Thursday, February 9, 2017

Step #5


Acting in this political/internet climate has NEVER been easier. Like Michael Moore said, "Wake up, brush teeth, make coffee, call Congress." Hopefully in Step #4 you journalled a little bit to help gather your resources- phone numbers, email addresses, and locations you feel connected to. And then you pull the trigger. Inhale and dial the phone (5/7 times you'll get either a busy signal or an answering machine). Print out your letters and throw them in the mailbox. Figure out which train gets you to which rally on which day. And then get in the car (or have your bff drive you to keep you accountable) and go.

Start that website that connects people to resources.

Make a date and invite people to that cool thing you want to plan.

Start checking things off the list.

And then, after lunch (haha!), take a nap. Because this is overwhelming. You'll definitely need to go back to Step #1 (self care) during and after this step. Because being around a crowd of people can be draining. And watching your calls and letters seemingly fall on deaf ears can be demoralizing. So Act, but then step back and rest, so you can Act again tomorrow (or, you know, next Tuesday).

This is exhausting. But I keep picturing the #resistance as waves that keep battering the shore. Or like shark teeth- more rows are waiting in line to take the place of people who've gotten tired and need a minute to rest. So maybe you weren't Wave 1, or even Wave 2. But when it's your time, you'll be ready. Be well friends. Keep stepping up where you are.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Step #4

If you're someone who is also my Facebook friend, you've recently seen that my 2-year-old took the keys off of my laptop this week. I've managed to fix everything except the space bar. So, if you try to read my blog hearing my voice, today, the typing sounds like.I'm.punctuating.every.word.I.write.

Let's start talking about Step #4. It's the hardest step. Research and decide what your strengths are and where you can do the most good. A friend this week offered this advice: Pick 3 causes, and stick with just those three (Refugees, Civil Liberties, and Human Trafficking are mine... for now.... I think). I also needed to narrow down my sources of information. I picked one Internet action website (, one print media source (The Chicago Tribune), and one radio source (NPR).

And then there's the honest assessment of how I can help. In November, I started planning massive, sweeping neighborhood and national projects. I wanted to make blankets for kids in hospitals, CareBoxes on our streets for homeless people, a dinner for our neighbors who live alone...... also, it was Christmas so I had also to do all the Christmas things. I've backed WAY down since then.

Things I can do:
~make phone calls
~send letters
~show up to one thing a month (if it doesn't require a babysitter)

That's it right now. Because I have a job, and kids, and I do a lot of things for my church women's group. I'm tired a lot of days. So Step #4 is really about creating a filter for incoming information, and assessing what parts of your life you can use for causes. Life is SO overwhelming right now for EVERYONE. Step #4 takes time, and it's hard. But then you can feel amazing to work on Step #5 next!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Step #3

Step #3 (in the Steps for recovering after a truly unsettling tragedy happens) is Gather with like-minded people.

This morning I attended a lecture by one of the pastors at my church about a program she runs that helps parents of other-abled children take a night off. It's a great program. This post isn't about that program (which can be found here).

This post is about me leaving my house 1-3 times a month, dragging Adam to the church-provided babysitter, and sitting in a room with other women for about 2 hours. I'm lucky to have found a church that aligns exactly with what my values are. So when I go there, I feel 100% nurtured and accepted. I can blurt out whatever insane thing my mind comes up with- and I know I'm safe. The catchphrase for the church is, we are a NICE Church: Nurturing, Inclusive, Connecting, Empowering.

Someone this morning asked why we haven't been to children's choir lately. Instead of making up something like, "we've been really busy" or "you know, just life" and making an empty promise to try to make it more often, I looked her in the eye and told the exact truth, "We've been having a lot of trouble with Sawyer lately, and we've decided to pause our extra activities until we can figure out how to help him be ok with himself and the world around him."

The week after the November election, I sat at a table as a leader of a group of women, and we all took deep breaths and cried. We said all the things we'd been holding in so we could appear strong to our families and "not crazy" to our friends. We just let it out, and brainstormed next-steps, and I felt better as I was leaving.

Don't get me wrong- everyone needs their close circle of friends. Jesus is there when there's even just two of us together (how did this post get so religious today???). But when there's more, and you can look around and know an entire pyramid of people share your dreams for our Earth and our future and our children, THAT'S the empowerment you need to keep going in tough times. Stronger Together. I'm SO glad I took the social-situation risk a while back and started Gathering with women. I've gotten SO much more out of it than I ever imagined I would.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Step #2

We have too much crap. And it sucks to shuffle it from place to place. And a LOT of self-help books lately have started focusing on the way your energy is drained by the things you own. Which is why my Step #2 is to Donate Things. Make some space in your house and your heart for new ideas and new openness to live. Also- make sure you're not just throwing good things away (but definitely do throw away garbage). Other people can use your stuff.

