So of course I chose the least dangerous PEW (acronym for “purge emotional writing”) path and wrote all my negative emotions out on a word document and then when the 12 minutes was up, I deleted it. For 5 days, though not in a row. Read further to learn why.
This exercise made me feel emotionally lighter. Though in between PEW sessions I thought about all the things I was angry or sad about, the things and people that piss me off and why, so I would have an idea of what I was going to write about. Not sure if that was a good thing or not. Maybe it just showed me that I tend to keep negative emotions buried deep inside me and they need coaxing. Or maybe it was because I knew I’d be filled with anxiety if I didn’t ponder those unpleasant thoughts and feelings ahead of time. Because then I might eat up half of my 12 minutes staring at a blank page.
Another take away is that unlike other things I have vowed to start and finish, I started and finished this one. I’ve always believed myself to be a very determined person, the kind who hitches themselves to an idea and follows it through to the bitter end. However, as I’ve gotten older, my follow through is lacking. So this exercise gave me a (albeit weird) sense of accomplishment.
I think this is a practice I’m going to come back to in the future. When I’m feeling irritable and negative. But instead I will employ the fire method. Perhaps when we’re camping and Hubs has made a fire. Maybe I won’t do it five days in a row. Maybe just once. Or two times in a row. Whatever feels right at the time, I suppose.
Now back to why I didn’t do my PEW exercise 5 days in a row.
On Day 4, Hubs and I had ourselves the Best. Time. Ever. Purging the emotions that had been disturbing my peace onto a computer screen just wasn’t a priority that day.
On that Saturday, we attended a concert at Red Rocks. We saw The Avett Brothers live. After almost two years of pining for the days when we experienced the joy of live music, we got to see one of my favorite bands play at the best venue of all.
It was spectacular. The temps were perfect, the views spectacular. The crowd was in good spirits and their was such a feeling of love in the air for not only the music, but humanity as well. We chatted with the folks on either side of us, talking about which Avett Brothers songs we were most looking forward to hearing and sharing other music-related recommendations. I am especially looking forward to watching the Avett Brothers documentary the strawberry blond millennial from Los Angeles gushed on about.
Here are some pics:
It doesn’t seem right to not include a bit of The Avett Brothers music with you all in this post, especially for those of you who are not familiar with them. Here’s the tune I was looking forward to hearing live the most:
Header image courtesy of ***https://tenor.com/search/angry-typing-gifs
The latest activity I’m interested in pursuing involves fire.
But I’m chicken shit when it comes to flames. My brain goes to all the bad things that can happen when you play with fire: you could burn your house down. You could burn yourself down.
I suppose this is all on account of being highly over-protected as a kid. I am the youngest by more than 8 years. A favorite story of Bonnie’s was when I was still in diapers, sitting on her lap (back before car seats, people) in the passenger seat of the family car with Babe at the wheel: a semi truck passed us (no doubt because Babe was going under the speed limit, which was his norm as an uber-cautious-in-all-things person), and he hollered at Bonnie to keep a tight hold on me so the draft from the semi would not suck me right out of the open window.
My healthy (or is it unhealthy?) fear of fire is on my mind these days because of Crystal’s blog post. In this post, she talked about a cathartic experience she had, which was found online on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website. Essentially, as I understand it, you set a timer for 12 minutes. During this period of time, you take pen to paper and write about all the stuff that’s blocking your sense of peace. You are supposed to do this exercise for 5 days in a row. They call it “purge emotional writing”.
This post spoke to me. I started thinking about all the things emotions I’ve been going through these past couple of months on my blogging sabbatical. There’s frustration. Anger. Feelings of helplessness and confusion. You know, the stuff as a “Pollyanna” I tend not to write about, especially in this public platform.
So, I really want to do this exercise. But it involves fire.
I was thinking, maybe there’s an alternate method I could employ to get the same results. Customize it for myself, you know? A method that does not involve fire but provides the emotional release I seek. Then maybe I can relax a bit. Find the fun in blogging again.
