And Add a Sprinkle of Glitter…

Baggage… We all carry it. What’s in your baggage? Daddy issues, tragedy, grief, bitterness, shame, hatred? Maybe your baggage is full of rainbows, unicorns, butterflies, and glitter? Like most people, you probably have a combination of all of the above.

It is interesting because baggage is usually referred to in a negative context. If a divorced woman enters into a relationship with 5 kids and her ex cheated on her, people might say “she has a lot of baggage… you sure you want to be with her.” Frankly, this is a ridiculous statement. Yeah, this woman is carrying some stuff with her but we are all lugging shit around! Baggage can contain anything ranging from wreckage to joyful wonder.

Lately, I have been reflecting a lot on my own baggage. I just finished graduate school and haven’t started my job yet. I’ve got some time on my hands. Anyways, I realized something about myself that frankly shocked me. A lot of the shit that I have in my baggage is leading me to see myself as a victim. Ugh! Even writing that sentence disgusts me. You see, I’d like to see myself as a confident, thriving, and powerful woman. Instead, I have let past resentments, losses, pains, discriminations, etc. shape me into someone I’d rather not recognize.

I am incredibly grateful for my life. I am actually pretty happy and resilient most of the time. But when I really start to rummage around within myself, I find a lot of dust, grime, and cobwebs surrounding some stuff that I should have let go of years ago. In some ways, that stuff has driven me to succeed. It has driven me to prove people wrong. My baggage has shaped me. Who am I without it? In other ways, my baggage is weighing me down and holding me back. My arms are starting to shake under the pressure and the rest of me is starting to sweat. Maybe it is time to put it down, open it up, and reassess what belongs and add a sprinkle of glitter.

It must be impossible to rid yourself of baggage entirely. If we did, we’d be empty husks connecting with nothing and no one. But I’m learning that we can unpack and reorganize our baggage. It takes courage and hard work but it can be done. Today, I have decided that I am a victim no more. I am going to take hold of what control I do have and leave the rest to fate or the universe or God or whatever or whoever is grater than me. So here’s to unpacking, decluttering, reorganizing, reassessing, minimizing, and repacking baggage. Cheers!

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And Just When I Thought You Considered Me A Human…

Crack my head open

On your kitchen floor

To prove to you that I have brains

– Alkaline Trio

When you are disabled, much of your life is spent proving your humanity to others. Too often, disabled people are objects; objects of your pity, objects of your existential strife, objects that someone needs to care for, objects of your inspiration, I could go on. Objects are acted on and not interacted with. And when we get too comfortable with our illusion of humanity, someone will always be there to shatter it. Someone, so graciously, reminded me of my objectified existence today. They really deserve a medal for preventing this disabled chick from using her own brain.

The thing is, she meant well. Most people do. Long story short, plans were unnecessarily changed in order to accommodate my disability. No one asked me. They gave me a vague reason for the change. I was living in ignorant bliss until today. Then someone opened their big mouth and said “well, we changed the plan for you, because you know, your disability.” When I explained that the change was unnecessary, she replied “I guess we should have asked.” Nailed it! You definitely should have asked! You see, we could chalk this up to a learning experience and call it a day. That’s a part of what I will do. The other part is that I will do my best to explain to you, dear reader, why this is fucked up. I want you to be better than that.

These people forgot that I am a human! I am not a delicate flower. I will not whither if you offend me. I will not be crushed by your carelessness. And you are not an almighty force that makes or breaks me. We are 2 fellow humans so let’s treat one another as such.

Fear also factors into this. They were afraid of offending me. Maybe they were afraid of needing to help me. Maybe they were afraid of the discomfort of watching me do something in my own way. Who knows! The point is, YOU ARE BRAVER THAN THAT!

Through my time working in community mental health, I have learned a few things.

1. We are all just a few intensely shitty experiences away from the things we fear the most… Maybe that is living on the streets, or becoming terminally ill, dyeing, becoming disabled, etc.

2. People experience intense discomfort when faced with this concept.

I get it! It makes me pretty uncomfortable too. So what do we do? Truthfully, I do not know. But one thing we can do is BE BRAVE and remember one another’s humanity.

To illustrate my complicity, here is a story. I was on the bus the other day when a young guy in a wheel chair gets on. He started talking about how he was pretty newly disabled from a traumatic event. When he was sharing his story, I felt really emotional. I was faced with those really common/pesky existential concerns. I felt really bad for the dude. But I think what I did wrong here is that I made his stuff about me. I was not brave. I made him an object.I think it would be pretty accurate to assume that he has no interest in my pity. He is probably interested in being treated like a resilient human who went through some rough shit. He probably has lots of opinions, and favorite movies/bands/books, and hobbies. He is more than that disability. He is complex. We are all complex.

TLDR: Objectification is easy and weak. Be brave and recognize humans for humans.

The Holidays Are…?

Christmas is here my friends! Currently writing this while in the car, on the way to see my husband’s fam. We are obviously running late because that is the story of our lives. We may or may not have had a little too much Christmas cheer last night. Coincidentally, mixing apple jack brandy, cranberry ginger ale, and Pinot Grigio makes for a delightful cup of holiday greatness. A cup you very much need after splitting your Christmas time between 5 different sets of families.

This year, I tried to veer away from my typical grinchy ways and took more of a elfish approach to Christmas. I started off the season by decorating the group home for my clients. They were not quite feeling the Christmas spirit but what can you do. Then we did some zoo lights, struggled to make a ginger bread house, and attended a hilarious play entitled, “Santa’s Big Red Sack.”Throw all of that in with some Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, and home decorating of our own, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for Christmas spirit.

