers. It occurred to me that people up here probably like saunas more than we do down south. I remembered that the women at the spa were always asking me if I wanted to sit in the sauna for awhile before I got my facial, and I didn’t understand the draw to that. After spending 3 years in Louisiana, the last thing I wanted was to be hot. But I realize that the warmth will probably be good for my skin, my joints and my mood. So, I’m going to take advantage of that this winter.

I plan to talk long walks in the snow among the twinkling holiday lights with the roar of Lake Michigan waves in the background. Ashok loves rolling in the snow, and we’ll head out to the woods where it will be still and quiet. The deer in the neighborhood will start grazing in my yard again, and I’ll watch them from my yoga room upstairs. I hope the Collective has a toasty meditation or gong bath at the winter solstice where I can curl up and rest among friends. Winter sets its own pace in Michigan. Let the downshifting begin.

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Sundays in Saugatuck: Listening to Dragonfly

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I thought I might head out for a hike today, but, alas, it is raining. So, for the third week in a row, I headed up to Saugatuck for my seat at Uncommon Coffee Roasters. The cushy chairs were waiting for me. I plopped my stuff down and ordered my mocha in a real coffee mug. Let the new Sunday tradition begin.

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Ashok looks cute but had to wait in the car anyway.

The dragonfly card popped up in my spread of my Medicine Cards today. As usual, dragonfly delivered a message that directly applied to my world. I actually called my friend Jessica this morning and spoke almost the exact words in the reading. Native Americans say that dragonfly was once a dragon, and he flew around transforming things with his fiery breath. One day Coyote played a trick on him and transformed him into a dragonfly. Dragon ended up losing his power because he allowed someone else to change him.

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After our run yesterday, Ashok rolled in the tiny bit of snow that was available.

The reading tells me that I am holding on to some illusion that is restricting my actions. I’ve been struggling with my people-pleasing tendencies lately, and that’s what prompted my call to Jessica this morning. Trying to twist myself into something or somebody that other people will like is not working for me. And, honestly, if they don’t like me, they don’t like me. In this particular situation, the change expected of me is not behavioral but personal. I am who I am with my own set of unique gifts and faults. And I honestly think if I could change, they still wouldn’t like me anyway. It’s about them. It’s not about me.

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Oddly enough, I have on my dragonfly earrings today. “Misery is a prime clue that you lost your will and personal validity when you bought into someone else’s idea of who or what you should be,” says dragonfly. “Who am I then?” I ask dragonfly, knowing the answer somewhere deep in my soul. I spent so many years of my life following someone else’s rules that misery was my constant state of being. But the soul never gives up trying to breathe. I can stuff it down as far as I want, but the soul never dies. It wants to BE who it is … no matter how long it takes.

I know I am still evolving. I know I am not perfect. I know that I continue to work on my personal challenges, and I see progress slowly but surely. I also know that I am talented. I am funny. I am courageous. My friends say that my special gift is helping others see how wonderful they really are. I actually sort of like that person that can help others love themselves. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

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The holidays are upon us. I’m excited about spending some time in Chicago and plans with friends. I’m looking for a 5k to run in December to cap off my successful running season. It’s been years since I’ve been able to run uninjured. Jessica has been coaching me since July, and I’ve been running a 5K every month. Yesterday Ashok and I ran a 5-miler in South Haven, and it felt great – albeit cold. I could run the Speedo 5k in Chicago or the Whoville 5k in Grand Rapids or a New Year’s Eve run. Hmmm … they all sound kind of fun. I’m just very grateful to be running. Along with all the other stuff that my souls longs to be, I suppose it likes to run.   Not sure about the bikini in December though… 

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Finding Laughter in the Darkness

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I was searching for new podcasts a couple of weeks ago. I wanted something that was not political, informative and thought-provoking. I listen to one called Women on the Road about women who live in campers and travel all the time. One of my favorites is How I Built This about entrepreneurs who made it really big. They have featured the builders of Eileen Fisher, Five Guys and Starbucks. I thought humor might be a good addition to my library, and I found one called The Hilarious World of Depression. Hmmmmm… really? Hilarious? Not my experience of depression, for sure.