One option is I could eat the paper after I’ve done all that emotional writing. I witnessed my kiddo (Rabbie, the artist) do this once during the pandemic. They wrote down something they wanted to manifest in their life, wadded that little piece of paper in a ball and down the hatch it went. Their theory was that consuming the word of the thing they wanted to make manifest would become part of them physically and therefore increase the odds that it would come to fruition.
On account of the fact that not only in my proposed emotional purge writing exercise would I be producing reams of inky paper, I wish to preserve my digestive system and not end up in the emergency room, so eating paper is a no-go for me.
If I had a fire pit along with a back yard, I could ask Hubs to build me a campfire 5 nights in a row in which I could, from a safe distance, toss my emotional writings into. But, alas, we live in a town home community where personal backyards do not exist, so that is not exactly an option here.
But what about those “smash rooms” I’ve heard about? The ones where you pay money to smash shit with a baseball bat while yelling incoherently about everything that pisses you off? That could be an interesting way to release my negative emotions, right?
Instead of obsessing about playing with fire, I could also choose to write all the negative shit in my head in a draft folder and then immediately delete it.
So…I guess I have some choices. Options I can choose to get it all out.
Between now and the next blog post I publish, I will choose one of these options and let it rip.
As any of you that read my blog on the regular are aware, I’ve been in a funk for about the last month. Especially blogging-wise.
You may have noticed that I skipped publishing a blog post yet again last week. But this time, I didn’t mentally beat myself up as much as I usually do. That could be due to some of my followers comments on my last post telling me not to berate myself about it. That they also skip a week or two or three every so often.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for that, Christie and Rebecca.
So with that and the increased busyness of my life in general (not complaining here, folks), I’ve working on taking myself off the hook.
I feel like I need to hit the re-set button with this blog. Like in my bones. Because I want to keep blogging, really. But sometimes…not so much.
The overthinking is dragging me down. The indecisiveness about what I want to write about is grating on my nerves. I’ve allowed it to take too much of my mental energy. It’s not as much fun as it used to be.
So I think it might not be the worst idea to ponder why it is that I’m still blogging.
How about you all? Have you ever just thought “Why am I doing this?” Well that’s where I am right now as a blogger.
Bear with me as I share with you the reasons why I blog. I encourage you to share in the comments the reasons why you blog as well. Your honest perspectives would truly interest me.
Blogging helps me to make sense of what I think and how I feel. It’s cathartic for me sometimes. I like the sense of release I feel when I hit that “publish” button.
I selfishly enjoy knowing that when I’m long gone, I will have left words from my heart and brain for my family and friends to access anytime they wish to feel my presence. Kind of like the little notebooks Bonnie wrote in and her recipe box that I nabbed after her funeral. I miss her so much.
The encouraging comments I receive from my readers. They often warm my heart. Often they make me feel understood and validated. Sometimes they make me think of things from a different perspective, which is very valuable to me as a person who strives to enhance my worldview in this crazy world of ours.
Blogging sometimes presents new opportunities for me to pursue. For instance, the newest option of adding a podcast. I’ve always been intrigued at the thought of working as a deejay, and this is a harmless way to give it a shot.
All that being said, the re-set button is being set right now. I’m choosing from this point on to not force myself to publish weekly. But I’m also not quitting this blogging thing.
My hope is that once I stand back and re-assess things for a bit, I’ll come back invigorated and enthusiastic about blogging again.
It truly bothers me that last Wednesday I failed to publish a post as per usual. I don’t have any good reason for that other than that I didn’t feel I had anything new or remotely interesting to say about anything really.
Hence the reason you find yourself reading this post today. I was not willing to skip yet another week. The anxiety would be too much. I’ve committed to this blog like I’ve committed to a relationship (which I suppose this is-between me and all of you wonderful, patient readers). I’m determined not to flake out on you guys.
It’s not like I was feeling depressed. Quite the opposite, really. Life has been peachy as of late. Rabbie has been making more and more sales on their online site and is positioned to take Karl the cat and move on out of here. Like soon. As in we’re heading downtown Denver tomorrow actually to view the first new potential pad.
