Category Archives: Holiday

Self-Care in the New Year – An Important Resolution

It’s approaching not only the end of a year, but the end of a decade, and I’m feeling reflective. Also, I’m going to call this decade “The Roaring ‘20s – Pt II” because it amuses me. Time for a revival of the Charleston and the phrase “the bee’s knees” because I laughed for 10 minutes straight the first time I heard it.

New Year 2
A revival of Art Deco is long overdue, I think.

Anyway, the teens were an interesting time, weren’t they? One huge, life-changing decision for me (leaving a toxic job) ups and downs, shameful memories and glorious victories. Publishing my book “Life Songs” in 2018 was a lifetime dream come true. It was one of the most heart-filling things I’ve ever done. I never expected to get rich, I think my royalties were an amazing 50-odd dollars, but that wasn’t the point. It’s done, after 25 years, it’s complete.

New Year 5
I’m going to retire, just as soon as royalties hit $60.00.

This blog is also a victory. After two years of false starts I’ve finally got a handle on it, I finally managed to get some traction in my mission to help and advocate. I also have a captive audience for my groaner jokes, and that’s just fabulous. I can call myself a writer again. That is part of my identity, and I’m over the moon. Next I need to pick up my poetry; I can’t call myself a poet until I do.

It hasn’t been all good of course, it never is. Bad things happen, either brought on you or that you bring on yourself. I have done the latter a lot. More than once I have considered closing this blog and its Facebook page because I felt like a fraud.

Who am I to encourage people to do their best, to make a true assessment, be gentle with themselves, get back up when they fall, when I can barely do it? I need this page to be honest, unblinkingly so, and yet I come and I cheerlead and I say things that I sometimes don’t feel in my heart at all. I’m behind a keyboard; you can’t see my face. I write when I’m cripplingly depressed and I say words I don’t embrace. Or I disappear, unable to muster any thoughts. Who am I to present myself the way I do? At these times I feel self-loathing and every bit a charlatan, even a hypocrite.

I have a very high bar for myself; it sets me up to fail, all or nothing. The pressure to be authentic, to say the things that come from strength and the need to be absolutely in control of myself, essentially be perfect or not write anything, is paralyzing. Am I dishonest with you if I don’t share the bad things too? I fear so much hurting someone else with my doubts instead of acknowledging that we all have them, that it’s the human condition. How can we grow if we aren’t witness to each other, if we allow our horrible thoughts to consume and define us?

And that’s the trick, isn’t it? My best friend once asked me, while I was sharing my horrible inner monolog, “If I came to you with this, would you say those things to me?” Of course not, not in a million years. I might say, “That’s not awesome, what you did, but you’re human, I love you anyway, let’s figure it out.” Or I’d just shove a cookie at her and say “Oh my God, eat this and let’s go play with your Legos.” She has a huge collection of Legos, just so many kits. (This is assuming she wasn’t in a real depression; that’s a totally different conversation.)

The new year, the new decade is just a number, it has no real significance beyond what we attach to it. But for most of us, myself included there is still some sort of magic, figuratively speaking. A new beginning, a time of resolutions and reflection and hopefully not an unhealthy amount of booze, if you drink.

There’s a thing I heard many years ago, you probably have too, that whatever you bring into the new year sets the stage for the next one. I don’t really believe that. I don’t believe in predetermination but I still try to have a peaceful night. If Chris and I and our middle-aged selves make it to midnight we toast with sparkling cider and collapse in bed.

New year 3
This seldom happens, I find.

This New Year’s Eve we’ll be with two of our dearest friends at their home in Sonoma. They will toast at midnight with sparkling wine, I will toast with my Martinelli’s (seriously, you knew what I was referring to) and then we’ll probably all collapse because over 50 does not equal all-night partying. I’m at peace with that.

I am, actually. I’m at peace with my age; I’m fine with it. A lot of people would have lost a lot of money betting on me not making it to 50 or even 30! So every year I get is a treasure. Every year you get is a treasure. I’m going to try harder to remember that.

So I won’t be closing up this blog or deleting its Facebook page. I will continue to do what I set out to do. There are some changes to it I’m considering, but that’s also a conversation for another time.

I am excited. I am looking forward to the next year and what might be. New adventures, big decisions, new books out. I’ll write like so much about it.

I wish for all of you a happy turn of the decade. I wish for you to enjoy whatever it is that you do to ring it in. In the new year, I wish for you celebrations of your victories, and gentleness with your mistakes, and good friends who will help remind you that you matter, that you are a flawed and beautiful human, as we all are. And I wish to believe what I just said in my own heart.

New Year 4
It’s worth it.

 

And please, if you do have a problem with alcohol find a way to take care of yourself. Have a buddy with you who you can trust to keep an eye on you, go to a sober party, let your friends know you can’t drink with them, and make sure you’re with people who will respect that. And whether you are an alcoholic or not, if you drink, do not drive!

On that note, thank you for reading this, and my blog. Thank you for being a part of the community I’m building, it makes me so happy to have you here. That sounds trite, but I mean it.

Happy new year, a happy new decade. You are all just the bee’s knees. I will bring that back.

It’s OK To Not Feel Jolly at Christmas

Christmas is almost here, which is stunning to me, but I thought I’d share a thought for the many of us who sometimes have a problem dealing with it.

You don’t have to be jolly every minute of Christmas.