If I've learned anything from my 12 years of dedicated Hoarders watching, it's this: If you find yourself ever saying, "But maybe one day I'll...." about anything, get rid of it. Entire rooms could be filled with the "maybe one day" projects. No. You're not. And if "one day" you do, you can create that bag of empty toilet paper rolls again. Dry cleaning hangers are closet herpes: they'll show back up out of nowhere when you're feeling a little under the weather.

And you don't need to plan for this donation experience. Just grab one box or bag, throw stuff in, and get in the car. Don't make a day out of it. You're not spring cleaning your house. Just get one box/bag out so you've done something. This one action can knock loose a depressive state, and give you just enough satisfaction and pride to eat a bag of Doritos with satisfaction.

Enjoy those Doritos. You earned them.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Step #1

I'm pretty sure I have more than one post with this same title. This time I'm not talking about the AA steps (Admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.... although now that I've typed that out it doesn't seem that far off)

Step #1 Self-care
I have almost 9 years of blogging behind me that proves that I do not do this well. Or at all. But I try, and I try, and I just keep trying. Rest. Breathe. Drink water. Move. Learn. Connect. Sleep. I've focused my self-care over the last year almost exclusively on meditating. A friend pointed me to The Calm App and I've used it several times a week for almost a year now. I love that it tracks how many days in a row I use it (pinging the competitive and numerical part of my brain) and that there are dozens of options I can use to customize it. My kids love the Sleep Stories, and I've fallen asleep listening to the Sierra Bear every night for the last 2 months.

Therapy is also still going strong. I'm about 15 months into treatment with Meg2.0. She's got me convinced that I'm a lot more normal than I've been giving myself credit for. Yay! And I've been able to speak a little more openly to people about the every day benefits of having a mental health doctor as backup.

Running is... still hanging around my life. I ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile this year, and the Fort to Base 5k. I feel like my mind and body are still recovering from Adam and his 18 months of awakeness (18 months?? Yes. Colic lasted for 3-4 months, and the tiny thing didn't sleep a full night until well into his second year of life). I have the gear. I have Charity Miles and Zombies, RUN! I have a new used treadmill in the corner of the garage. 3-6 miles a week is the best I've done lately. So hopefully I'll get back into a routine with that soon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Things I Don't Post to Facebook

Since it's been a whole year since I last posted, I feel like I'm shouting down an empty hallway.

Let me catch you up. In 2016 I....

~closed up my "daycare" (because seriously, worst. idea. ever.)
~helped raise $1000+ for DetermiNation
~ran a little
~drank a lot
~was elected secretary for our church's women's group
~started working at a high-end spa and actually making adult money
~gained a little weight
~went on a diet
~continued worrying about my kids' mental health
~started meditating with more consistency
~found a new friendship soul mate in my son's best friend's mom
~continued therapy
~ran a little more
~was on TV with DetermiNation
~quit DetermiNation
~rejoined DetermiNation
~tread water most of the year

I don't think there's a roadmap for how to recover from 2016. I've tried little things here and there. I created a List of 5 things to do while recovering from a tragedy (e.g. the 2016 election).

Step 1: Self-care
Step 2: Donate something
Step 3: Gather with supportive people
Step 4: Research and decide where your talents are best used
Step 5: Change the World

That's all I've got. I want to write more. Because I miss it. And because creating time to sit still needs to be on my 2017 list.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Seriously, WHY does the finish line keep moving??

Let me walk through something with you guys.

In 2012 lots of stuff was falling apart, so I went to therapy. Blah blah blah, Bipolar II. Blah blah blah, I can handle this. Yadda yadda I quit therapy. Almost 2 years later I end up back in therapy because things are again not going well.

Then today.... at the end of today's session, New Therapist (Meg2.0) tells me, "hey, I'd like to lift something off of you if you're ok with that." Well sure! You can do anything you want to!

"I want to lift that Bipolar II diagnosis off of you. I've been with you for a bunch of months now and I've heard a lot of things about your life now and your life in the past... and I'm sure a lot of things really do look like bipolar II, but I'm here to tell you right now- it's not that. You don't have that. You have different challenges, but not that. So I'm sorry to drop this on you at the end, and we will definitely talk about it more later. But there you go."

Thud. And also yay. And also also. Wow.

I'm not sure what even to think about this. I'm not sure I totally believe her yet. I have a lot to think about. But if it's true that I don't have that particular flavor of crazy, then a lot of things I think about myself are totally different. A lot of the things I've been afraid of don't exist anymore. A lot of things I thought were permanent, or inevitable, or impossible, are totally changed.

SO much to think about.