The other kid, despite being unemployed (directly related to the Covid-19 pandemic) is doing well also. She’s enjoying having more time at home, more time to herself. She’s making ends meet thanks to unemployment benefits and actively searching for solid employment. She had an interview recently for a job that she is very excited about. The pay is higher than her previous job and the benefits are quite outstanding.
Our 7 year old grandson is thriving! He’s been in a new school for a couple of months now and for the first time is excited to go to school every day. His mom held a birthday bash for him last month at the local roller skating rink and it was reported to have been quite the fun bash.
Work at the food pantry is going well. My boss and I are continuously procuring food and distributing it to those in need. I scored us a hefty sum via a state sponsored Covid-19 grant and will be procuring even more food over the next several months.
As far as writing for this blog goes, I’ve gone back to writing whatever it is I’m thinking about each morning directly after I hit the shower. Before I allow myself to go down any social media rabbit holes. And I’ve been writing more at night, after work and before supper. Luckily, my family is agreeable to eating supper as late as 7 p.m.
I am working on a new blog post. It’s the kind where I challenge myself to delve into a topic that piques my curiosity. The kind that takes some actual time and effort, unlike this post you are currently reading. The hope is it’ll be ready for publication next Wednesday.
As Bonnie would say to me over the phone after breathlessly telling me all the latest in her world, “that’s my stories..how are you doing?”
Let me leave you with a new little ditty from one of my all time favorite singer-songwriters, Carole King. Can you believe she is 79?
I have an almost finished post about how “I” is for “Investment”. It’s about how I’ve been trying to do a better job of investing in myself. Using my time, emotional, physical, and spiritual energy to improve myself.
Investing in myself translates to intentionally going out for walks most mornings, which gives me a lift and helps to collect my thoughts about the day ahead. This investment also includes talk therapy via telephone with a behavioral health counselor. As well as doing more personal journaling and intentionally consuming entertainment that gives me the good feels. I’m feeling better about myself these days. That’s the gist of it.
The it occurred to me that dedicating an entire post to how I, as a privileged white upper-middle aged woman, was “investing” in myself was a bit too much. Too self involved.
That’s when the anxiety I experience on the daily crept into my brain and manifested itself into another “I” word of which I am quite familiar: “indecisiveness”. Because now what “I ” word am I going to pontificate about? There’s so many choices, I can’t possibly decide on which one.
There’s “irony”, which I have a little story about. I mentioned in a recent post how I was reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle in which I found some pearls of wisdom that resonated with me. Well, I finished that book several weeks ago. In one of the two all female Facebook groups I belong to, one of the admins posted a picture of herself looking all cute and holding up “Untamed”, notifying us that there was going to be a Facebook live video discussion of the book on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. In a moment of impulsivity, I replied that I would plan on attending.
I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to gain more experience with using video communication, both with friends and family, but also with people that I only know online, not IRL as they say. Zoom and Facebook Live are the tools du jour in the age of Covid-19, and I suspect that will only grow just like the amount of time we will be compelled to stick close to home.
Wednesday rolled around. I remembered about this “happening” about 5:30 p.m., after imbibing in a couple of cocktails. Supper wasn’t quite ready. Kid #2 was out at the local Hookah bar and about to come home soon. I was anticipating Kid #1 calling me at any time based on a message she had sent me earlier in the day. I had taken all my make up off, revealing just how “53” I looked. I hemmed and hawed, thinking about putting on some makeup, fluffing up my hair, grabbing “Untamed” and just doing it anyway.
Then Kid #2 came in the door, greeted by a very happy Radar-ling and his slinky sidekick Karl the cockeyed cat. I felt happy. Relaxed. I let myself off the hook and decided “Nah”.
After having intermittent pangs of guilt mixed with a side of regret about flaking out on this experience throughout that evening and into the next morning, I checked Facebook and learned that the admin hadn’t been feeling well the night before so she cancelled the event. Whew!
