I’ve been doing a fiendish amount of research into health lately. Many of the people I’ve encountered in the irksomely named health and wellness “space” got there because of a personal health crisis. They had a crash-and-burn-level health problem that forced them to quit their sugar-laden, sleep-deprived ways and start respecting their bodies. I started this journey (another irksome word, sorry!) because I was freaked about getting sick after the second of my two parents was diagnosed with a serious cancer before age 60. And, in the process of discovering some pretty great resources that have been able to answer some of my questions, instead of getting well – or, better than I was, which wasn’t catastrophically ill – I got sick.
A couple times a week, I start the morning with a whole-body-work-out yoga routine. At the end of the video, the instructor introduces the “rest and receive” time, where you lie on the floor in what’s called “corpse pose,” with a quote from Sylvia Plath. “Remember, remember that this is now. And now. And now. Live it. Feel it. Cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of alI I take for granted.” I could remember this quote, much like every song I’ve ever heard, after the first time I heard it; I have the auditory equivalent of a photographic memory. A therapist once made the incredibly validating comment that it is really important to have a specific memory; to cultivate remembering details. I don’t have to cultivate it; it just happens. This sounds like a neat party trick, but it’s actually super annoying to a) remember everything you ever hear, including horrible songs and really mean things people say to you and b) be the only one who remembers things like conversations, agreements, etc. Turns out, though, that this kind of memory that I’m good at, is about the past. Continue reading A Good Memory is the Key to the Present
I am tired. I am tired of asking for help. It’s not the vulnerability that’s difficult for me – my nature gives me no choice but to be embarrassingly and shamefully vulnerable almost all the time. It’s the astounding lack of follow through on the part of others. I’ve been thinking over and over how to follow the advice to writers out there – how to create good content that people actually want and need, how to find an agent, how to land a book deal, etc. – and I just can’t do it. None of it feels right. I can’t get any of it to work. So, I guess this blog is just for me, then. I guess, after all, even though one of my deepest desires is to write for others (I mean, I write “for myself,” too, but that’s called journaling, and not at all the same as what I think every Writer actually wants), maybe all this is just for me. Continue reading I think a title is supposed to go here.
This day last year, with about an hour of 2015 to go, I was 30,000 feet in the air going through what I can now say was tiny turbulence compared to the last 12 months and was told this would be the hardest year of my life. My only reflection on it is, “It f*ing better be.” I leave this year wondering if anything will work out (personally, nationally or globally) and hoping that I might be able to stop waking up in the middle of the night sobbing. I’m glad I’ve reached the age where a year feels like just several months.
Thankfully, I started learning German this year and they have a perfect word for this: Lebensmüde. Life-tired. From an article on the Book of Life: “We believe ourselves to be firmly attached to life, but a lot of our behaviour attests to something more interesting and troubling; an occasional longing to give up our hold on existence. It is deeply useful to have this word to hand on gloomy days when it feels like nothing will ever work out.”
2016 wasn’t really anyone’s year so instead of wishing you a happy new year, I’m going to say that I hope, for myself as well as you, that this incoming year will reveal and affirm why we’re still here.
We hear a lot about how narratives are powerful, that if you want to move someone, tell them a story, that we are creatures of story. As a writer, I’d like to eat all that up. But our culture is rapidly composting story into gossip and substance into insincerity. Journalists claim to “go where the story takes them;” what if that story is of a dangerous hate-spitting buffoon who doesn’t even really want to be president but gets himself elected anyway? Is there no moral obligation to do more than repeat ad nauseum atrocious and odious things he does and says, thereby normalizing them and desensitizing the public to them? Continue reading Can We Please Talk About How We’re Talking About Stuff?
The only response I have to America’s election results last Tuesday is this. Those who are against everything Trump stands for can show it by looking out for all who this election has just made much more vulnerable. On some level, who that is is obvious; these are people whom Trump has specifically targeted – pretty much everyone but straight, cis, wealthy, white men (which, no, is not “just as sexist and racist” as Trump. If I see only white men doing something, it’s not sexist and racist for me to call out white men; it’s speaking the truth. Also, reverse racism is not a thing and reverse sexism is not a thing. It’s the epitome of privilege to demand that the term sexism or racism be applied equally without fighting for actual equality among all). But, really, if we truly mean it when we say “we have to look out for each other,” we need to start paying attention to those who are silenced, endangered or invisibilized when: Continue reading Vulnerability, A Definition in the Trump Era
Picking up where I left off yesterday, these are scary times, and unprecedented ones in our national life. One presidential candidate has narrowly avoided a major investigation. Another candidate is temperamentally unfit for the office of the Presidency and facing his own serious legal proceedings. Their respective vice presidential candidates are, it could be argued, infinitely more qualified than their running mates in terms of character. The news and media make little mention of the other presidential candidates to be found on the ballot (for all this “get out and vote, get out and vote” pressure, I’ve been shamed for even considering voting third-party) and the public, largely, is either too awareness-fatigued, overwhelmed or unskilled at discerning the universe of information to be trusted to do their own research. Continue reading Defeating Trump and Trumpism is Defeating Fear – It Will Take Sincerity, Part 2
I’m taking a break from my new focus on vulnerability to say a few things about the election. I have a really hard time with people encouraging everyone to “get out and vote” without also encouraging people to become informed before they vote. Personally, I’d rather you not vote if you’re not informed. Not voting doesn’t increase the value of some diehard’s vote as much as voting without knowing what you’re doing does. And it does take time. You can’t really just show up at the ballot box and expect that the little blurb on the bill or person or proposition is going to tell you everything you need to know. It took me four hours to fill out my ballot. Here’s some thoughts on the most stressful choice on the ballot this year:
I have, these past several silent weeks, been searching for a way to process grief. Most of what I’m finding follows a back-and-forth formula of the dehumanizing expectations of emotionally stunted and immature Western culture and the reality of those who have lost a loved one. The bit about our culture being emotionally damaging and even abusive is validating, but the large majority of articles I’ve found on grief are not helpful. No one has died recently in my life. I am mourning the loss of three core friendships. And our society has so discarded or misused the word “friend” that, if you find it a struggle to get over the ending of a friendship, you’re weak, “too” sensitive, codependent and just need to get new friends. Continue reading If No One Died, Can I Still Be Sad?
It’s heartening to see the media take up the call to action to talk about mental health after decades of silence. The problem is how its talking about it. The first major issue I see is with the unquestioned propagation of the biomedical model as if its science-verified fact. Look, folks, even mainstream The Guardian is running pieces that are saying that it’s pretty clearly not. Mental health advocates, communities and support networks perpetuate this model – not as a highly specious one or one of an array of options but as back-uppable fact – not because they’re trying to be deceptive but because they really want people to understand that it’s not the sufferer’s fault. If something is wrong with your brain, then your depression is not a moral failing, your anxiety is not a choice, your OCD is not a character flaw, etc. You are the victim. Continue reading What If My [Mental Illness] DOES Define Me?