There’s a lot of pressure around this one day, a lot of messages to be happy and joyful, to bake cookies, watch some version of “A Christmas Carole,” smile at children, or something. If you’re religious, there’s a whole other level of pressure; I remember it from my youth. Sit and be happy with your family, smile, be loving, give meaningful gifts. Also, you must have gifts.

If someone in that family has abused you somehow, this can be devastating. Maybe you seethe all day, maybe you act out, maybe you self-medicate, or worse. I did all three. The only way I could even remotely deal with this was to medicate with alcohol or weed. It tarnished the holiday for me, darkened it, and that took years and the removal of the toxic person, to overcome. I still feel down now and then, but less often and with far less intensity, and I’ve remained sober. I also had help from the family I kept in my life, my friends, and my husbands. I’ve been married twice, my first husband remains a wonderful man.

This brings me to “Mr. Robot.” Chris would say he just got whiplash from that segue but bear with me.

“Mr. Robot” is one of my favorite shows. Recently there were two episodes with disturbing scenes involving attempted suicide and a mind-exploration (I’m being as vague as I can to avoid spoilers) that were graphic. I didn’t really key in on the first too much because I was wrapped up in whatever horrible thing was happing to Rami Malik that week.

christmas mr robot 3
This guy just cannot get a break.

But the second scene hit me to my core. Chris knew it would, so he asked me if I was ok. We talked about it, and I was able to center and appreciate the art of it, but it did, in fact, rock my world for a bit.

Here’s the thing though, at the end of both episodes, a message came up listing the appropriate contact numbers. I was shocked to silence for a few minutes; I have never seen anything like that.

This is what I mean when I say we must watch out for each other, that we are all in this together. It’s why I’m very careful with what I say or the images I use and include the appropriate references at the bottom of any article I believe could be provocative. Also, because I write about such personal things, and I write without blinders, many articles have thrown me for a loop, and I have to find a way to process my own words. My therapist told me she loves that I do all the initial work at home and bring in what needs to be worked on. It’s a timesaver.

You may not know this, but I am incredibly protective of you. I spend a lot of time editing words or photos I fear might be upsetting to someone, so sometimes I do find myself completely paralyzed. “Is this word inclusive enough? Could this hit a button for anyone? What if I make a joke so bad that it makes someone pass out with rage?” That last one is pretty likely to have happened.

mental illness triggered 1
An article about my favorite movie took six versions.

People need to feel safe and nurtured, but that word seems especially vexing for some. Why? Is there a bottle somewhere full of nurturing, with a message like, “Expires at Age 20 – Please Place All Bad Feelings in Your Stomach.” I really don’t think so.

steam-locomotive-3397463_1920
 I did a search for “compassion,” and most of the results were compasses. Admittedly this is pretty damn cool so I’m using it anyway.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I am all about play, giving yourself permission to have fun, whatever it is, go to a meadow and make a chain out of wildflowers. You know, I never figured out how to do that, I tended to just blow the fuzz off of dandelions.

Christmas is hard for some of us, to one degree or another. It’s gotten easier for me, and I enjoy it and my chosen family. I love the traditions the family has. Chris and I have our tree up, pride-of-place on the tree goes to a severed finger ornament, all bloody, wearing a Swarovski crystal ring, Crazy Legs generally leaves it alone. I have my own Hello Kitty tree set up, and of course Ermastus, greeting people as they come up the stairs. He’s friendly, but he can’t hold his liquor!

chritmas finger

christmas tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

christmas ermie
“Hello!  I hope you’re doing well!”

My family is largely gone, my parents and brother have passed, my sister and brother-in-law moved to Oregon, but Chris’ family is here, so we spend the day together, we enjoy each other’s company, exchange gifts that can be fun toys from Think Geek (pay me Geeks, and I’ll do that more} or something sweet and meaningful, it doesn’t matter. Then a huge feast of Indian food, Christmas Crackers, listening to each person read their horrible joke and show off their prize, lovely desserts. No caroling though, I’m the only singer. I do miss that, but it’s all good.

Oh, Indian food, yes. Most of Chris’ family cook and they love to show off at Thanksgiving just for fun. Years ago though, long before me, they decided that Christmas was stressful enough without having to do all the cooking again, so one of the only places open for delivery would be Indian food and there it is, a tradition that makes me happy, and very full.

But this was not always the case. And the messages we get from every direction are we must be happy at all times, that a sad face is somehow an affront.

You do not have to be jolly every minute of Christmas.

In the spirit of taking care of each other, which Christmas should be about, remember that. Feel what you are feeling. Try to not compound it with guilt because you don’t want to skip down the street singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Anyway, that’s nonsense, the most wonderful time of the year is when the Halloween stores open. Then Chris and I skip hand-in-hand through the parking lot to find batties and ravens and skeletons that will sit outside and greet our neighbors.

No, no, I’m kidding, Ermastus. Nobody can replace you.

So, taking a page from Mr. Robot, I’m listing some numbers for you below in the closing credits so to speak. If you are feeling overwhelmed by this holiday, if you need help, do not hesitate to call. There would be nothing worse at any time of year than to lose you.

 
National Helpline

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

1-800-273-8255

Home

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER NATIONAL HOTLINE

Toll-free
1-888-843-4564

HOURS:
Monday thru Friday from 1pm to 9pm, pacific time
(Monday thru Friday from 4pm to midnight, eastern time)

Saturday from 9am to 2pm, pacific time
(Saturday from noon to 5pm, eastern time)

Email:
help@LGBThotline.org
https://www.glbthotline.org/national-hotline.html