Now that’s irony. All that worry for nothing. Ha!
I am very tempted to continue this post with anecdotes on other “I” words that I have a lot to say about like “imagination”, “inspiration”, and “intention”.
However, I’m going to instead head on back to my “A-Z” draft folder and work through my indecisiveness surrounding the remaining letters of the alphabet I have to write about to complete this self-imposed challenge.
And leave you with one of my favorite Alanis Morrisette tunes.
It occurred to me whilst sitting on the toilet in our downstairs half-bath that capturing a photo of this was something I needed to do. It’s a weird display for sure, but it really got me thinking.
First though, it got me feeling. Overwhelmed at the concept of visiting 1,000 places before I die. A ridiculously tall order. Fortunately, I have perused this book just enough to know that I don’t actually want to visit all of them, or even most of them. Just a small portion. Maybe 2.5%. So 25 places, right? That might be doable. “Might” being the key word here.
Anyway, then it got me thinking if there were 1,000 places in my house right now that I could “visit” and capture photos of. And make a whole blog post about it. I mean, besides my workplace, right now I’m just here at home, thanks to Covid-19.
Then I realized that would be bonkers, not to mention excruciatingly boring for any of the dear souls who happened to attempt to read that blog post.
So that idea was scrapped.
With my down time these days, I’ve been trying to spruce this joint up. Ordered a few decorative items on Wayfair. Currently pondering a purchase of a cool looking framed map of the world to hang above the futon in our office. Created a list of small home projects for Hubs to do this spring. I’m aiming to give this place some TLC; to make it more “us”. Make it feel more of a sanctuary that induces comfort.
But I’ve also been day-dreaming about how things might be, if instead of living here in our small-ish Colorado townhome, we were living in one of our previous houses during this stay-at-home order. Some of those houses had amenities that I loved but would appreciate so much more right now.
Specifically, the spots in the last two houses we lived in where I could retreat. By myself. To do my own thing. Sit and think. Listen to music or a podcast. Paint my toenails. I think these days, for those of us living with others during this pandemic, having a special spot inside your four walls all to yourself once in a while is necessary for mental well-being.
Maybe it’s your bedroom. Maybe it’s your home office. Maybe it’s your walk-in closet. Maybe it’s whatever space is available when you need it. It’s a place just for you when you need to think your own thoughts without being interrupted. To collect yourself and get reacquainted with your inner self. To indulge in some healthy daydreaming.
This brings to mind the cover of a great old Beach Boys song, which was performed by Fiona Apple and Jakob Dylan for the documentary soundtrack “Echo in The Canyon”, which I had the pleasure of watching a few weeks back.
Do yourself a favor and take a listen:
The first house we purchased in Wisconsin had a massive deck attached to the back. If we lived there right now, I’d be taking regular respites on it to simply soak up the greenery, the peace and quiet, and the sunshine.
If we lived in the house on 30th Street right now, the fixer-upper “Grandma” ranch style house we bought in Wisconsin after selling the house with the great big deck, I’d enjoy “me” time on that groovy 3-season porch. I’d open the shades up to let the sun in. I’d use the large floor space to do some morning stretches and a few yoga poses. I’d sit on one of those comfy deck chairs with my feet propped up and read a book. And I’d have the option to grab a “zero gravity” lounging chair to catch some rays in the beautiful fenced in back yard.
How about you all? Do you have a space in your home to retreat to all by your lonesome? I hope that is the case for each and every one of you in this wacky time.
Things have changed in oh so many ways. And I suspect the changes in my life, both at work and at home, are going to continue, in wild and unexpected ways. For better and for worse. As all of ours will due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
I was banished from my workplace yesterday. It came to light via email yesterday morning that I may have had contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Not anyone at work, but an unknown individual (HIPPA prevents the employer of this person from publicly naming them) at a location where I was picking up items for our food bank.
While I donned a face mask during this pick up and am fairly certain did not get any closer than 6 feet from anyone else there, my employer gave me the rest of the week off (with pay, thankfully) as a precaution.
