Monday, October 25, 2021

Setting the Winter Up for Success

When one of my girls was in high school, we took this DBT class together in conjunction with her therapy. I don't know how much she got out of it, but I got a lot! One of the parts that I think about frequently was this section where we were talking about Distress Tolerance -- what to do when you're upset.  And there were these three pages with ideas on how to Distract yourself, how to Soothe yourself, and how to Improve the moment that you're in when you're feeling overwhelmed.

I return to these often.

In WW, we talk a lot about setting yourself up for success. The time to come up with a list of Things to Do Instead of Eating Ice Cream when You're Mad is not when you're mad. You aren't being kind to yourself by waiting until then.  The time to come up with that list is when you're not mad and you have a little bit of space between Current You and Not Sane You -- SO THAT it's already there and ready to pull from when you need it later.

It's full into Autumn here in the Northwest. And I don't know if it actually IS, but it feels like it's gotten gloomier faster this year. I'm kind of the Point Parent for getting us through the dark wintery depression season -- which, admittedly, is ABSOLUTELY like the blind leading the blind. But, I need to set myself up for success.

So, I'm working on a "What I Need to Fill My Cup" list.  It's a work in progress.

  • Give yourself permission to leave the laundry undone, and spend that time immersed in a book. YES, work your way through your TBR shelf -- but this is the season to bring out your old favorites and spend time with old friends. Roland Deschain, Tasslehoff Burrfoot, Samwise Gamgee, Anne Shirley, James Herriott, Mr Tumnus. 
  • Is it raining outside? No? Put on your sneakers, please.
  • Go do the dishes. It takes 10 minutes and you feel better when the kitchen counter is clear.
  • Write. Even if what comes out is dumb and no one cares but you.
  • Make all the online shopping wish lists you please!
  • Get a massage.
  • Watch your favorite old movies. Kick anyone out who complains or makes fun.
  • Get brave enough to make TikToks just to piss off your kids.
  • Listen to the music you love.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Hi, remember me?

*tap tap* Is this thing on?  I thought I'd see if this place still works. I've been moving into my own office/reading/writing space, and I'd like to get back into writing again. Don't expect anything fancy... probably just some prompts out of my writing jar to start. But I feel good when I'm expressing myself more. I can't promise that you'll always like what I have to say! But it would feel good to have a space again.

I've really been enjoying driving around lately -- just normal driving around town and errands. My town looks so pretty right now with the orange and red leaves, and the pine needles that have changed colors ready to be purged.  We have a wind storm coming today, so they'll probably mostly be gone tomorrow. But it's sure pretty right now.

One of the things I really love about autumn is yes -- the change in colors -- but I think they serve as a reminder to me about the circle of the seasons, and how there is a purpose to each of them. This time of year is for harvesting, but also of preparing for the winter, which in turn prepares us for new growth. I need that reminder sometimes. Not just in what the earth needs each year, but it reminds me that the same is true for the seasons of my own life. That sometimes life is sunshine and beach parties and sometimes life is a little barren and sometimes life is preparing for both of them. And that, even when it feels barren and harsh, there is a reason and a purpose, and it truly is just a season.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A Pulled-In Kind of Year

 It’s been a year this week since things shut down.  March 4, 2020 was our last family meal out to celebrate the twins’ 20th birthday.

Actually, there is an awful lot that can happen and change in a year that often felt like a lot of nothing.

We graduated two kids from high school. We started, stopped, and changed course with educational plans more than a few times. One kid moved home, moved out, and then moved again. One stayed home under duress, schooled long-distance, and is now getting ready to move out into her own place. One started school, and then switched gears into something else entirely.

Everyone’s schooled and worked from home. Some of us went back. Some of us are still here.

We cancelled big trips, and cancelled concerts.  Sad face. We haven’t seen our extended family for ages. I miss my parents and sisters.

We housed a cherished adopted daughter for a couple months. We messily weathered the transition from parenting youngsters to parenting young adults.

I’m basically a walking psychologist. Better Help will call me any day.

We tried to guide through some very hard growing-up moments – the kinds of things that you don’t put on your Facebook page because your kids aren’t 5 anymore.

We thought Casey had COVID… my dad had surgery… then my sister DID get COVID.

My work life has completely changed. A workshop that would have made me cry a year ago now has me going, “Well, that’s not awful.”

We started the year with just our daughters. We ended it with our daughters, plus two serious boyfriends. At least one of them lives in the state.

After years of saying we should, we finally managed to establish a weekly date night. Even if it has to be done in 32* weather.

I’ve planned three separate 2-week trips.  If we can ever go places again, we are set. I pretend this will happen someday.

My friend group has more or less mortally injured itself.

