Pondering the Future in a Benedryl Stupor… and the Sun

According to a study by the Institute of Incomplete Information, 9 out of 10. That effectively sums up the essence of life right now during this seemingly interminable pandemic. Lies have become facts and facts have become lies. It’s a wholly uncivil war.

Meanwhile, I’m unable to maintain a complete and cohesive thought. And for some reason, I’ve dropped every single cap to a jar or bottle that I’ve handled today. EVERY LAST ONE of them. Did the earth’s gravitational pull suddenly increase? Conspiracy theorists might posit this as the reason. Meanwhile, flat earthers deny gravity altogether. I won’t even venture to discuss the holocaust deniers or the myriad reasons they should be sterilized.

I know it’s not just me though. We’re all experiencing pandemic fatigue. Yeah, it’s a real thing. The reality is, it’s a stressful time for nearly everyone (with the exception of “people” like the Kardashians who can blow $800,000 to rent a private jet and island for a weekend getaway. We really should give those poor folks a tax break.) And when there’s stress, my allergies attack. Of course, the ragweed and cottonwood don’t help. Put the three together and my nose becomes a highly efficient phlegm factory – the operations of which can only be shut down with Benedryl. Unfortunately, it also shuts down my already challenged cognitive operations too.

As such, I’m making a grand effort to forget that next week at this time, we MAY know the results of the election. My gut is telling me that King Baby is on his way out; in very much the same way it twisted into knots before the last election as a harbinger of the four coming years of unimaginable surrealistic chaos and sadness. Going out in the midst of a pandemic he enabled is decidedly apt. So I’m going with that. Poetic justice is long overdue.

But back to today and THIS moment.

My view from my “work space” today.

The sun is out. It’s actually warm enough for me to be working outside at the Ferndale Project. I’m listening to some jazzy bossa nova and drinking a chai tea. That’s at least four things I can add to my gratitude journal later. And I’ll have spaghetti for dinner – as I do every Wednesday. Because I have to have “events” to look forward to each week. And meager as it may sound, spaghetti is one of them.

So yeah, there are positive things that have been born of this pandemic. Besides an increased appreciation for durum wheat products with tomato sauce, I’ve found more mindfulness, a steady meditation practice, and a stronger relationship with my husband, father-in-law, sisters, and a handful of friends with whom I take long walks.

Speaking of walks, the time has come for me to pack up my laptop and my Benedryl stupor and make my way back home. My cats will be there waiting for me. And regardless of what happens in next week’s election, they’ll be there when I return home next Wednesday too.

Right along with a big ole’ plate of spaghetti.

Scenes From a Gratitude Journal

Earlier, I had some highfalutin notion that I’d dash out some brilliance this morning when I was fresh as a daisy. But here it is 5:30pm and I’m about as fresh as a container of yogurt nearing its expiration date. So rather than pull out any more hair (which is already more follicly challenged than it appears), I decided to share some of the items from my daily gratitude journal.

This isn’t me. My gratitude journal isn’t this interesting.

Yeah, that’s right. I keep a daily gratitude journal. Actually, it’s more of a list. I’ve been doing it for nearly two months now and I gotta tell ya, it’s pretty cool. I’ve tried to keep one of these blasted things many times before. But this time it’s sticking. I think because the past six months have forced me to reframe nearly every scene and situation that comes my way so as not to surrender to the impulse to permanently burrow in one of my cats’ heated beds and abandon all efforts at personal hygiene.

Now, I can admit that this whole keeping of a list may be effective in part due to my driving perfectionism that refuses to die. My brain sees seeking gratitude in challenging situations as an assignment for which I strive to get a gold star and a big A+. For example, it’s not uncommon for dialogue like this to take place in my head:

Me: That guy is a first-rate asshole.

Me: Well, can you find something good about him that you could put in your gratitude journal later?

Me: If I kicked him hard in the kneecaps, I’d be grateful to watch him crumble to the ground.

Me: But he’s the president.

Me: I don’t know why I have to keep saying this, but he’s not MY president...

Okay. That’s clearly not the best example. That would be more like a sad face sticker and a big C-. But, as my friend Nolan says, some days a C- is good enough. Frankly, that’s a really good lesson too. All of that aside, I feel I’m doing something proactive by keeping this journal. Even if I have to resist writing the stuff that irritates me to no end.