I had some windshield time yesterday, so I plugged in and listened to a couple of episodes. So far, they are interviewing comedians who struggle with depression. They are somewhat funny, but the focus is their journey with depression. A friend of mine asked if that seemed odd that comedians would have depression, but, as a sufferer of depression, it makes perfect sense to me. Who can articulate the wildly insane world of mental illness better than someone who writes or performs? And since depression separates us from reality, we see all of its quirks and ironies.

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Depression is more of a numbness for me. Sometimes I feel sad, but mostly I just feel down and hopeless. I describe it as feeling like I’m in a box or as if I’m a small child hiding in a corner. There is a heaviness in my heart that I can only describe as weighted weariness. Moving around feels monumental. I watch the world disconnectedly as if reality is a movie where I didn’t get a part. The hardest part is feeling disconnected …. disconnected from my emotions, my relationships and from my hopes and dreams. The landscape is a movie screen. And it’s not even a really good movie. Is this all there is? 

Listening to these comedians talk about their darkest days and their journey with depression has been very comforting in an odd sort of way. People tell me that I often describe what they are going through in my blog, and it helps them to hear it described in prose. Sometimes – they say – it gives them words to describe their feelings. That’s exactly how I feel listening to this podcast. Even people who are famous and successful and wildly funny have periods where they sink into the dark hole of depression. Often, their inner world is at its darkest when they are at the peak of their success.

So, I just thought I’d pass this on. If you suffer from depression, it could be a warm blanket on a dark day. If you live with someone who suffers from depression, it will most certainly provide some insight on why they can’t “snap out of it” or use positive thinking to shift their mood. Most of all, I hope it will provide the perspective that depression doesn’t limit you unless you don’t get help. There is help available, and there is success and laughter and hope after – and even during – depression.

 

Living in America: Accepting the Guns

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I can think of nothing this morning but acceptance. I’ve tried resisting. I’ve tried letting our leaders work it out. I’ve tried anger and fear and sarcasm. But it looks like the only thing left is acceptance. To live in the United States, a part of the bargain is living in a fishbowl where I will never know if my movie or church service or country concert will be the scene of my death. Apparently, there is nothing to be done, and there is nobody willing to say this is unacceptable in a country such as ours. Our lot, it seems, is to live in fear – or acceptance – that we could be gunned down any moment.

I have a shock of fear go through me now when I arrive at an event or in a movie theater. I look around. “What if it happened here,” I ask myself as I look for the closest exit and plan how I would hide – envisioning that he would still find me and shoot me point blank. I eventually let it go because the odds are high that it won’t happen to me today, but they certainly aren’t zero. I even watch closely the guy at work with an anger problem. What if?... could he? .. should I say something?  and it scares me to death.

When I was in Louisiana, my friends urged me to carry a gun. I don’t want to carry a gun… not because I hate guns but because I don’t want to live that way. I don’t want to be afraid. I also suffer from depression. I don’t want to have easy access to a weapon that could end my life in a moment of desperation. I know people who took their lives due to the accessibility of a gun in a bad bout of depression. For me, the odds are higher that I would shoot myself than the odds of someone shooting me. I can’t believe I have to weigh these odds in America, the land of the free.

One of the reasons I moved here to this little town was to get out of the violence in southern cities such as Baton Rouge and Memphis. I chose in both of them to not be afraid. I just told myself that I was going to live my life as if nothing would happen, and I did. But I knew that one day my luck might run out on that. A small town in Southwest Michigan would be a safer spot, I thought.

There were nights in Baton Rouge where my fear would keep me awake. I’d hear sirens and gunshots, and I would feel the fear and anxiety shoot through my body. My silly mode of coping would be to get up and put my living room chair up against my front door. I knew it would stop no one, but for some reason it felt like I did something, and sleep would come. Thankfully, it didn’t happen every day, but it happened often enough. The last weeks I was there I would count the days until I didn’t have to worry about gun violence any more. I did not want to grow old in a place like that.

