Posted in Fighting for the Good, Word Therapy

Please talk to at least one person about voting today

In March of 1999, I started as a customer service representative in a banking call center. Throughout the floor were tv monitors hanging from the ceiling. CNN was playing on each one with the news ticker scrolling continuously at the bottom, a reporter speaking on the current headlines, and “breaking news” always in some corner. In 2000, I watched George W. Bush win the presidential election over Al Gore (the results are debatable to this day). On September 11, 2001, I sat at my desk on the opposite side of the floor where I started and watched as the planes flew into the Twin Towers. I was talking to my Florida based boss on the phone as he told me, “Oh god, we are going to war.” During the summer of 2004 my husband and I walked through our local movie theater to see Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 while being booed by other patrons. Five months later, Bush won the presidential election for a consecutive term. 12 years later we were stricken with fear when Donald Trump won the 2016 election. My hubby and I have lost relationships with family members and friends because of our political views. What are our views? We register as Democrats. We feel that the rights of the LGBTQ community and people of color are in dire need of support. We believe in climate change.

Did you know that in two important states right now voter suppression is happening? In Georgia where democrat Stacey Abrams is in contention for governor, there has been 53,000 voter registrations on hold due to Georgia’s “exact match” policy. This means that if the information in the Department of Driver database or the Social Security office doesn’t exactly match the voter registration, it won’t be processed. It has been reported that African Americans make up to 70 percent of these possible voters. And connected to this is her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp. He is the current secretary of state for Georgia and is in charge of enforcing the voter laws. You can read more about it here.

It is less than two weeks to the midterm election. Depending on your state you can still register to vote. If you have registered, can you vote early? Can you mail in your ballot? We mailed our ballots last week. The ballot was a little overwhelming but having all the information I needed in my hand (thanks Google! and Ballotpedia!) gave me no excuses.

I had a dream last night that my family and I were staying in an Airbnb and the next occupants came in before we left. They set up their stuff which included a Confederate Flag. I froze when I saw it. Terror set in. When I woke up, bombs had been sent to Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, the CNN offices, etc., etc. I want to smack the hell out of everybody that said I was overreacting when Cheeto Satan was elected.

We are keeping our heads down and not letting anything distract us. We are donating to those who need it. I mailed postcards to voters to get the word out. This election can change everything. Is there something you can do to help? THERE IS. Speak to at least one person today about voting. I am not saying to tell them who to vote for. Just the simple act of voting can change the direction of our country.

 

Posted in Word Therapy

Tears of Rage and Joy

I forgot to take my medicine yesterday. Woke up today feeling like I had cried all night: tired, puffy eyes, and ragey. The tears want to flow and I have no self control to stop them. Anger at the world is taking up so much space in my brain that I am starting to forget things ( I would tell you what but I can’t remember what those things are). I want to stop watching the news but want to stay informed. I want to encourage people to vote but don’t have enough followers on social media to feel like I will be making a difference. It’s become harder and harder to stay focused. A thought pops in my head and is gone in an instant. The demon voices are louder than the “it’s okay” voices. With my phone in my hand I just keep scrolling with no willpower to just put it down and walk away. This feeling of mania sucks the energy out of me. The walls are inching closer and closer and I am too tired to stop them. I want to give up on writing and take a nap. My nerve endings are at full attention, daring to be battled with as another form of punishment. Music only illicits two kinds of emotions: sadness or annoyance because it’s too much. I am that cartoon where the character walks around with a cloud over its head and a sourpuss face.

I hold my head in my hands for a period of time. I pick up my phone. I read a chapter of the book I am currently reading. The cloud is now impairing my vision. I am exhausted. The rollercoaster of emotions is taking it’s toll but my stubborness tells me to keep writing. I feel like I have nothing of substance to say. At this point I am just spewing verbal diarrhea.

15 minutes later

I have taken a breath. I feel brighter. Watched a funny video on the internet. Feel motivated to write with a plan. Sitting up straighter. Did some internet retail therapy browsing. Ready to dive back in. I know that I can only count on today. Tomorrow is something I can’t control so I let it go. Still feeling tired and not 100% focused. Will breathe until I get it right. Will cry if I need to.