So without further ado, here are eighteen of the hundreds of items that have made the cut in the past two months. I hope you enjoy.

  1. The musical score from the movie The Color Purple
  2. Trees – everything about them (even when they spit sticky stuff on my car)
  3. Bob’s Burgers (one of the greatest cartoons ever)
  4. Bananas with chocolate sauce
  5. The way some flowers reseed and then show up again next year
  6. Trader Joe’s rice pilaf (I’m willing to pretend I’m not a pescetarian to eat this EVERY week)
  7. My little blue Honda Fit (whose name is Fred)
  8. Iridescence (especially in parking lot oil puddles)
  9. Libraries
  10. George Benson on guitar
  11. Learning new words (crabwise is one of my personal favorites)
  12. Fluoride
  13. That first swift and sweeping movement on my bike as I enter the street from my driveway
  14. The Bomb Burrito from Christine’s Cuisine in Ferndale
  15. The versatility of eggs (they’re incredible and edible)
  16. All of the opportunities I’ve been given (and there have been many)
  17. Kind people
  18. My friends who support my writing (thanks, y’all)

Gratitude rocks. And since I’ve got nothing else to blather on about, I’ll leave you with that.

See ya next week.

I Don’t Need Anger Management

I just need people to stop pissing me off.

This saying has particular appeal to me because I’ve often been accused of being an angry person. I’m not going to deny it. I HAVE struggled with anger. But seriously, who hasn’t? It’s not like I’ve intentionally hurt anyone or set anything important on fire. So YOU’RE the one with the problem.

Ah, but I deflect.

Seriously though, I have had to work through some anger issues. Over the past two decades, I’ve done this predominantly through therapy, yoga, meditation, and yes, alcohol. The first three have been noticeably more effective than the fourth.

It should be noted that I’m by no means an angry drunk. In fact, I was always more in the “we should totally go to Canada/climb that cell tower/steal that grocery cart” camp. (A wink and nod to my former fellow campers. And sincerest apologies to those who were my keepers during such inspired moments.)

Still, and this may surprise you, there were occasions when alcohol backfired. Case in point – one afternoon, following a series of poor decisions, I was at a biker bar in Southern Florida, nearly blackout drunk and angrily attempting to start something with a woman with whom I had no business attempting to be starting something. I’ll spare you the details because 1) war stories are boring and 2) I don’t remember the details. I blacked out shortly after that defining moment. But when I came to later, there were three distinct claw marks across my back. I’m certain they were human.

And though I have no memory of the incident, I’m even more certain they were motivated by rage.

This story may be unsettling to those of you who have turned to me for guidance as a yoga teacher or a life coach. To you I say most sincerely, sorry but suck it up. And that’s not me being angry. It’s me being honest. And straight-up human. I don’t drink like that any more. But twenty years ago, “push it down with the brown” sure seemed like an easy way to manage my anger. Things are clearly not as they always seem.

Rebel Daisy demonstrates righteous indignation.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to dole out some heart-warming story that relays to you the vast and sundry methods I employed to turn my life around and overcome anger. Despite the yoga, therapy, and meditation, I haven’t overcome anger. Frankly, it’s not even a goal. While to some extent I feel that anger is my birthright as a redhead (albeit a greying redhead), I don’t desire to rid myself of it because I also recognize where anger has helped me. My therapist many years ago suggested I reframe anger as “righteous indignation.” I liked that suggestion. And yeah, sure. For the first few years as I worked to grasp that concept, I was merely dressing up my anger in a righteously indignant costume and parading it around like a rabid three-legged Chihuahua in a black-sequined cape.

These days though, I am better able to recognize that line between righteous indignation motivating me to take positive action, and anger threatening to take me down. Far more often than not, I have a handle on it. And that’s saying a lot, given that THESE DAYS, things are… challenging. I’ll spare you the details on that one too, since we’re ALL living it.

Yes, yoga and meditation have gone a long way in teaching me skills to manage my anger. I no longer feel the need to be free of it though. When approached mindfully and with awareness, it serves a purpose. For me, it can be a valuable tool.

It would be nice though if certain people would at least stop trying to piss me off so much…