A phrase I heard frequently uttered throughout the season was “Holidays are hard!” It’s interesting because this is not something I put much thought into over my lifespan. It’s not because the holidays have been void of difficulty for me. I think it’s just that I’ve never thought about putting it into words. I never thought about generalizing an entire season like that. I’ve just always taken it step by step. Oh yeah, today it sucks that my divorced parents are guilting the hell out of me to spend more time with one or the other. Oh, I hate all those back handed compliments and straight up insults that get tossed around like a hot potato at family gatherings. Don’t forget the good old fashioned passive aggression. Wait, remember the pressure to buy nice gifts for all those people you aren’t even that close to? What if you don’t have family or friends? What if you are grieving? There is a reason suicide rates go up over the holidays. Damn, I guess the holidays are hard.

Can I share a secret though? I hate that fucking phrase! And I 100% cannot figure out why. Maybe it’s the childish part of my soul that wants to hold the holidays in magical regard. Maybe it’s because it’s just said too often. Maybe it makes me feel guilty for having a good time over the holidays. Maybe it serves as an ugly reminder of my own pain and anxiety. I sincerely apologize for hating this phrase. It makes me feel like an insensitive ass hole. But it is just the ugly truth.

At this point in my life, I still have reason to enjoy the holidays. I mean there is glitter, pretty lights, happy children, you get to keep a tree in your house, more glitter, cookies, lots of other baked goodies, lovely and yet pain in the ass family time, thoughtful gifts, did I mention the glitter? Trust me, I understand that the holidays are super hard and dreadful for so many. I am not at all trying to discount that painful experience. I just had to vent about my feelings regarding that unfortunate phrase.

Nevertheless, go have yourself a hard but happy holiday! Namaste!

Together We Reach And Together We Bear

You know that feeling in your heart telling you that something is off? That slight flutter below your rib cage… That tightness in your chest… The feeling of your internal self taking a plunge to the floor but your physical self is standing firm… It just takes one text… One phone call… One too many expectations… A little chemical imbalance anyone? Or maybe it just comes out of nowhere… Sometimes I feel like I’m having a heart attack or an allergic reaction. Occasionally I feel paralyzed. In a less extreme moment, I just feel off. Breath becomes hard to come by but is the key to climbing out of this abyss of the mind. This is my anxiety. She’d probably lie and say it’s nice to meet you but she’s busy throwing up in a dark corner of my brain right now. Such a nasty bitch.

I like to imagine tying her up and locking her in a closet. Occasionally I’ll deliver a mean upper cut to her jaw. I’ll do anything to try and push her away so I can bring myself back down to earth. I use healing crystals, essential oils, breathing exercises, and meditation. In a real pinch, I’ll pop some Xanax but once that magic wears off I worry about losing my memory from it later in life. What a joke, right? But this is the joke that people with anxiety live whenever that bitch decides to drunkenly strut back into their minds.

It seems as though anxiety is becoming synonymous with American life. It’s all about the goals and success… Always gaining and rising above… Improve… You can do better! Don’t be late. Get that A. Get that positive review. Ignore the haters. Eat healthier… Become more fit… Clean, Clean, Clean! Am I the only one who seems to have a washed up high school cheerleading coach for a brain? It’s truly exhausting and enough to cause a minor existential crisis from time to time.

What do we do? We keep that shit to ourselves because if we don’t, we seem crazy! We feel like we are going into anaphylactic shock on the inside, yet we just keep on smiling and waving on the outside. We see random people on the street who probably feel the same way we do, and we will never know. The only reason I know is because I work in mental health. I listen to people’s darkness and hidden truths on the daily. It’s a brutal world we live in. Horrible shit happens! Things are unexplainable, unreconcilable, unforgivable, and unbelievably painful. But you know what? There is always a flip side. Yeah, life sucks sometimes. Shit is hard, annoying, uncertain, stress inducing, etc. But life is also joyous, celebratory, full of adventure, peaceful, and a learning opportunity. Life is enough! I just read a post where someone listed all the things in life that are enough so I am going to give that a whirl here.

Enough is a powerful word. If you consider the origins of the word, you learn that the first element of the word means together and the second element means to reach or to bear. Things that are enough… Things with which life becomes bearable. Things with which we can reach potential. That’s pretty nifty if you ask me. With all of that being said, here’s my list of things that are ENOUGH. The list of different things which soothe that anxious monstrous who enters my brain now and again. *Probably not going to be comprehensive but it’s a start to keeping a more positive mindset.*

  1. An enchanting story that drags you in and leaves you wanting more
  2. The smell of essential oils, especially lavender
  3. A new perfume that feels like spraying on confidence
  4. A hug from a baby who is happy to see you
  5. Laughing until you cry and can’t breathe
  6. Fresh baked anything delicious
  7. Successfully soothing a sad child
  8. Observing the silence that sometimes accompanies freshly fallen snow
  9. The feel of a freshly cleaned home
  10. An amazing homecooked meal… especially green chili, homemade tortillas and refried beans
  11. Hearing the life history of your grandparents
  12. Cat and dog snuggles
  13. Baby snuggles
  14. The smell of Johnson’s baby products (I may or may not have baby fever)
  15. The love that fills your soul when your husband does something that reminds you why you married him in the first place
  16. Melting into a hug from the husband
  17. The joy that fills a dog’s step when they receive a new toy
  18. A refreshing meditation session
  19. Learning a new skill
  20. Holding a new born swaddled in a blanket
  21. Observing tired but passionately loving parents
  22. An unexpected compliment
  23. Feeling the sand beneath your toes
  24. Opening and pouring a bottle of wine
  25. Making coffee

Ok seriously, if you made it this far, you should definitely give this a try. I already feel more positive and a little lighter. Thank you for reading. Cheers!