This was all in the span of one hour this morning. It didn’t help that I didn’t make my medicine. But when this storm of top to bottom emotions come on, all I can do is ride it out. I have to repeat, “it will be okay.” Most of the time I believe it. I won’t stop saying it. I will try and be kind to myself. I will not stop being vocal about the injustices of the world. I won’t allow myself to give up even when my brain tells me that all hope is gone.

I am going to go eat a piece of chocolate. Be kind to yourself and others on this World Mental Health Day. We owe it to ourselves if we are going to win this battle. Sending you love.

Posted in Word Therapy

Flags

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Curls made this flag. She talks to me a lot about the LGBTQIA identities: bi, gender fluid, nonbinary, etc. I don’t know all the different ways kids identify themselves these days. But I do know that it’s ridiculous that people get upset when a Sesame Street writer states that Bert and Ernie are gay. Don’t bring sex into a children’s show they say. By that rationale, shouldn’t that mean there are no couples at all, straight or otherwise?

Acceptance and understanding is not something I see a lot of these days. Shouldn’t we leave Earth better than when we got here?  To come from a place of love and knowledge to try and understand the next generation? The following is a list of LGBTQIA terms and their corresponding flags. I hope it helps.

Asexual: Someone who does not feel sexual attraction or identifies as a sexual orientation.

Asexual flag

Bisexual: When a person is attracted to some men and women.

Bisexual flag

Cisgender: When your gender identity accurately reflects your sex assigned at birth, aka being “straight.”

Gay: People who identify as men and are attracted to some men.

Gay flag

Gender: A set of social, psychological, and emotional traits. Refers to social and emotional feelings and norms. Gender characteristics can change over time and vary across different cultural contexts.

Gender fluid: A term used by people whose identity shifts or fluctuates. Sometimes these individuals may identify or express themselves as more masculine on some days, and more feminine on others.

Gender Fluid flag

Intersex: People born with sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies. Hermaphrodite is no longer an acceptable way to refer to intersex people and is understood to be by some as a slur.

Intersex flag

Nonbinary: A person who identifies as neither male nor female and sees themselves outside the gender binary.

Non binary flag

Pansexual: Someone who is attracted to people of all gender identities, or someone who is attracted to a person’s qualities regardless of their gender identity.

Pansexual flag

Queer: An umbrella term to refer to all LGBTQ people as well as an identity which advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid. Historically it has been derogatory and can still be viewed negatively by some.

Sexual Orientation: The deep-down, inner feeling of who we are attracted or “oriented” to emotionally, erotically, and/or sexually.

Transgender: A broad umbrella term that can be used to describe people whose gender expression is non-conforming and/or whose gender identity is different from their sex assigned at birth. They may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgerically. People must self-identify as transgender in order fo the term to be appropriately used to describe them.

Trans flag

References: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/style/lgbtq-gender-language.html

https://www.nyu.edu/students/communities-and-groups/student-diversity/lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-and-queer-student-center/glossary-of-important-lgbt-terms.html

Posted in Wellness, Word Therapy

You are not alone

The first time I tried I was in my teens. The second I was a mom to two babies. I had lost all hope and I couldn’t see life getting any better. Everything that could go wrong did. I tried to lock myself in the bathroom with a mouthful of pills. I was stopped by the person who loves me the most. I was told to look at my children. I was asked if I really wanted to do this. He called family, telling them he didn’t know what to do. I spit the pills in the toilet. Things did eventually get better. I was lucky.

Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and countless others that we don’t know but don’t make them any less important. They took their own lives, no matter how happy they looked to us. “Within the past year, about 41,000 individuals died by suicide, 1.3 million adults have attempted suicide, 2.7 million adults have had a plan to attempt suicide, and 9.3 million adults have had suicidal thoughts.”-NAMI

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. If you read or watch the news you know mental health is a hot topic. Finding help and getting the coverage for it is stigmatized. Speaking about it makes people uncomfortable. But we have all felt despair at times in our lives. Imagine feeling so hopeless that leaving this Earth feels like your only option? Here are some stats from NAMI that alarmed me as the mother of two kids with their teenage years around the corner:

  • 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 live with a mental condition
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24
  • 37 % of students with a mental health condition at age 14 and older drop out of school

Follow this to know what the 10 common warning signs are.