So here I am now, at home, overthinking everything and anything. Unsure what to do next. Determined to maintain continuous virtual contact with my co-workers, at the ready to answer questions or complete other tasks assigned to me that can be done from home (what those tasks might be remains to be seen, but I am determined to roll with it). In other words, I finally broke down and decided it is in my as well as my employers best interest to sync my personal cell phone to my work email account. I suppose I’ll be setting up a Zoom account on this phone shortly too.
All that said, I am, alas, at home today until next Monday (with maybe one trip to the store in the mix). So clearly I ought to take care of our little sanctuary. Do some cleaning. Organizing. It’ll make me feel better and it will increase our collective level of comfort.
But not until I engage in some serious ventinglamenting writing. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been fantasizing about just one day during which I inhabit the role of a full-on, at home, creative writer. One who furiously taps away on her Chromebook drinking an array of beverages all the while-starting with coffee and ending with a glass of fine Pinto Grigio. Wearing the comfiest of clothes , making sure to get up and stretch and/or dance to keep those muscles loose and the mental energy high.
So that’s my plan for today. I think anyway. Because I also know this….
Let’s face it: As bloggers and readers, right in this moment, we cannot exactly avoid writing or reading about the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has invaded all of our moments to some degree. Whether waking and/or sleeping. It’s getting all nestled into our psyches.
But we can control how we think of it. How we respond to it. Just like anything else (not like there is anything else to quite compare it to). We can control the amount of time and mental energy we spend on it. But we can’t (though I’d be lying if I didn’t say there’s a part of me that just wants to stay in bed and wait for it to blow over) completely avoid this new reality.
Call me Captain Obvious if you must.
Now, my thoughts and feelings, and I imagine yours too, are subject to change on this matter. Because we are receiving new information on the pandemic faster than we can process it. This is messing with our heads.
We can go from looking at it as a circumstance that is bringing out the ugliness in people to looking at it as an opportunity for self improvement and noticing the good it brings out in others. I choose option #2.
We can go from focusing on our concerns for the well being of the loved ones who live far from us to the ones who are physically with us in the here and now. I, for one, intend to hug the two other humans and at least one of the furry beings I share my home with as often as I can. Once of course we have shed our outside clothes for our inside clothes (am I the only one who is intentionally shopping online for active wear lounge worthy attire right now?) and properly sanitized ourselves.
We can go from feeling sad about the length of time it may be before we can leave our homes and spend time in those public places we are missing so much to feeling enthusiastic about having more time at home to contemplate life and engage in activities that feed our spirits. Or starting to plan, say travel in the mid-summer that is more likely to occur than not, as I will be doing?
I think it’s of utmost importance for all of us to remember that we are all experiencing this together; collectively. Just from different perches.
There’s no doubt that it’s harder for some of us than others. It’s easier for some of us than others. We all have our unique obstacles in this time, but this pandemic is affecting all of us at the same time.
What lessons do you suppose we will learn?
I think we will learn what we truly value. Who we truly value.
I think we will learn what we are made of. How tough we are. How tough others are. What our weaknesses are, individually and as a society. What we’re capable of.
Recently I changed my primary work password to “GOODJuJu!!”
And I don’t care that you all know it now. What on earth would you do with it anyway? Break into my office, type it in and read my totally uninteresting emails? Go ahead, knock yourself out.
I think this is the best password I’ve ever come up with. Every time I type it in, I remind myself that my daily goal is to spread light in all my interactions with others. Not like I achieve that goal on the regular. But I try nevertheless.
Since I’ve shared my work password, it makes sense to follow the thread of spilling secrets. Tell you about the stuff that I’ve been doing to gain clarity for myself as an ambitious and creative writer.
Don’t get too excited. It’s all really just baby steps. But I think they still count for something.
