Saturday, August 19, 2017

On Doing the Work.

There is a solidarity action today in New Orleans.  And I want to be there.  I feel like I should be there.  But I won't be. 

It goes like this: the action is of course outside.  It's at 1pm, and this is the hottest week we've had all year.  If I were physically able, I would go and distribute cold water to the crowds like I did last summer.  But I'm not.  There is no way I can spend an hour, or more likely several, in the sun in 95 degree heat in the middle of the day, because I am very (very) prone to heat sickness.  Rather than contributing to the gathering, I would become a problem that the people around me would have to deal with. 

Many of us with chronic illness struggle with how to engage meaningfully in resistance.  How do we resist when we literally can't show up?  There are ways, certainly.  And really I'm quite lucky, because I get to work in social justice.  So even though I often can't come to the protests and the marches, the work that I do full time contributes to social change.  It often doesn't feel like enough.  I have to tell myself that it is.  That I am.

If you're in New Orleans and are able, please attend the action.  Gather at 1pm at Congo Square; march to Jackson Square. 

Is your ability to physically engage in resistance limited?  How do you cope?  And how do you resist anyway?

Friday, August 18, 2017

A reminder - or several.

OK.  I just spent far too much of my morning engaged in a nonsense "conversation" in which a friend's friend started with a "legitimate question" about why Confederate (aka white supremacist) statues and road names should be removed.  The situation quickly devolved into this friend's friend trotting out every tired argument in the book before engaging in some deep and random whataboutism.


As a white person, I do feel an obligation to educate my white friends on such issues.  But I draw the line at willful ignorance.  When someone pretends to want answers but really just wants to close their ears and spout rhetoric, that's not worth my time or anyone's.

And so, this morning, a series of self care reminders.

For People of Color: you have no obligation to do the emotional work of educating white people on what white supremacy is or why it is bad.  You already know this; I am just reaffirming.

For white people: People of Color have no obligation to do the emotional work of educating you on what white supremacy is or why it is bad.  (Or on anything else for that matter.)  If they choose to do so anyway, they are doing you a HUGE favor.  Appreciate it.  If you do not understand this, please ask me about it.

For all of us: be selective on what conversations you engage with on any platform, and walk away while you can still interact calmly.

Have you gotten into the weeds with these conversations lately?  What can you do to make sure you don't?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Gym? Gym who?

Oh hey remember when I used to talk about going to the gym?  Because that was, like, a thing I was doing?  Hmm.

Yeah...  It's been a while.  But that dry spell is ending this very morning!  Back to the gym I go.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Importance of Being Mediocre.

Perhaps lately you've seen these memes floating around the internets.  They say things like, "If you were a gifted/talented child who grew into an anxious adult with fragile self worth and a perfectionist streak that makes you abandon things if you're not good at them immediately clap your hands."


This is true fax y'all.  Growing up as a "gifted" kid, I was showered with accolades for just being good at certain things.  Contrarywise, if I did something poorly or incorrectly I was met with confusion and even anger, regardless of whether it was the first time I'd ever tried to do that thing.  "But you're so smart!  You must just be being lazy!"  Hmm.  The ultimate lesson I learned from this was to only do things that I could immediately do perfectly.  Working hard at something to become good at it?  Forget about it.

It's only now, at the edge of forty, that I am unlearning this particularly damaging lesson.  Guess what's helping?  Yes, it's yoga.  When I began taking yoga classes in earnest last year, I was not good at it.  In fact beginner's classes kicked my ass.  My body is the opposite of what I thought a "yoga body" "should be", overweight and inflexible.  My muscles aren't just inflexible; they actively resist lengthening.

But for some reason - desperation to find a way out of depression, I think - I kept doing something that I wasn't good at, even after I'd tried it several times.  I am working hard.  And yes, I have gotten better - the poses have become more comfortable.  I've grown stronger.  And slowly but surely my muscles have begun to stretch out.  But I'm still not "good" at it.  The great thing about yoga, though, is that being "good" at it is completely beside the point.  The working hard is the point.  This has been a revelation.

I am branching into a second endeavor that I am not automatically great at: Rollerskating.  I am not a good skater.  I am solidly average.  I can stay on my feet and move fast enough to have a little fun, and that's that.  That's what I've got.  Will I get better?  I dunno.  I don't think it matters.  What matters is that I do it whether or not I'll ever be good at it.  Maybe it's even better for me if I never get good: if I stay mediocre no matter how much I work at it, and keep doing it anyway.  Maybe for the second half of my life I can embrace the fact that I don't have to be instantly fantastic, or ever fantastic, at something to enjoy it.

Were you a G/T kid?  How has it shaken out in your adult life?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nazi Punks F*** Off.

I am once again at a loss for words.  I want to provide advice to People of Color on engaging in deep and restorative self care in the wake of a violent white supremacist / Nazi rally... but that is not for me to do.  Instead I will re-share resources that I collected over the summer, and I hope to share additional articles that are more specific to this event as they become available. 
Of note: while none of the articles I'm linking to contain images or videos of violence, some do contain links to such images and videos.  Please use caution if you are being triggered by this content.

Self Care for People of Color after Psychological Trauma

The Little Understood Mental Health Effects of Racial Trauma

5 Self-Care Practices People Of Color Can Use While Coping With Trauma

Why We Need Self-Care In The Face Of Race-Based Trauma

Black Health Matters
Here is the advice I can provide that is applicable to everyone, whether you personally feel targeted by the Charlottesville rally or you just don't want to live in a world where such a thing can happen.  To the extent that you are able:
  • Surround yourself with the people who love you and who help you feel supported.
  • Don't forget about the basics: eat well, get enough sleep (or at least give yourself enough time to sleep), drink enough water, and get some exercise.
  • If you feel overwhelmed by the media, shut it off for a few hours or even a day or more.  You are not required to inundate yourself beyond your capacity with horror.
  • Speak up.  When you see people defending white supremacists or worse, don't let their words go unchallenged.  (That doesn't mean you need to engage in a full-blown Facebook war, however.  Say your piece and walk away.)
  • Take action: attend a solidarity event organized by People of Color, and/or make a donation to a reputable organization such as the Legal Aid Justice Center or the SPLC.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
What can I do to support you?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Back To It.