As much as I talk about anything and everything, I don’t like to talk about how I got to a place where I tried to end my life. Depression has definitely affected me my whole life but I never thought during those two times that it would lead to making that decision. It came on suddenly with such an overwhelming feeling of desperation. I wanted to do something drastic so I didn’t have to feel what I was feeling anymore. I am grateful every day that I failed. With my medicine, writing, and exercise, I can now identify when I am feeling bad and why. I can see things with perspective. I know I am strong enough to handle whatever is thrown at me. I didn’t before. Back then I felt all alone in the world. But I wasn’t then and I’m not now. None of us are. And if you don’t feel that you can reach out to friends or family, here are some places that you can:

NAMI

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Trevor Project

You are loved.

Posted in The Happy, Word Therapy

Leo

A lion is known for being powerful, courageous, and fierce. They have strong personalities, are very social, and live in groups. The male lions are filled with vitality and affection and protect members of their pride. As you turn nine, you are all these things. You are the lion of our family.

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When you started a new school this year, we never worried about you making friends or adjusting. You showed strength and courage and now have a group of friends you can be silly with and even took an after school comedy improv class (which you loved). You will talk to pretty much anybody once you are comfortable in your surroundings. Your strong personality means everybody knows who you are from teachers to parents to kids. If somebody is in your circle, you will make sure that person knows they are loved. Hugs and arms slung around shoulders for your friends and kisses for mom, dad, and puppies. And you will stand up and protect friends and family without even thinking about it.

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Your new favorite video game is Undertale and you haven’t even played it yet (but Fortnite is a close second). Tacos are still life but you have made room for bean and cheese burritos. You were brave and tried jalapenos in Seattle this summer and it didn’t end well for you (don’t worry, you will laugh about it when you’re older).

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At 9 years old you are the most energetic person we love. But when it’s time for bed during the week you obediently turn on your Legend of Zelda meditation on YouTube, pull down your bed, lay on your back, close your eyes, and are asleep within five minutes. You do chores for the most part without having to be asked more than once. You still want to be a video game maker but could just as easily be center stage hamming it up.

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You are a ferocious lion that loves his video games, tacos (with a side of bean and cheese burritos), and his friends. You have a heart of gold. Happy birthday Red. We love you.

Posted in California Livin', Good Things, Not Today Anxiety, The Happy, The OC, Word Therapy

Summer Recap

On Monday, August 13, 2018, I will have a fourth and sixth grader. Summer will continue to make us sweat buckets, visit Soak City, and eat all the ice cream. But our Summer Bucket List has been completed and there were many lessons learned during #WilsonSummer2018. Curls and Red started summer camp for the first time this year and it is the GREATEST. A side lesson from that is I now know that it is practically impossible to write when the kids are home (for me at least-props to writers that can do that!). And I will never ever regret doing anything and everything with my kids (and be incredibly grateful that I can):

Father of the Bride (1950) in the park

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Red went on his first plane ride this summer and he was a PRO

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His name is Filson and he is just another example of why dogs are the greatest and we will never be good enough for them.  We exchanged addresses in Seattle and will become life long paw pals. 

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Little Lending Libraries remind me of the good in the world

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My crowning achievement as a mother will be that I raised readers (even on vacation)

This was the first summer my anxiety didn’t take over any time Curls and Red were near water.   Two thumbs up.   

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in Calming the Voices, Not Today Anxiety, Wellness, Word Therapy

Today

Last week marked the one year anniversary since I started taking Prozac. I have changed so much in that time. My brain before Prozac was the house that lay dormant with sheets covering all of the furniture. Prozac has gone around and turned on all the lights, removed the sheets, and aired it out by opening the windows. The more sunshine that comes in, the more I feel myself. I feel as if the parts of me that needed fixing are starting to mend. I have more patience, I am more open, and I am not beating myself up on a daily basis. When anxiety starts to build up I am more often than not able to reign it in.