I learned that I really really still like my husband.

We worried about people a lot. We were frustrated by people a lot.  By “we,” I probably mean “me.”

And tomorrow, we gather together for pizza and ice cream cake – in our dining room this year – for the twins’ 21st birthday.

Another year.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Thursday Tales: The Last Chapter

Her fingers flew across the keys.

Chapter 49

Jane blinked quickly as she emerged from the innards of the mountain into the bright sun. How long had she been inside? How long had they all been inside?

Her friends followed her out, all blinking the same.  Her friends.  She laughed a little at that thought. They were such a ragtag bunch. Humans and elves and dwarves and dryads and... just all of them. Races that normally hated each other, who would have happily knifed each other in a barroom brawl, and yet... yet they had become her friends.  All drawn together by a common goal, a common enemy to vanquish.

She dropped her sword and slid down the side of the mountain into a near-crouch, ignoring the pain as the rocks dug into her skin, drawing a little blood as she went.  It hardly mattered now -- it just mixed with all the rest. She let her head fall into her hands and, just for a moment, allowed her thoughts to swirl.

A few years ago, they would have happily knifed each other -- it took the arrival of a lowly heretic wizard who drew on the fears and prejudices of the people to amass more and more power to change all of that. It had been so frustrating in the beginning. She couldn't understand why so many were drawn to someone who was so obviously not... good. Alec had told her that it was simply what they wanted, that everyone wants someone to believe in, sometimes just someone to give them someone else to blame.

Oh, Alec. Even closed, she could feel the pain of the heartache behind her eyes, and she opened them to shake it away.  But, not before Damian, on one knee across from her, saw it. He merely nodded.  He'd had his own losses -- they all had -- and he understood. They all understood.

She stood up, and opened her mouth to speak. No words came. What do you say after you vanquish the beast?  What do you say after your quest is over and you're not sure what comes next? What do you say when you're not sure the next step, where you go from here, and what there is to go home to?

She met Damian's eyes again, and whispered, "I don't know know what we do next." She felt like a failure of a leader in that moment.

He stood and put his hand on her shoulder in comfort. He was solid -- a man of few words, but meaningful when they were spoken. "Breathe, Jane."  He turned to face their friends, and she was grateful for his strength.

"My friends," he began.  "Our friends... a battle has been won. Take solace in that win. Take meaning from this moment. Breathe it in and know that this is what we have fought for --  but also, "he paused.  "Also, it isn't. The hatred amassed in that cave -- was drawn from our homes.  And it still rests there. The battle was the easy part. What comes next... will take us all. What comes next is the healing and the rebuilding."

Jane took strength from that. They all did. Yes. The quest was over, but there was more for her to do. More for them to do. 

There was yet light in the day.


The writer smiled and pushed back from her desk. She picked up her cup of tea, a little cold now, and wandered to the window. She was done.  Editing yet to do, of course, but she was done and it felt good to have the story out.

Yet, she couldn't help but frown at the world outside. Something was wrong with it. It was great! She should be satisfied! But, something was wrong with it and she wasn't really sure what.

She sat back down at her desk and stared at her screen. Carefully, she highlighted the files for Chapters 1-48.

Move to... New Folder.
"Back Story"

She reopened Chapter 49... erased the "49"... typed "1."

The vanquishing quest wasn't the story she wanted to tell.   The rebuilding was.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

A Tale of Two Selfies

 I am obsessed with these pictures.

The picture on the left is from 2004. I was 28 years old. We lived in Southern California, in a house just far enough from our friends to be lonely -- and way far from our families. My husband worked a lot -- and a good 60 minute commute away -- and I was home with our daughters -- two delayed 4 year olds and a 3-year-old. I was not doing well.

It was during this time that my friends started insisting that I see a counselor. Sitting on the stairs, shaking by 7am, was apparently not normal behavior. One of the first things my counselor tried to drum into my brain: "If you do not take care of YOU, there will be no YOU to take care of the people you care for most." I would go on to relearn that lesson over and over and over for years -- but I don't think re-learnt lessons are bad.  I think it might just mean that I'm stubborn.

I don't know what the number on the scale was -- we didn't own one.  But I wasn't happy with most of who I was.

The picture on the right is from two days ago. I'm 44 years old, though I continue to try to convince my children that I'm still 28. We live in Washington, in a well-lived-in house, closer -- if not close-- to our families. My husband still works too much sometimes, but is better about balance. I am still a probably-overly-involved mom, though at 20, 20, and 19, our daughters' needs are different, if not less taxing.

I have learned to embrace my natural curls, to apply make-up, and how to take a damn killer selfie.

But, mostly... I think that I just like me.