I watched Patton Oswalt’s new stand up recently. It was really good. I cried and laughed and shook my head and marveled at how he can turn his pain and laughter through pain into something we can all relate to. Among his many gems he did a bit about “I wonder how many AA chips have been flung into the abyss since the election”, something like, SEE YOU IN 2020! And I’ve often thought the same thing as I’ve come precariously close to thinking that drinking would be a great diversion and avoidance tactic these days. I could just not think about all the horrors for 5 gd seconds and if I’m lucky, not come back from the haze for a few days at a time. I won’t do it – today – but I cannot say the thought doesn’t enter my brain.
We need to lighten up a bit sometimes. WE NEED LAUGHTER AND LIGHTNESS AND SUPERFICIALITY IN ORDER TO SOLDIER ON. This is a marathon, people. We need to gather our strength and for me, part of that is finding avoidance tactics and diversionary strategies that can help turn off the terror hamster wheel in my head from time to time.
Let’s talk about all the things I am doing to avoid this flaming dumpster fire, shall we? I have to work really hard to find the light and the good in the world lately, but it’s there. It really is. So while everything is terrible, here is some good stuff to counter balance the horrors:
- Eating all the things. Candy corn and peanuts (it’s delicious – FIGHT ME). Bed pie. Anything else I can get my hands on. Unapologetically. I have no regrets. These are dark times and if food is helping me through, then by god, I am getting comfortable with this new body that is carrying me through it. NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR KALE.
- Browsing and filling my online carts with all the things. I have a serious problem with clogs (the shoes, people, not sink clogs) and clog-like products right now. I am tracking like 17 auctions right now. Honestly, glasses and clogs and eating all the things have become my booze and smokes. HI.
- Social media breaks. I’m not saying get off social media. I’m not saying don’t pay attention to reality or act like everything is rosy or acceptable or normal. IT IS NOT. Now is not the time to remain quiet at all times on the important issues. I am just saying I have to grant myself breaks. Certain times I’m not going to be on social media for long chunks of time. Because guess what? This shit is all going to be right here when we come back. My parents were recently visiting for 5 days and I took a break and it was entirely lovely.
When I got back on I was sucked right back into it in five seconds, but still. The breaks do us good. When I can not automatically wake up in a panic at 4am in a hot sweat worried about EVERY DAMN THING, I know I’ve given myself a break from reading and paying attention every second of every day. So I thank myself for that gift.
- Connection. Going off of point 3, I will say I am a big believer in the goodness of social media. I’ve made some very very close friends online. That said, the need for offline, real, tangible connection is more important than ever. Friends, family, parents of kids in school, people at the library, neighbors, your own husband that you don’t really get to connect with all that often because marriage with little kids is HARD even when you really love each other, 12-step groups, wherever you can find that connection, GRAB IT. I used to say I didn’t like talking to people. That’s changed as have so many other things. Talking with people is lifeblood. Listening to people and hearing their experience, strength and hope has helped keep me afloat this past year especially. I tend to want to stay home in bed, but when I get out, I always feel better when I’ve had a connection with a human being. I tend to want to stay home in bed, but when I get out, I always feel better when I’ve had a connection with a human being.
- Make up. My kids love to watch me put on my make up. I really enjoy make up. If it feels like work or a “should”, I don’t do it. They ask me what each product is for and then want to try it on themselves. Sometimes I let them. My girl keeps saying, WHEN I GET BIGGER WILL YOU SHARE YOUR MAKE UP WITH ME. So I say of course I will (I mean, she can have her own make up when she’s older but she wants me to share my earrings with her too and if she wants 100 pairs of mismatched broken cheap earrings, I’m her gal), but continually make the point that I only wear make up when I want to. Some days I just don’t want to so I don’t. Boom. That said, lipstick makes me happy.
- Clothes. Man, I am in love with jeans lately. If you have been following me for several years, that is a BOLD statement for me to make. I used to do this Pinterest OOTD (outfit of the day – including the whole time I was pregnant) thing for years and well, it didn’t feel good anymore, so I stopped a while ago. Remember when we used to have fun on the internet? SIGH. I’ve been taking pictures again but not putting them up, so I’ll put some here in this massive collage. I have always been a dress gal, but in the last year or so, I’ve come to fall in love with jeans and flats and cool gym shoes and of course, clogs (my new friend Nora dropped off some nearly new leopard print Sanitas yesterday and I’m in heaven). Easy breezy, cool, middle aged, FUCK IT FORTIES (hell yeah – read that blog post again and start cheering because IT IS MY FAVORITE!) fashion that I feel good wearing. Casual has never been my strong suit. But I’m getting there, and I must say, I understand the appeal. It only took me 44 years!
- Hair. Did you hear I cut my hair really short? Well, I am more in love with it ON ME every single day. Change your haircut, change your life. I am having so much fun with this hair! I have 8 million selfies to prove it! I’ve got a lot of self love going on these days. I am in love with the way I look lately and feel I’ve finally come into my own as far as owning my body and my face and my hair and my capabilities and my limits and my expectations. I am capable of so much more than I ever bargained for, and I’m just, well, I’m good. I take a lot of selfies, by myself and with the kids. I have no shame about how many pictures we have together and me by myself. And you shouldn’t either. When I see a woman beaming and feeling herself in a selfie, well, I am cheering. YES LADY. YES. But also being mindful that these pics are not always as they seem. Check on your people.
- OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES. I have never met a fall festival I didn’t love. This weekend we went to 3. My husband doesn’t enjoy them nearly as much as I do, so I tend to go overboard and try to hit every single thing. The Park District has so many free events that it’s easy to rack up several in a day. If one were so inclined. Ahem. Except the haunted houses, we do NOT do those. Life is scary enough, tyvm. We go to the botanic garden and on nature walks and all the freaking parks and every single one of these things is life giving. I’m thankful for these kids because I know I wouldn’t get outside nearly as much if it weren’t for them.
- TV. Do I use TV as escapism? ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY. I mean, how great is TV? My old autumn standby Gilmore Girls is still in rotation, though losing it’s luster these days. I think I’ve watched it too many years in a row and need to break (YA THINK). Project Runway, Black-ish, Queen Sugar, terrible Hallmark movies, Better Things, Parks and Recreation, The Good Place, Shameless, Call the Midwife, Suits, This is us (#EveryoneButToby #RandallForever), Insecure …. what else? TELL ME.
- MUSIC. Samantha makes these great mixes on Spotify and I follow them religiously. My husband made a playlist before his boys weekend in Vegas that I am listening to quite a bit. The new Pink album (I mean have you seen me lately?), Chance, Kesha, still with the Hamilton, DJ Khaled has this album out called Grateful and it is bliss, the Insecure soundtrack is a super long jam, and basically any pop music in the car that my kids are adorably learning the inappropriate words to are my favs right now.
- BOOKS. SO MANY GOOD BOOKS. You can find me on goodreads (thought I’m terrible about updating it) to see what I’m reading and I’m not as fast as some, but I savor the time I get with my books. These kids are doing the 1000 books by Kindergarten program at the library and they tease me that I’ve read like ONE THOUSAND THOUSAND books because I love them so much. I do. I do indeed. There’s not much I like more than libraries and books. Nikki and I are working on this ever growing stack in my dining room and we just so happened to get to attend a party for the release of Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America recently.
My little mama came too and it was so fun to have her sitting with us and laughing and crying and just being there. Uplifting, hopeful, painful, devastating, gut wrenching, beautiful words were read aloud and we got to be in the room with all these other women (and a few dope men) to bear witness. Watching my mama hug Samantha is an image I won’t soon forget. Being out with my mom and my Nikki and these incredible women is burned in my brain forever. Treasures. I will go to any event the Women & Children First feminist bookstore puts on – I’ve been to many and I always leave feeling empowered and grateful for all these women out here doing good work. It takes a lot to get me out of the house at night because old and in bed but these events will always get me up and out.
- Paying so much attention to these kids. You know if you have kids that they suck the energy right out of the room – but in a good way. And then give it back over and over again. Recently my husband and I were in a heated argument and they wandered upstairs so we curbed the discussion and before we knew it we were all cuddled on couches together and not so mad anymore. They demand everything, but they give so much more in return. They make up clever songs and dances and crafts and put on shows with fully-fledged characters and the artwork MY GOD. It’s as if they’re possessed and must keep drawing. There’s a little boy in their class that the babes have completely fallen for. He doesn’t communicate with words the same way we do, but they hope he really likes these pictures. And he really loves broken crayons so they included some of those with their picture packages to him as well. I want to be more like these kids. The rain boots and umbrellas and things I find tedious are fun to them.If I’m paying attention and really with them, I feel better. Most of the time. I also want to scream running out of the house at times, but HEY THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER FALL FESTIVAL. Is there a 12-step group for that?
- Hitting the reset button and remembering we love each other. After bath time recently these kids were wrestling and yelling and I was at the end of my patience rope trying to get them dressed and thinking of the laundry I had yet to fold and that I needed to dye my hair and shower and blah blah blah my voice was stern with the STOP IT PLEASE. JUST STOP. My boy stops, comes to give me a hug and says, “I love you. I feel like saying I love you always helps you, mama.” THUD. I stopped and got on the floor and we all hit our reset buttons on our chest where our hearts live and said all the I love yous. If only we could quell the madness of the world with more I love yous. We can. I love yous always help. In big and small ways, it always helps.
- The old standby of helping somebody else. It’s simple. Doing good and being kind and helping others HELPS. It can be very small. It doesn’t need to be flashy or even broadcast. There is no shortage of folks who need help right now. Entire regions are devastated right now and also people right in front of our noses.
She hung the moon and the stars and we cannot remember a time when she wasn’t a part of us.
- Looking up. Just looking up. Sometimes that’s just looking up at our Obama “Hope” print hanging on our bedroom wall (I spend a lot of time in bed) and ugly sobbing. Sometimes it’s really looking up. Really paying attention to the skies. For whatever reason it calms and delights me and bugs the shit out of people I am with while I continually shout, WILL YOU JUST LOOK AT THAT SKY? It changes constantly. It never stays the same. Just like us – if we pay attention. It’s grey some days and it’s pink and yellow and brilliant blue some others. It puts on a show or it sits quietly all day long just waiting for the night to come. It’s always there, it’s always changing. It’s always present. Even if it might be sad and pissed off, the next day comes and it can be a completely different story. Or not. And that’s ok.
There is joy to be found right in front of my face if I look for it. I don’t want to be hard. I don’t want to be soft. I want to be just right for the people who need me. For myself. If some of this seemingly silly everyday stuff helps get me back to that place each day after being battered with the horrors, so be it. No guilt, no shame. I always want to be able to cry. But I cannot and will not JUST cry.
On a serious note, there are people who are drinking and using and contemplating ending it because of everything going on in the world. In their world. Maybe it’s you. Kindness is needed in extra amounts. Make sure you check in with your people. Take your meds, go to your therapy sessions, go to your 12 step meetings, go to church, go to brunch, ask for help, WRITE, cry cry cry. Do whatever it is you do to keep your wits about you and your mental health relatively in check. I will do the same. Promise.
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