It’s exhausting being defensive and thinking that when a friend, family member, or even a stranger acts negatively towards you that you automatically think you did something wrong. But I did just that for 42+ years (and honestly don’t know how I’m not taking a nap right now). Having that disappear gives me the opportunity to be empathetic. I’m taking my time back and using it for more positive things. Prozac and mindfulness have done that for me.

Social media is still and probably always will be a struggle. There are days where I want to share my life, good and bad. I want to engage with others, other days I just want to hide from it all so I can’t be judged (which is mostly coming from inside my own head).

I want to be an author first and always. I have focused on getting through my anxiety by writing. When I get overwhelmed with mindfulness, putting thoughts down on paper has helped. But I also have felt selfish and self centered by writing about this. Who am I to play the victim and be sad about life? But ultimately I have realized I needed to go through this to come out on the other side. I sometimes still feel alone in my feelings. Prozac has taught my brain that is not the case but my heart still feels different. I am not pushing for a change of heart as I know that wall will become even stronger the more my brain tries to huff and puff it down. It will change in time and that will have to be enough.

The Should and Shouldn’t Have families are starting to wear out their welcome as I am putting on my pajamas to give them the hint. Just in the last few weeks I have started asking, “Well, why can’t I do that?” or “Why do I have to do that?” It sounds so corny and cheesy but I am starting to like myself. It’s a foreign feeling for someone who is constantly thinking of new ways to improve herself. I definitely should have sought help sooner but strangely I don’t have any regrets. I am just so happy that I finally feel “normal.”

I have learned that my emotions will change day to day. One day I will feel on top of the world, ready to accomplish anything. Others I will be frustrated with life and feel like I will never achieve anything. I know I am not alone in this and that in itself is huge. Now I can focus on finding the strength to keep going. I know I can write a book that will be successful. It’s holding onto that thought day in and day out, that is my goal.

I don’t know if I will change anybody’s mind about mental health, but getting the help I needed has been life changing for me. Thank you for reading.

Posted in Word Therapy

Yelp Gold Status

I handed the girl the picture from the magazine with a hopeful smile. She set it down on her station and started running her fingers through my hair. I was 13 years old and had been growing my hair out for a few years. I was excited for my new style after being tormented at school about what my hair looked like (I will never forget a boy coming up to me just to say “your hair looks terrible”). I kept my eyes closed as the stylist cut, dried, and applied product. And when she announced, “I’m done,” I looked in the mirror. I wanted to cry. It looked nothing like the picture. It was feathered, not straight. I didn’t look like the girl in the magazine. Were my expectations too high back then? Definitely. But I was an awkward teen with braces and glasses and just wanted to feel pretty.

Over the years my hair has been down the middle of my back long, pixie short, and everything in between. I have had bangs and no bangs. I’ve dyed my hair raspberry pink (for my sister’s wedding no less to make sure I never forget it), had blonde highlights, and am currently considering letting the gray take over to finally accept that they aren’t going anywhere. I have had some great haircuts but also a lot of bad ones.

Finding and loving a hair stylist is where my anxiety likes to take over. When I go to a new salon I have done my research (via Yelp) and taken recommendations from friends. I explain what I want and hope for the best. Some times I love it and say so. But if I don’t, I give a nervous smile, pay, and don’t schedule another appointment.

I know getting a haircut can be a trivial act in the grand scheme of life. I should be able to voice my opinion when I’m not happy. But I immediately go back to being that awkward teenage girl and just focus on not crying until I am in my car. I will eventually accept that I have to start over and grow out my hair again. And this is coming from the girl who went to the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica in the late 90s and asked for the “Rachel.” It ended as well as you would expect and 20 years later I can laugh about it (a little).

Do you have a stylist you trust? Do you like to try new styles or color?