First secret: I partook in David Sedaris’ Master Class online for Storytelling and Humor. Truth be told, I signed up for this class because of the “storytelling and humor” part-not so much for David Sedaris. I can’t say that I don’t like him, I do; it’s just that I knew of him but hadn’t read anything he has written. Still haven’t, actually.
Signing up for this class was something I did to help me learn in more detail how I can improve my creative writing. My ability to tell humorous stories that people can relate to and appreciate. It was a purely selfish investment that I decided to make in myself. And I have no regrets.
I had have great interest in interacting with the “community” within this online class. I’ve introduced myself, entered a piece of my writing in a contest even. The prize in this contest is David’s feedback on your piece. I think it’s safe for me to assume that I’m not going to win. And this is not me feeling sorry for myself or me being fake humble. My life is too good and blessed for that shit.
I’m not a great writer. I might be, someday. Or not. Either way, the joy writing gives me will not be overtaken by feelings of self-doubt about my ability to grow my readership on this blog or elsewhere.
I would estimate that it took me 3 hours, within the span of 5 days, to decide which piece I should enter for this contest. That’s how I found “Grammerly”, because in order for my piece to be accepted for consideration, it had to be under 600 words.
“Grammerly” also informed me that my piece was at an 11th to 12th grade level. So clearly, there’s room for improvement.
After doing a bit of editing on the piece I chose, I gave it a couple of days, then went back in to see the one comment made on my piece. It was “I feel like there’s too much information in this piece. I’d like to see it pared down to it’s bare bones”. He was spot on. I veer into the rabbit hole of verbosity in both my speech and my writing.
Whether or not I go back in, make some major edits and re-submit is up in the air. I honestly don’t know if that’s even allowed or appropriate. Or maybe it’s expected?
For now, though, I just want to share what struck me most from being a student of this class. The following is taken directly from the notes I made to myself as I participated in this class and worked through the accompanying workbook.
David’s “work spaces”. Loved the imagery. Made me think that I could write about my ideal work space. Like a “she shed” type deal.
Tuning into your surroundings will open you up to moments that could become stories and the parts of your world that belong in your writing.
“I don’t like to write about people I don’t like”. I concur, David. Neither do I. So I won’t. Period. Hopefully this declaration doesn’t come and bite me in the ass later.
David has a conversation with every person in line at his book signings. He also writes thank you letters. He’s such a nice boy.
Take incidents and stitch them together for a story. I love the creative reference of stitching. Also, following threads. And rabbit holes.
Paint a mental picture in a readers head. Go to readings?? David said he learned a lot from doing this. A lot about what not to do, that is.
Now onto my second secret (or is it my third? That’s subjective, I suppose): During the time I was taking this class, I received an email announcing spring 2020 dates for the Listen to Your Mother shows.
Let me back up for a sec: I first heard about this annual event in 2016 from a local-ish “mommy” blogger named Stephanie. Essentially, LTYM is a franchise that is locally produced in various cities in the U.S. Primarily women get up on a stage and read original pieces on the theme of “Motherhood”. A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales goes to charity.
I instantly loved this whole concept. The idea of others sharing their personal stories about motherhood, a topic dear to my heart and which I have much to say about, really intrigues me. I knew I wanted to be a part of it, someway, somehow.
So, with David encouraging me to do readings, I started considering applying to be part of the cast. I congratulated myself recently when I realized that I could simply click on the “word cloud” I have featured on my blog’s front page and read all the posts I have written on one particular topic.
But then after reading the few posts I have published that featured “Motherhood” and then proceeded to view video clips of past LTYM speakers, I was overcome with self-doubt. I mean, if this is is all I’ve got to offer and these are examples of my potential “competition” why the hell should I proceed?
Now is the part of this post where you might expect me to say something along the lines of “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” or “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Both of which are 100% true.
However, while I’m not closing the door to auditioning for LTYM, I’m also not necessarily doing it this year. At least not with any of the pieces about motherhood I have published on this blog.
I think it’d be wise to heed David’s advice: attend readings. For me, it’ll be the LTYM show this spring. See what it’s like. Take notes. Make some connections.