What to do When You Don’t Know What to do

You say you’re stressed, distressed, and don’t know what to do next?  Are you filled with anxiety, grief, doubt, depression and confusion?  For your own mental health, this is the time to get out an old-fashioned pen or pencil, a pad of paper, and write, long hand, as much as you can.  Long, stream of consciousness, totally uncensored writing, raw with every misspelling, grammatical mistake, and rule ignored.

Most writers are familiar with this process, because that is how we make sense of the world.  We just write.

Don’t even read what you wrote for a while.  Just write, day after day, for days, weeks, even months.  At some point you will want to go back and read what you wrote, but not until you have enough written that you will be able to see the full arc of your thoughts and feelings.

Don’t let anyone else read your journal either, or you will find yourself writing to your audience, which means you will edit yourself.  You can always share what you wrote at some later date.

When should you write?  First thing in the morning, while you are still groggy with sleep is a good time to write, as you are then unlikely to edit yourself.  Write anything.  Write how stupid it is to write when you have nothing to say.  Write about your cat getting in your way of writing, because she wants to  be in your lap.  Write about your frustrations, fears, hopes and dreams.

Some people recommend writing with your less dominant hand, resulting in a childish scrawl, and it is said, childish feelings and memories.  Write any time you are filled with strong emotion that overcomes your inclination to hold back.

As I go along, I will put a mark next to information that I consider really important to key on later.  Right now, I am looking for problems and their solutions.  Why not just make a list?  I would if I knew what problems I had.

Things reveal themselves in a very subtle way in a journal.  You might not even know how really annoyed you are with all the clutter the family leaves around your work-space, until you see you have mentioned it here and there.  This is something fixable.  That thing waking you up every night at 3 a.m. might not be under your control to fix, but maybe you can find a way to help the situation.

You will learn how you really feel about things.  Don’t jump to the conclusion that you already know.  People are notorious for discounting or minimizing their feelings.  How can you address an issue without really admitting the depth of feeling you have.

Even if you never read over what you have written, your writing will have helped to clarify your feelings and thinking.  This is why mental health professionals recommend writing in a journal.  But rather than toss it out, give it a read.  You are bound to be surprised by something you wrote.


On Being Displaced

Being displaced sucks.

Sure, I focus on the good things.  Living in the Residence Inn Marriot was fun, with halls to walk when it was cold outside, a mini gym, a saltwater pool and a hot tub.  Who doesn’t love a breakfast buffet laid out for you everyday, and the three times a week dinner brought in by local restaurants.   My physical activity offset my inability to control my meals, and I am sure my nutritionist was frustrated by my lack of responsiveness.

We were finally found a rental in Slippery Rock, Pa.  A college town.  A college rental, empty of students till the start of the next semester.  Or landlord, desperate for anybody to pay rent for a few short months, gave us a lease after requiring a hefty pet deposit and insurance against pet damage, also welcomed our Boston Terrier and two cats.  We are within walking distance of every restaurant the town has to offer.

The cats cause stress.  The cats were pretty good at my daughter’s home.  Some minor scratching my daughter assured me she could handle.  The last two days at the hotel the cats poked holes in the leatheret dining chairs.  To the cats’ delight, the rental furniture provided at the house include the same type of  dining chairs.  Now I wonder, how many of these chairs will I end up buying.

Most of our furniture survived.  We were able to get one cat-stand out of storage, nicely cleaned and oderfree.   The scratching posts are packed away someplace.  The cats favorite chair is in storage.  Fortunately, Brutus has his bed.

We have begun replacing the stuff destroyed in the fire.  But every day presents a new challenge.  Every day we have to  compromise  in how we do things, because our stuff is in storage.  The meat thermometer is in storage, but I remember cooking by knowing the weight of a meat and estimating the time for appropriate doneness.  Bless the Red Cross for providing us with blankets, because all our extra blankets are in storage.  I have very warm thoughts for the Red Cross while snuggling under my blanket.

We camp.  We have had many moves.  We know how to make do.  But it is so nice, to be in your own home, with your own stuff, doing things the way you like, without worry about how it affects others.



The Sexualized Body

At an open air flea market a woman is haggling for a price and gets an extra $5 off with the offer of a hug.  A hug of gratitude.  A comment is made in my hearing along the line of, “Sure, rub your breasts against my chest and I’ll give you another $5 off.”

There was a time, as a very young woman, I would have been put off hugging any man after hearing such an immature comment, no matter their relationship to me.  Now I merely ask Hubby if that is really the way men think of the offer of a hug, because most women, certainly not myself, would think of the offer of a hug as a way to treat a man to a chest rub with her breasts.  In fact, as a woman, I don’t think of my breasts much at all.  Breasts are a part of my body, as are my arms that I would hug you with.

So what does an offer of a hug mean?  In the case of the flea market negotiation it means a show of appreciation, a thank you, perhaps even a small feeling of affection toward the person who was willing to make an extra concession to you.  While I don’t think the offer of a hug would be made during a negotiation with a woman, I do think a hug might still be given after a successful negotiation where extra concession is given by the seller to the buyer, and few (if any) would imply any sexual payoff in such a hug.

Women hug each other all the time.  Wherever women meet, they are likely to hug.  Saying something nice, or doing a small favor for another woman will most likely result in a hug.

Women are also free with hugs to men they feel comfortable and safe with.  Men mature enough to see them as whole people, and not as sexual body parts.  These are men who treat them respectfully, and take their cues from the woman, making sure she is comfortable.