Yesterday I bought an orange car named Satsuma.  She's adorable.

Thus I have ended the weeklong saga that was losing my car in the August 5th flood.  I have spent the past week being very, very overstimulated.  As I mentioned before, this likely means that I am looking down the barrel of at least a depressive episode if not a hypomanic episode, because that is how I cycle.  I need to prepare for this eventuality, and do what I can to mitigate its strength and impact.

All of this means it's time to shift fully out of crisis mode and get back to executing the best possible self care with fidelity.  What does that mean, practically?  Recommitting to a food plan, paying better attention to drinking water, getting to bed on time, getting back to yoga, spending time with friends... all the things.

Our couples therapist gave me an assignment for the week to be more restful.  I'm definitely going to take her up on it.

How do you recover after an upheaval?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Today's the day.

It seems that the stress of the past few weeks has caught up with my body.  A variety of systems have decided that either being wretchedly inflamed or just stopping work is the best way to react.  Good times.

Despite this fact, I have a packed morning.  I will go to therapy, go to my yoga class (unless this headache becomes disabling), and then ...drumroll please... go buy an orange car.  I AM NERVICITED.  I wish I felt physically better so that I would be able to fully enjoy this momentous occasion.  But what are you gonna do?

Truth be told I have not been taking great care of myself.  That is of course often the case when life gets hard (when I should be taking the best care).  It just gets so damn hard to eat as I should, or to get to yoga, or to go to bed on time.  But I pay dearly for not doing these things.

I haven't totally failed.  I have treated myself kindly and asked for help when needed, so yay me.  I will do my best to do better, starting right now.  I started last night actually - I went to bed early, and this morning I got up early and ate my proper breakfast, and here I am clicking away.  Yay me again.

How are you taking care of yourself today?  Can you do better than you did yesterday?

Friday, August 11, 2017

There's a light.

There's a light at the end of the week-long tunnel of car purgatory I've been in - and, really, the 17 month hole of unhappiness I've been in with my bad car buying decision after the accident last year.  Yes, there is a light: Her name is Satsuma, and she is a ridiculous orange Honda Fit.  If the universe wants me to have her, she'll still be there waiting for me at the dealership when I get there Saturday morning.  (Don't worry, I have a backup plan - her name is Betelgeuse.)

All of this, of course, is still contingent on things going how I think they're going with the insurance companies.  My primary insurance has confirmed that lil Sharky the Prius was DOA, RIP.  My gap insurance has confirmed that their purpose is to pay off the loan after the primary insurance does what it will.  So I should only owe the deductible, and I might not even owe that.  Should, though, may be my least favorite word.  I can't wait to hear that magical four letter word "will."

It's been a tough week - I am very, very overstimulated and have been for days.  There will likely be a depression fallout sometime next week.  Hopefully the fact that I know it's coming will lessen its power over me.  Fingers crossed.

This is *not* Satsuma - this pic is just too funny not to share.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Phair enough.

Last night, when bedtime came around, I couldn't sleep.  Instead I sang the entirety of Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair.  I know this album front and back; I have since the 11th grade.  I've assigned personal meaning to the sometimes enigmatic lyrics.  I've developed harmonies.  This music is mine.

Singing is therapeutic for me always.  Maybe it "shakes up the energy in my body" and maybe that's imaginary, but there's no denying that the physical, tangible vibration in my chest and belly make me feel different after I'm done.  There's also some special magic in revisiting the music of your teens - it taps a place in your brain that nothing else does.  I've known these songs for longer than I didn't know them.  They are a part of me, and singing them is a way of embracing both my past and my present self.

There's still no word on the car situation; I must wait patiently for the assessor to make his way through the hundreds of other cars that are currently in the same predicament in New Orleans.  I did get to speak to my insurance adjuster yesterday and she gave me a little bit of reassurance: it's probably totaled.  I'll probably only owe the deductible for the insurance.  They probably won't drop my coverage.  They probably won't raise my rates.  I guess that's better than nothing?

What's the music from your high school years that you've never let go of?  When was the last time you listened to it?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Carless, Day 2: Carless No More!

Exciting things happen when you can get an actual insurance agent on the phone.  They can, for example, look at your policy, determine that you do have rental coverage, and reserve you a car before they're all gone because there was just a huge flash flood in your area.  I picked up a bright red Chevy Sonic with Texas plates yesterday evening.  Three cheers for wheels!  I am sooo getting pulled over in this car (Red?  Texas?!), but whatevs.

Now that this stopgap is in place I can shift my focus toward the slightly-longer-term.  Questions that loom include:
  1. Is my car totaled?
  2. Given that I'm many thousands of dollars upside down on it, if it is totaled will I end up still owing money on my note, even with full coverage insurance and additional gap insurance?
  3. Will my insurance company drop me after two at-fault accidents last year and now an "Act of God?"
  4. If they don't drop me, will my rate go up to $4,596,503 a month?
The possible answer to all of these questions is "maybe."  Perhaps I will get the real answers by, say, the end of the week?  Keep your fingers crossed for me that they come out as "Yes, No, and Of course not!  We won't even raise your rates!"

The question that I want to be considering is, of course, what new car do I get to buy?!  But that, friends, is premature.  I've got to keep my head on straight this time around.

What are your best tactics for being patient while waiting for the answers to important life-impacting questions?