Posted in Wellness, Word Therapy

Vacay

I love how you can be sitting on the beach in pure sunshine and calm waves when all of the sudden it starts to rain so fast it’s like mist when it hits the sand. Five minutes later the sun is back out. We spent a lot of time on the beach, only going up to our room to eat lunch in our condo and watch the soap opera Another World. The sweet smell of pineapple still makes me crave a fruit boat. Whenever I see St. Elmo Fire is on television I remember walking around the village of our hotel and stopping into the movie theater to watch it (Saxophone playing Rob Lowe is second only to Soda Pop Rob Lowe). I proudly wore my Puka shell necklace my parents bought me from Lahaina and the t-shirt that sported the round cat playing soccer. We ate lots of shaved ice and were greeted by beautiful exotic birds when we visited the Hyatt Regency. It was summer of 1985 and I was 10. My parents had brought us to their favorite vacation destination, the Hawaiian island of Maui. And even though it had its mishaps (lost luggage, broken down rental car, and stomach flu for me), it was still one of my favorite trips as a kid.

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My anxiety does not like vacations. I can’t sleep in hotels. It’s very hard for me to relax. I like my routines at home. When hubby and I went to Europe after college, I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I wanted to. I was overwhelmed, didn’t give a rat’s ass about all the beautiful art I was seeing, and even got sick and missed out on going to Nice, France (I’m such an idiot). When I think back on that trip I do have fond memories (I know I sound like a privileged asshole ) but wish I had appreciated it more.

These days vacations are easier. Medicine clears away all the nonsense and helps me be in the moment. Planning ahead and checklists still help. And knowing that I will be surrounded by family that I adore is the best part.

On Monday my family of four will board a plane for the first time together. We are meeting family in Seattle for the better part of a week with a one day trip to Portland. I like to joke that we are trying to hit all the cities with the hipsters (Austin was our first). We will do touristy things like the Space Needle and nerdy stuff like the Pop Culture Museum. When Curls and I visited New York in March, one of favorite places was the New York Public Library. I now want to visit the library in each of the cities we travel to and Seattle Public Library has astounding architecture. In Portland we will hit up Voodoo Donuts and Salt and Straw to satisfy the sweet tooth and the Japanese Garden to calm the mind.

I know we will return from vacation having a new city we love and can’t wait to revisit (like Austin). My wish for the future is for us to take a RV trip with stops in Zion and Yellowstone and a vacation to Tokyo.

Where do you like to go on vacation? Do you like to travel?

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in Calming the Voices, Word Therapy

Action Hero Mad

I am in a partial building where I am blow drying my hair. I am talking to Pete Davidson and Tracey Morgan at one point. I told Pete I was concerned about his Ariana engagement but that I wished him well. I am yelling at my kids to get ready as we are already late for school. We are ready to leave and then all of a sudden we are at the school. Some guys who have tactical gear on come into the room because they are looking for somebody. They take that person into custody and then the shooting starts. I watch teenagers sitting down cross legged get shot and killed, their mouths open in shock. I grab my children’s hands and am able to call my husband to tell him we are okay as gunfire is all around us. Then I wake up.

I would definitely say my anxiety has had its hands on the wheel lately. I want to focus on the good but also scream till I am hoarse about the injustices going on in the world (this has been a constant for me since November 2016):

There are so many terrible things in the news that it is practically impossible to have enough energy for all the outrage. I know my California senators are doing what they need to. I voted in the primaries. I have donated to help with the children being separated from their parents at the border. I want to crawl under my bed and never come out when I see the President salute a North Korean general. And I have so much anger and frustration built up that if somebody tries to defend any of this shit I’m ready to go full action hero settling a score on their ass.

My anxiety likes to tell me that there is so much to do, it is too overwhelming, and I should just sit and be angry, sad, and hopeless. My anxiety loves a good pity party. So I sit and write. I make a to do list to make me feel more in control of my emotions. This to do list will make me feel like I am helping. And I sure as hell am not going to stop talking about it on social media (in fact I am probably going to get worse). This to do list is not just applicable to me. You can do it also. Won’t you please join me??

TO DO LIST

I am sorry if you come to my blog (again, thank you so much for reading) for fun SoCal stuff. Just when I think what is going on is too much, it gets worse. I hope that you are all doing well and taking it one step at a time.