When a woman’s body is sexualized then everything she does is viewed through a sexual lens.  Breast feeding is seen as a woman exposing herself.  A woman dressing attractively is seen as asking for male attention (and deserving whatever attention she may get).  Young women learn that hugging an uncle is asking for it, and that women are not safe with any man, resulting in a rape culture.

It is true that some women use their sexuality to get what they want from men, but that is a blog for another day.



It Came

I wasn’t sure it would really come.  You know what I mean?  That warm happy Christmas feeling!

I’ve been carrying the weight of the world: worried about the recent widows I know and the rest of their family and friends, worried about ugly politics, worried about those fleeing war and terror, worried about the state of the world, worried about families rearranging, and worried about a relative being evicted (over Christmas???  What kind of Scrooge does that when a pregnant woman and two kids are made homeless!).

There is none of the fluffy, white, sparkling snow I associate with Christmas.  Others have ornaments, but I just couldn’t find the energy, but I did get my Santa and a Nutcracker out of storage.  I did love the advent preparation and services at all the wonderful choir music, but there was no music in my home or heart.  Hallmark movies were not getting it done!

I am full of gratitude for the blessing of security , stability, love and plenty in my life.  Yet, even with all my blessings, I felt an ache in my soul.

Hubby and I decided to do some last minute shopping (our first shopping of the season) and we picked up a few gifts.  We selected items for the little girls being forced to move again, worried if they would have any gifts for Christmas.  When we got to their home, the look of joy on their faces when they saw us warmed my heart.  It finally came.  The girls introduced us to their cousins as Oma and Opa.   They loved their gifts.  We took the family out to dinner, and learned some housing options had opened up for them.  Relief for all.

I guess the cure for the ache in my soul was to  bring some joy to  someone else.

Merry Christmas, and may God bless you all.


Normally on a Monday I would have things to do, places to go, people to see.  This Monday is not normal.  An appointment at noon that will consume the rest of my day, and I dare not be late.  That means I can’t get to involved in anything that might take my full attention.  Although writing a blog does take my full attention, I decided to write about waiting.

I’m already half ready for my appointment, but want to put on nice fresh garments just before I leave home.  But dressing will not take an hour and a half.  Then I am basically done with my life for the day, as another procedure will leave me mildly drugged and unable to drive, use heavy machinery, nor be responsible for any legal decisions I might be tempted to make.  Anything I say in the following 24 hours will be suspect.

But I do have a couple of hours of clear thinking now, and as I have a freshly cleaned home in preparation, I have time for a brief blog.  Edward Scizzorhands (I wonder if Redbox would have that movie) is wielding his sharp woodworking tools and the hum makes me feel a little guilty about doing nothing for another entire day while he is working all day.

I am lounging in my new PJ’s, enjoying time with Shadow, who was on my lap, but now is walking all over the desk and getting between me and the keyboard.  I try to move Shadow to an out-of-the-way place, and taking offense she leaves, to sit in her basket by the window.  Perfect.

The dogs are at the kennel and Blue is off in the house on his own.  Shadow will be my companion.  I will be petting her soft, silky fur, as I get taken care of and get waited upon by Hubby.  I apologize that I won’t be thinking of you working hard, accomplishing something, and having meaningful interaction with colleagues, family, and friends. I have a day of rest.

I will try to enjoy my rest without guilt for all I am not accomplishing.  I hope you also will take a few guilt free moments, several times during the day, just to breathe and enjoy a little peace before you dive back into the fray.

Enjoy your day.

So Spoiled

Its another Wonderful Wednesday and time to be grateful for how darned spoiled I am.

It is a beautiful summer day, and listening to NPR this morning, I heard stories of the struggles of Syrian refugees.  Here I am in the land of plenty, and taking full advantage.  I live in a home where I feel completely safe.  I feel no need to be armed.  I feel no fear to walk down the street, not even at night in most neighborhoods, in most anywhere in the country.   I can say whatever I want and express any opinion no matter how many others disagree with me, I don’t even have to be particularly nice about it.  Being nice helps if you want people to stay and listen, because where I live we can just walk away and stop listening.   These rights extend to social media, where I have blocked several sites from even appearing on my home page.

Another way I am spoiled is with good medical care.  Despite ongoing political wrangling over medical care, and the rare  published statistic on how Americans may not have the best health care in the word, I have grown accustomed to having a pill to cure most any ill readily available.  When a pill can’t provide a cure, a fairly safe surgical procedure usually will.  I get down right testy when a solution to any health problem is delayed.  I am old enough to remember how polio sent fear into my parents, and measles mumps and rubella were taken very seriously.  I remember the vaccination party where my friends and I were the first to get our sugar cubes as soon as they became available.  So I have a little annoying cough.  There is a vaccination for those scary diseases, and there is a pill, ointment, or wash for most things that people just had to suffer with in the past.

I am also spoiled with a multitude of pets.  Well, currently four pets.  My newest pet (notice how possessive I am) is Shadow who keeps me company while I write, watch TV, or sleep.  Each animal has their place.  Penny, the elderly lady of the house, sits at my side while I read or watch TV, with Shadow in her place either on my lap or on the back of the sofa near my head.  Brutus Buckeye’s place is Hubby’s lap.  Blue, our other cat, walks alone, except for requiring daily petting, and someone to open the door for him.

Yes, I really am spoiled.  I just expect that this is how life should be.  True I did plan and work for what I wanted, and I protect what I have.   It is difficult to believe not everyone is as lucky.

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