I don’t have any idea if gun control would solve anything. I don’t have any solutions. But, once again, I have to grapple with the tears that fall empathetically with small-town churchgoers who were going about their lives and were gunned down in cold blood. They, too, didn’t think it could happen to them that day. Once again I have to stuff my anger – with its underlying fear – that our country does not know how to solve this problem. Once again, I have to accept that I am an American. And in this day and age, being an American means wearing a target on my chest hoping that no one chooses to take aim.

My heart is sad for our country and all of its victims. We don’t even hear about the daily victims of gun violence. The numbers of deaths by gun violence are staggering. And we just keep looking away. The victims are shot … more victims face lifelong injury … other victims lose loved ones, and others – like me – lose their feeling of freedom and safety. We are all victims at some level of gun violence in this country.

Welcome to America … the land of the free and the home of the brave. 

Impressions of Why We Get Fat

My new Sunday routine is to hang out in Saugatuck at Uncommon Coffee Roasters. I just ordered up a mocha and, instead of something sweet, a really tasty quinoa porridge with raisins, toasted coconut and carrots. For a wet, dreary, chilly day, this was a great recipe for comfort. In a word … yummy.

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I have been trying to educate myself enough about the dangers of sugar that I will no longer want to eat it. My hope is that the evidence of its dangers will eventually see me running and screaming from any cupcake that is put in front of me. I’m not there yet, but I do have to say that I’m convinced enough that I feel like I’m guiltily feeding myself poison when I do partake. I think I’ll get there eventually. And I’m eating a lot less of it.

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My Quinoa Porridge

Jessica mentioned the book Why We Get Fat: and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes. I read his other book called The Case Against Sugar and learned a lot about the political environment and history around sugar and what it does to our bodies. There is evidence to suggest that insulin (which is secreted when we eat sugar and carbohydrates) makes our bodies hold on to fat. I know that I’ve seen good results when I cut out sugar, and my sister has experimented with reducing carbs and seen immediate results. Hmmm… perhaps there is something to this.

So, I thought this Why We Get Fat book might provide some additional information to cure me from my cravings from this addicting beautiful treat. Taubes starts off vilifying the science that gave us the “calories in/calories out” rules of dieting. He starts off with it and goes on and on and on and on, citing everything that is wrong with every study. He then goes on to say that exercise and cutting calories doesn’t do a thing to help lose weight, and I was feeling a little confused about the reality that I see in the Weight Watchers Connect app and what he was saying about the inability of the obese to lose weight with exercise and diet. I KNOW that there are many people on Connect that are losing lots of weight. It didn’t seem to shore up with reality.

I finally got irritated and decided I wasn’t going to read it anymore. Then I thought better of it and just skipped through to the solution. Again, his writing goes on and on ad nauseam about how he is right and everybody else is wrong about the science of losing weight. Honestly, he could have written a pamphlet instead of a book and said the same thing. For me, the criticisms of other theories and other research began to make me doubt HIS credibility. Eventually, I quit reading again, texted Jessica and told her not to waste her time reading that book and decided to come here and order a mocha.

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To put it bluntly, Taubes believes that we should eat only meat, and apparently that’s the diet he follows. According to a blog in the Scientific-American, though, even his wife doesn’t trust him enough to put both of his kids on a meat only diet. All I know is I opened the book with an open mind and I finished it with a bad taste in my mouth. I do believe that sugar and refined flours are evil and cause insulin to wreak havoc in my body. That much makes sense to me. But I also think that steel cut oats, sweet potatoes and fruit are healthy foods, and we should eat them. Call me a skeptic, but I just can’t be that extreme. Besides, I don’t even like meat. I’d be doomed to a life with dull and uninteresting food if meat is all I can eat.

I do plan to go without sugar tomorrow, and I’ll try my best to go sugar-free all week. My tuna and rice crackers are packed for snacks, and I’ve made a pot of beans and rice for lunch and dinner. I will have fruit. I will have veggies, and I will have steel-cut oats for breakfast. And I bet I’ll do just fine. I’m not fat, either … so there.